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Early Morning Jitters

From Marnie Leybourne

Round one of this year's Hans Rosendorff Women's and Restricted Swiss Pairs events offered several complex hands where players struggled in both the bidding and play, leading to a wide range of results. Most players would prefer a couple of simple "warm up" hands at the start of the day, rather than having to calculate whether slam should be bid, a sacrifice taken, bidding one more or taking the money with a double.

The first board offered slams for North-South in diamonds, hearts or no trump, however slam was not bid at any table. North held Q, T942, KT8, AK873 opposite K4, AQJ3, AJ7632, J. Sixteen North-South pairs across the women's and restricted fields made 12 or 13 tricks while at four tables West, holding a seven card spade suit (AJT8652, 65, 9, Q64), bought the contract with a pre-empt of three or four spades doubled, going off only one or two tricks for a good score.

Board seven gave North an eight card heart suit (void, JT987532, Q8, K32) and South a seven card spade suit (AKT7654, 6, 5, 9765). The defence in the restricted field was superior to that of the women's field, with several scores of +800 (4Hx or 4Sx going three light) compared to +630 for the making 3NT by East/West. In the women's field, bidding hearts or spades tended to pay off, going light by only one, although deep finesse suggests the contracts should fail by at least three tricks.

However, today's deal looks at board 4 where there was a wild variety of scores across both fields. Clearly the early morning coffee had not yet kicked in for some pairs while giving a couple of players a bit too much energy.

West Deals
Both Vul
7 6
K 6 5 4
9 5
A K J 5 2
A Q 10 9
7 3
A 6 3
10 9 8 3
K 8 4 3 2
A Q J 9 8
8 7
J 5
10 2
K Q J 10 4 2
Q 6 4

No-one bid the spade slam available to East-West. In fact, only 12 pairs across both fields (68 pairs/34 tables) bid game in spades, while 11 pairs played in spade partials, all making at least 10 tricks. At four tables in the restricted field the hand was passed out. It is difficult to imagine any North passing with that attractive club suit, or East passing in third position with the boss suit and a two heart rebid available. Both hands meet the rule of 20, which states that if the points you hold and the number of cards in your two longest suits come to at least 20, your hand should be opened at the one-level. Note to those sitting North and East that passed: be more aggressive in your bidding!

The opposite advice needs to be offered to a few North-South pairs that took an overly rosy view of their hands and went for large numbers. The largest gain on the board goes to the youth pairing of Kirstyn Fuller and Megan O'Reilly, who allowed North-South to take only two tricks in 3NTx for a positive score of 2000 and their first match win. After the lead of the 3S, declarer was squeezed on the run of the spades and played West for the heart Ace, so she lost five spades, five hearts and the diamond Ace.

Other notable scores were -1700 from 3Hx and -1400 from 5Cx, both contracts played by North. Those East-West pairs that, like Megan and Kirstyn, chose to double rather than bid their spade games judged their hands well. Those large numbers were as good as, or better than, the spade slam scores would have been.

Two South players in the restricted field played in diamond partials, in one case making 10 tricks for the only positive score for North-South. East-West should not be selling this hand out and it appears that the only logical (or illogical in this case) defence to allow 10 tricks to be made is a lead of the Ace of trumps and a trump continuation. Unfortunately the results don't show what the actual lead was.

One North-South pair in the restricted field went too high, bidding to 5D and made only six tricks. However, they were not doubled. They must have been disappointed to lose six imps on the board with their -500 score, given so few East-West pairs bid their spade games. The datum in the restricted field was 250 to East West, compared to 560 in the women's field.


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