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Auckland News by Douglas Russell

Welcome to a new year of bridge, fun and friendship. The warm weather has to some extent thawed Biritch the Russian Blue’s frosty disposition, and many of you will have seen his familiar furry features at local tournaments (Biritch most emphatically does NOT play club bridge). As you might suspect, Biritch is outwardly very disparaging about such matters as rankings, ratings and master points, dismissing them as ego props for the lesser player. Be that as it may, I know that he is secretly mightily pleased to be the first to achieve the highest rank bestowed by the New Zealand Feline Bridge Association, that of Zirconium Grand Mouster. See below for an example of how he reached this milestone.

As usual, at this time of year we have rather fewer tournament results to report, the sunny (?) weather disposing us to rather more al fresco entertainment. However, back to last year at Auckland, where Stan Abrahams and rising star John O’Connor took the final Auckland Thursday Pairs tournament. Two dual 3A plus 5B events: at Waitemata, Alan Currie and Carol de Luca won the former and Sharon Marryatt and Carol Joseph the latter, while at Hibiscus, those honours were taken by Gary Chen and Clair Miao and Maureen and Warren Nevines respectively.

Akarana’s popular themed Christmas party was taken by Pam Canning and Duncan Badley; however, the real prize of the day was scooped by Carol de Luca for her imaginative interpretation of “Beachwear”.

Pam Canning Duncan B-.jpg

best at Bridge at Akarana's Christmas Pairs, Pam Canning and Duncan Badley

Carol DeLuca and Mark H at Akarana 17 party.jpg
 but best beachware award went to Carol DeLuca, while Club President, Mark Hangartner and
director for the day, Tony Morcom, look on.


For reasons which are not difficult to fathom, the 3-night format events run by Papatoetoe and Auckland proved ever popular, with Jeffrey Ren and James Yang emphatically winning all three nights at the former and Youth (and Women’s/Open) international pair Andi Boughey and Matt Brown the latter. Coming right up to date, Waitemata’s 5A was a victory for William Liu and Yuzhong Chen.


Top of the tree at Papatoetoe's Christmas tournament
James Yang and Jeffrey Ren.

While not an Auckland tournament, we must congratulate the all-Akarana team of Michael Cornell, Ashley Bach, Matthew Brown and Michael Whibley for their super win in the National Open Teams in Canberra in January. This is a very tough tournament, with all Australia’s top players and many overseas stars competing, and this result confirms our players as able to foot it with the best in the world.

Back to Biritch. Here he is in action to score a huge result in a deal that defeated many players.

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


A number of pairs ended in 6♠ from the West seat; several of these received the friendly lead of ♦A and wrapped up 12 tricks in short order, while those who got a less helpful lead invariably failed – with one exception (guess who?).

Our hero went for the match point contract of 6NT, of course, and did not get any such help. How, then, did he make his contract with ♦ A sitting offside?  Biritch concluded that North’s failure to lead a diamond implied that he possessed the ace, and played accordingly.

He ran of all his spades and 3 hearts to reach the following 5-card ending.

A 9
Q J 3
K 10
A 8 6
W   E
K 52
10 9 7


On the play of dummy’s  dummy's last heart,declarer throws a club from the West hand and either North or South must keep 3 clubs in order to prevent him scoring 3 tricks in that suit. If South keeps them he must bare the ♦Q, and West’s 10♦ will score the 12th trick; if North keeps the 3 clubs, he must bare the ♦A and West will score the ♦K. This is apparently a sort of compound squeeze, according to my learned friend and frequent partner Wayne Benefield; so called because both opponents have to effectively guard two suits. Of course Biritch got it all right, and claimed his 90% + score with an insouciant twirl of his whiskers.

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