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South Island Pairs


The South Island Pairs came to the Top of The South and players came from all over New Zealand to Picton for two wonderful days of Bridge.

The event involved five barometered sessions, 46 pairs playing three boards against each other, 135 boards in all. This formula seemed popular with the players, even though it meant 81 boards played on the Saturday and Saturday evening play.

(The picture above shows the event winners, Russell Dive (Wellington) and Russell Wilson (New Plymouth. In the middle is Vicki Weetman from Summit Real Estate, the principal sponsor. This event marked the first time the two "Russells" had ever played together.)

The Picton Club, led by their President, Claire Welch, put on a wonderful event with excellent organisation.Picton is just a club of 60 members. Regional Chairman, Chris Marshall commented:

“All members of the club who were in town were involved at some time during the weekend including new players who have been out of lessons for 1 month. We also had a couple of new players kibitzing who got quite excited when the players they were following played the cards that they thought should be played. When they asked between rounds why a particular play was made they were given good friendly explanations.” Great promotion for our game.

The catering was great with continuous food supplied by club members throughout both days.

The dealing team did a mammoth job, dealing 1620 boards for the five session event which was played barometer style.  Most  comments about the movement seemed positive. The event was very ably served by the director, Julie Atkinson, who kept everyone to time and in good humour, and also by the most efficient scorer, Caroline Wiggins.

On then to the bridge and the top placings:


Russell Dive – Russell Wilson



Jane and John Skipper



Anne Somerville – Moss Wylie



Grant Jarvis – John Davidson



George Masters – Blair Fisher



Tim Schumacher – Tony Fitzgerald



Richard Lapthorne- Neil Hawkins



Kate Davies – John Patterson


 Jane and John Skipper@home.jpg
John and Jane Skipper,a very close second

 To average 60% over such a lot of boards is a fine effort. Here are the top session scores: 

                                                      Session                                          %

Jane and John Skipper



Anne Somerville – Moss Wylie



Russell Dive – Russell Wilson



George Masters – Blair Fisher



Pam Dravitzki – Sheila Beggs



Anne Somerville – Moss Wylie



Jana Bott – Ray Cannell



Peer Bach – Anthony Hopkins



Richard Lapthorne – Neil Hawkins



Adrian Abrahams – Rebecca Osborne



Russell Dive – Russell Wilson






It was nice to see some local pairs getting high session scores. One local pair, Sally Croy and Gordon McCormick scored 59.26% in the last session. To say this was their best score rather underestimates this achievement. It was a vast improvement on the four before. Indeed, they threatened to have a big impact on the tournament as with Jane and John Skipper having a huge finish, Sally and Gordon played the two “Russells” in the last of the 45 rounds and took three above 50% boards off them in three part-score contracts, enough to worry but not to dethrone “the Russells” from top position. 

Pairs is much more about overtricks than bidding and making tight games. With Jane and John Skipper closing the gap, these three boards proved to be very significant for the winners towards the end of Session 5.

Board 18
East Deals
N-S Vul
Q 9 4
A 6 2
Q 10
A K Q J 3
J 2
K J 8 7
A 9 6 5 3 2
W   E
10 8 6 3
Q 9 4 3
9 5 4 2
A K 7 5
10 5
J 8 7 4
10 7 6
West North East South
  Russell Dive   Russell Wilson
    Pass Pass
1  Dbl 1 NT 2 
Pass 4  All pass  

 When Russell Dive heard his partner make a free spade bid, he elected to go for game in the major rather than look for 3NT. 4Spade-small can be beaten (whereas 3NT cannot) but not on the reasonable but unfortunate (for the defence) lead of the Diamond-smallA. East got their ruff at the expense of their natural trump trick and Russell Wilson was able to take the next 11 tricks for a 91% score.

Board 19
South Deals
E-W Vul
J 7 6 3
K 8
8 3
K Q J 9 8
9 5 2
10 9 7 5 3
A 4 2
A 3
W   E
A K Q 10 8
K Q 7 5
10 7 4
A J 6 4 2
J 10 9 6
6 5 2
West North East South
Russell Dive   Russell Wilson  
Pass 1  1  Pass
2  Pass 3  All pass


Nearly half the field went off in either 3Spade-small or 4Spade-small. Therefore, playing and making a partial on this board was most important.

South led Diamond-smallJ with Russell Wilson winning in hand and cashing one round of trumps before playing Club-smallA and a second club. The defence switched to hearts with Russell ruffing the second round, ruffing his third club and then playing two more high trumps. He had 9 tricks (spade and diamond losers to come) but made 10 when South discarded a diamond. An 89% board but the overtrick in itself was not worth that much extra.

Board 20
West Deals
Both Vul
A Q 3
10 7 6
6 5
9 8 6 4 2
K 7 4 2
J 9
K Q 10 9 8 3
W   E
9 8 5
A K 8 5 4 2
A 10 3
J 10 6
Q 3
A 7 4 2
K Q J 7
West North East South
Russell Dive   Russell Wilson  
Pass Pass 1  Pass
1  Pass 2  All pass


South led a high club which Russell Wilson won in hand to play Diamond-smallJ. South elected to duck this with Russell overtaking in dummy. He ruffed a diamond, a club, a second diamond and a second club…then a third diamond, with North retaining all their trumps. Russell played a spade to the king and ace and lost three spade tricks. North and Russell each had three hearts left and when South exited a club, North did not put in their Heart-small10 and Russell had the last three tricks…making 10 tricks… another 89% board.

An overtrick in a cold 6NT followed before a run of moderate average scores on the last six boards saw them look nervously over their shoulders..but they finished ahead by 14.4 match-points.


The award to Robin was made at the tournament in honour of 50 years of administration to Bridge in New Zealand. Robin’s service goes back well before the Top of The South Region came into existence and covered time in Central Districts and Canterbury Regions as well as time on the New Zealand Bridge Management Committee.

Nevertheless, it was neat to see Robin acknowledged by all the clubs in his current region.

Robin Young  Chris Marshall John Skipper.jpg
Robin Young, Regional Chairman Chris Marshall and New Zealand Board Member, John Skipper

The presentation consisted of three baskets with items reflecting each of the individual Top of The South clubs e.g. crayfish from Kaikoura, whitebait from Westport, clams from Golden Bay, wine from Marlborough and salmon from Picton. Clubs spent in excess of $100 each showing the high respect that Robin is held in the Region, a lovely gesture to a true gentleman of the game and a very hard-working one too.

Richard Solomon.

A special thanks to all those who provided copy and photos for this article.




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