Cambs & Hunts Bridge
|Newsletter Number 22||30 April 1999|
|Editors:||Chris Jagger, 2 Wycliffe Road, Cambridge CB1 3JD, Tel: 01223-526586 and|
|Jonathan Mestel, 180 Queen's Gate, London SW7 2BZ, Tel: 01223-329671.|
|E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com|
|Unofficial web page: http://members.aol.com/gilescw/chcba.html|
The next newsletter is scheduled to appear on 30th September. Please try to get copy to us no later than 15th September. All contributions welcome!
The County came 2nd in the Tollemache counties championship. In the first round, we beat the eventual winners 17-3, so this fine result was perhaps a little disappointing.
The County thanks Giles Woodruff for his excellent stint as tournament organiser. We are now on the look-out for a replacement.
|In this bumper issue we present reports on the Varsity match by Lior Zivan, and on a Camrose match by David Kendrick. In the first of a new series of articles on Clubs in the County, Ann Curtin and John Turner introduce The Thursday Club. John Young and Catherine Ashment discuss point ranges for various no trump rebids, while following on from his article last issue on the gambling 3NT, Chris Jagger describes the rare 4NT opening bid. (I look forward to hearing about the 5NT opener next issue - I don't know what that means!) There is a quiz on some ludicrously high but making contracts and the usual round-up of news and events.|
On a chilly, but sunny, spring evening John and I went to play bridge at the Thursday Club. Its premises are in a brand new building, Adrian House, part of an extension to Trinity College, whose entrance is in Grange Road. The room in which the club plays could have been built especially for that purpose. It's a beautiful room with an immensely high ceiling and large picture windows looking out on to Trinity's private section of the Backs. In daylight the room is well lit, but the artificial lighting is perfect too. The room is perfectly air-conditioned so that the temperature is comfortably warm - a welcome change for those of us who either swelter at Shire Hall or freeze in the Trumpington Village Hall. The club has its own floor-to-ceiling built-in cupboard, made of beautiful wood, with many shelves so that all the paraphernalia required for a bridge club is neatly laid out and readily accessible. No need for scrabbling around in cardboard boxes. The lobby to the room has two large coat rails, well stocked with hangers. There is a large table as you go in where the person taking the money has space to lay out his/her equipment, and the stationery required for the evening's bridge can be laid out too. The floor is, of course, carpeted, and the chairs are cushioned and comfortable.
In case, after reading this, you think that you too would like to join the Thursday Club, I'm sorry to have to tell you that the club is full. Its membership is held at 70. The maximum number of tables the room can hold is 14 - it is crowded then and as most members turn out to play every week the club has to maintain a control of numbers.
The Thursday Club has acquired the use of this quite marvellous room through the influence of Denis Marrian, a fellow of Trinity. Denis, and his wife Biddy, have been long-standing members of the club and rarely miss their weekly bridge. The club has a long association with Trinity. The founder members met at Eric Warne's bridge class at Netherhall School between 1970 and 1973. Eric Warne gained a double first at Trinity and taught history at Cambridgeshire High School for Boys. He started his bridge classes after retiring as a full-time teacher. His pupils enjoyed the bridge so much they decided to form their own club which was held in Blinco Road, on Mondays, and was called the Blinco Club. This club grew so rapidly a second bridge evening for the keen players was started on Thursdays. Eric Warne himself was always a member of the Thursday Club and was its President until his death in 1978.
The Thursday Club's first premises, in 1975, were the Conservative Party's Headquarters in Hartington Grove. In 1983 the Club moved to the Constitutional Club in Cherry Hinton Road, and in 1988 to Addenbrooke's Hospital where it was fortunate to have the use at different times of several large rooms. This facility came to an end in 1995. It has since then been happily housed in Trinity College.
Members of the Thursday Club have made a big contribution to bridge in the County. Bernard Buckley and Sally Dempster have both served as County Secretary for long periods. Roger St John, Dick Fry and David Man have all been County Treasurer and Sue Oram has been County Membership Secretary. Another founder member of the Thursday Club, who, following Eric Warne's example, has probably made the greatest contribution to bridge in the county, is Gladys Gittins. Gladys has been both County Secretary and County Membership Secretary. She has been teaching for many years and is now a qualified EBU teacher. She started on her own, finding her own premises for her first classes. Her first class was so successful it formed itself into a club, the Priory. Gladys now teaches twice a week at Coleridge and Sawston Village Colleges. She runs other classes as well. Her pupils respond spontaneously to her enthusiasm for bridge and love of the game. More importantly, her sensitivity to the difficulties of beginners and the trouble she takes in preparing hands for particular classes, have meant that she has inspired no fewer than five operating bridge clubs. Her pupils invariably want to go on playing. The more confident of the players from these clubs have then moved on to the EBU affiliated clubs in the county.
