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Joan Prince Memorial Swiss Pairs

From Marnie Leybourne

There wasn't a lot of movement at the top end of the field in this year's event. The winners, Fiske Warren and Kaiping Chen, reached NS at Table 1 at the end of Round one and then glued themselves to those chairs, sending every hopeful pair back down the field after each of the nine subsequent rounds.

Leone Fuller and I tried our luck against them in round three, failing miserably. The following three hands give you some idea of what we were up against, and why Fiske and Kaiping were such worthy winners.

Board one - Our one major plus

The first board demonstrated our opponents' aggressive, yet sane, bidding style. However, it didn't talk us out of our slam, netting us eight imps:

Board 1
North Deals
None Vul
Q 9 7 6
10 8
Q J 9 7 6 3
A 2
K Q J 9 7
A K J 4
A 8
10 4
A 10 6 2
Q 9 6 5 3 2
K J 8 5 3
8 5 3
K 10 4 2
 PassPass2 1
Dbl4 5 Pass
6 PassPassPass
  1. 5+ spades and minor

Kaiping's aggressive opening in third seat followed by Fiske's 4S took away all our bidding space, however they can make eight tricks so doubling would not have been profitable.

After Leone's free bid of 5H my 6H bid was pretty easy, as was making the 13 tricks available. However, only 12 pairs were in 6H (and a further two pairs in 6D and one in 7D, which was well bid). A further eight pairs were in either 5D or 5H so they may have had some interference as well. However, the 19 pairs in 4H (and the three in the silly 3NT contract which, if there was any justice in the world, should have gone a gazillion off).

Board three - We wimped out

Our opponents' aggressive bidding style paid off, literally, in spades on this board:

Board 3
South Deals
E-W Vul
K 8 7 6 5 2
Q 3
Q 7 4 2
A 10 4
10 5
J 10 9 5 2
A J 8
A K J 8 7 6 2
K 4
K 6 3
Q J 9
9 4
A Q 7 6 3
10 9 5
1 NT12 4 4 
  1. 10-14; no major

Given our light 1NT openings, Leone could not be sure, looking at her cards, that 11 tricks could be made in hearts so she took the only other available option and we took the obvious five tricks for +300, losing 4 imps on the datum. Seven other pairs netted the same result.

Across the field, 27 pairs were left in 4H making eight, 10 or 11 tricks while only five were pushed to 5H (all making). I am not sure how five pairs made only eight tricks in 4H as I can see only three losers - two diamonds and a club.

Board 10 - When the field lets you down

Spades were once again the King on this board:

Board 10
East Deals
Both Vul
K 9 7 6 3
K 6 2
A K Q 8 4
J 7
J 10 5 2
9 7 6 3
10 2
A 10 8 5 4 3
9 6
Q 10 5
8 5 4
Q 9
7 3
A K J 8 4 2
  2 13 
Pass3 Pass4 
  1. weak major

A combined 25 count between the North and South hands, yet 10 pairs did not find game. Of those that did, 11 made 10 tricks in 4H and one pair was allowed to make 11 (my only guess is a low heart or club lead from East giving access to dummy's clubs to pitch hearts).

Other contracts included 3D, 4D, 2S and 3S, some making and some not (one pair in 3S made only five tricks, and it takes extra special declarer play to manage this result).

Nine pairs were in the ubiquitous 3NT, only one making. The others went one, two or three light. Note to all you 3NT lovers: this is not a match point pairs event - aim to bid the safer suit contracts when imp scoring is used.

Given the small number bidding and making game and the much larger number that failed in either the bidding or the play, this board cost us 11 imps and the match.



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