Back of the Pack 7
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 http://www.rpbridge.net/7z68.htm
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?
Jill has been playing bridge for around 4.5 years and learnt with Andrew at the club. She plays gentle duplicate session on Tuesday nights regularly with her partner Minoo Sahni-Court and occasional Friday nights in the Butlers with Nick Pacheco.
What do you enjoy most about the game?
I love bridge for lots of reasons: being part of a community, making new friends, the excuse for a glass of wine! Also bridge gives me the chance to cut out from whatever is happening in my life as it requires my undivided attention. It teaches concentration and improves memory and is character building. You win some or more likely a few and lose a lot. But there's always another game!
What do you / did you do career wise?
I have had several careers. I started out as a journalist and writer. One of my first jobs was as Assistant Press Officer for The Embassy of Vietnam just as the war ended. I later worked as a feature writer for several Fleet Street Newspapers and magazines. I also wrote a popular psychology book on relationships called ‘Marriage and How to Survive it’ and contributed to several others. In my late thirties, I trained as a psychologist and psychotherapist and worked in the NHS in Adult Mental Health until I retired. I then reinvented myself again as a would-be artist, working with glass to build sculptures and mosaics. I also create jewellery which I regularly show off at the club. Last year I exhibited my work at my Art Foundation Course end of year show to which many of my Acol friends came to lend their support!
We hear you have a rather impressive claim to fame? Please elaborate...
I think you must be referring to my marriage to a musician and songwriter? He had several hit records in the seventies with Brett Marvin and the Thunderbolts and wrote a very well known song called " I'm always in the Kitchen at Parties". Even if you didn't hear it the first time round, it was on TV recently as the music from The IKEA Ad.
Do you have any other activities / interests aside from bridge?
Other interests outside bridge include Tai Chi which I have practiced for fifteen years and do weapon forms including sword and sabre. I am also a badly behaved Buddhist (too much wine) and have a daily meditation practice.