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Auckland News with Douglas Russell

A somewhat abbreviated report for you this time, as “Other Matters” have rather overtaken my life at the moment. However, a goodly run of tournament results, with many of the usual suspects featuring large. Back in May at East Coast Bays, their Intermediate tournament was a win for Matthew Johnson and Geoffrey Sullivan, while the Junior crown was taken by Sue and Bev Snyders.

 The major event of the period was the superbly run Queen’s Birthday Congress at Auckland at the beginning of June. The Open Pairs was another Boughey extended family affair, with Matt Brown and Michael Whibley just seeing off Andi Boughey and Carol Richardson (and while not strictly within my remit, congratulations to Andi and Carol on carrying of the South Island Pairs in July). Matt and Michael teamed up with fellow internationals Michael Cornell and Ashley Bach to win the Open Teams convincingly, while Jonathan Westoby and Grant Jarvis took the Monday West End Pairs, and James Thompson and Marlene Young the Restricted Pairs.

Youth players, Beth Schuck and Jeremy Fraser-Hoskin, headed the field at the Papatoetoe Restricted. Auckland’s June Thursday Grace Joel Pairs sponsored by Ryman Healthcare was won by Tony Jiang and Julia Zhu.

Waitemata’s combined Intermediate/Junior event saw victories by for Caroline Griffin and Darren Old (the first of two wins for Darren), and Ken Durbin and Michael Tangney respectively. Later in June, the Howick Club had a busy time. The club held a very successful and well attended session in aid of the Totara Hospice, with Judith Betteridge and Sue Skilton emerging with the best score. A few days later, Alan Dormer and John O’Connor won their Open tournament, and Suzy Hails and Birgit Cameron the Intermediate. And coming right up to date, Auckland’s July Thursday was a narrow win for Amelia Herbert and Janet Barnard, just pipping Neil Stuckey and Michael Curry, who made a storming comeback after languishing at the bottom table for two rounds. Finally, Mt Albert’s Open Tournament was won by Yuzhong Chen and James Yang, while the Intermediate provided a second “gold medal” for Darren Old, this time with Kevin Birch.

The very popular year-long Interclub competition is well underway. After 4 rounds, Akarana holds a narrow lead over Auckland Carter in the Open division. Franklin Green heads Royle Epsom 3 in the Intermediates, and Mt Albert Jane is pulling away from Howick in the Juniors. The latter two divisions each feature no less than 22 teams, a considerable testimony to Tony Morcom’s organisational skills.

Just two photographs for you this edition. The first I just could not resist, although you will have seen two of the cast before. This comes from the Auckland Club’s Monday evening session, which is designed as a gentle introduction to competitive bridge sessions for those who have recently completed a series of Beginner’s lessons.  Showing that bridge is a game that does not take any account of years, we have two 9 year olds in Briar Coleman and Alex Shan footing it against Roy Heskins, who is giving them at least three quarters of a century and Jill Fowler, whose age I am reluctant to speculate about.

young players Auckland Club.jpg
                  Jill, Briar, Roy and Alex

The second I stumbled across quite by accident after a friend drew my attention to an article from the New Zealand Herald dated 31 May 2009. This features a bridge game in the unusual setting of the underside of the Harbour Bridge (appropriate enough) in 1962. The names of the players given in the article are Gregor Cadness, Tom Bowie, Howard Amos and William Stephenson, and the photograph was shot by Warehi (Wal) Britton. While this was clearly a high-spirited youthful adventure, the players claimed that they were simply trying to draw attention to the poor security around the bridge.

NZ Herald  photo   HarbourBridge  1969.jpg

Solving The Problem

 Finally, back to the hand from the trials for the Auckland-Northland Interprovincial teams that I presented as a problem for you last edition. Even seeing all four hands, this is a very complex problem, with many twists and variations.

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

 Contract : 6NT by South. Lead Heart-small10.  

Declarer has 10 top tricks via 6 spades, 2 hearts and the two minor aces.

Simple end play does not work

At first sight, it might look right to cash out the major suit winners and attempt an end play on West. However, this will not work, since West is discarding after South, and simply matches his minor suit holding with South in order to later score a second defensive trick.

Lose a trick ( to rectify the count)

However, if we recall the basic principles of a squeeze when we are a trick short, we usually need to “rectify the count” by losing a trick early so that defenders are put under pressure when we run our winners; the only safe suit to achieve this is hearts. We must also ensure that our threat cards are split between our two hands.

So win the heart lead in North, play off just 2 rounds of spades to strip West in that suit and to retain an entry to North, and then lead the Heart-small2.  Now: if East plays low, duck! (South knows East holds Heart-smallJ and probably Heart-smallQ as well). This serves the dual purpose of rectifying the count and endplaying West to give back one extra trick in a minor suit. Now the squeeze can operate, because North has minor suit cards just high enough to serve as threats in the suit that West has returned, and South can discard his own cards in that suit on the run of the spades.

However, if East rises with a high heart to get his partner out of the endplay (the "Crocodile Coup"), win Heart-smallK and play another to establish a third winner in that suit, discarding the Diamond-small2 on the third round of hearts. Win whatever East returns, and it is now the fourth round of hearts that will squeeze West. The critical cards for all of this to work are the Heart-small87 in South, and the Club-small9 and the Diamond-small10 in North; not at all obvious! Not surprisingly, the above successful line was not found by those at the table.

One who may have found such a line was Biritch but he was forced to sit on the side-lines for these Inter-Provincial Trials as there was no "cat" egory for him to participate!



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