What skill is the most important in bridge?
Bridge is a many-faceted game. Which is more important: bidding or play? Accuracy or brilliance? Fooling the opponents or fathoming their attempts to fool you? Some great players will be stronger at one than another; none has any real weakness. But, as you know, bridge is a partnership game so perhaps the most important skill is being a good partner. For me, at least, no partner can compare with Charles H. Goren. What makes him a great partner? Let me tell you about one of the countless hands we have played together.
You certainly can't blame Charlie for staying out of the bidding with that enormous West hand, despite the fact that he did hold a minor honor in clubs.
If you were sitting in his chair, which deuce would you have played on my second high heart, and which on the third? Players unhappily endowed with so many low cards are often careless of how they play them, but Charlie used all four of his deuces to best advantage.
When I cashed a second trick in hearts he discarded the club deuce. But when I cashed the third high heart he did not make the mistake of discarding the diamond deuce. That would have told me not to lead either clubs or diamonds and I would have played a fourth heart, hoping to establish a trump trick for West if he held three to the jack. But West did not have a trump to beat dummy's 10. South would have discarded a diamond and the hand would make.
Charlie took me off that spot. He trumped the third heart with the deuce of spades in order to return the deuce of diamonds. Declarer couldn't avoid losing to my diamond king and the ace of clubs. Spectacular? Perhaps not, now that you've read about it. But when you can save your partner from any chance of making a mistake it's a perfect example of being a good partner.
What do I get out of bridge?
An intellectual challenge. The thrill of excelling. Fun. An opportunity to travel and meet people I might otherwise never have enjoyed. Budapest in 1937 as a member of Ely Culbertson's team; Ireland, Monte Carlo, Paris, Jamaica and Rio—where I became the first and perhaps the only woman admitted to the Jockey Club. (They love their bridge in Brazil.)
Which is the strongest part of my game?
Maybe someone else ought to answer that, but I have my own ideas. One does best what one likes best. Or maybe it's vice versa. Anyway my preference is playing as declarer.
Bidding and defensive play are both like being in the chorus—you have to make every move in concert with a partner, who may take command. But there's a sense of freedom from constraint that comes when partner puts down the dummy, and from that point on it's up to you.