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Auckland News with Douglas Russell

As some of you may have heard, I spent 5 unplanned days at the beginning of August enjoying the outstanding hospitality of the North Shore Hospital, as a result of which I now have a new friend very close to my heart, known inevitably as Gerry. For those of you too young to catch the allusion here, please check out Despite the total success of this (mis)adventure, it has restricted my own subsequent involvement in bridge events more than somewhat. Unfortunately, my regular informant Biritch the Russian Blue rarely has anything positive to say about anyone other than himself. So, I am reduced to reporting the few snippets that I have picked up. Normal service should be resumed next time.

North Shore’s Restricted Pairs was won by Don Hayward and Paula Miers, and Howick’s similar event by Angela Signal and Val Tetley. George Sun and Alice Young were the Open winners at Howick. Auckland’s Thursday Edmund Hillary Pairs was a win for Ian Berrington and Fuxia Wen. At Auckland’s Billie Tohill event, Andrew Tarbutt and Karen Harris scored just 50.7% in the first session, but their 67% in the second (unusually, the only score over 60% in the entire event) was enough to clinch the win. The simultaneous Tudor Biggs Rosebowl was won by the Jills, Kilby and Bignell, where again their 62.5% in Session 2 was the only score above 60%. 

The major events of this period were the Auckland Regional 10 A events held at the Auckland Club in July. In the Pairs, Yuzhong Chen and James Yang timed their run superbly to win with sessions of 53, 59 and 64%. In the Teams, Barry Jones, Jenny Millington, Patrick Carter and Russell Wilson ran out winners.

 This hand from the Teams event caught several declarers napping. With a 9-card heart fit missing only the Q and 10, and no outside losers, several pairs tried the grand slam – not today, Josephine. Of the remainder, one pair missed the slam entirely and one was gifted a misjudged sacrifice in 6Spade-small. Of the 23 pairs who bid 6Heart-small or 6NT, 13 made their contract and 10 failed by 1 trick.

What is the point of this? When you are in a good contract at IMPs scoring, you play as safely as possible to guarantee the contract.

West Deals
None Vul
J 9 8 5 4 2
J 10 7 3
8 7 3
A 9 8 7 5 2
A 9 6 5
Q 2
W   E
K Q 7
K J 4
K Q 4
A K 6 4
10 6 3
Q 10 6 3
8 2
J 10 9 5


The standard safety play in the heart suit is to cash the King first – this caters for a 4-0 break on either side. Doubtless all the unsuccessful declarers knew this, but it is easily overlooked in the heat of battle. As it happens, 6Heart-small  can still be made after cashingHeart-small A first, by stripping South of all side suit cards (this includes ruffing a winning top Spade-small honour!) and throwing him in with a forced ruff.

Inter-Club on “The Shore”

Late July saw the annual North Auckland Challenge for the five clubs situated north of the Harbour Bridge – North Shore, East Coast Bays, Hibiscus Coast, Orewa and Warkworth, the last of whom very ably hosted this year’s event. In this, each club fields one Open, one Intermediate and one Junior team, each of whom plays in a multiple team event against the other teams of the same category. Despite coming second in all three events, North Shore were narrowly beaten on the day by East Coast Bays, who won the Open and Intermediate sections and were 3rd in the Junior.

Inter-Club “in Town”

After 6 rounds of the regional Interclub event, the Open division sees Auckland Carter with a 7 VP lead over Akarana. In the Intermediates, Royle Epsom leads Franklin Green by 4 VPs, and in the Juniors Waiheke holds a 9 VP lead over Mt Albert Jane.

The “Young” Club turns 50

The Akarana Club celebrates its 50th Anniversary this year, and fittingly the theme for the regular fancy dress competition held in conjunction with its Swiss Pairs was Gold. From the huge and very strong field of 56 pairs, Barry Palmer and Neil Stuckey just hung on to win by 0.10 VPs from Jonathan Westoby and Malcolm Mayer. Many thanks to Spring Lin for his generous sponsorship of this event. It was great to see so many of the club’s original founder members at the day, including John Evitt, Don Hayward and, over from Brisbane, Bill Haughie. Best of luck to Barry and Neil, and indeed to all our representatives, in the World Championships in China later this month.

JohnDonBill  cake cutting.jpg            NeilBarrySpringMark Akarana 19.jpg 
Akarana Foundation members, John Evitt,        Sponsor,Spring Lin, Barry Palmer and Neil
Don Hayward and Bill Haughie cut the cake      Stuckey and Akarana President, Mark Hangartner
50 years on.                                                        Spring, who runs a scaffolding company, performed
                                                                             well in the bridge too, coming 4th.

 Youth Bridge

Youth bridge is certainly acquiring a high profile in the region, with several clubs putting on special events. Paul Coleman, recently appointed to promote Youth Bridge in the region, writes from Mt Albert:

“I am pleased to report that we had 11 youth at our session at Mt Albert today; 3 from the Youth weekend, 3 from Auckland Grammar, the 2 learners from Mt Albert, and (children of current players) Emma, Alex and Briar. We spent the 2 hours learning about and practising declarer play and playing 2 x 3 boards rounds. Feedback was positive. We will look to do it again 15 September. The players from the Youth Weekend, while stronger, were good at helping the less experienced out. They also commented that this is what they needed when first moving from online to club play. It looks like 2 of them will sign up at Mt Albert and could be playing sessions there as early as the week after next.”

National 15A Pairs

The final event for this report was the National 15A Pairs held at Auckland. Again, a very strong field of 44 pairs, including many pairs putting in their final practice sessions before China. After the 3 rounds of qualifying, it looked as though this would be a 2-horse race between two of these pairs, with Michael Whibley and Matt Brown just heading Michael Ware and GeO Tislevoll, and the rest of the field some way behind. But this is a funny old game; in the first session of the barometer scored final, Michael and GeO had a poor set, apparently leaving the glory there for the taking for Matt and Michael. But no: it was their turn to struggle, scoring just 38.5% to finish 14th out of 14 in the second session. However, when all the complex arithmetic was complete, M & M had just hung on to take the title, with Steph and Tom Jacob second and Steve Boughey and William Liu third.


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