Gladys is not the only teacher at the Thursday Club. Sue Oram, the club's President, and Brian Copping also run classes.
Lulled into a false sense of security by the pleasantness of the opposition and the cosiness of the room, I took a couple of poor views on this hand against Sheila and Ken Barker, and ended up with the minimum number of tricks:
Sheila led a low diamond, which I won in hand with the 8, Ken's 2 looking every inch a singleton. I then led the Q, getting a smooth 9 from my left. The danger of running this is huge and rather obvious but I let it run, as it seemed to me Sheila could easily have had the K. When this lost to Ken things began to look bad. He returned the obvious low club and I faced a second crisis - do I go for broke and put up the K, hoping to win the trick and draw the trumps, or do I play RHO for Q or J (or QJ) by playing low? Well, I put up the K, thereby losing all three clubs plus two further ruffs, for a pathetic -200. If I take better views I easily make the contract. Fortunately the traveller showed that some E/W pairs had got to the thin 4, making, so we unjustly salvaged an average or so.
We also got taken to the cleaners by Margaret Clarke and Michael Soames on this hand:
East opened a Precision 2 and Ann's double showed the red suits. I bid 4 over Michael's subtle 3 and doubled the final contract with some confidence. However, dummy was amazingly strong and suitable for that auction and the contract was cold, -590. We were well and truly bamboozled by that 3 rebid. The sort of thing Zia might do?
Many members of the Thursday Club belong to other clubs in Cambridge but they all feel a great loyalty to this club and derive great pleasure from playing in its friendly atmosphere. I asked Denis Marrian, who clearly loves to play bridge, and has a great interest in the game, if he thought of joining the Cambridge Club. After a few seconds thought his reply was: "I don't want to take the game too seriously". The Thursday Club has certainly found the recipe for making bridge the enjoyable game it should be.
Continuing in my series of "Conventions you don't need to know", I shall discuss one of the rarest openings in the game. In the absence of other agreement, you should assume that if partner opens 4NT then it is SPECIFIC ace-asking. If one merely wanted to know how many aces partner had, one could open 2 and later get out Blackwood. Thus a direct opener asks specifically which ones he has.
The following hand came up in the recent junior Camrose: A - KQJ9xx AKQJxx. With the ace of diamonds in partner's hands you would like to play 7, but without it, you'd settle for 6. Note that the ace of hearts is useless to you, so merely knowing how many aces partner has is no use.
The responses to a 4NT opener are:
5 = No ace
5// = the bid ace
5NT = any two aces
6 = Ace of clubs.
What happens if you have more that two aces? Don't worry - you won't have!
Thus, on our hand, if partner responds 5 or 5NT, bid a grand. If he bids 5 or 5, sign off in 6. If he bids anything else, give him a suspicious look!
WARNING: This bid should only be used when all you are interested in is aces!
Finally, for the more serious partnerships: you may feel you are all set to play this convention, but in real life the next hand overcalled 5! What now? I suggest that pass sounds like no aces, and double should be natural (note that any kings and queens you hold are likely to be useless to partner, but are probably defensive tricks), and cram in the other bids as you can, showing the diamond ace first, all the way to the club ace (but not bothering with two aces). Remember not to go higher than 6 (if partner could underwrite 6 opposite a wrong ace, so with it he should be able to bid higher than 6). Would you and your regular partner know this if it came up? No - I guess not!
John Young starts: Most of us can count points - some say it is the best part of my game. I am amazed at the number of people who can vary their NT openings according to position or vulnerability, so I only play 1NT openings as 12-14.
Here's a quiz to test your partnership. All you have to do is write down a maximum three point range in the following bidding sequences. You try first and then compare with your regular partner.
