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McKee and Pollett win ladies pairs title by tight margin

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Many congratulations to Elizabeth McKee and Linda Pollett who won the 2022 Ladies Pairs Championship by the narrowest of margins when they finished a wafer thin ½ a match point ahead of Gertie Barker and Jane Smith!

Twelve pairs contested the event and after the morning session Jane and Gertie led by 1½ match points from Elizabeth and Linda, with Marge Way and Rachael Gosling just in third by ½ a match point, and they were ahead of Inger Mesna and Sharon Shanahan in fourth. The afternoon session was just as tight and when the smoke cleared the winners had 131 match points, second place had 130.5, Marge and Rachael in third had 126 and Inger and Sharon had 117.

The cream really rose to the top in this event as these three pairs were standouts – there were other good players in the field but not in partnerships as strong as the top three. The champions are prolific winners at the Club, as are the placing pairs, and it is great to see such a competitive finish.

Well done to Elizabeth and Linda and commiserations to Jane and Gertie for the tough loss – the latter must think of many places where that one point could have been gained, but need to keep in mind that the winners might have had the same! Also, a big shout to Inger and Sharon who had two solid sessions in a good field.

I’ve been writing this column for something over 40 years and I would imagine that at least once a year I talk about the most misplayed card combination in bridge — and I know that I could do it another 40 times and it won’t change the way 80 per cent of my readers play the suit! I will, however, persevere and am hoping you fall into the 20 per cent.

The combination is QJxx in dummy opposite Axxx in hand. I know what happens here – declarer will stretch every sinew to get to dummy in order to “take the finesse” even though it is completely the wrong play.

The first thing about this combination is that one must recognise that there is no layout of the opponents’ cards that can avoid one loser, and that there are many combinations where there can be two losers. Try it: put the cards any way in the opponents’ hands and see whether you can achieve no losers – you can’t.

Once you know that, your goal should then be to try and avoid two losers.

The correct play? Cash the Ace and then lead towards the QJ6. Yes, I know you hate it but you don’t have to like it — just do it!

Most of the time you will end up losing one trick in the suit if the hearts are 3-2.

So why should you not go to dummy and try and run the Queen?

Look at these three layouts (see Figure 1).

Figure 1

In each of these, and there are many more combinations in the third example, you end up losing two tricks in the suit by running the Queen and losing only one trick in the suit if you play Ace and another.

Of course, if in any of the above N/S have the heart 10 then taking the finesse is correct, but not otherwise. I will leave it there.

That brings us to today’s hand in Figure 2, which has a similar theme.

Figure 2

South opened one heart, West had no good bid and passed, and when North bid two hearts, South bid the heart game. By the way, I don’t like North’s raise. I would start with an NT and then show hearts which promises three-card support – I like my immediate raises to show at least four trumps.

West led the King of diamonds. Declarer could count six tricks outside trumps. He saw that if he could keep his trump losers to one, he would make his contract. Declarer observed that no matter how he played the trump suit he would almost always have at least one loser in the suit.

If trumps were three-two, the Ace and another trump would carry the day. So, declarer turned his attention to dealing with a four-one trump break.

With that in mind, declarer led a low trump at trick two. West played the eight of trumps and dummy’s Jack won the trick. Declarer returned to hand with a low club to his king to lead a second low trump. West rose with the King of trumps, dummy followed low and East discarded a diamond.

Declarer ruffed West’s continuation of the Queen of diamonds, played a low trump to dummy’s Queen, led a spade to his Ace and drew West’s remaining trump with the Ace.

This brought declarer’s trick total to seven and he claimed three more club tricks for his contract. Note that declarer’s play in the trump suit would only lose a second trump trick if East had been dealt a singleton King or four trumps to the King and a singleton club (provided he does not take the King on the first round of trumps). Otherwise, declarer would have been able to pick up the trump suit for one loser.

Again, the key to success here is declarer accepting that he had at least one loser in the heart suit, which allowed him to plan the play in order to avoid losing two tricks in the suit. Really thoughtful play...


Friday 20 May


1. Jane Smith – Marge Way

2. Molly Taussig – John Burville

3. Elysa Burland – Pat Colmet


1. Pat Siddle – Tony Saunders

2. Betsy Baillie – Peter Donnellan

3. Judy Bussell – Dorry Lusher

Saturday, May 21

Ladies Pairs Championship

1. Elizabeth McKee – Linda Pollett

2. Jane Smith – Gertie Barker

3. Marge Way – Rachael Gosling

Monday, May 23

1. Jane Smith – Gertie Barker

2. Martha Ferguson – Marge Way

3. Aida Bostelmann – Julia Beach

Tuesday, May 24


1. Jane Downing – Jamie Sapsford

2. Malcolm Moseley – Mark Stevens


1. Barbara Elkin – Neil Gilbertson

2. Vivian Pereira – Rosemary Smith

Wednesday, May 25


1. Pat Colmet – Marge Way

2. Julia Beach – Pat Siddle

3. Wendy Gray – Richard Gray


1. Judy Bussell – Dorry Lusher

2. Greta Marshall – Heather Woolf

3. Tracy Nash – Des Nash

Thursday, May 26

1. Rachael Gosling – John Luebkemann

2. Elizabeth McKee – Linda Pollett

3. Jane Smith – Marge Way

Non-Bridge Club Online Results for Bridge Club Members

May 24 – Stephanie Kyme and Judy Bussell – fifth out of 326 pairs

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Published May 28, 2022 at 7:58 am (Updated May 28, 2022 at 7:58 am)

McKee and Pollett win ladies pairs title by tight margin

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