Magazine article The Spectator

Brain Power

Magazine article The Spectator

Brain Power

Article excerpt

DURING a recent bridge tournament, I found myself unable to concentrate when faced with difficult contracts. My thoughts kept stalling: I couldn't form a plan. In fact, the only lucid thought I had all afternoon was: if my brain were an engine, I'd replace it urgently. I wish I could say this was a one-off - sadly, it happens all too often.

Needless to say, top-class players don't have this problem. They're never deflected from examining the evidence or weighing up the odds; their thoughts seem to glide logically from A to B to C.

For an example of a player whose brain is in perfect working order, you won't do better than Andrew Robson. He always takes his time thinking through every significant aspect of a hand (some impatient souls would say he takes too long). Here's how he tackled this tricky contract during a recent world championship:

The defence led two rounds of spades, Andrew ruffing the second. …

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