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Record Highs at the "Babich"

The 2017 Babich Wines New Zealand Wide Pairs, which was played on the evening of Friday November 3rd produced some noteworthy records. Perhaps, most importantly, as the event raises funds for The New Zealand Bridge Foundation, this year saw the the most pairs ever take part, 1,018.

Yes, we cracked the 1,000 pair barrier for the first time. The number of competing clubs, 59, was not itself a record as twice before, we have had 61. However, what was a record was the winners’ score, the highest ever by 4%. So, without further ado, here are the top 10 scores this year:

1. Jenny and Peter Story




2. Carolyn McMurray and Elizabeth Jackson




3. Karen and Murray Carter

New Plymouth



4. Philip Zheng and William Wang

Mt Albert



5. Kathleen Anderson and Joan Gordon




6. Gary Foidl and Brett Glass




7. Justine Hart and Malcolm McDonald




8. Neil Hawkins and Richard Lapthorne





9. Pru Robertson and Anthony Wilson




10. Jeanne Wardill and Helen Carrodus





Peter and Jenny Story-.jpg                                               Rarotonga photo NZWP 17.jpg

2017 winners, Peter and Jenny Story                                                    The New Zealand Wide Pairs is international. Here,

                                                                                                           playing in Rarotonga are Kat Cheval from Canada and

                                                                                                          Jessica Le Bas from Nelson.

Jenny and Peter Story’s score beat the previous highest (2015 Sandy Joe and Bruce Thom 76.76%). Jenny and Peter also challenged a long – stated myth that one cannot score well in a Howell. Of the other 9 in the top 10, 5 pairs sat North-South and four East-West.

Bridge on the beach?

Another “first” this year was to have one heat outside New Zealand. A group of New Zealand holidaymakers (bridge playing ones, of course!) left on the morning of 3rd November for Rarotonga. The tour organisers sought and were granted permission to run a heat in Rarotonga. Nine tables took part, including three local players and although no-one troubled the scorers (highest score 58.92%), they certainly enjoyed themselves. (trivia question for five years time: which heat of the New Zealand Wide Pairs took place on a date before the actual event, legally!?)

And talking of trivia, who were the first sponsors of this event, back in 1999. Read on…and you will find the answer!

Scoring 78%

Jenny and Peter play their bridge normally in Christchurch but spend weekends away up near Kaikoura, hence their appearance at the local club on the Friday evening. When asked for a memorable hand from the evening, they came up with the stock modest answer many winners the world over give.  “There was not one. People were kind to us and we played steadily.” That was certainly true as they did not have one score under 50%, indeed only 4 scores under 60%. ‘Tis the sin of victors, “modesty”

However, pinned to the bridge club wall, he offered this as an example of how to be successful at Pairs. You do not need to go for gold on every board. Being in a major is pretty important even if you would like to be at a different level:

Board 15
South Deals
N-S Vul
A 10
A K 10 7
K J 8 7 5 3 2
K J 9 7 4 2
9 6
Q 8 4
10 9
W   E
A Q 6 5 3
8 7 5 2
6 5 3
10 8
K Q J 4 3
J 9 2
A Q 6

NS 7; NS 7; NS 7; NS 1N; EW 1; Par +1400: EW 7×−6


 West               North         East        South

                        Peter                          Jenny


2Spade-small                    3Club-small           4Spade-small             5Heart-small

All Pass

Jenny made all 13 tricks and even though she failed to bid slam, 710 scored 75% of the match-points.     

Defence to "de" fore                                                                       

Third placed Murray Carter found an interesting reason for their success. “A significant aspect of bridge is providing information to your partner in a timely and accurate manner.  Sometimes we concentrate a bit too much on the bidding information and forget that defence information is just as important. On Friday night we were the defenders for 13 hands and took declarer light in 9 of them – so we managed to get a few things right!  The old cliché says 50% of bridge is defence.  Our view is that good defence can lift your 50% score to 60%.”

