Get ready for Open Pairs Championship

The Open Pairs Championship starts today. It would be good to see a big field and hopefully all the top pairs will take part.

Unlike past years, there does not seem to be a core of established pairs at the top and there are a lot of partner switches from one event to the other.

I think this hurts us when our teams travel abroad to compete because they are up against pairs who probably play once or twice a week together, and have probably done that for a decade or more. That is tough to compete against unless we follow that formula.

October was designated by the ACBL as Club Appreciation month, and the games from Monday to Thursday last week were accordingly designated “Club Appreciation Games” — an ACBL game status that means more (black) masterpoints were awarded.

The Club is also entitled to run a number of enhanced points games each year, and the games yesterday and on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday will also be set up to earn enhanced points. (Tuesday is the Junior Teams Championship part 1).

Last week’s column suffered from a computer glitch and when it appeared I could see that the bidding, which was the central point of the column, would be impossible to decipher for all but the most dedicated readers.

So I’ve decided to rerun the hand which came in a match between the USA and Netherlands in the round robin of the main event of The Bermuda Bowl, which is effectively the World Championship of bridge and first took place here in 1950.

The hand can be classed as a “feel good” hand — not, as you will see, for the players involved but for all of us who at some time in our playing career get involved in an auction that, well, goes totally off the rails!

The hand is also a great example of how complicated systems and “implied support” bids can explode even in the hands of a couple of the world’s best players.

Board 22 Dealer East E/W Vulnerable


S 108

H J86

D None

C J10987642


S AK954

H 1052

D J93

C A3


S Q763

H K9743

D 1075



S J2


D AKQ8642

C K5

In the Closed Room, the South player for the Netherlands opened the hand with a strong artificial club and after a lively auction became the declarer in 5 diamonds doubled — the defence was perfect — West cashed two spades, then cashed the ace of clubs and gave partner a club ruff.

East now exited passively with the spade queen and South had a further heart to lose for down 3 — 500 to the USA, who must have been feeling pretty good about that result.

Little did they know that they were about to lose 14 Imps on the board.

You might want to take a mild sedative before witnessing the train wreck in the Closed Room.

Sitting North South for the USA were two highly acknowledged and brilliant players, Marty Fleisher and Chip Martel, both of whom I’ve played against and I can confirm that they are simply world class — so read on...


(De Wijs)








3S (1)









Pass Pass











(1) The 3 spades bid showed a hand with either just clubs or with both minors

Martel decided to open the strong South hand 2NT, which is more than reasonable — it is too strong for a 1 diamond opener and too weak for a 2 club opener so he chose the least of all evils. After Martel bid 3NT, Fleisher jumped to 5 clubs, which was clearly to play, given his first bid.

Martel now tried to make up for his opening bid by bidding 5 diamonds, which he thought was to play but Fleisher took as a cue bid in support of clubs!

Martel, however, took the subsequent 6 clubs bid as support for diamonds and so he jumped to 7 diamonds.

De Wijs, who had been sitting silent all along with his two aces and a king, now made himself heard with a double. Fleisher now made a 7 hearts bid that has no explanation at all, which Muller doubled, and when Martel “corrected” to 7NT de Wijs knew just what to do with that.

That was a cool 1,400 to the Netherlands and 14 Imps.

This sort of accident happens surprisingly frequently nowadays as systems have become more complex and pairs look to extract a special meaning from each and every bid.

Most, however, think it is a small price to pay for the overall accuracy the complex systems provide and the answer is just to shrug it off and move on to the next hand — which is what champions like Fleisher and Martel do.

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Published Nov 2, 2019 at 7:00 am (Updated Nov 5, 2019 at 4:25 pm)

Get ready for Open Pairs Championship

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