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Daily Bridge in New Zealand from the South Island Pairs

 Brian Mace and Tom Jacob

                                       Northern Spoils at the South Island Pairs.

It was mainly North Island players who were successful in the South Island Pairs held over the past weekend in Blenheim. The winners, Brian Mace and Tom Jacob, took the lead midway through the morning session of the barometered final and never loosened their grip on that position. There were 18 pairs in each of the final and Plate and a further 16 pairs in the Consolation. The top pairs at the end of the final were:











































The only South Islanders in the top 8 were 2nd placed Graeme Tuffnell and 5th  placed Brad Johnston with the top South Island pair being 10th placed Moss Wylie and Tony Fitzgerald and top Top of the South Pair, 12th placed Adrian Abraham and Tony Hinkley.
2nd overall                    3rd overall              Plate winners          Consolation winners

 Graeme Tuffnell Ian Berrington 2021.jpg                   Mindy and Mariusz.jpg       Jana Bott Rebecca Osborne 2021.jpg    Fuxia Wen and Pat D'Arcy 21.jpg
Graeme Tuffnell and Ian Berrington    Mindy Wu and Mariusz     Jana Bott and Rebecca    Fuxia Wen and Pat D'Arcy 
                                                            Tumilowicz                          Osborne

The winners of the Plate were Rebecca Osborne and Jana Bott from Jane and John Skipper and Clair Miao and Wayne Burrows. Consolation winners were Fuxia Wen and Pat D’Arcy from Pam Whitehead and Stuart Grant and Wendy Coburn and Glenys Tyler.

The weekend featured a large number of slam and freaky hands and the problem we left you with yesterday fell into both categories.  

Bridge in NZ.pngnz map.jpg

A K J 9 8 7 6 2
A 6
8 7 3
West North East South
3  ?    


Take a look and see what you would bid next and also decide whether you are going to break a cardinal rule of bridge.

That’s right: two more questions.

What’s the rule and are you going to break it?

Three of the top four pairs in the final all had this or a similar bidding problem. We will see how they coped shortly. Firstly, though, to the Panel. There was the "softly softly" approach.

Stephen Blackstock “4Heart-small: Not out of caution, but because this auction is far from over. We might make anything from 10-13 tricks, but it looks as if E/W may have a very cheap save. So, I want to sound as if I may be saving. Perhaps the auction won’t make my efforts convincing, but it can do no harm to try. Potentially, playing a small slam, likely doubled, will be a lot more profitable than defending 6Spade-smallx or even 7Spade-smallx. If I wanted to go all out, I might try 5NT immediately (grand slam force), reaching 7Club-small opposite AKxxxxx, but even then the play might be awkward on a diamond lead. Given the variable quality of a first seat green pre-empt, it’s in any event unwise to assume too much.”

Bruce Anderson “4Heart-small: unimaginative, I know. It is tempting to bid a direct 6Club-small but partner does not guarantee AK when pre-empting and the club slam may have no play on a diamond lead. If East bids 4Spade-small, now I bid 5Club-small.

That sequence means that partner, in the unlikely event of having a partial fit in hearts (stranger things have happened), can show that support by bidding 5Heart-small. If that is so, I will bid 6Heart-small and hope that partner holds the ace of his suit. If partner passes 5Club-small and our opponents bid to 5Spade-small, I don’t know what I will do; defend probably.

 That just sounds a bit too “softly”. What are your partner’s first in hand not vulnerable pre-empts like?


Peter Newell “4Heart-small: I don’t see much advantage in rushing things particularly when I think it is probably more likely to be our hand than theirs.  Clearly East is going to bid 4Spade-small if able and likely 5Spade-small if I bid at the 5 level. So, by bidding 4Heart-small, I’ll be able to see if partner can bid 5Heart-small, and when the bidding comes back to me at 4Spade-small I’ll likely bid again, 5Club-small if able, and if partner can bid 5Heart-small, I’ll bid 6Heart-small.   I expect we have a club loser as my partners don’t have AK to 7 clubs very often for a 3Club-small bid. So, on a diamond lead, we will be struggling to make 5Club-small even. Often the hand will play better in hearts with many saying “don’t put down 8 card suits as dummy.”

 Martin Reid take note. Your pre-empts do not seem to be that good!


Not following Peter’s saying about the 8- card suit is:


Pam Livingston “6Club-small: I know that if clubs makes, then it is very likely that hearts will make and that it is match-points!  But it seems very likely that the next bid you will hear is 6Spade-small from the opponents.  “How good is my partner's pre-empt first seat not vulnerable” I'm asking myself too?

