Magazine article The Spectator

Superiority Complex

Magazine article The Spectator

Superiority Complex

Article excerpt

PLAYING in a bridge tournament can be unexpectedly intimidating if you're not used to it. It's not just all the rules and regulations, but also the complicated conventions so many pairs play. It's not much fun to move from table to table, announcing that you play a weak no-trump, only to have the opponents thrust a card under your nose full of cryptic symbols and exotic-sounding conventions. And if they reel off these conventions - 'We play Lebensohl, Jacoby, reverse-count, inverted minor-suit raises . . .' - it tends to be with a slightly smug, challenging look which makes you feel it would be an admission of weakness to ask what they mean.

But these players often turn out to have only a shaky grasp of the bidding systems they're so proud of; their earlier confidence turns into nervous uncertainty when they have to put them into practice during play. I couldn't help feeling a touch of schadenfreude recently when a pair of particularly complacent women embarked on a ridiculously complicated bidding sequence (not worth repeating) on the hand below and had a misunderstanding which led them to play in 4[spades] instead of the more sensible 3NT. …

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