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Playing Bridge in London 2018


From Chris Ingham

London1 (365K)

About 18 months ago Jonathan Free asked me if I would mind playing a session at WABC with a visitor from London. I agreed of course, and was introduced to Jules Davidoff. Jules and got along fine and so we ended up playing also at Nedlands and South Perth before Jules returned home. Jules reciprocated by saying anytime you get to the UK please look me up and we will play. In September, I was in London for two weeks and so we again had three games in two famous but very friendly Bridge Clubs in West London.

The Young Chelsea BC in Shepherd's Bush and Andrew Robson's BC in Parson's Green - both worth a visit if you are in London. Both Clubs are well located on Classic London High Streets and very close to Underground train stations.

1.0 Getting There

YCBC

This is located on Goldhawk Road in Shepherd's Bush close to the Goldhawk Road Tube Station (Circle Line). As any Londoner will tell you the only way to efficiently get around London is on the public transport and using an Oyster Card which you can buy at Heathrow Airport and top up at any Tube Station and it works on the Buses and the Overground (British Rail).

I was due to play at YCBC with Jules and happened to be in Central London so decided to catch the 94 Bus from its beginning in lower Regent Street, as I knew it ended up in Chiswick after going down Goldhawk Road. The Big Red Double Decker buses are a lot of fun and London Transport has spent a lot of money these as most are new or near new. So I jumped on the 94 at its start point and went up the top and front row. Its journey is along Regent Street into Oxford Street (now mostly Big Reds lining it) and then past Marble Arch (Park Lane) , Hyde Park, Lancaster Gate, Paddington, Nottinghill Gate, Holland Park and on to Shepherd's Bush Green and then Goldhawk Road. I had plenty of time (and you need an hour - most of it spent clearing Oxford Street).

London2 (341K)

Andrew Robson's BC

This is located in Parsons Green (or Fulham) and again across the road from the Parson's Green Tube Station (District Line). Ironically it's much closer to Chelsea than YCBC.

3.0 Costs:

Now here is the rub.

Bridge is very expensive in London as the clubs are privately owned.

We are very lucky in Perth that most of our clubs premises are provided and usually maintained by the Local Council and we members do much of the heavy lifting such as manning the bar and kitchen etc. etc. So our overheads are not much in comparison.

So you can expect to pay Ten Pounds (about $17) at YCBC and Eleven Pounds (about $19) at ARBC for a session which is usually 24 boards.

Having said that the bar is fully manned throughout and whilst coffee is free you can buy the good stuff all whilst playing. They do food as well - so paid staff abound.

4.0 Etiquette

It's my humble opinion that Londoners are much better behaved at the bridge table than many of us. Some examples and quirks include:

(a) The bidding (they use the boxes same as us) stays on the table until after the lead and is not fiddled with or touched such as removing passes and doubles or putting off to the side. The bidding stays overtly untouched.
(b) There are no Alerts. As the bidding proceeds and say a transfer happens the artificial bidding is briefly explained as you go by either of the players. The Skip card is still used by some at YCBC but not compulsory
(c) The Director is never called to the table like a policeman. Infractions are sorted out by the players. The only time the Director is called would be for something like missing cards or wrong boards (but he moves them anyway).
(d) The Director is immaculately dressed and stays in the field of play at all times and will spend most of his energies moving broads.
(e) The movements are not timed or called out by the Director. The players move when ready. Slow players soon get exposed. Very exposed.

5.0 Board 17 Andrew Robson's BC

You cannot write a bridge article without a hand.

Board 17
North Deals
None Vul
5 3
K 10 6 3
K 8 5
10 7 4 3
10 6 4 2
8 5
10 2
A 9 8 6 5
N
WE
S
A K Q J 9 7
7 4
A 9 6 3
J
8
A Q J 9 2
Q J 7 4
K Q 2

So Jules and I sat down against two wily old English guys and this was the very first hand and my first bid of the set. Clearly the hand must be played in spades so I just bid 4S immediately. The gentleman on my left thought for sometime and Doubled which Jules of course passed, and the gentlemen on my right, who thought for even longer, eventually passed. Suffice to say neither knew what the Double was supposed to mean and were not pleased with the resulting 10 quick tricks (via two diamond ruffs). Those guys were last seen walking along Parson's Green Lane still discussing the Double.

The message in the hand of course is have a firm agreement with your partner of what a Double of a 4S opener means and stick to it. A normal treatment these days is, Double is penalty and 4NT is take out for two places to play. But remember you are asking partner to start his bidding at the 5 level so you need a very good hand, especially if partner has passed.



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