I'm bidding 6Club-small for two reasons.  Firstly, 6Club-small makes it harder for them to bid 6Spade-small. It is more of a guess of who is diving (I'm not even sure who is diving!).  Bidding 6Heart-small gives them clarity around two suits.  Secondly, if partner has some fabulous club holding, they may be able to bid 7Club-smallover 6Spade-small (if it happens) and that can't be bad.”


Nigel Kearney “6Club-small: It could make. It could be a save. It could push them overboard. Even if not, I doubt we can buy it any lower or get to a position where I would be happy choosing to defend 5Spade-small.”


Kris Wooles “6Heart-small: if partner has something like Spade-smallxxxHeart-smallxDiamond-smallxxClub-smallAKxxxxx, we could be cold for 7Club-small and yet equally on those cards 7Heart-small might come in. We are playing Pairs and a lot of people will aim to play in hearts but the 7/3 fit in Club-small’s may well be better.

It would help to know partner’s style with their first in hand 3Club-small opener.  I might just bid 6Heart-small for the superior score when we can make just 6Heart-small and 7Club-small is on but not bid. A little hard to bid constructively after a pre-empt but the North hand is very attractive after that first in hand pre-empt. At Teams I’d likely bid 6Club-small. In either case a diamond lead appears the most threatening.”


So, boots and all and, you hope, no further bidding or just bidding slowly first of all to let the opponents get their spade bidding out of their system and maybe, you are “forced” to bid slam. It is time to see all four hands and how our top pairs coped.


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


East/ West would not go away very quietly! Well, it was not quite that bidding after Kate Davies opened 3Club-small. West showed their two suits with a 4Club-small cue and John Patterson (North) decided to trust his partner’s pre-empt and took the Pam Livingston/Nigel Kearney approach of jumping to 6Club-small.


Maybe East thought their partner just had to have the red suits because they doubled 6Club-small to end the bidding. Grand slam missed by John and Kate but nearly all the match-points gained.


Ian Berrington- Graeme Tuffnell were playing against Mindy Wu- Mariusz Tumilowicz. After Ian’s 3Club-small pre-empt, West did overcall 3Spade-small. Graeme took the fast route to 6Heart-small but could only now double East’s 6Spade-small as he could not underwrite a grand. On reflection, he thought a grand-slam forcing 5NT might have worked better as over 6Spade-small, Ian would just have to bid 7Club-small. Graeme, a “heart” man, would then have converted to 7Heart-small….and East probably to 7Spade-small!


So, here’s the way to win the South Island Pairs, as shown by Brian “softly, softly, softly” Mace and Tom Jacob:


            West              North            East                South


                                    Brian                                      Tom


            3Spade-small                   4Heart-small                   4Spade-small                   5Heart-small


            5Spade-small                  6Heart-small                   6Spade-small                   Pass


            Pass                7Heart-small                   All Pass


Tom’s 5Heart-small bid must have been music to Brian’s ears. I asked Brian whether Tom’s pre-empts are always that good and got a resounding “no” as the answer. However, there was an inference that Tom did have a sound pre-empt when he bid 5Heart-small before his partner had a chance to take action over 4Spade-small.


Ultimately, Brian thought their side was not going to get very rich from doubling 6Spade-small and so took the push once more.


The opposition had indeed run out of spade bids allowing Tom to put down perhaps the best pre-empt he has ever held. (With Club-small AKQxxxx there is another bid..see below). Even Brian must have forced a small smile at the sight of dummy!


The standard opening bid for AKQ to 7 clubs and no ace or king outside is a Gambling 3NT opening. Now, whether he took a calculated extra gamble or perhaps miscounted (let us say very charitably the former) but Christchurch’s Tony Quinlivan did open 3NT on the South cards. You try stopping his partner, Sam Gurney, after that. They reached the club grand slam with Sam’s side-suit more than making up for the club Tony did not have.


So, the rule we asked whether you were prepared to break was the one where we say you should never make a good-looking 8-card suit a side-suit in dummy. It seems strange to do so when the suit is a major and the game is Pairs.


For the record, only three pairs reached grand-slam, one each in hearts and clubs while the third was the excellent 7Spade-small sacrifice. 9 North-Souths were allowed to play in a small heart or club slam, twice doubled. 6Spade-small was played four times by West, three times doubled while the remaining 10 tables played clubs or spades at the game level, mainly 5Spade-small just one down. Good fun, or not so good depending on which side of the result you were.


We will feature some more hands from this event over the next few days but first:


Jan’s Day


And in keeping with today’s hand, more pre-emption at a high level. However, we have a play problem for you:


North Deals
Both Vul
A Q 9 7 4
A 9 5
8 3
A 10 3
W   E
K 8 3
K J 10 7 4 2
K Q 2
West North East South
  1  5  5 
Pass 6  All pass  


West leads Diamond-small7 which East wins with Diamond-small9. They continue with Diamond-small10. Plan the play.

 Richard Solomon




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