The weak no trumpers' nightmare

We dug a little deeper and asked the same question about a good board of second placed Carolyn McMurray. At least, she did come up with a board where her partner had made a very good pass. It is quite an instructive board too and one which will haunt many who play 12-14 no trump openers.

Board 19
South Deals
E-W Vul
10 4 3 2
10 5 4
8 7 3
6 4 3
8 7
8 7 2
Q 10 9 4 2
A 10 2
W   E
A K 9 6
A J 6
K 6
K Q J 7
Q J 5
K Q 9 3
A J 5
9 8 5

E 5N; E 4; W 3N; E 5; E 5; E 3; W 3; W 4; W 4; W 2; Par −660





I have opened a special post office box to file all the fan-mail I receive from the 500 or so players who sat North for the evening and held two hands (that’s a whole 8.3% of the 24 you played) with not a single honour card. My reply will be along the lines that they should not complain as on one hand, they had one “ten” and two on the other….and their partner held a weak no-trump! Yet, for many, that was the issue. What do you do when your partner opens 1NT and your right-hand opponent passes? Sit tight and pray East will make a bid or, as frequently as your Lotto numbers come up, passes?

The bidders may well have survived:

West          North         East            South


Pass            2Club-small               x                 2Heart-small

Pass            Pass            x                 Pass


Even if their partner held a good hand, are you, West, prepared to shoot it out at the 2 level? After one East-West bid all the way to 3Diamond-small, North, who had been saved from 1NT x, “nearly burnt the rubber on the bidding pad”, so quick was his pass in the “pass-out” seat.

Murray Carter commented that bridge is a great game “when your luck is running":

West          North         East            South

                   Karen                             Murray


Pass            Pass 1                x              Pass

2Diamond-small              Pass            2NT            All Pass

1 looking calm and confident.

Likewise, Karen found no reason to balance. Conceding two overtricks was worth 67% to Karen and Murray while Jenny and Peter Story scooped 98% of the points by actually beating 3NT!

However, back to Carolyn McMurray at Gisborne…and a lesson on what West should do, after North’s doubtful pass:

West          North         East            South

Elizabeth                       Carolyn


Pass            Pass            x                 All Pass

West has an easy lead, a potential source of tricks and knows their side has at least half the high-card points. North knew the game was up and laid down dummy with a resigned smile. No doubt, South’s “thank you” was mixed with some disappointment.

Elizabeth Jackson led a diamond to the king and ace. South tried the Heart-smallK with Carolyn in no mood to duck. She played two high clubs and then a second diamond. West ran diamonds and cashed Club-smallA. Carolyn threw her hearts with Elizabeth playing a spade.

Carolyn won with the ace and played Club-smallJ. South had to discard to discard from Spade-small QJ  Heart-smallQ and made the wrong choice… down 6 -1400 earning Carolyn and Elizabeth 99% of the match-points. Saying that the key to their success was a simple system (they do not play transfers), Carolyn commented correctly on her partner’s fine pass on this board.

There's more to bridge than cards....

So much for that hand. The other important aspect for so many was the food. At many heats, there was lovely food before, maybe during, or even at the end.


many delicacies on display at Nelson. Too much cream: causes sloppy concentration...

but, who could resist those brandy snaps!

Many will not have scored well but hopefully will have had a good feed, maybe a drink, some nice socializing and will pick up a hint or two from reading the booklet afterwards. All very important.

No points, no bid? Not here!

Back, though, to North’s “power-houses”. Do you remember Board 3 and the comment in the booklet: “Could it be that any of the four players might be the first to bid?”

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

EW 6; EW 5N; EW 5; EW 3; EW 1; Par −1370



Well, a couple of players proved me right as they opened as North!