Q1. 1-P-1-P, 1NT/2NT/3NT
Q2. 1-P-2-P, 2NT/3NT
Q4. 1-X-1-P, 1NT
Q5. 1-1-2-P, 2NT
Q6. 1-1-2-P, 2NT
Q7. 1-1-P-1, 1NT
Q9. 1-P-P-X, P-1NT
Q10. 1-X-P-1, P-1NT
It's amazing how often this apparently simple part of the game can cause us problems. Some resort to the sigh and bid NT at the lowest level to indicate that they are a bit light. But oppo can be very nasty with their interrogation or Spanish inquisition, when they sense an area of weakness.
So my tip is that next time you discuss system, it is more profitable to discuss NT sequences than sliding keycard Gerber or Asptro third level bids. Many of you will have different answers, but the most important thing is that you agree with partner. Below Catherine gives her suggestions, though there is no reason you should obey them!
Catherine Ashment suggests:
A1. 1-P-1-P, 1NT/2NT/3NT. Playing a weak NT, a 1NT rebid shows a strong NT, and vice versa. Assuming a weak NT, standard Acol defines these sequences as 15-16/17-18/19 points. I prefer a 1NT rebid to show 15-17, keeping the bidding slightly lower. A jump to 2NT now shows 18-19, over which partner can check back for a major suit fit. This leaves the jump to 3NT which I play as showing a hand with 8 or so playing tricks based on a long club suit.
A2. 1-P-2-P, 2NT/3NT. In Acol, the 2 bid shows 8+ points and the 2NT 15-16, with 3NT 17-19. This makes it harder to reach perhaps a superior 5-3 heart fit when you have 17 points. Therefore I believe you should have 10+ points to bid 2. and play 2NT as 15-19 balanced, forcing to game. The 3NT rebid as above shows a hand hoping to make 3NT by running a long heart suit.
A3. 1NT-4NT/5NT. 4NT invites partner to bid 6NT with a maximum and pass with a minimum. You need 33 points for 6NT (if you are not a wild overbidder!), so playing a weak NT you should have 19/20 points. 5NT is invitational to the grand, wanting to play in 6NT or 7NT depending on partner's strength. Hence maybe a 23 count would do.
A4. 1-X-1-P, 1NT. You have lost no space when the opponents intervene with a double so this answer should be the same as Q1. Similarly 1-P-2-X, 2NT should mean the same as Q2 (although you could also redouble to show a good misfitting hand that wants to take a penalty).
A5. 1-1-2-P, 2NT. In competitive auctions it is best to retain the normal meaning of NT ranges where the auction still makes sense. No space has been taken away here as clubs can only be shown over 1 by bidding 2, so the auction can proceed undisturbed. This means here for me 2NT would be 15+ and Game Forcing as recommended before.
If however the auction had gone 1-P-1-2, opener has lost the ability to rebid 1NT. Partner has only shown 6 HCP (as opposed to 10 in the previous sequence) so it is dangerous to play 2NT as forcing. Now we revert to old-fashioned strengths, 2NT = 15-16 HCP NF and 3NT 17-19 HCP.
A6. 1-1-2-P, 2NT. Even murkier still, here responder has lost a whole level of the auction as they were pushed into bidding 2 rather than 1 (although they should have the values for a two-level response). This disturbance means opener cannot rebid their suit without going to the three-level. What do you do with a 12 count with 4 spades, 1 or 2 hearts, and 5 clubs? You bid 2NT. 3NT in this sequence would show 15+ HCP.
A7. 1-1-P-1, 1NT. When partner passes your opening bid they either have a weak hand (usually less than 6 HCP) or if you play takeout doubles over 1-1 they could have a penalty pass, very unlikely if you have a stop in the suit (or else why are you considering bidding no-trumps!). So bidding 1NT in this auction should show 18-19 HCP, as with such a weak partner it is dangerous to bid with anything less as you will get doubled and go down.
A8. 1-X-P-1NT. Partner has shown an opening bid with short clubs by their double. With less than about seven points you would pick a suit at the one-level (a three-card suit if necessary!). With 8+ and a good suit you would jump to the two-level (or higher). So bidding no-trumps shows no good suit - quite likely if you have clubs well stopped. 1NT would show 8-10 HCP. Note if the auction had gone 1-X-P-1NT, giving you no space at the one-level, there is more case for widening the range of 1NT to say 6-10, rather than having to bid a three-card suit at the two-level. However, do not bid 1NT with, say, Qxxx xxx xxx xxx. No matter how much you dislike guessing which 4-3 or 3-3 fit to play in, 2 of a suit will play much better than 1NT with a combined 14 count!
