The night before I am due to play the Old Course I am involved in a Scottish Cup bridge match against one of the seeded teams. The game is at the New Melville bridge club in Edinburgh . I am going to Amanda’s afterwards and driving to St Andrews from there early in the morning.
Over the years I have played most sports at some sort of level. Cricket, golf and football for the school. In my late thirties I got into running in the first flush of marathon fever and played a lot of tennis (my girlfriend at the time played hockey and tennis at England level so my tennis improved rapidly). Would have kept up cricket, the sport I was best at, but it was too time consuming with young children. The ever presents were football and golf. Bridge was an early and late comer.
I took up the game at Uni along with most of my close pals and quickly became addicted. Really fond memories of playing all day, in the beer bar and refectory. Crazy bidding sessions – with a classic 7 diamond contract the Mt Everest of idiocy. Only 5 diamonds between us missing the ace. (For non-bridge players 7 diamonds means taking all 13 tricks with diamonds as trumps – somewhat difficult when the opponents have 8 diamonds including the ace!!) Happy days.
I stopped playing for years and only really took it up again when I came back to Scotland. I paired up with one of my oldest friends, Jim Forsyth (who has and will continue to feature in the story), my partner at Uni – my partner in the 7 diamond adventure.
Jim kept his love for the game and is one of the best players in Scotland. Our partnership is continuing to improve and I am getting more involved with the Bridge ‘scene ‘.
Scottish Bridge is also starting to get more recognition after a fantastic performance by our Senior team to qualify for the bridge equivalent of the World Cup by coming third in the European Championship in Dublin in 2012. I played a minor role by helping a little bit with sponsorship to defray the expenses of going to Bali for the finals.
The non-playing captain of the team was Harry Smith. An old school friend and one of the most colourful characters in Scottish bridge. Harry and the team performed brilliantly as Scotland finished 7th in the round robin and qualified for the quarter finals. Alas the adventure ended there but it was a series of matches and results which if bridge had a more mainstream audience would have been lauded on a daily basis in the media. Harry has written a book about the event with Alex Adamson, one of our opponents tonight, and Alex sells me a copy at half time in the game. (Sells not gives as a present! But never mind it is signed by both of them and I will add it to my collection of signed sports books. Harry and Alex sit proudly alongside Ian St John, Peter Alliss, Gary Player and others now.)
Our match is over 32 boards with the pairs switching after 16. At half time there is little in it but a couple of disastrous boards just after the break doom us and it finishes as a heavy loss. My dream of getting to a second Scottish Cup final on hold for another year.
Sales pitch!!! This is a resolutely non-commercial site but for once I will make an exception. For any bridge players the book ‘Scotland’s Senior Moment’ is a very interesting account of what it is like to play the sport at the highest level and a good read. (An Honors book from Master Point Press)