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Updated 16th  December 2018

 
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The following piece first appeared in English Bridge April 2006 and has been reproduced here with Jeanette's permission. Jeanette Thompson's tale of

DOUBLE

TROUBLE

JEANETTE Thompson, from Yelverton in Devon, produced the following article in compliance with a `task' in a creative writing group. The requirement was to write any piece with the title Double Trouble. As a bridge player (she is a member of the Millennium Bridge Club in Tavistock) Jeannette had no problem with subject matter.

THERE are a variety of addictions to which we might succumb: narcotics, caffeine, alcohol, eating, not eating, jogging, shopping, housework. Some should properly be described as compulsions. My latest could be called a compulsive addiction.
 

I am trapped in a need for a regular game of bridge. Entries in my diary and in my calendar give me some reassurance. A forthcoming holiday in Granada has me worrying: 'Will there be a bridge club on the island? How will I get there?' The dull ache of everyday activity lifts as I prepare for a fixture or a FIX. Pen, scorecard, coins, coffee flask are some of the necessary paraphernalia. On arrival excitement mounts as we cut for partners. One feels a warm glow as the cards are dealt. Should your own hand contain a portrait gallery of kings and queens, then comes the rush. This is the accompaniment to an injection of heroin, or so I am told.

I could take this analogy further, but must calm down and focus on my writing task. The path towards improvement in my play has probably been like any other. But first let me give a brief outline of the game, which is rather like whist with complications again the disease analogy. Two sets of partners assess their hands and in turn bid as to how many tricks they expect to make. The highest bidder or his partner then plays the hand.Each bid contains a message of considerable complexity, subterfuge or of complete mystification to all. In time I began to get the hang of it, advancing in waves. Timid and consistently underbidding at first, I later became more confident, if not cocky, and regularly overbid. Either of these would be deeply disappointing to my partner.

 

 

When playing duplicate bridge the hard drug scene as it were all this assumes greater significance. The total score of each pair could be made available to all discreetly, the following week.

Somehow I floated with the tide and finally managed to ensnare a gentleman as my regular partner in a duplicate bridge club. He was in fact too much of a gentleman to escape my clutches and with his expertise we occasionally gained a good score. This must have gone to my head since I became more and more daring.

Various clubs have differing styles and ambience. One I call the twin set and pearl group; members are well bred and well behaved kind to beginners, however inept. Another is more down to earth; between hands players query why their partner made that hid or played that card. You learn to be thick skinned or else give up.

Dazzled, I go For a slam

You rarely pick up a hand dazzling with aces, kings and queens seeming to promise a slam. When this happened to me my partner gave a positive response to my bid or so I understood. Our opponents were two fellows, good players and particularly well-built in body and personality. We had noticed that they would disappear for a few weeks at a time, but come back playing better than ever. Were they working on oilrigs with no entertainment other than card schools? I was too shy to ask, but my partner, Harold, muttered something about prison and modern recreational facilities.  To complete the picture I should mention that Harold is small though the best things come in small parcels. I am tall,  but skinny and easily overshadowed.                      

Nevertheless with racing pulse I found   myself bidding for a slam all 13 tricks! Then came the blow. If your opponents think you will fail, holding key cards themselves held close to their chests they may firmly bid 'Double: This challenge means that your failed effort will result in a huge penalty score. This was in fact the outcome; Harold and I resigned ourselves to the ignominy of the lowest ever ranking. This would be published, albeit discreetly, the following week.

Our opponents wore the expression reserved for these occasions a layer of commiseration barely concealing great glee and satisfaction. They still turn up at the club at irregular intervals larger than life. My Double Trouble!

 

   
 

 

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