A9. 1-P-P-X, P-1NT. When partner bids or doubles in protective position they may not have an opening hand (as you would expect if they had doubled directly after the opener). Do not punish them by looking at your 12 count and thinking, "Ah, partner has entered the bidding - let's bid game". They may have as little as 8HCP and that only comes to 20 - not even enough for 2NT. Generally take about three points away from your hand to compensate for partner's weaker hand, and then bid as you did in the previous question, so 1NT would show 11-13HCP and 2NT would show a good 13 to a poor 15 (any more and you would have overcalled 1NT on the previous round).
A10. 1-X-P-1, P-1NT. You forced partner to bid and they have said they have very few points (probably 7 points or less). If you have 17 points you do not have enough for game, but you should have a few diamonds for your double so just pass. Hence bidding no-trumps in this auction shows a very strong hand, too good to overcall 1NT on the first round. I play a 1NT overcall as 15-18, so I would play 1NT in this auction as 19-21 and 2NT 22-23. Now partner has a genuine option of raising to game if they have any points at all.
I entered my first Camrose Pre-Trials in 1973 with Mike Pomfrey. Having entered only on the odd occasion since, this was the first year I have done more than make up the numbers. Brian Senior and I finished second in the final trial. I thought the trials were good standard and good fun. I hope to play next year.
All the pairs in the qualifying positions (which actually meant all the pairs above average) were asked which weekends they would be available. Brian is playing professionally in Australia during the Scotland match and my skiing holiday clashes with the Eire game. We were selected to play in the other two matches against Wales in Cheltenham in January and against Northen Ireland in Belfast in March.
I was invited to attend with a "companion"” - EBU-speak for wife. (Clearly "partner"” would be too confusing). So Liz and I were summoned to Cheltenhm for 5pm on the Friday evening in time for a "bonding ”dinner" at 7.30pm. Why it was necessary to be two and a half hours early was never satisfactorily explained. It was, though, a taste of things to come: much hanging around.
Before the bonding dinner, we attended a reception by the Mayor of Cheltenham. His speech taught us anything we ever wanted to know about Cheltenham and quite a lot more besides.
The dinner and team meeting the following day were chaired by the NPC Keith Stanley and also attended by the assistant NPC, Jason Hackett, whose attendance as assistant now means that he is qualified to be a Camrose NPC in the future. Neither Hackett twin has played a Camrose match as they now only play if paid.
On to the bridge. Brian and I played the first ten boards on VuGraph where I suffered the ignominy of falling off in a cold 3NT as follows:
Sitting South, I held Q84 A9 K4 A108763 and a loose 1 was opened on my right. Slightly wrong-footed by the opening, I hesitated and felt I had to bid. 1NT seemed to be the least bad option and I was soon in game after the transfer sequence:
Plan the play on the 4 lead to the King:
Rather than having to find any more discards from dummy (the diamond suit furnishing the first one) I elected to win the Ace and play A and 3. RHO won with the K and played a small club to the 8 and 9. Then West cashed the Q to enable East to cash the A and the J. One off, the full hand being something like:
It was pointed out that simply ducking the first two clubs, discarding a spade and a diamond from dummy, leaves West stuck. He can't play clubs, (or I continue the suit) so a spade is probably best. But I can win, lead a diamond (which has to be ducked) to the K and then cash my hearts. A small spade at the end enables me to make the Q and the A.
At the end of Match One, England had lost 13-7. We played, to little good effect, the first ten boards of the evening and were then benched for the next twenty boards. England lost 11-9.
The next day, Match Three is played in four stanzas - more opportunity to hang around.
Try an opening lead. Sitting South, you hold KJ104 8 AJ10762 J9 and you hear:
I tried the 8, not so much to get a ruff as to be passive. Obviously wrong. The full hand:
It was pointed out that with East not bidding 3NT even though he held good diamonds, he could not hold AQ. Lovely.
In the Vu-Graph room, Liz told me, emotions were running high. The camera hovered expectantly over one player after another as they took forever to come up with their bids. Knowing what had happened in the Open Room added to the tension. In one of the nail-biting silences a small, bored child asked loudly, "Daddy, have they all got cards?"” David Burn, the commentator, answered lugubriously, "Oh, they've all got cards - it's just most of them don't know what to do with them."
