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A Nail -Biter in Dunedin- The South Island Teams

Beautiful weather, an excellently run tournament (in every aspect but especially nice food, as we have come to expect from bridge events held in Dunedin) and a an extremely tight finish.

Let’s set the scene. 26 teams from all over the country along with US visitor, John McAlister,  playing an 8 round Swiss of 14 board matches. At the end of day 1 (5 matches), the team of Shirley Newton- Jenny Wilkinson, Tim Schumacher – Tony Fitzgerald (Wilkinson) had hit the lead after scoring 18.17 in round 5 off John and David Skipper, Alan Grant-Jane Lennon(Skipper) with Graeme Stout-Jeff Miller, Pamela Nisbet- Richard Solomon (Stout) 4.63 vps behind and the pack a further 10vps off the pace.

A new day and the team of Martin Reid-Peter Newell and Ella Pattison – John (Newell) were picking up the momentum. In Round 7, Wilkinson had a small win though Newell scored a near maximum. These two teams clashed in Round 8 with Newell taking over the lead by 1.39 vps with a big 16.38 win. In the final round, Wilkinson played Davidson (Johnny Davidson- Pavla Fenwick, Ryan Song- Jeremy Fraser-Hoskin) while Newell played Stout. Newell managed to score 15.06. Would Wilkinson score the necessary 16.5 to win?

Newell Reid and co 2019 S Island Teams.jpg
Coming from behind...had they scored enough? Martin Reid, John McAlister,
Peter Newell, Ella Pattison and Otago-Southland Regional President, Frances Sheehy (far right)

There were few major swings though two important ones went Wilkinson’s way. What would be your choice with the following East hand after this auction:

Spade-small K653


Diamond-small –

Club-small J9853

West              North             East                South

1Diamond-small                  1Spade-small                  x                   2Diamond-small 1

4Heart-small                 4Spade-small                  ?

1 game try, spade support

with only East-West vulnerable?

The winning action was to double, +500 on best defence though Johnny Davidson was asked to make 5Heart-smallon the following lay-out:

Board 16
West Deals
E-W Vul
A 10 9 4 2
J 6
A J 8 3
6 4
A 9 7 3
K 9 7 5 4 2
A K 2
W   E
K 6 5 3
Q 10 5 2
J 9 8 5 3
Q J 8 7
K 8 4
Q 10 6
Q 10 7


Johnny received Spade-smallA lead which he ruffed, cashed his top clubs and the Spade-smallK and then embarked on a cross-ruff. However, when he ruffed the fourth diamond in dummy, Shirley Newton (South) was able to over-ruff and play a trump herself which left Johnny a trick short. At the other table, Tony Fitzgerald was a level lower and made 10 tricks for a very useful 12 imp pick-up.

The only other double-figure swing occurred on Board 28. Let’s see if you have the nerve of Shirley Newton. She participated in this auction as South with only North-South vulnerable:

West              North             East                South

2Diamond-small 1                Pass              3Diamond-small                   3Heart-small

3NT                x                      Pass                ?

1 Weak 2 in diamonds

Presumably, Johnny Davidson (West) had a heart hold alongside his decent 6 card diamond suit and hoped his partner’s diamond raise had some black suit honour cards along with the known diamond support.

As South, do you pass 3NT x?

If I told you that East (Pavla Fenwick) did indeed have a decent hand, would you still pass the double?

You do not win major events by bidding 4Heart-small! Shirley passed because she knew her partner would also have a stack of diamonds. Johnny knew that too… and retreated to 4Diamond-small with a second double from Jenny Wilkinson, North, ending the auction:

Board 28
West Deals
N-S Vul
J 9
J 9
K J 10 6
A K 9 5 2
8 5 4
K 2
A 8 7 5 4 2
J 10
W   E
A K Q 10
10 5
Q 9 3
Q 6 4 3
7 6 3 2
A Q 8 7 6 4 3
8 7
West North East South
2  Pass 3  3 
3 NT Dbl Pass Pass
4  Dbl All pass  


Johnny suffered the loss of two tricks in each minor and the Heart-smallA to be two down for -300. At the other table, 4Heart-small was also 2 down, giving Wilkinson a total of 500 and 11 priceless imps. Wilkinson won the match 35-8 which equated to 16.55 vps.

 Was that enough? “Never in doubt” Jenny Wilkinson was heard to say! Just look below and see how close it was:
















 Jenny Shirley Tim S  Tony Fitz   S Island Teams winners 19.jpg   
Tony Fitzgerald, Tim Schumacher, Shirley Newton and Jenny Wilkinson,
South Island Teams winners, along with Frances Sheehy

0.08 vp decided the event.

Jenny and Shirley are one of our longest surviving partnerships, starting together in 1991. They will play for our international Women’s team in both its international outings this year. Tim and Tony are not a regular partnership making the result even more worthy. They demonstrated a mixture of good understandings and good judgement to reach the following grand slam from an earlier round:

Board 16
West Deals
E-W Vul
Q 7
10 9 6 5 4
K Q 10 9 5
A J 8 4 2
K J 3
A K 8 4
W   E
A Q 8 7
A 6 4 2
Q J 6 5 2
K 10 9 6 5 3
8 7 3
10 9 7
West North East South
Tony   Tim  
1  Pass 2  Pass
3  Pass 4 NT Pass
5  Pass 7  All pass


The key bid was Tony’s 3Diamond-small splinter bid showing a singleton or void diamond and club support. Tim checked on key cards, with Tony showing zero (not today!) or three. Tim knew his partner would not splinter on a dead minimum hand and thus would have extras. It would seem at worst Tim would need the heart finesse but that was not necessary on the actual deal with Tony’s hearts being just what Tim needed.

At several tables, North entered the fray with a less than inspiring Michaels Cue Bid (2Spade-small) giving East an interesting decision. With a void in partner’s opening suit, it seems attractive to go looking for blood. However, when blood was extracted in 3Diamond-smallx, it was only 4 down or 800, not even compensation for a small, let alone a grand slam. The vulnerability suggested that maybe 3Club-smallby East was the better action over 2Spade-small though that is because West's minor was diamonds, not clubs!. It certainly was the right action on this day.

Richard Solomon

 photos courtesy of Gillian Alexander

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