Mike Bell, 31, was introduced to the game at Reading School. He loved experimenting with system from the start - within six weeks of his first duplicate (aged 18), he had tried playing three different 1NT opening ranges and four different meanings for a 2D opening!
He soon entered the U20 trials, where he was introduced to one of the top U25s at the time, Michael Byrne. Mike benefited greatly from the squad system, and four years later, he and Michael formed a partnership. They went on to have much success together, including wins in the 2009 Camrose, two Lederers, the Chairman's Cup teams event in Sweden and the pairs at the prestigious Yeh Bros in Shanghai.
For a while, Mike made his living playing online poker. This required playing the best part of two million hands per year, and naturally his bridge development suffered. The anti-social hours meant that in the 2009 Premier League he was so “jet-lagged” that he put the opposing declarer's hand down as dummy, which as far as we know is a unique occurrence. Thankfully, that declarer, Espen Erichsen, put the incident behind him, and teamed up with Bell and Byrne to win the event the next year.
In 2013, Mike cashed out his chips, moved to London and became a full-time bridge player and teacher. Two years later he joined the Allfrey team, partnering David Gold; In the year to date, the squad has won the Camrose and the Spring Foursomes.
When not playing bridge, he may be found watching it instead – he has captained the England U25s, and will be coaching the U16s in the World Championships in Italy this summer, where he will be able deputy to the captain, Sarah O'Connor (his fiancée).
His love of bidding theory has endured - with David, Michael, Sarah and others, Mike plays his home-grown system, “TriBal”, based on five-card majors and a 14-16 NT. 1D is opened with 11-13 balanced, 1C with 17-19 balanced, meaning both minors may be just two cards.
When asked for his favourite hand, there was only one contender; the time he made a slam on a “positional” squeeze that only functioned because his RHO played out of turn at trick 11.
Last updated: June 2016
Major International Selections
Junior European Championships: 2009
European Champions Cup: 2015 and 2017
Camrose Trophy Selections: 2009 (EBU team) 2011 2016 and 2017
Junior Camrose Selections: 2008 and 2009
Premier League Winner: 2010 2016 and 2017
Spring Foursomes winner: 2016 and 2017
Two Stars Pairs winners: 2014
Tollemache Cup winner: 2016 and 2017
Sunday Telegraph Salver winner: 2016
Player of the Year Championship: 2015/16 - 11th=; 2016/17 - 3rd