Bridge

Bridge

29 March 2014

9:00 AM

29 March 2014

9:00 AM

You’ve probably read about the English Bridge Union’s attempt to get bridge reclassified as a sport rather than a game — meaning that its members would no longer have to pay VAT on entry fees for competitions. Last month, a tax tribunal rejected the move on the grounds that ‘a sport normally connotes a game with an athletic element’. You may think this sounds reasonable enough, but, as my six-year-old daughter would say, it not fair!

Many other European countries, including France, Holland and Poland, classify bridge as a sport — as does the International Olympic Committee. And HMRC recognises games like darts, billiards and croquet as sports — hardly ‘athletic’ activities — so why not bridge?


It’s not as if bridge makes no physical demands on a player. At a competitive level, it is absolutely gruelling. When I used to play regularly with Espen Erichsen, he was forever nagging me to go the gym to improve my stamina (fat chance). So come on, Mr Taxman, give us a break.

At the recent NEC Cup in Japan, two top athletes had a chance to show their skill on this deal:

North led the 9. Declarer — England’s Frances Hinden — made the nice play of putting up the Q from dummy. If South ducks, she can cash the J and still has the K as an entry to cash the rest of her hearts. New Zealander Martin Reid therefore won the A and responded to Hinden’s coup with one of his own: he returned the J, forcing her to win the diamond in her hand, and cutting her off from the heart suit: she was now one down.

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