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Sad news as we lose the traditional Monday evening game

With Christmas around the corner let me wish all my readers a very Happy Christmas and belated Hannukah greetings.

When I was in my bridge obsessed days, I looked forward to these holidays with mixed feelings. I loved the celebrations and all that came with it, but knew that after a few days the bridge withdrawal symptoms would kick in!

It is a bit easier now as one can steal away for an hour or so and play online, but that was not an option when I was in my twenties and thirties.

There are still things happening at the club, with John Burville's schools initiative holding a tournament and then news of some significant changes in the Bridge Club schedule, clearly based on the attendance numbers at the various games.

First, here is a report from John:

“We had our second tournament for this school year held at the Bridge Club.

“There were 26 students playing, from five schools plus one from Petra Academy.

“Two of the players were from TN Tatem Middle School (Samir Tavares, and Anthony Simmons) where we just started bridge about a month ago. So congrats to them for participating. Of the group, 16 were mini bridge players, and ten were bridge players. Bill Pollett was director, and helpers were Lisa Burland, Patricia Colmet, Nick Kempe, Wenda Krupp, and Peter Donnellan. They played from 2pm ‘til about 5pm, and completed 15 boards.

“Winners of the bridge players were Shane Krueger, and Brett Baumgartner (Saltus) with a 76 per cent game, and second were Scott Gilbertson, and Ross Cooper (Saltus) with 66 per cent.

“From the mini bridge group, first were Ethan Lacey, and Charles Boisvert (Warwick), second were Drew Smith and Finn Moseley (Warwick), and third Aran Giffen and Chris Skinner (Saltus).

“All the players had an informative and entertaining afternoon and are looking for the next opportunity to improve their performance.”

This programme is a labour of love for those that are running it and will hopefully benefit the local bridge scene in the years to come, so kudos to all involved.

Now some news from Peter Donnellan, tournament director at the Bridge Club:

“The committee has reviewed the Monday evening game option, and concluded that, at present, there is insufficient support for a regular open game and so are not at this stage scheduling any Monday evening games in 2019.

“Recognising that this reduces the opportunity for those members unable to play during the daytime, we have reviewed a number of options, and concluded that, as a first step, we will schedule some games on Saturday afternoons during the first few months of 2019.

“Our aim is to have a Saturday event approximately once a fortnight, working our championships into the timetable as appropriate.

(Reminder — the championship timetable is posted on the Calendar tab on the website).

The Schedule looks like this:

Saturday, January 19 — an Open Teams game (to give teams the chance for a practice before the Regional). A sign up sheet will be posted shortly.

[Regional — January 26 to February 1]

Saturday, February 9 — an Open Pairs game at 2pm

Saturday, February 23 — Men's/Ladies Pairs Championship at 10am

Saturday, March 9 — Junior Pairs Championship at 10am

Saturday, March 23 — Open Teams game at 2pm (with sign up sheet)

Saturday, April 6 — Open Pairs game at 2pm

Saturday, April 13 — Mixed Pairs Championship at 10am

“The schedule will remain under review, and if Saturdays prove popular we will endeavour to schedule more frequent games as the year progresses.

“We may also schedule some other events on Saturdays.

“Ideas under consideration include a mixed Member/Youth game and an occasional 299er game, subject, of course, to there being available directors and enough support.”

I had to read this twice to absorb what it was saying — no more Monday game to add to the now defunct Friday game.

That for me is a shock! When I arrived here in the mid Seventies, and for four decades after that, the Monday and Friday night games were sacrosanct and the staple of the schedule.

In the last few years, however, with a rapidly ageing membership and with younger members less willing to give up family time in the evenings, attendance has fallen off dramatically and the struggle to just keep the Monday game going proved too much, hence this decision.

It is sad for those who cannot play during the midweek days, and it is good to see that the Committee is doing something about that with the Saturday experiment.

The Thursday evening games are hugely popular and perhaps over time the members could be attracted back on a Monday — perhaps once a month with a good curry thrown in.

Now to the hand. Very often in bridge declarer play, the only way to make a trick is to encourage the opponents to start the play in that suit — a couple of good examples would be when you hold Jxx opposite Qxx or Jxx opposite Kxx.

These suits can yield no tricks if you have to start the play in them, yet if the opponents start the play in the suit, you are guaranteed one trick in the first case and at least one trick in the second.

Which is why I always encourage giving the opponents the tricks that they have to make, and giving them a chance to help you.

Most inexperienced opponents are not comfortable with a passive defence (for instance, once declarer ruffs a suit they never play it again!) and in an effort to grab tricks usually end up helping the declarer

With that in mind, take a look at today's hand:

Dealer South, Both Vul

South opened a weak two Spades and North had an easy raise to four Spades — now all South had to do was make it.

West led the Club King and things did not look good — there appeared to be four minor suit losers and not many options.

If West held the QJxx of Hearts, the hand could be made but the odds of that are not very high.

There was also a possibility that one opponent had specifically QJX, which would make the 10 good after a ruff, and declarer decided to try for the second option, failing which he could move on to option three — getting the opponents to help.

Declarer won the Club and drew trumps in two rounds — he now played Ace-King and ruffed a Heart and, when nothing good happened, crossed to dummy with a trump to ruff the last Heart, leaving this. See figure B.

At this stage declarer simply exited with a Club.

West won and could not play another Club as this would give declarer a ruff and discard, so he switched to a low Diamond.

East won the Ace and returned a Diamond on which South played low, forcing East to win the King and making the Queen good — contract made.

Figure B

Notice that there is no way for declarer to make a Diamond trick if he starts the suit himself, so the only way to success was enlisting the help of the opponents and you will be surprised at just how often you can do that at the table.

Again, Happy Holidays!

FILE - This is a Tuesday September 22, 2015 file photo of a competitor playing bridge at the Acol Bridge Club in West Hampstead, London. A High Court judge on Thursday October 15, 2015 backed Sport England's assertion that bridge is not a sport because it does not involve physical activity. English Bridge Union officials had challenged the ruling in court. (AP Photo/Tim Ireland, File)

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Published December 22, 2018 at 8:00 am (Updated December 21, 2018 at 11:27 pm)

Sad news as we lose the traditional Monday evening game

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