If I had to name my favourite bridge player… actually, I can’t, there are too many. But the young Danish superstar Dennis Bilde is certainly a contender. I’ve always been struck by his charm, his lack of arrogance, and his limitless energy — especially for fun. Even during major tournaments he’s been known to stay up all night partying or gambling; yet he still manages to play flawless bridge the next day.
Bilde was brought up on a farm, and taught to play by his parents; at 18 he became Junior World Champion; now, ten years on, he’s a member of the mighty Team Lavazza (sponsored by Madam Lavazza — think coffee). He’s wonderful to watch: speedy and fluid. While other experts often take aeons to think — their heads in their hands as though in pain — Bilde makes it look so easy. Maybe he sees things more quickly, maybe it’s youthful confidence — who knows? Take this hand from the recent Vanderbilt trophy (he was North):
In the other room, the auction was identical. So was the lead: the 10 to West’s A, and a spade continuation. When North decided to cash the A and finesse the J, the contract was doomed.
Dennis Bilde, however, quick as a flash, cashed his K and ran the J. He won East’s Q with the A and led a club towards his K. West ducked; he won and finessed the J: nine tricks in the bag. Was he just lucky? No: he worked out almost instantaneously that for the contract to have a chance, West must hold the A. The lead suggested West held the AJ. That came to 9 points. If West also held the Q that would be 11 points — and he might well have opened the bidding.
Subscribe to The Spectator Australia today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator Australia for less – just $20 for 10 issues