Magazine article The Spectator

Heartbreaker

Magazine article The Spectator

Heartbreaker

Article excerpt

WHENEVER I'm about to give up on a 'double-dummy' bridge puzzle - i.e., one in which you are shown all four hands - I force myself to imagine that I'm locked in a cell and won't be released until I get the answer: surely if I think long and hard enough, it must come to me.

But actually that's not true: solving bridge puzzles is not just a matter of thought-power; it's at least as much to do with having seen the type of problem involved before. It's rather like trying to solve a cryptic crossword puzzle: even the most intelligent person won't know how to go about it if they're completely unfamiliar with the way cryptic clues work.

I was thinking about all this the other day when I came across the following bridge puzzle printed on a tea-towel. You may have seen a variant of it before, but if you haven't I imagine you'll be well and truly stumped. …

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