If you don’t play bridge, you really should avoid gatherings of bridge players — you’ll find us excruciatingly dull. I’ve never forgotten the time, a few years back, when Sally Brock and I went for dinner with our teammates after a tournament. We got a booth in a restaurant, and began discussing the hands we’d played. After an hour or so, the two ladies in the adjoining booth stood up and huffily put on their coats. Then one of them turned to us and said, ‘It’s not just the fact that you’ve been talking so loudly that’s ruined our meal, but you’ve been so painfully boring to listen to.’
It’s true, we talk and talk, obsessively and nerdily; people in trains move away from us, people in planes reach for their earplugs. But there’s no stopping us — because talking about bridge is almost as much fun as playing it. Some of us carry on chatting via email, too. I’m lucky enough to be part of a group of Young Chelsea players who are always firing off emails pointing out interesting hands. Last week, for instance, Paul Martin showed us this funny version of a ‘Morton’s Fork’ which he spotted during the recent European Champions Cup. Andrew Robson, with his opening lead, inadvertently inflicted it on his partner Alexander Allfrey (Zia Mahmood was East, Tom Hanlon West):
Robson led the ♣4. Zia played low … and what could Allfrey do? If he inserted the ♣J, Zia could win with the ♣K and discard his other club on a top spade (eventually losing just one heart). So he won with the ♣A — but Zia could now discard two hearts on the ♣Q and the ♠K. Only a heart lead would have knifed the fork!