Tom Furness

I am 16 years old and live in Kent. I first read about bridge 5 years ago at the age of 10, in the book ‘The Cardturner’ by Louis Sachar, and was instantly intrigued. I decided to find out more about bridge online, soon persuading my dad to learn how to play too, and a few weeks later we decided to go to a local club on the upcoming Saturday.

It went very well, and we managed to come a very respectable seventh (out of seven) and after a variety of atrocities including dropping a singleton king offside in an 8 card fit instead of finessing, barely making 2nt when others had made slam, and opening 1s on just the AKQ because I thought it ‘looked nice’ we were graciously told not to come back until we actually learned more than just 1nt=12-14. 

But the cake at tea break had enticed me, and I was desperate to play there again. After a few emails between my dad and the club’s director in which she ascertained that, yes, we were actually in it for the game and not just the snacks, she offered us 8 weeks of lessons, which helped us to come an awesome second to last upon our return. We continued trying, however, and after reading many of Paul Mendelson’s books over the following year our results generally began to improve, getting our first win after nearly a year.

Last April, my club’s director discovered the Young Chelsea club which was being run online at the time by Will Clennell. Other young people play bridge?! It took about 3 seconds to decide to play there and after playing a few times with Lucy Norman I was invited into the u16 squad and have greatly enjoyed playing here since June.

My favourite hand while playing has probably been this slam hand from an u21 tournament last year. Only one of the other tables reached slam - after a relay auction so long that the bidding sequence couldn't fit in the corner of the screen - but were defeated by the 3-1 trump split after ruffing 2 spades and setting up the Jh. After hearing about at least 10 cards in the majors (i opened 1s to avoid losing a spade fit) and a diamond cue from me, Lucy did well to drive to the 25 point slam. Perhaps she had hoped that my cue in her first bid suit might be based upon the king, not a shortage, making the diamonds establishable. Of course i wouldn't cue a shortage... of course not...

but the diamonds were still establishable! After a club lead to the ace and a switch to a spade, I refused the spade finesse, crossed via a trump, ruffed a diamond, crossed to another high trump (noting happily trumps were 3-1, so ruffing spades in dummy would have set up their Jh), ruffed another diamond, ruffed a spade with dummy's final trump, and ruffed a third diamond with my penultimate trump. When diamonds were 4-3, i could play my final trump (the king), felling east's jack, use dummy's final entry (the club) to reach the diamonds and claim. 11 imps when the other table made ten tricks in 4h.

On (very) rare occasions if I am not playing bridge or reading bridge books/articles, I enjoy watching films/series (the Hunger Games and Money Heist being my favourites) or doing Harry Potter quizzes. I also have two cats that are in the process of taking over my bed.

I was part of the team of 6 who won the Peggy Bayer in February and am looking forward immensely to the Europeans in July!