The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Front Page -

MAS­TER­ING bridge takes time. There are no overnight sen­sa­tions; every­one must first serve an ap­pren­tice­ship. This is be­cause learn­ing bridge is more about get­ting the hang of it than it is an in­tel­lec­tual ex­er­cise. You have to get a feel for the way part­ners com­mu­ni­cate with each other and you have to get a feel for the cards. The prob­lem is com­pli­cated be­cause some of the cards are al­ways hid­den, forc­ing you to learn to think about risk man­age­ment.

Teach­ing bridge, as I do, I of­ten see clever peo­ple get­ting frus­trated with their slow progress. They can take con­so­la­tion from the fact no one has be­come a ma­jor force without five years ex­pe­ri­ence and few make it be­fore their mid-20s.

It was there­fore sur­pris­ing to read an ar­ti­cle, The Dark Side of Pre-empt­ing’’, in the lat­est mag­a­zine. The writer, 10-year-old David Soukup of the US, shows a level of un­der­stand­ing one would not ex­pect in some­one so young.

He tells the story from the South point of view. It was far from clear what he should bid at his first turn but he luck­ily set­tled on six notrumps, not seven. West kept the de­fence’s hopes alive by lead­ing a heart, not a spade, but Soukup soon showed them who was boss. He ran a few red win­ners be­fore lead­ing a club. West had to duck to pre­vent giv­ing the de­clarer the whole club suit but a sec­ond club went to West’s now bare ace and the en­forced spade re­turn gave Soukup his slam.

Soukup taught him­self to play through an on­line be­gin­ners course. Be­sides bridge, he en­joys cook­ing, bas­ket­ball, math­e­mat­ics and West 4 all pass North 5 East pass South 6NT ev­ery­thing He also plays the cello and speaks Ger­man. Deal two also comes from

The au­thor is for­mer world cham­pion Mike Lawrence of the US.

In­ci­den­tally, Lawrence once said to me that it was not un­til he had been play­ing for three years that the fog sud­denly lifted. He said he was just sit­ting there in a lo­cal du­pli­cate when, for no rea­son, he could sud­denly see how the game worked. The moral of this story, of course, is to stay on the job. Your epiphany may be just one game away!

Back to deal two. West led the 10 of spades against 3NT. De­clarer won with the king and played on clubs. But the con­tract was doomed when it was West who won the ace of clubs. A spade re­turn from West al­lowed East to take four spade tricks as well as the ace of hearts. Bad luck?

No bad play. From the bid­ding, it is clear that East has the A J. De­clarer should there­fore cover the 10 of spades with the queen in dummy. Now the K 9 are good for two tricks and the con­tract is un­break­able. Paul Marston

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