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A long week-end of bridge in New Plymouth produced enjoyment for many, success for a few and rather a large number of unusual happenings. They know how to put on a good Congress in Taranaki though at times the food was far better than the calibre of the bridge.

Firstly, let’s salute the winners.

Open Teams                           Sam and Jo Simpson, Jan Alabaster, Pam Livingston

Intermediate/ Junior Teams Liz Crawshaw and Johan Strydom, Walt Crawshaw and Libby Winyawonk

Swiss Pairs                             Alister Stuck and Russell Wilson

CD Marion Hill Open Pairs   Alan Grant and John Skipper

Intermediate/ Junior Pairs   Cees Dekker and Johan Strydom

Russell Wilson and Alister Stuck.jpg
Russell Wilson and Alister Stuck

None of the above would be involved in the sort of things we will report in a minute.

The Strength  Leading the way in this category was a trio of hands held by the West players in the final session of the Open Pairs. First up was a flat 24 count on Board 1. Partner obliged with a 1 count meaning that game in spades and no-trumps was achievable.

Board 2 was a little disappointing in that West only had a flat 17 though partner made up for the shortcomings with a 10 count with game achievable once more in the same denominations.

West was back in form on Board 3 with a splendid looking 22 count. The six count opposite was enough for a comfortable game in no-trumps and both majors, slam even if you took the heart finesse on the first round of trumps in a heart contract:

West                          East

Spade-small KQ97                     Spade-smallA62

Heart-small AKQT42                 Heart-small8

Diamond-small AT                          Diamond-small J64

Club-small A                            Club-small J87432

24,17,22…63 high card points in 3 successive boards, an average of 21. Not bad..but all three were comfortably outdone by one hand earlier in the Pairs:

A K 10 5 2
A 9


A fair 28 count. (Have you ever seen a poor 28 count?!) Most players do not have particular methods to handle this number. If you play a Multi 2Diamond-small, you could have a rare additional shape included, a jump to 3NT after partner’s normal 2Heart-small response, showing 27-28 balanced. (2Club-small followed by 3NT showing 25-26).

However, most would have simply bid 3NT after opening 2Club-small and getting the inevitable 2Diamond-small response. They would have played there making 11 (some defenders allowed them 12) tricks opposite partner’s 4 count. However, if you bid 3Diamond-small at your second turn, how many hearts does partner promise with a 3Heart-small bid in this sequence:

North            South

2Club-small                   2Diamond-small

3Diamond-small                   3Heart-small

With the expectation of 5, one North bid to 6Heart-small. This proved to be an anti-percentage contract needing two out of three good things to happen….but they did!


Board 20
West Deals
Both Vul
A K 10 5 2
A 9
Q 10 8 7 5 3
10 9 2
7 4
10 7
W   E
9 2
8 6 3
Q J 9 6
Q J 5 3
6 4
J 7 5 4
8 3
K 8 6 4 2


 Hearts broke 3-3 and the spade finesse worked, making up for the 4-2 break in diamonds (the "bad thing").

Would you know the minimum number of hearts partner should have in the above sequence? If the answer is 5, then South has to bid 3NT on the above hand.


There were many, many of them, keeping the most affable director, Lorraine Stachurski, extremely busy.

There was the player who revoked twice in the same suit on the same board. Have you worked out the penalty for such a sin, Lorraine?

There was the grand master who ruffed a spade in a heart contract and then promptly led a spade back. And you think you have problems at the bridge table?!

Many players must have had bad scores on a board because they tried to play the board again straightaway for the second time against different opponents. It was perhaps understandable when first time round, their opponent opened a Precision Club whereas second time, it was a natural 1Diamond-small opening. I did say “perhaps” as the opponents were oblivious to the fact that they were holding the same 13 cards as one minute earlier! A wise and watchful director actually spotted what the players failed to before damage was done.

However, this next one proved far too tough even for Lorraine. On a board where a pair could make 9 tricks with a combined 25 high, at one table the pair with these cards subsided in a club partial. They then played the board once more a few seconds later against different opponents and tried to play in a 5-1 spade fit at the 2 level! Do we ever learn?!

Some pairs elected to play 3-3 fits during the week-end, not ideal at any level though on the following, justice was done, eventually…

Board 22
East Deals
E-W Vul
K 5 4
J 9 5 3 2
A K 6
J 5
J 7 6 2
10 6
Q 10 7 4 3
K 2
W   E
10 8 3
K Q 7 4
Q 10 9 7 4
A Q 9
A 8
9 8 5 2
A 8 6 3


The North hand caused some issues at two of the tables in the Open Pairs. At one, after South opened a weak 1NT, North used Stayman and bid 3NT after South’s 2Diamond-small response. A diamond was led and dummy was spread with the Heart-small5 in with the diamond suit. One observant defender spotted this error which explained the use of Stayman rather than a transfer. Eventually, the Heart-small5 was returned to its rightful spot but not before the Diamond-smallJ scored trick 1 with a club switch ensuring the contract’s defeat.

At 15 of the 16 tables, North-South finished in 3NT by South, mainly on a diamond lead. Since West is unlikely have Diamond-smallQJT (no Diamond-smallQ lead), South’s best chance is to rise with Diamond-smallA and play Heart-smallA and a second heart…and then rise with the Club-smallA on the first round of clubs. West can unblock the Club-smallK. If South does take their 3 spade tricks and exits a club, East must give declarer a second heart trick for just down 1...otherwise declarer makes only 7 tricks.  

The Calligraphy Coup

At the remaining table, the bidding started as normal:

North                         South


2Diamond-small       (transfer)      2Heart-small

to be followed by a very “intelligent” bid by North,( "intelligent" in two ways). He only invited game with 2NT but with the sometime used “calligraphy coup” in that the bid on the paper looked like 3NT! South passed in his sleep…only to be told that with 12 opposite 14, he was in part-score!

Declarer did not take much advantage of such good fortune. He ducked the opening diamond and the club switch, enabling that suit to be set up. A diamond went to the ace and a heart to the 9 and 10. Back on table with a high diamond, he played Heart-smallA, Spade-smallK and a low heart. East spread his hand with 2 heart and 3 more club winners…down 3!   

Save the bad writing for a different day!

Richard Solomon

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