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Masters in Teams of Three

By David Schokman

I believe that it was in 1988 that the late Dr Brian O'Hara, who was then the Chairman of the BAWA Tournament committee, decided on introducing an event where three beginners would play in the event with a Master, each one having an opportunity to play with her/him. I also believed that anyone who dreamed of this concept must have had some degree of masochism in their makeup. This would not have been the case with Brian as he was one of nature's gentlemen, and any idea of his would have been generated solely by altruistic motives so that he could help others. History has proved that it was, and still is, a wonderful event though it sometimes might prematurely age some of the masters! Brian ran the event for the first two years and it was then taken over by Nigel Dutton, and speaks volumes that it has kept going over 26 years. It is a labour of love, and patience, persuading/coaxing Masters to give up their Sunday.

I really have to hang my head in shame as there always seemed that there was something else to do rather than play in this event. Actually November is a busy bridge month and getting a Sunday off from bridge always stacks up brownie points for me with the better half! This year there was a commitment to play and the draw was not unkind to me. However, a player once said that we should call it the "DISASTER in a team of three" as the pressure is always on the master. You have about a minute to read your number one partner's system card, ask them about signals and count, and off we go. Sometimes you get lucky and I really was a disaster to my lovely team. The worst was the board featured today, board 19 in the last round, where I was totally undisciplined trying to put our first win on the board, which might have happened if I had bid sensibly.

South Deals
E-W Vul
Q 10 8 6 3 2
A J 10 9 6
8 4
J 9 7 5
7 5 2
K 9 6 5
7 5
A Q 10 8 7 3 2
A Q J 10 9 3
A K 4
K Q 8 4 3
J 4
K 6 2

I will give you statistics of the results later which will show unbelievable bridge cowardice, but what I wish to spotlight was my stupid bidding. My partner, Cheryl Harding, opened with a bid of 1NT (15-18) - 2H by me, which was a transfer to spades -3D by east. Forgive me east, but wouldn't a bid of 4NT describe your hand much more accurately - though may I say perfectly. Now when partner chooses one of the minor suits you will be in position to cue bid your way to slam. Over 3D, my partner bid 3S, confirming that she had at least three spades - 4S by me - 5D by east. My partner passed, quite rightly as she has no idea of my strength or shape. Back to me and I believe that I should have claimed the bottle of wine for the worst bid of the afternoon, and that was double of 5D on board 19.

What do you think that the correct bid should be? For a start if partner had a sound double she would have made it. Then we always talk about the five levels belonging to the opponents. In this case south (me) was probably at a disadvantage as east had not shown the freakish massive two-suited minor. However, there is no excuse for me not bidding 5H. Probably 6C by east? Now there is no doubt that my partner, Cheryl, would have bid 6H. How about west - surely west would now have realized that partner had this massive two-suited minor and bid 7D, particularly as there was no defense against 6H? 7D is the par contract which means that both sides have bid to their optimal level and neither could improve on the contract by further bidding. The king of clubs has to be lost so E/W loses 200 against an unbeatable 6H or 6S. So four slams can be made as east can make 6D and west can make 6C or 6D. Both north and south cannot be defeated in 6H/6S.

So what happened at the tables? I said cowardice earlier, but it looks like it was mostly boring with 14 pairs bidding to game in hearts, or 5D by E/W. Six pairs had gumption. Five of them were restricted pairs. Di Nelson/Barbara Sherriff: Kerry Barns/Ziggy Morawiec: Shelley Allen/Susan Evans bid to 6D and were doubled. Robert Steer/Anne Durack: Chris England Julie Crewe also bid to 6D but were not doubled. The only Master to bid to the slam in hearts was Jan Blight and her partner Johanna Pringle.

So remember that this is a great event so all restricted players should try and get a team together in 2019. It is such a pleasant day and a good time is had by all. All the masters who give of their time should be commended. Two names must be placed on record. The late John Ashworth and Terry Piper, who played in every event for the first 24 years. There are also some great supporters now who will have to remain un-named in case anyone is missed out!


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