Thursday, March 20, 2014

L'invitation au voyage

"Dreams! always dreams! And the more the heart is ambitious and delicate, the more the dreams will move it away from the possible. Each man carries in him his own amount of natural opium, secreted and renewed and, from birth to death, how many hours can we count that are filled by positive pleasure, by successful and decided action?"
From L' Invitation au voyage, a poem by Charles Baudelaire.

Why do we play bridge, if not for this perfect hand which will take us elsewhere, there? Who will take us out of the daily greyness and make us really live, not simply exist? Does paradise exist at bridge? The legend says it can be found only in these hands reported by newspapers, where players, aided by exotic bidding, reach a grand slam and, after the lead, spread out their cards, stating they will take all 13 tricks on triple squeeze, convincing us still once again that we are simple mortals compared to these heroes without fear and reproach. Is there really a paradise of bridge?

It is a Monday evening like any other at your club. The game is pretty boring when you open hand number 9.

What is this small shiver? Are you cold? No. You feel however as before leaving for a trip. You pass, sensing all the same that something is about to happen.

North passes and your partner... doubles (Hand maximum, partner, short hearts). In the greyness which rises a little, you look briefly at her. She too seems already elsewhere.

It is a region which resembles you, where all is beautiful, rich, quiet and honest (...) where the life is soft to breathe, where happiness is married with silence.

You pass on the double.

You lead the 4 of spade. Your partner gains the first trick with the Jack and returns... a heart.

You look at her once again, this time with admiration. Is this possible?

Yes, it is necessary to go there to breathe, dream and lengthen the hours by the infinite of the feelings.

South plays the heart Jack and you duck. You know he has 4 spades, where can he put them? Your partner understood all that by her heart return: Let him play, she says. After the heart Jack, declarer plays the diamond 2. All awake now by the brilliant play of your partner, you insert the 9. Even if you play reverse count, here you must think and play of bridge, not simply count stupidly. Declarer ducks your diamond 9, your partner playing the 3 to indicate 4 cards. You play your 2 of spade. Your partner wins with the 10 and returns... a heart!

A true country of Feast, I say you, where all is rich, clean and shining.

What beauty! What grace! The thought that South repeated a 5-card suit doesn't hit you, fascinated that you are by the angel sitting in front of you. You take the trump King with the Ace. Now is the time to count: your partner has 4 spades, 2 hearts, 4 diamonds and 3 clubs. Declarer is cooked. You play the Queen of diamond, to pin declarer's hypothetical Jack. Declarer ducks in dummy and… your partner takes the Ace! Would she be the perfect partner?

Incomparable flower, found again tulip, allegorical dahlia, it is there, is it not, in this beautiful country, so calm and so full or dreams that we should go to live and flourish.

She plays Ace and King of spades, declarer follows, powerless, while you throw your 2 diamonds. She returns diamond and you will make another heart trick for +500 and a top.

Yes, paradise exists, perfection too. But it is not a bridge hand that creates them. It is you and your partner, when you are on the same wavelength, when your thoughts communicate, when you see the sequence and the order of play, the tricks it is necessary to take and those it is necessary to let pass, when it is necessary to ruff and when it is necessary to discard.

At that moment, you form only one thought, only one being, a real pair, and you travel towards this country of Feast, this singular country, higher than the others, like art is superior to Nature, where Nature is reformed by the dream, where it is corrected, embellished.

A bridge hand cannot take you to paradise. Your partner, yes!

"A musician wrote the Invitation to a waltz; but who will compose the Invitation to a journey, so that we can offer it to the loved woman?"

I have composed this small piece for my partner, France, my wife, my black tulip and my blue dahlia!

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