Busy tournament calendar for Bridge Club
Now that things are gradually returning to normal at the Bridge Club it is good to see the release of a pretty full tournament calendar for 2023.
The 2023 Club Championship schedule is as follows:
• February 18 – Non Life Masters
• March 11 – Open Pairs*
• April 29 – Junior Pairs
• May 13 – Mixed Pairs*
• June 10 – Men’s/Ladies’ Pairs*
• October 14 – Open Teams*
• November 4 – Junior Teams
• November 28 – Novice Pairs
• December 14 – Ernie Owen Individual
* Intermediate Club Champions: in these championship events, the leading pair in the under 500 stratum will be declared Intermediate Club Champions in that event, with a prize and name on the new honours board to record these successes. There must be at least four pairs (or three teams) in that stratum for the title and prize to be awarded.
Players of the Year
Through 2023 the club will run three Player of the Year competitions, based on masterpoints earned at the Club.
• Junior Player of the Year – for members starting the year with under 50 MPs. Masterpoints earned from Tuesday evening games and Junior/Novice championships.
• Intermediate Player of the Year – for members starting the year with under 500 MPs. Points earned from all open club games, excluding club championships and district enhancements.
• Senior Player of the Year – for all members. Points earned from all open club games, excluding club championships and district enhancements.
So, put all the above dates in your diary and add to the excitement of a well attended physical tournament at the club!
Of the three disciplines in bridge, declarer play is easily the hardest for all but expert players, with defence coming next and bidding after that. Bidding can be learnt and taught, but the other two take years of playing to get to a point where it becomes reflex, and only by doing a post-mortem and examining one’s mistakes can there be any real improvement.
At the expert level it is more of a level playing-field at the declarer play level. as the top players rarely make mistakes in play, or for that matter, in defence. As a result, at the top level bidding takes on greater importance which is why the players spend hours practising and developing their bidding systems.
I love declarer play, and the part I really like is constantly looking for extra “no-cost” chances to make a contract. Sometimes this is difficult and complicated, and at other times the chances are staring you in the face if you take the time to clear your mind and think. See the and in Figure 1.
South opened one spade and North now could not resist pulling out a gadget they had just learnt, and made a “splinter bid“ of four hearts, which shows at least four spades and a singleton (or void) heart and …….11-15 high card points or a game-going hand – which North did not have! I will discuss splinter bids at the end of the column.
South, of course, loved hearing the splinter bid with his hand, especially with the heart Ace, and immediately jumped to six spades which became the final contract. West led the diamond four.
Declarer saw that this lead allowed him to establish a trick and played the Queen and ruffed when Easy played the Ace. Declarer now cashed the heart Ace, ruffed a heart, threw a club on the diamond King, and started on a cross-ruff of diamonds and hearts. All very nice, but in the end there are only 11 tricks – five spades in declarers hand, the heart Ace, three heart ruffs in dummy, one diamond and one club — declarer had two unavoidable club losers and the contract slid to a one-trick defeat.
Do you see where declarer could have done better? Let’s rewind to trick one — declarer knows that East has the diamond Ace, but should realise that one club discard is not enough. With that in mind he should try inserting the diamond ten at trick one, hoping West has the jack, which is likely on the lead. When this draws the Ace declarer ruffs and now has two club pitches available and makes the contract, losing only one club.
Notice that if East has the diamond jack declarer has lost nothing as declarer can ruff and now still ruff out East’s Ace later for one club discard.
See the full hand in Figure 2.
It is interesting that the only lead that allows declarer to make the contract is a diamond!
Now a bit about splinter bids.
My advice is to keep it simple and have the splinter bid always show a singleton. If you play it as possibly being a void, you need a system for finding out which it is, and it introduces room for error. With a void, one usually has five-card suit somewhere and you can start the bidding with a two over one in that suit and then show support for partner’s first suit, and that is always a mild slam try.
I would recommend a range of 11-15 hcp or any “game-going” hand to make the splinter – a splinter is, in effect, a mild slam try, and opener has to have a better than average opening hand and the right cards to go to slam. For instance, opener should devalue his hand if he has a King, Queen or Jack in the splinter suit as they are rarely useful.
A good rule of thumb is that you go to slam if you think the combined hands have 28 or more points outside the splinter suit, or 25 or more if you have the Ace in the splinter suit. If you don’t have points in the splinter suit, it means that ten of the opponents’ points are taking just one trick and then you are in fact playing with a 30-point deck. If you have 28 of those 30 points, 12 tricks should be achievable.
Also, in closing, against a contract involving a splinter suit I like trump leads – these contracts often involve a cross-ruff and you should start attacking that at trick one.
• David Ezekiel can be reached on email@example.com
BRIDGE CLUB RESULTS
Friday, January 20
1. Stephanie Kyme – Diana Diel
2. Molly Taussig – John Burville
3. Marge Way – Tony Saunders
Monday, January 23
1. Jane Smith – Marge Way
2. Caroline Svensen – Jane Clipper
3. Kathy Keane – Donna Leitch
Tuesday, January 24
1. James Fielding – Ben Stone
2. Katyna Rabain – Louise Payne
3/4. Wenda Krupp – Jane Gregory
3/4. Tim Mardon – Richard Hall
1. Richard Keane – Nick Jones
2. Linda Manders – Charles Hall
3. Nikki Boyce – Carol Eastham
Wednesday, January 25
1. Judy Bussell – Dorry Lusher
2. Diana Diel – Pat Siddle
3. Betsy Baillie – Marge Way
Thursday, January 26
1. Marge Way – Molly Taussig
2. Elizabeth McKee – Linda Pollett
3. Stephanie Kyme – Charles Hall
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