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National Teams at Wellington

                      Testing the Defence.

The winners of this year’s National Teams, held this past weekend at the Wellington Bridge Club, were Kathy and Ken Yule from Matamata and Jonathan Westoby and Malcolm Mayer from Auckland. In his victory speech, Jonathan referred to the weekend being very well organized and especially complimented the format of 48 boards per day as being about right for an event of this stature.

The Yule team led all day winning all their matches apart from a 1 imp loss in Match 3. These were the top final placings in the 28-team field:




1.     Yule

Kathy and Ken Yule, Malcolm Mayer, Jonathan Westoby


2.     Livingston

Pam Livingston, Jan Alabaster, Martin Reid, Peter Newell


3.     Fisher

Blair Fisher, Anthony Ker, Alan Grant, George Masters


4.     Carryer

Colin Carryer, Sandra Calvert, Peter Benham, Charles Ker


5.     Skipper

John and Jane Skipper, Jane Lennon, Mindy Wu


6.     Smith

Scott Smith, David Ackerley, Jo and Sam Simpson


 Mayer Westoby Yules 2018.jpg
 Paul Maxwell representing the Wellington Region, along with 2018 National
 Teams winners, Malcolm Mayer, Jonathan Westoby, Kathy and Ken Yule

The format was 8 rounds of 12 board matches.

The following two boards contributed significantly to the winners’ success. Put yourself on lead to the following auction with neither side vulnerable holding as East Spade-small K9765 Heart-small 95  Diamond-small842 Club-small 94:

West              North             East                South

                                                2Spade-small                    3Heart-small

3Spade-small                    4Club-small                Pass                  4Diamond-small

Pass                  6Club-small               All Pass

Your 2Spade-small opening showed 5 spades and a minor, less than opening strength. 4Diamond-small was a cue bid, first or second round agreeing clubs, and the rest was natural. No-one could fault you for leading the suit your side had bid and supported but…. and there was a big but:

  1. It did seem from the jump to 6Club-small that North could handle a spade lead.
  2. Any other suit lead would have defeated the slam…but not a spade!  
    Board 14
    East Deals
    None Vul
    A Q
    10 7
    A Q J 8 7 5 3 2
    8 4 3 2
    Q J 8 7 2
    A J 6
    W   E
    K 9 7 6 5
    9 5
    Q 8 4 2
    9 4
    J 10
    A K 10 6 3
    K 9 5 3
    K 6

    With only one discard available on the heart suit and the spade finesse failing, North, Ken Yule, would have failed in his slam had a spade not been led. 3NT was untroubled in the other room earning 10 imps for Yule. The slam made 4 times and failed just twice.

    The following board saw Malcolm Mayer at the helm against 3NT. While the defence should have prevailed, Malcolm earned his contract with a couple of good plays mid-game.

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

    1Club-small was 4+ clubs. After his partner’s natural 7-9hcp response, Malcolm was soon in 3NT, receiving the Spade-small6 lead. He won the Spade-small10 with his jack and got good and bad news when he laid down Club-smallA. He had 8 tricks now and spent the rest of the board trying to engineer a ninth. He played off 4 rounds of clubs, losing to South’s queen. North had to find 4 discards and chose two cards in each major.

    South switched to the Diamond-smallK and made his first key play by ducking this card, thereby cutting the defence’s communications. South continued a second diamond to Malcolm’s ace.

    Malcolm played a heart to the ace and cashed his fifth club. North let go their remaining spade to keep Diamond-smallQ10, with Malcolm and South also discarding spades.

    Next came the second key play…a heart to the king and a heart exit. South made sure they would not be end-played by throwing the Heart-smallQ under the Heart-smallK but that left North on lead to play Diamond-small10 to the jack at trick 13….3NT making.

    It made at only 5 tables, going down at 7 more.
    newell reid alabaster livingston 2.jpg
    2nd placed Peter Newell, Pam Livingston, Martin Reid and Jan Alabaster


    While bridge is certainly a game of mistakes, it still requires good play to take advantage of defensive slips, as demonstrated by Malcolm Mayer above.

    Richard Solomon




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