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Daily Bridge in New Zealand

Leon Meier

High drama in Open Trial.

The New Zealand National Youth Weekend was held in Christchurch in August 2019. I was told there was a last minute entry from a young local player who had just learnt the game a couple of weeks before. We normally accepted registrations from quite inexperienced players, though not that new!

We allowed Leon Meier to come along. He won the award that weekend for “the most promising new player”. Just over four years later, Leon won the National Trial and will represent New Zealand at Open level later this year. Leon is now 20.

He and his teammates, Michael Ware, Matthew McManus and GeO Tislevoll pulled off astonishing recoveries over the three day trial not just once but twice. In their semi-final against Ian Berrington- Graeme Tuffnell, Pam Livingston – Malcolm Mayer, with one set out of 6 x 16 board sets remaining, Tislevoll were 32 imps down. With 3 boards left, they were 10 imps down. They picked up 8 of those on the next board and then if only to show how important overtricks can be in Teams matches, they picked up 1 imp in each of those last two boards with overtricks to tie the match.

They still had to wait nervously while a director’s ruling was challenged. It was upheld and so the two teams played an 8-board play-off, won by Tislevoll by 20 imps.

On then to the final, 6x 16 board sets against Ashley Bach – Nick Jacob, Martin Reid – Peter Newell, who had recorded a fairly comfortable semi-final win over Wayne Burrows – Jack James and Tim Schumacher – David Skipper by 66 imps.

Bach got off to a great start, winning the first set by 35 imps and after 4 of the 6 sets led by 39 imps. Bach still led after the next 16 boards but the lead had reduced to just 1 imp. There was very little change to the score over the next 14 boards. The biggest swing on a board was 6 imps and Tislevoll had gained 1 imp to tie the match. Surely not another play-off?

Then came:

   

South Deals
N-S Vul

   

K J

A 10 4

A K Q J 10 8 5 3

 

N

W

 

E

S

   

 

West

North

East

South

 

 

 

3 ♠

?

 

 

 

Not a bad hand. What action would you take?

Michael Ware elected to double. North, Nick Jacob, raised to 4Spade-small and then East, Matthew McManus, bid 4NT offering 2 places to play. Michael chose a third which Matt had probably not anticipated, 6Diamond-small. This was the full lay-out:

South Deals
N-S Vul

A 5 4

Q 9

7 6 2

A K 6 5 3

K J

A 10 4

A K Q J 10 8 5 3

 

N

W

 

E

S

 

6

K J 5 3 2

9 4

J 9 8 7 2

 

Q 10 9 8 7 3 2

8 7 6

Q 10 4

 

West

North

East

South

 

 

 

3 ♠

Dbl

4 ♠

4 NT

Pass

6 

All pass

 

 

Nick led a top club, ruffed and followed by a top diamond and then Spade-smallJ. Nick took Spade-smallA and played a second round of trumps. There were more rounds of trumps played and Michael eventually played Ashley, South, for having pre-empted with a 7204 shape. He played Heart-smallA and then Heart-small10 and got some very good news: 6Diamond-small made.

        Declarer                                         and a nervous dummy?

Michael Ware gold coast 23.jpg                Matthew McManus.jpg  
Michael Ware                                                Matthew McManus

Meanwhile, there was a different problem at the other table where at adverse vulnerability, Leon Meier passed as South. The bidding then proceeded:

West                       North                         East                            South

Reid                         Tislevoll                     Newell                       Meier

                                                                                                 Pass

1Club-small (Precision style)    Pass                        1Diamond-small (negative)             2Spade-small
?

Martin Reid was facing a partner with few points. He gambled that one or more of those points or at least length was in clubs. Martin’s 3NT ended the auction.

GeO had seen his partner pass and then jump in spades…not the time to lead that suit, at least not before a high club. All was revealed as he led Club-smallA, followed with a low club. Leon took the next two club tricks and switched to a spade. Martin’s only chance was to win this trick and thus his best chance was to playSpade-smallK. GeO won Spade-smallA, played Club-smallK on which Leon threw an encouraging spade (sacrificing one trick but ensuring many more). Indeed, another 5 spade tricks saw the contract 6 down, 15 imps to Tislevoll.

With the last board a flat game, that meant victory to Tislevoll by 15 imps…15 imps on the 15th board of the set.

GeO, bridge.jpg  
GeO Tislevoll

There will be plenty of “if-onlys” and victory could have gone to any one of three teams. GeO, Leon, Michael and Matt will be joined in the NZ Open Team by Michael Whibley and Matt Brown who were selected without trial. I am sure all wish our new team well in the Vanderbilt Open Teams at the World Bridge Games in late October this year. 

The final of the Women’s trial takes place today, Tuesday, on Real Bridge. The competing teams are Jan Alabaster- Jane Lennon, Christine and Jenna Gibbons against Kate Terry – Mindy Wu, Linda Cartner – Glenis Palmer.

As the Open event proved, nothing is certain “until the fat lady sings.”

Richard Solomon

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