Our game of bridge offers all players the chance to compete without the need to be huge in stature or young and agile. Many of our players are in their 70s and 80s, and we also have competitors in their 90s, who can compete with anyone and come out looking good. I played this hand recently with Marie Eells, who admits to being north of 80 years old, and we were one of only three pairs out of eight who played this hand to reach slam. Marie bid her south hand to its fullest when she jumped to game in spades, and since we had a double fit, I carried on to the slam. Note that Marie even told me she had only one ace in her blackwood response, but I was sure we were close to slam values and bid six anyway. Some who played the hand made only five but after I found trumps split 3-2, I trumped my losing heart and gave up the diamond king for 12 tricks and a very good score. The pair that bid the slam in notrump went down after the natural jack of hearts lead took away the heart stopper while declarer still had to lose to the diamond king.
The bridge community celebrated a significant birthday recently when Lucien Stratton turned 79. You would look a long way to find someone who can defend or play the hand as well as Lu. He has been a leading player since moving here almost 20 years ago, and in the recent regional tournament, he won the Open Pairs in partnership with Joan Grimm. This is a major victory for Joan and Lu, as they beat out professional players who spend their lives playing the game for pay. Congratulations! We hope you win many more events!
I hope readers of this column will take the hint that if you like to compete, you don't have to be a physical specimen or loud and pushy. The best bridge players are usually also the most ladylike and gentlemanly at the table. They let their minds compete, and this is one of the reasons ours is such a special game.