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Auckland News by Douglas Russell

The rainy season has started in earnest in Auckland, and partly as a consequence the tournament season is in full swing, with a pretty crowded calendar.

The Howick Restricted Pairs was won by John Craig and KC (what does the KC stand for?) Lee, and the May Auckland Thursday Pairs sponsored by Hedgerow turned out to be a benefit for former club presidents, Russell Watt and Jo Clark.

Jo Clark Russell Watt Ann and Patrick june 18.jpg
Auckland winners Jo Clark and Russell Watt flanked by director Patrick Carter and club administrator
Ann Weatherston
Our Interprovincial teams to emerge from the Trials held in May have a substantial international representation:



Michael Ware – Matthew Brown


Denis Humphries – David Dolbel



Linda Cartner – Glenis Palmer

Carol Richardson – Andi Boughey


Neil Stuckey – Barry Palmer

Peter Hensman – John O’Connor


Candice Doyle – Karen Smith

Cheryl Parsons – Takayo Yanagisawa

Congratulations to all, and best of luck in Auckland in November.

At the East Coast Bays Combined Pairs, the Intermediate winners were Pauline Bendall and Enid di Cesare, while Ross and Clare Anderson won the Junior event. Ross and Clare had a second Junior win at Waitemata, where the Intermediate champions were Heather Robertson and Ming Hi.

Towards the end of May, Auckland hosted the annual Club Teams Championship. In this event, each overall team fields a Junior, Intermediate and Open squad, and the event is decided on the combined overall result. It turned out to be a dominant performance from the Mt Albert club, winning the Open and Intermediate sections convincingly, and placing 3rd in the Junior. Overall, they finished 57 VP’s clear of second place.

At  Papatoetoe, young Howick pair, Kevin Hu and Tony Ren, won the 5B Intermediate Pairs while in the 3A Open Pairs Christine Wilson and Barry Jones warmed up for the National Swiss Pairs by walking away with the goodies, and Cheryl Winsor continued her fine streak by winning the NZ Barok sponsored June Auckland Thursday Pairs with Gillian Alexander.

The annual Queen’s Birthday Congress in June at Auckland drew its usual huge entries. In the Open Pairs, the Fishers, Blair and Liz, won by a massive 0.01% over fellow Hamiltonians Barry Jones and Jenny Millington, and our local rising youth stars Eddy Tan and Yiwei Qi won the Intermediate Pairs. The Open Teams event was yet another dominant performance by the all-international quartet of Michael Cornell, Ashley Bach, Matthew Brown and Michael Whibley; the team sustained no losses all weekend, eventually triumphing by over 35 VPs. The Monday walk-in West End Pairs was won by Janet Barnard and Pauline Andrews. The weekend was again very generously sponsored by Jeter Liu’s Taishan Building Group, and once again the entire show was stolen by Jeter’s charming granddaughter.

QB 2018 winners Auckland.jpg
The winners of the Queens Birthday Teams with Jeter Liu's family, notably the "show stealer", Chelsea.

Over the last weekend of June, 16 eager youth players, including our quartet bound for China in August, gathered at the Auckland Club for an intensive 72 boards of teams play on the Saturday. On the Sunday, the players received some words of wisdom on various aspects of the game from Matt Brown, Malcolm Mayer and Yours Truly, and then participated with many others in a fun(d)-raising individual event in the afternoon. In addition, there was an auction of some Eminent Players (plus myself) to participate in an event of their choosing. As they say, a good time was had by all. Congratulations to Tracey Lewis on organising a great weekend, and many thanks to the Auckland Club and Patrick Carter for giving of their time and premises for free. Tracey tells me that a very generous amount was raised for the team of Brad Johnston and Nik Mitchell (Otago), and Vincent He and Zachary Yan (Auckland). Much more from Tracey on this at a later time.

On the same Sunday, the Franklin Bridge Club celebrated 60 years in existence with a full day for over 70 current and former members at the club-rooms. The club's history was relived by Vice President, Arie Geursen, between a lavish morning tea and lunch. Afterwards, most present enjoyed a social session of bridge. With a fine facility and every expectation of more members in future years as the area's population increases, the Club is in very good heart.

Kevin Birch and Pae Forgie at the Franklin Clubs 60th.JPG                            Jim Buckland Grant Jarvis Franklin 60th.JPG
Franklin Club President, Kevin Birch, and                         Club members, Grant Jarvis and Jim Buckland
 the earliest member present, Pae Forgie                          share a few memories.
cut the Anniversary Cake.

The following hand from the Auckland Thursday tournament in May caused considerable hilarity at my table at the first trick, and considerable anguish for me a little later.

Board 21
North Deals
N-S Vul
Q J 8 7 3 2
7 5 3
K J 8 6
10 9 6
10 8 2
5 4
A 9 7 6 2
W   E
K 4
A Q 7 2
Q J 5 4
A 5
Q 9 6 4
10 9 3
K 10 8 3


North generally opened a weak 2♠ or Multi 2♦, and East often ended as declarer in 3NT. East has 8 tricks (4 clubs, 2 hearts and 2 diamonds by way of a finesse), and if South leads either major, East is presented with a 9th. Let’s suppose that South avoids this trap and leads Club-small3, as happened at my table. 

A cheap trick.

Declarer can win the first trick with the Club-small4! I don’t think that I have actually seen this happen before. But how then to proceed and make the contract? The key is to realise that from South’s failure to lead her partner’s suit that she holdsSpade-smallA. So, leading towards the king is unlikely to work. The hand had me totally stumped at the time, and I eventually decided to wait and consult with the oracle, Biritch the Russian Blue.

Clever cat! 


When I got home, he was lying on the couch in front of the TV with a large bowl of Tasty Treets. I showed him the hand and, scarcely glancing away from a particularly gruelling episode of “My Kitten Rules”, he growled menacingly “Win Club-small4 and exit with a small diamond from both hands – obvious”. I judged from his body language that further interrogation was fraught with danger, so I set up the hand to play using the computer hand analysis GIB tool, and of course it confirmed that he was right. Why?

East has to organise things to end-play South in one of the major suits to give a trick in the other, and to do this must strip away her safe exit cards; these are in diamonds. It is not good enough to play on the club suit first, since declarer has to lose a trick to South in the process of setting up the suit or cut himself off from dummy, and South then has a further safe exit in that suit.

So indeed, at trick 2 declarer must play a low diamond from both hands! He cannot play the A or Q in the suit at this stage, of course, because that sets up the suit for North, who will pounce and continue the suit. Note that if North wins the diamond and tries the Spade-smallQ, declarer can engineer a trick in that suit....and if North tries a small spade? "Clever cats" will , of course, play low.

Not the most natural-looking or instinctive of plays, but I suppose that it is effectively ducking a trick in the only non-critical suit in order to rectify the count for a later strip squeeze on South – or something like that. Too hard for me, anyway.


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