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New Zealand Bridge Youth Weekend

Our “Tomorrow Players” Meet in Auckland.

Matt Brown could not be there. Nor could Susan Humphries. They had some prior engagement in Lyon. Yet, they are just a touch too good for those young players who gathered for a week-end of Bridge, socialising, eating….and plenty more Bridge. (70 boards played on Saturday alone!)

This annual Weekend is aimed at our less experienced Youth players and though it is delightful that Matt Brown, Susan Humphries, Andi Boughey, the Coutts brothers and other former attendees have gone to become not just Youth but in some cases full internationals, that is not the Weekend’s aim. Certainly, they will learn a bit more about the game but the Weekend is primarily about having fun and playing bridge. Some of the players only learnt the game this year.

How else can you define a session of Crazy Bridge where the rules changed every board? On one, the order of the suits got completely reversed with “2s” high and aces “low”. Counting high card points was a nightmare…but how is this for a finesse:


                                                Spade-small 24QA

                   West                                                 East

                   Spade-small 310                                              Spade-small 79J


                                                Spade-small 568K

South led the Spade-smallK from hand with West playing Spade-small10 and North Spade-small4 winning the trick… be followed by Spade-small2 led from dummy capturing Spade-small3 and Spade-small6 winning the third round of the suit over East’s 7. Maybe they could use that tactic in the current World Championships?

Nick Jacob is another who has attended these Weekends as a young player. Now near ancient with a son to prove it, he was back this year to give a very interesting talk on “Counting”. Counting what? Counting anything…suits, trumps, tricks, the number of minutes to lunch. Talking of which, the 30 attendees surely have challenged the Guinness Book of Records for the fastest time in eating 15 pizzas and pizza bread. We think the lunch break could have been over in 30 seconds flat if it was just about eating food!

But that was not the case as the breaks were important too not just for the sanity of those organising the event but to enable card games of “I know not what” to be played, always a key part of each of these Weekends.

Another regular feature is “Play With an Expert” where the attendees get the chance to play with a strong Open player. It was neat seeing Andi Boughey along as one of the experts. The top North-South score was achieved by Peer Bach very ably assisted by first time attendee and one who is very new to the game, Eslyn Beck from Greytown. Here is Eslyn doing all the hard work against a pair of New Zealand Internationals (that's right, Peer Bach in the rather unusual role as dummy!), one Senior and the other Youth. They decided to double Eslyn in 2Diamond-small.

Board 23
South Deals
Both Vul
A 10 9
J 9 6 5 2
K J 7
K 8 5 3
K Q 10 3
Q 9 7 2
W   E
6 4 2
K 10 6 3
Q 10 9 8 3
Q J 7
A 7 4
8 5 4
A 6 4 2


Eslyn sat East and received the Heart-smallA lead. He kept cool and did better than Deal Master Pro which had him down 1 for the horrible -200. Not Eslyn. He just lost 5 tricks and scored an excellent +180.

Luc Mckay and Eslyn Beck.jpg

Eslyn Beck (right) along with Rangiora's Luc Mackay

No Bad Overcall Gives Good Result

Another who showed good judgement was Dunedin’s Sinny Wei who resisted the temptation to make what would be a very poor vulnerable overcall in the Youth Individual, very ably run by Pat Carter.

Board 10
East Deals
Both Vul
A J 10 6 5
10 7 4
A 10 9 6 5
K J 10 8 6 4
A 9 6
J 7 4
W   E
K Q 4 3
5 3
K Q 3 2
Q 8 2
9 8 7
A Q 9 7 2
J 8 5
K 3


After East opened 1Diamond-small, Sinny passed as South and was very well rewarded later in the auction when her opponents reached a rather optimistic 4Heart-small contract. Sinny decided it was no longer correct to pass and the red card was used to give her and her partner +800.

Blenheim’s Galen McGinlay won the 27 board Individual with an excellent 63.89% from Hutt’s Tegan Bennick (63.36%) and Taupo’s David Young (62.30%).

Tegan and her team also won the regular Speedball Teams (30 boards in 90 minutes) with a cumulative score of over +7,000 points, though no thorough audit of this score took place. The chocolate prizes, though, are likely to have all been eaten even if any errors could subsequently be found!

Georgia Wang, Flora Edwards and Tegan Bennik.jpg

Are Georgia Wang, Flora Edwards and Tegan Bennik discussing a hand

they have just played? Could be... but there again maybe not!

The Weekend also featured a Swiss Teams event, an introduction to our International Youth Squad by convenor, Tracey Lewis, and two neat talks from Brad Johnston, a member of the International Youth Squad, one on Bridge Etiquette and the other on Bridge Disasters! Is there a connection? Always be polite when you concede -2000 on a board!

Two small but significant awards are always given to the two attendees who contributed to the spirit and intent of the Weekend. The awards this year went to Eslyn Beck and Galen McGinlay.

Galen and Nathan Frisby .jpg                             

Galen McGinlay in action against

Dunedin's Nathan Frisby

Finally, thanks to all those who helped make it happen, the presenters, Brad Johnston, Patrick Carter, Tracey Lewis and Nick Jacob, those who billeted the out of towners, those who played with the Youth in the Expert session, the board dealer, Tony Morcom, the Auckland Club for the use of its clubrooms at minimal cost, my fellow organiser, Mary Chamberlain and New Zealand Bridge for subsidising the Weekend to a considerable amount.

I am sure it will have been worthwhile.

Richard Solomon





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