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Canterbury News with Max Robb

      A warm welcome to our new Canterbury correspondent, Max Robb. Max is well known around the Christchurch bridge scene. Please contact him if you have any news items. His contact details are at the end of this report.

                   Big Weekend of Bridge in Christchurch

                The recent 20A South Island Teams was the biggest bridge event in Canterbury for at least 15 years. Two days before the start, to avoid an annoying bye, the regional committee offered free entry if an extra team could form. They would have to brave the rigours of playing against many of the country’s strongest players. There were 60 players from Christchurch, 30 from the rest of the South Island, while an impressive 60 had flown in from the North Island. A sign of the times was one team arrived in a large camper van.

                Just under half the field were grandmasters or better – 25 Silver grandmasters, and 9 Gold grandmasters! It was going to be a hard fought event over 112 boards.

                I am sure all present were as impressed as I was with the wide variety of food provided by members of the Christchurch Club. Trays of canapés kept arriving near my home table at regular intervals. The curry puffs with plum sauce were a particular favourite.

                The most impressive feature of the weekend was the manner in which each round ran like clockwork. Credit for this must go to the directors along with Sam Ward, the scorer. Chief Director Martin Oyston made it very clear that slow play would not be tolerated, and all results had to be in within 1 minute of the set finish. Both teams would be penalised for failure to finish the boards. Round 2 had two teams penalised and as far as I know from then on in all matches were finished on time. Within minutes the new draw was up, and we were off to start a new match, bang on time! Within a jiff your team’s result arrived at the home table. Many of my club-mates were impressed with the efficiency of it all.

                The results for the tournament have already been published on this website. From a Canterbury perspective, we were delighted with the success of Jan Alabaster. Jan was a member of the winning Yule team. Other Canterbury successes were:


David Skipper, Tim Schumacher

after lying 5th on Saturday



Kris Wooles, John Wignall, John and Jane Skipper

an impressive improvement from 16th


Jenny Wilkinson and Shirley Newton

after 7th on Saturday


Neil Phillips, Neal Hawkins, Richard Lapthorne

after lying 14th earlier



 Tony Biddington, Janis Franc, Judith Driver and Jan Roose  finished 14th and were very consistent to win the under 750 Rating Points prize while the top finishing Intermediate Team were

Jan Lenton, Darryl Dowthwaite, Lizzy Horsey and Deborah Matthews .

The South Canterbury team of Trish and Peter Downward, Mary Buckland, John Fechney  punched well below their weight on the Saturday but climbed well up the ladder on the Sunday.

Likewise Kay Nicholas and Lesley Andrew’s team climbed 12 places to end up with a 6-0-2 record.

A little statistic that should encourage every bridge player never to say never until the last board…… the Fisher team won their last match by 81 imps to end up a clear 2nd.

Crockfords Charity Pairs

In December Crockfords Club ran their annual Charity Tournament which attracted 35 entries with every dollar of entry money going to the Champion Centre. This charity was formed 40 years ago to provide a “wrap around” service for families who had children born with some disability. The Champion Centre has done so well that it has attracted international attention.

                Two of the participants of this tournament now have affiliations with Nelson. Toby Gordon moved there a year ago, and came back south for old-time’s sake, and proceeded to win the tournament partnering Mehboob Chiba. They were well clear by scoring an impressive 69% in the first session. Katherine Tenant and Theo Smidts have made it a habit of coming 2nd in this event.

                The Junior section was won by Sally Croy and Gordon McCormick. A month earlier this pair obliged the club when on arrival at the clubrooms they agreed to fill a gap in the Open section of the 5A tournament created by a late illness. The practice proved beneficial! Over the year Sally had earned the title of Top Junior player in the Canterbury region, but she too has now moved to Nelson.

                The Intermediate section was won by Matthew Conibear and Mary Small. They even earned A points by coming 5th overall, an impressive effort.  I am told these are names to watch. Interestingly Mary had been a very late replacement, and because of her success here, she had edged her husband out of Canterbury Intermediate Player of the year, as he was off playing bowls instead!

                But worthy of note is that of another intermediate pair, Catherine and Peter Fitchett who topped the North South pairings for the afternoon session.

        Remembering Bob Scott

                I was somewhat unnerved when one of my Otago BHS peers died recently. Bob Scott was a character then, and proved to be one of the Christchurch club’s more colourful and successful players for nearly five decades. His bridge playing prowess was enumerated at the club recently by several of the club’s strongest players. The fact that stood out for most was that in 1986 at Rotorua Bob went to the Nationals with Michael Sykes. They proceeded to come 2nd in the New Zealand Open pairs on the first weekend, were 1st in the Interprovincial Trials, and won the Rubber Bridge event during the week. But most significantly, they rounded off the week by being members of the team that won the week long New Zealand Open Teams Championship. An impressive week of bridge success by anyone’s standards.

      New Grand Masters

                Richard Lapthorne and Neil Hawkins are Canterbury’s newest grandmasters. They have demonstrated their accumulated skill several times lately. In the Babich New Zealand Wide  Pairs they came 7th nationally, went on to win The Canterbury Holiday Pairs with an average of 62% over 3 sessions in a surprisingly strong “holiday” field, and finished a very creditable 8th in the recent South Island Teams .

If you have any Canterbury News which you would like Max to report, please email him on




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