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Championship decided by razor-thin margin

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Champions: Claude Guay and Sharon Shanahan (Photograph supplied)
Figure 1
Figure 2

In one of the tightest finishes I have seen in bridge, Claude Guay and Sharon Shanahan finished on top by a razor thin margin to win the 2020 Non Life Master Bridge Championship at the Club last week. In second were Inger Mesna – George Correia and Tracy and Des Nash took third.

The symmetry of the results was almost bizarre - after the first session the scores were Guay-Shanahan on 49.50, Mesna- Correia on 49 and the Nash’ s on 46.5 with Carol Jones and Kathleen Keane on 46.

After a tight second session the placings remained unaltered but the first four scores were 93.5-92.5-91-86, so the winning margin was just one matchpoint or about 1 per cent of the total score!

Jones- Keane, who were fourth, also won the B strata with Sarah Lorimer-Turner and Marion Silver in second.

Many congratulations to Claude and Sharon for the win and to the other pairs in the frame who put up such a great fight only to just miss out on the top prize. The field had a healthy 11 pairs and the event was held with players being masked throughout the game, other than for the victory photograph!

It is from this group that the next batch of regular Open game players will come, and it was good to see the turnout during these difficult times .

Today’s hand has a lot of important moving parts to it, and if you want to learn from it you have to do a bit of thinking as I lead you through the declarer play and defence.

The two main points from the hand are to do firstly with communication in defence and providing partner with count during the play, and secondly with the need to sit back at times and reconstruct declarer’s hand in order to get to the right answer. The hand also involves the ‘ruff and discard’ which I discussed a couple of weeks ago (see Figure 1).

The bidding was not good !

South opened 1 Spade and North made a limit raise to 3 Spades after which South made the quite bizarre leap to 6 Spades !

The 3 Spade bid is awful - the hand has 11 points, at least a nine card trump fit, honours that are clearly working and some ruffing values, and the value bid is definitely 4 Spades.

South’s leap to 6 Spades is almost as bad, as it needs a lot from partner and if North had a usual limit raise the contract would have no chance. But here two wrongs almost made a right and South now had to make the contract.

West led the Heart King on which East played the 5, to start a count signal showing an even number of hearts (high–low with an even number, up the line with an odd number, so if East had started with 3 or 5 hearts she would have played the 2).

Declarer realised that his only legitimate chance of making the contract was if East held the Club King, but like any good declarer he tried a different line of play first.

Declarer won, drew two rounds of trump, played AK of diamonds, ruffed a diamond, crossed to a trump and now ruffed the last diamond, looking for all the world like a man preparing an endplay. He now exited with a heart to make it look like he had started with Ax and had no hearts left, in order to encourage West to lead a club to avoid giving a ruff and discard.

West won and noticed that partner followed with the 2 of hearts confirming an even number , and if that was the case declarer still had a heart left which would allow a heart return to be safe.

Before leading, however, West decided to reconstruct declarers hand and see what the position was even if partner had got lazy and declarer did start with two hearts- add to the 2 hearts the known 6 spades and 2 diamonds leaves Declarer with three cards in clubs and this would be the position (see Figure 2).

So even if this was a position a ruff and discard would not help declarer, so West led another heart and stayed away from the fatal club switch, and she was richly rewarded by defeating the slam when declarer ruffed in dummy and took the losing club finesse.

Good clear thinking and defence by East-West, as it would have been a travesty if North-South were rewarded for some pretty awful bidding.

So there are two takeaways from this hand – always help partner by giving count in defence, and take your time to reconstruct declarers hand when you have all the information in front of you, as West did on this hand .


Friday, November 27

1. Charles Hall - Margaret Way

2. Gertrude Barker - Martha Ferguson

3. Richard Gray - Molly Taussig

Saturday, November 28

Non Life Masters Championship

1. Claude Guay - Sharon Shanahan

2. George Correia - Inger Mesna

3. Desmond Nash - Tracy Nash

Monday, November 30

1. Elizabeth McKee - Stephanie Kyme

2. Peter Donnellan - Magda Farag

3. Gertrude Barker - Jane Smith

Tuesday, December 1 <149


1. Gina Graham - Felicity Lunn

2. Carol Eastham - Nikki Boyce

3. Duncan Silver - Marion Silver


1. Tim Mardon – Jean Schilling

2. Wenda Krupp - Jane Gregory

3. Vivian Pereira - Wilena White

Wednesday, December 2

1. Aida Bostelmann - Julia Beach

2. Tony Saunders - Molly Taussig

3. Lynanne Bolton - Peter Donnellan

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Published December 05, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated December 04, 2020 at 7:23 pm)

Championship decided by razor-thin margin

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