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Club’s Christmas party reminds us what we have missed

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Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone …

Joni Mitchell wrote that and it came to mind when after three years there was a further return to “normalcy” at the Bridge Club with the return of the annual Christmas Party. Who knew that all we would want is just everything we previously had and not much more.

Thanks to the great job done by Tracy Nash and her helpers the event was a great success – big attendance at a beautifully decorated clubhouse, great food and wine and, what you would expect at any party, a bridge game!

The bridge competition came down to a shoot-out between Joe Wakefield, Duncan Silver, Judy King and Wendy Gray and well done to Duncan for finishing on top from some really serious competition.

Before I get to the hand a reminder that the Novice Pairs Championship (less than 20 Master Points) will be held at the Club on Tuesday, December 13, at 7.15pm and the Ernie Owen Individual will follow on Thursday, December 22, at 7.30pm.

I am often asked the question, what makes a good bridge player? Not an easy answer, as it is such a multifaceted game which requires a variety of skills.

At the top level of the game the answer is a lot easier- great memory for systems, hands and partnership understandings, knowing or being able to calculate the odds of certain plays, experience which comes from years of playing, and the ability to perform under pressure and keep a clear head when things are not going well.

At the Club level some of this changes, but mainly in emphasis. Here I would also insert the willingness to put in some work to improve, understanding the structure of bidding and knowing the system, and, perhaps most importantly the ability to relax and work through a bidding or play problem without getting flustered and losing the plot.

Quite often in a hand the key to the play is staring right at you, but more often than not you have to dig a bit deeper to find the clues.

I saw this in action early in my bridge career when I partnered my good friend and partner, the late Ernie Owen in the World Pairs Championship in Biarritz, France in 1982. We came up against one of the top players in France, whose name I forget (not Mari, Boulenger or Svarc!), and saw him in action as he was declarer in 6 spades against us on this hand.

I was on lead with this hand as West, we were not vulnerable against vulnerable. See Figure 1.

Figure 1

The bidding, with Ernie as dealer, was over fairly quickly even though all of us bid on the hand! See Figure 2.

Figure 2

After Ernie’s pass I decided to cram the bidding and after North employed Blackwood, Ernie decided to cram it even further! South passed to show one Ace (DOPI – Double with zero, pass with one, 5 clubs with 2 etc) and North duly bid the slam.

I led the heart Queen, to just play a passive defence, as it was clear there were no tricks for us in hearts — this was the full hand (see Figure 3).

Figure 3

Looking at this in defence a couple of things were clear – Ernie had to have no spades and almost certainly 5 hearts for this high-level sacrifice bid — looking at 18 points in dummy and probably 3 points with Ernie – added to my 7 hcp – left 12 hcp for the opener which meant he had to have, at a minimum, the King Queen of clubs — that realisation eventually led to a fascinating choice in the end game for South in order to make the hand.

Declarer won the heart, drew trumps and cashed his diamonds to get a feel for what Ernie and I held. He had to avoid two club losers – if I had AJx there was no way to make the hand so he had to hope that Ernie held one of these cards and then had to figure out which one!

After cashing all four diamonds, on which I threw hearts, he led a low club and played the King on which I had prepared to play low, which I did without hesitation. Declarer now had to decide whether Ernie had the Ace or whether I had it – if he decided I did he would have to hope Ernie had the jack and insert the ten the next time clubs were played.

He crossed to dummy with a trump and led another club — when Ernie played low declarer then went into some sort of trance. After what seemed like an hour, but was probably only a minute, he emerged and played the 10 forcing my Ace – contract made!

The clue? Give it some thought before you read on.

When declarer saw that I had a singleton diamond, he wondered why I hadn’t led it, hoping partner had the Ace to try and get a ruff and defeat the contract. He decided that was because I knew partner could not have an Ace as I was looking at one myself! Hence the play he made.

Notice that if the first club trick is won with the Ace the defence is over, as any lead gives declarer a ruff and discard.

Certainly not conclusive, as I would probably have lead a heart anyway, but it was the only clue he had and he decided to use it to help him make the right decision- and it worked.

The play needed a clear head to piece all the evidence together, and that he had!


Thursday, December 1

1. Judy King – Bill Pollett

2. Linda Pollett – Elizabeth McKee

3/4.Lynanne Bolton – Magda Farag

3/4.Sharon Shanahan – Claude Guay

Friday, December 2

1. Gertie Barker – Peter Donnellan

2. Magda Farag – Judy Bussell

3. Pat Siddle – Tony Saunders

Monday, December 5

1. Gertie Barker – Jane Smith

2. Elysa Burland – Greta Marshall

3. Marge Way – Rachael Gosling

Tuesday, December 6

1. Robert Mulderig – James Mulderig

2. Janice Bucci – Erika Jones

3. Marion Silver – Duncan Silver

Wednesday, December 7

1. Tracy Nash – Des Nash

2. Diana Diel – Pat Siddle

3. Linda Pollett – Bill Pollett

Thursday, December 8

1. Gertie Barker – John Glynn

2/4.Jane Smith – Magda Farag

2/4. Marge Way – Misha Novakovic

2/4. Charles Hall – Delton Outerbridge

Non-Bridge Club Online Results for Bridge Club Members

December 4: Marge Way and Stephanie Kyme – 1st out of 212 Pairs

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Published December 10, 2022 at 7:56 am (Updated December 10, 2022 at 7:39 am)

Club’s Christmas party reminds us what we have missed

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