Log In

Reset Password

Bridge: understanding your partner is vital

This week’s column continues the focus on the Bermuda Youth Team that will represent us in the Under-21 division of the World Youth Bridge Championships in Salsomaggiore next month.

Last week, we saw a profile on Mike Viotti who has been the inspiration for this initiative and this week we have profiles of two of the team members, Ruskin Cave and Liam Peniston. Next week will conclude with the other two team members Gianluca Cacace and Tyler Irby.

Name: Liam Peniston

Age: 18

Family: No siblings

School, school activities, other interests: Saltus, Cello (school orchestra), debate, public speaking, bridge

When did you first play bridge? Year 11 at Saltus during Tuesday Lunchtime Sessions (two years ago)

Who introduced you to it? Mike Viotti

Are you good at math? Yes

Do you have a good memory? That depends upon what I have to remember! I have a knack for remembering pointless details, and sometimes forgetting the bigger picture. My memory of cardplay is slowly starting to improve.

Do you like other card games? Yes. I play pinochle with my family.

Do either of your parents play bridge? No

Who is the bridge player you most admire, if there is one? John Burville, Mike Viotti

What interests you most about the game? The aspect of seeing something new with every hand, the infinite possibilities of card arrangements and then learning how to describe them and communicate that information to someone else who has absolutely no idea.

How often do you play? Multiple times per week, but playing more now to prepare for Italy.

What skills do you think you most need for the game at a competitive level? A good memory, and a good sense of humour for when things all go wrong.

Name: Ruskin Cave

Age: 18

School, school activities, other interests: swimming, scuba diving, nature conservation, teaching children about Bermuda’s local environment, studying marine life.

When did you first play bridge? I started playing bridge with my friends at school about two-and-a-half years ago at school lunchtimes. None of us really knew about bridge but wanted to try it as we like a bit of challenge.

Who introduced you to it? Mike Viotti

Are you good at math? Yes, set one math all my life and just finished AP calculus.

Do you have a good memory? I’ve always had a good memory as I have studied marine life nearly all my life and various other environments leading to me learning and memorise a lot of details.

Do you like other card games? Yes, I have played various card games like euchre and poker.

Who is the Bridge Player you most admire, if there is one? Roman Smolski, Roman came to visit us before we went to Chicago for national bridge competition and now is helping us prepare for the world youth bridge tournament in Italy.

What interests you most about the game? The ability to communicate various levels of information to your partner by only using a couple of bids and being able to (hopefully) find the right contract you should be in.

How often do you play? Every day of my life now as I play fun bridge on my phone where I can challenge other members of the team along with John and Mr Viotti. Over the past year and a half I have played almost 7,500 deals, not including the various nights I spend at the bridge club.

What skills do you think you most need for the game at a competitive level? A good partnership where you can understand your partner and be able to move at the same pace, while also being able to not get frustrated with your partner after a miscommunication or misplay.

Good answers by both players and some really interesting similarities in relation to what actually gets them interested, which is often the challenge of mastering the communication between partners during the bidding. Tyler and Gianluca next week.

Bridge bidding is very much a dialogue between partners and good bridge bidding often results in a great “conversation” followed, hopefully, by a good outcome. Both the players above have clearly grasped this, and this week’s hand is about that dialogue.

You pick up S-Q1082, H-AQ1054, D-7, C-964, vulnerable against not, and after RHO passes, you pass and are surprised to hear a weak 2 Heart bid on you left, which shows 6-10 hcp and a six-card Heart suit.

Partner bids 3 Hearts showing a big hand, RHO passed and you bid the obvious 3NT. LHO passes and you see partners next bid is 6 Diamonds.

You don’t like this development but you have to stay involved in the hand. What does partner have? Almost certainly a huge hand made up of Diamonds and Spades. Partner cannot really have a single-suited hand on this bidding and since he has gone past 6 Clubs, Clubs is certainly not one of his suits. Having decided that, you must now be brave enough to bid 6 Spades on your four-card suit.

The full hand:



H None


C AK10


S 9

H 32

D J1098432

C Q32


S Q1082

H AQ1054

D 7

C 964


S 754

H KJ9876

D None

C J875

The play is fairly easy on the lead of a Club. Win the Ace and play a Spade to the Queen to play the Ace of Hearts and discard dummy’s Club. You can now draw two more rounds of trumps, ruff one Diamond and give up a Diamond at the end to make the small slam.

Not an easy bid, the six Spades, but it is likely to be right most times — partner’s three-Heart bid must mean that they want to hear something from you and that suggests a two-suited hand, with a three-suited hand I think partner would double first.