West          North                   East            South

                   Jarvis                                       Geursen


Pass            2Diamond-small 1                      x                 2Spade-small

Pass            Pass                       x                 Pass

3Club-small               Pass                      4Club-small              Pass

5Club-small               All Pass

1 Multi 2Diamond-small

It was interesting to which major Grant Jarvis was going to own up holding. When Lynne Geursen showed preference for hearts over spades (2Spade-small), Grant pretended he had a weak 2 in spades! He was saved from changing his mind by West’s 3Club-small bid. Defending 5Club-small was barely above average for Grant and Lynne.

Grant should take a tip from South Wairarapa’s Martin Connelly whose opening bid had far greater success. Martin said he thought of opening “the Multi” but could not bear to see the look on partner’s face should he have to put dummy down. So, he found an option where dummy remained hidden!

West          North                   East            South

                   Connelly                                 Gough


Pass               1Heart-small                     x                 3Heart-small

All Pass

Katherine Gough made a value raise which silenced both opponents. Martin’s declarer skills were just not up to it as he finished 4 down for -200 but a cool 75% of the match-points. Are you watching, Grant!

Thanks to the sponsor

A big thank you again to Babich Wines for their sponsorship. There were other “wine” prize-winners on the night as listed below. Wine will go to the first five pairs listed in the main list and to the following:

Top Two Pairs Below Open Status

(No pair can win two prizes…hence a hand-down from Karen and Murray Carter.)

  1. Morgan Booker – Tony Clear                            Feilding                         65.43%
  2. Kevin Hu – Georgia Wang                                 Papatoetoe/Howick       64.87%

Top Two Pairs Below Intermediate Status

  1. Margaret and John Bath                                   South Wairarapa            64.85%
  2. Eunice Eccles – Calum McLean                       Cambridge                      61.60%

Nearest to 50%

Helen Watson and Murray Barron                              Taieri                               49.99%

and thanks to those who made it happen

To all those who scored well, congratulations. I hope everyone enjoyed their evening. My thanks to all those who helped, club secretaries, scorers, directors, dealers, caterers, cleaners, anyone else at club level, our excellent team of scorers led by Bob Fearn, Jan Spaans, Michael Neels and Anna Kalma, who had most of the results up and scored by the time players got up on Saturday morning..and full results shortly after midday. Finally, to Babich Wines. Make a date for this event on Friday November 2nd 2018.

Before we go, some more pictures from around the heats....oh and that trivia question? The sponsors of the first New Zealand Wide Pairs were "Tower Insurance". Perhaps we should have asked you which year? Well, 1999, of course. Were you playing...and you scored? OK, no need to answer that!

(The picture at the top is of Toby Gordon playing in the Nelson heat.)

Richard Solomon

NZWP Kerikkeri 17.jpg                                                                NZWP Waiheke  .JPG

 It's pretty serious at Kerikeri. Charmaine                               time for a drink and a celebratory chat. That's Waiheke heat        

 Churches is declarer with Bev McDonach dummy.                 with N/S heat winners Steve Meeking and John Dewsnip. Maybe

Sue Skarupskky and Sue Hunt are defending.                       you should buy John a drink, Steve?

Jim Brough David Don Peter Palmer NZWP Kairangi 17.JPG                                                              NZWP 17 Nelson 13.jpg

Two local prize-winners at Kairangi, Jim Brough and                              Paul Nistor and David Cartwright, Junior players

David Don with club President, Peter Palmer.                                     at Nelson who dipped their toes in the water by taking 

                                                                                                          part. Nelson had the largest heat with 18 tables. 


NZWP 17 S Wairarapa.jpg                                                              Eslyn Beck.jpg

Winners on the night at the South Wairarapa Club.                                            He was at Greytown, Eslyn Beck.

While John and Margaret Bath (middle) finished with an excellent 64.85%,       Aged 15, he will, we hope be playing a lot more

Ed Hudson (left) and Paul Baines (right) dropped to 3rd when the                    NZ Wide Pairs in the future.

across the field results were calculated.





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