Mardon and Griffiths win Novice Pairs

Congratulations to Tim Mardon and Charlie Griffiths who won the one-session Novice Pairs at the Bridge Club with a great score of 69.44 per cent — not that far behind in second were Mark Stevens and Malcolm Moseley with 67.36 per cent and hot on their heels in third were Katyna Rabain and Jean Schilling with 66.67 per cent, which may be the highest third-place score I have seen in a tournament.

These are three excellent performances and hopefully we will see these pairs work their way up into the intermediate games and then eventually into the bear pit of the Open Games.

This event was also notable for having four of the student pairs from the schools bridge programme being run by the club under the guidance of John Burville.

One of the pairs, Ross Cooper and Scott Gilbertson, had an excellent 61.11 per cent game to take fourth place, which I hear comes from the work they have put in away from the table to improve their game.

The other student pairs taking part were Daque Davis and Michae Skinner, Sydney Daponte and Brett Baumgartner, and Ahzjanai Smith and Najmah Sillah. Well done to them all for taking this important first step. Once again, congratulations to Tim and Charlie — a near 70 per cent game at any time is worth talking about, but to do it in a tournament is yet another thing. And to Mark and Malcolm, and Katyna and Jean — those scores will usually be winning ones, so keep posting those and success will come.

The topic for today’s column goes away from the local scene and focuses on the international game, where the prizes, fame and money are alluring enough to lure some pairs to transmit information by unethical means — mannerisms, code words and even the infamous foot-tapping incident at the World Championships in Bermuda in 1975 when one pair was accused of tapping morse code messages on each other’s feet under the table!

That happened when I was monitoring in the next room and one of our local players, Tracy Denninger, was one of the observers who spotted it.

What brings this all to mind is a book just sent to me by the great Bob Hamman, urging me to read it, called Under the Table — the case against the Blue Team, written by Avon Wilsmore. The book is hard to put down and the author provides a pretty damning case against the iconic Blue Team, who dominated bridge in the late Sixties and Seventies, and no matter what your view on the matter, the incriminating deals are fascinating. It is hard reading for me because I idolised a couple of players on the Blue Team during my formative years in the game.

I don’t intend to include any names here, but take a look at this deal that came from a national championship and featured one of the accused pairs who at the time were ranked #1 and #2 in the world, sitting North — South.

Dealer South E/W Vulnerable


? 863

? 1063

? 6

? QJ10954


? AK102

? 82

? KJ943

? 63


? Q5

? AKQJ975

? Q8

? K8


? J974

? 4

? A10752

? A72

The bidding:

West North East South

1D 2C 2D (1) DBL

Pass 3C 4C 5C

Pass Pass 6H

(1) This was a transfer to Hearts

First the bidding — the 2C overcall by North is nothing short of bizarre with 3 points and could only be made if South somehow was alerted that it was a weak hand.

Otherwise bids like this, if taken at face value by partner, would result in carnage over the long run.

The furore at the time, however, was to do with the defence … defending six Hearts, South led the Diamond Ace and when this held, instead of doing what 99 per cent of players in the world would do to defeat the slam by cashing the Ace of Clubs, he continued a Diamond, gave partner a ruff and the Club return defeated the contract three tricks.

How did South know that North had a singleton Diamond? In the inquiry that followed, South said that “he had a mental blackout and was thus incapable of thinking properly” — that didn’t convince many!

If the Diamonds South was missing were the 6, 7 and 8, then the 6 would have to be a singleton as with 7,6 or 8,6, North would play high-low, but with Q6, North would not play the Queen and therefore South should certainly cash his Club Ace.

The author describes this as an example of “exceeding tolerance” — where the cheater just doesn’t know how to stop even if his actions get further and further away from normality.

The game nowadays, while not totally clean at the top level, is a thousand per cent better than in the Seventies and Eighties, where scandals were rife and nearly every tournament had incidents, appeals committees etc.

The introduction of screens, bidding boards and stools under the table have made the game much easier to police and these improvements have benefited all who play the game.

Also, one of the most common accusations of cheating related to the way smokers placed their cigarettes in the ashtray and how they picked them up and where in their mouth they positioned them — with smoking now banned during all games this is no longer an issue!

Next up on the tournament roster is the two-session Mixed Pairs next Saturday at the Bridge Club. The morning session will start at 10am. The sign-up sheet is posted at the club and will close at 4pm on Monday — full results the week after.

Results for week of March 25

Monday afternoon


1. Elizabeth McKee/Stephanie Kyme

2. Gertrude Barker/Edward Betteto

3. Lyn O’Neill/Dorry Lusher


1. Patricia Colmet/Heather Woolf

2/3. P Siddle/G Gray/M Ferguson/J King

Tuesday evening junior game

1. Katyna Rabain/Louise Payne

2. Gina Graham/Felicity Lunn

3. Linda Manders/Wendell Emery

Wednesday morning


1. Gertrude Barker/Jane Smith

2. Charles Hall/Linda Pollett

3. Judith Bussell/Diana Diel


1. Tony Saunders/Molly Taussig

2. Greta Marshall/Lynanne Bolton

3. Edward Betteto/Elizabeth McKee

Thursday evening


1. Robert Todd/Rachael Gosling

2. Charles Hall/William Pollett

3. Sheena Rayner/Magda Farag

Friday afternoon


1. Edward Betteto/Molly Taussig

2. Margaret Way/Lyn O’Neill

3. Rosemary Smith/Marsha Fraser


1. Diana Diel/Elizabeth McKee

2. Alan Douglas/Jane Smith

3. Patricia Siddle/Marilynn Simmons

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Published Apr 6, 2019 at 8:00 am (Updated Apr 5, 2019 at 10:22 pm)

Mardon and Griffiths win Novice Pairs

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