Magazine article The Spectator

Killing Time

Magazine article The Spectator

Killing Time

Article excerpt

IT'S hard to explain the appeal of bridge to non-players. I usually say that it's the only area of my life - and that of most dedicated players - where boredom never creeps in. You can keep going all day, or stay up all night - time always flies, adrenalin always flows.

It's a great way to get through a long spell in prison. I was reading recently about the game's popularity in Alcatraz in the 1950s. Each weekend, around 250 inmates got about 20 games going. They played for 5-6 hours a day and, according to a former inmate, replayed hands from memory after lock-up each night.

Bridge was also the game of choice among Allied PoWs during WWII. Dutch prisoners of the Japanese reputedly played the most and achieved the highest standard. The following deal, recorded by Theodore De Booy, came up during an 8-table duplicate organised by Dutch prisoners, and must have done at least something to take their minds off the appalling conditions of camp life:

At most tables, South reached 4[spades]. …

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