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Michael Preston

Having learnt to play at the club 10 years ago, Michael and his partner Nicholas play regularly on Mondays, Thursdays and occasionally Sunday lunch / Monday afternoons.

Where did you first hear about bridge?

My parents were very good players - my mother was an International player for Ireland - but myself and my siblings were put off by what seemed like arguments over breakfast -” how could you have doubled when….” !!

Why did you start?  

One evening a young lad rang my doorbell at home and handed in a card advertising lessons at the Club. So, at the ripe old age of 55 my business partner Nicholas and I made our way to the Acol to begin to learn. In fact we played Rubber Bridge with Norman for a year or so before we came up with enough courage to move next door to Duplicate.

What do you enjoy most about the game?

Everything. Opening my hand is always a delight plus the people at the Club are almost without exception lovely, interesting and kind. I feel that I have made a lot of friends there which is not something I expected later in life.

How did you get so good?

The main reason why I have improved is due entirely to playing again and again. The teaching at the club is also a great help

Are there any conventions you don’t yet know? Or any you know but prefer not to use?

Multi Landy – it's too complicated!

Any tips for members wanting to improve their play?

Play again and again - and read your Notes.

What do you / did you do in your career?

I was a Partner with one of the City’s Legal Firms but had always wanted to do my own thing. So I bought a small Property Business in Paddington and also set up my own legal practise. Nick Bodington, my bridge Partner, joined me in 1988 and we worked together for over 20 years

What did you find most interesting about your work?

The documents and the numbers involved and putting together the various missing property pieces.

Do you have any other activities / interests aside from bridge?

I have been with my Partner Paulo for over 30 years and when we first met we decided to build a home in Brazil. We have 5 dogs there and my joy is to spend as much time as possible with them.

I love the Cinema, Books and Food!

What book / film / play would you recommend to members?

“The Master” by Colm Toibin

The movie “Brooklyn”

The play “Charles the Third”

Do you have any recommendations for the club?

I would love to go away with the club for another long weekend - the last one in Thatcham was wonderful and enjoyed by everyone.

And I would also love to go away with the club for a week - on land, not a cruise and play bridge every other afternoon and every night!

Back of the Pack Part 7

Back of the Pack 7


B Player

Finally worn down by the enticing adverts on the club website, I recently cashed some of my Premium Bonds and invested the proceeds in a Course at West End Lane. I forget the precise subject: Basic Kamakasi Bidding, Intermediate Minus Defence or some such, I expect. Following which, arriving at the next duplicate session eyes glowing with hope, I expected to be born instantaneously on eagles’ wings to the top of the leader board.

I imagine you can guess what actually happened.

Upon mature reflection, I have come up with two sound reasons for my disappointing non-improvement. These I am willing to share with you provided that they remain strictly confidential. So, once you have signed the Official Secrets Act by following the attached link*, feel free to read on and be enlightened.


The first relates to the earnest and kind-hearted nature of the people who run these courses. Charitably wishing to shield us from the chaos threatened by the 5.4 × 1028* different deals that are possible every time we pick up our cards, they carefully choose the practice hands to illustrate the intrinsic superiority of a weak 2 Spades opening, or leading the top of an interrupted sequence against a No Trumps contract, or whatever the point of the day’s lesson might be. But, of course, given the above statistic, the chances of us succeeding with this bid or lead in our next game are lamentably small. We are just as likely to find ourselves going 3 down doubled vulnerable for shedloads of points, or leading straight into the clutches of Declarer’s strong suit. 

*54 octillion, or 53,644,737,765,488,792,839,237,440,000 to be precise. The mathematically masochistic might care to check out the details at

The second relates to the Machiavellian and noticeably less kind-hearted disposition of our opponents at the bridge table. You see, they have done this Course too. So they know exactly how we are going to bid and lead in appropriate contexts, and will carefully take cunning and destructive counter-measures. Especially as the canny so-and-sos will have scrutinized the Club website carefully to see which lesson(s) we have just attended.

Partner’s solution to the above problem, as he expounded it last Sunday night, is the triple bluff inversion subterfuge strategy; to whit, always bid and play the precise opposite to what you have just been taught in class to catch the opposition out at their own game. However, that approach is typically flawed. For what if our opponents are not going to take countermeasures against our expected play, or are wise to this move and counter with the quadruple bluff re-inversion simulation gambit?  And how can we possibly know whether they are going to or not? The situation is reminiscent of the murky world of espionage, counter-espionage and double and triple agents, so beloved of film-makers.

Not that this is an argument against taking lessons, of course. Perish the thought. We do not want the Club going bankrupt through loss of revenue. It is just to suggest the futility of complaining when opponents do not bid or play “as they should do.” Of course they do not, gentle reader, because they are on a mission to earn us 0%, not to illustrate the simple and predictable nature of sound bridge.

Now, where did I put my copy of Machiavelli’s master work?

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Player of the Week!

Congratulations to Sara Moran who is our Player of the Week after amassing an impressive total of 33 overall ladder points last week.