During the last match, England finally got to grips with their slam bidding and the net result was a win to England but the Welsh were still in good heart. They had led until Match Three, their team spirit remained as good as ever and they were excellent company for the celebration dinner that rounded off the weekend.
|County Pairs Final||County Individual Final|
|1||70.00||Chris Jagger & John Young||Jane Woodhouse||60.42 (Balsham)|
|2||61.88||Ed Linfield & Dave Harrison||Peter Last||59.03 (Cambridge)|
|3||58.00||John Turner & Ann Curtin||Victor Milman||58.33 (Cambridge)|
|4||53.75||Kevin Smith & Joanne Caldwell||Pat Cole||56.60|
|5||53.25||Zona Lacy & Ann Aplin||Marie Burrows||56.25|
|6||52.88||Chris Larlham & David Nicholson||Penny McCann||55.90|
|7||52.13||Peter Somerfield & Pauline Baily||Bill Penfold||54.51|
|8||52.00||Fiske Warren & John Constable||Ian Davies||53.82|
|9||51.38||Peter Morgan & Frank Padgett||Annette Gerloch||51.74|
|10||50.50||Rob Grisdale & Hiroshi Kaku||Zona Lacy||50.00|
|11||50.38||Tony Kelly & Sonia Zakrzewski|
Eastern Counties League: The results against Essex were A lost 6-6, B 2-10, C 12-0. Against Suffolk the A lost 6-6, B 12-0, C 5-7.
The final results were:
Congratulations to the University, who won the A division with 51/84. Essex won the B with 51/84, and Beds the C with 54/72.
County Knockout - Quarterfinals:
COPPING bt MAN, HARRISON bt LAST, JAGGER bt WOODRUFF, KNIGHTS bt ZAKRZEWSKI. Semifinals: HARRISON bt COPPING, JAGGER bt KNIGHTS.
South Cambs Bridge League: Cottenham won all 7 matches, while runners up Saffron Walden won 5/7.
The County attained the silver medal in the Tollemache Final, the team being Barden & Mestel, Jagger & Young, Kendrick & Warren, Wightwick & Woodruff. The indispensible non-playing captain was Chris Larlham.
David Kendrick played for the victorious England team in the Camrose matches against Wales and Northern Ireland.
Roberts, Young, Ashment, Jagger came 3rd in the Leeds Swiss Congress, while Brodie, Macfarlane, Kendrick, Gibbens came 5th.
In the National Inter-club Knockout, the Cambridge Club (Linfield, Young, Ashment, Jagger) is into the last 8.
Ashment/Zivan and Zalin/Birdsall played in the Hero Tournament for the U25 England team, coming 8/24. Birdsall/Faber won the U25 Pairs.
Cambridge University beat Oxford convincingly in the annual Varsity Match.
Around the Clubs
Cambridge Club: Axel Johannsson won the Cradock Trophy. Woodruff, Deacon, Siklos, Wightwick and Johannsson won the Club Teams of Four League. Brodie and Macfarlane won the Club Pairs Championship. Pollard and Watson won the Club Mixed Pairs Championship.
Cambridge University: The new president is Dan Faber.
The County AGM
The 1999 County AGM was held on 19th April at Balsham Bridge Club. The chairman was able to report on a successful year, with membership increasing to 384, competitions going as well as ever. The Treasurer announced a healthy surplus, largely due to the success of the Newmarket Swiss Teams. Giles Woodruff was thanked for his excellent stint as tournament organiser, and a replacement is being sought.
The County subscriptions have remained unchanged for the last 7 years, although the EBU rates have gone up. The rates are now:
|Junior under 17||£1||£0.50|
|Per club affiliation||£17||£5|
Dates for your diary:
|20th June||Jubilee Pairs (Fenstanton)|
|27th Jun||Norfolk (Wymondham)|
|11th Jul||Bedfordshire (Trumpington)|
|24th Oct||Suffolk (Ipswich)|
|12th Dec||Herts (Trumpington)|
|23rd Jan||Essex (Away)|
|27th Feb||Camb Univ (Trumpington)|
The Varsity Match against Oxford has not been a happy hunting ground for Cambridge in the recent past, having been on the wrong end of final set turn-arounds in both 1997 and 1998. It was with this in the back of our minds that the Cambridge team arrived at the Young Chelsea Bridge Club, ready to face Oxford in this year's 96-board match. As always, the start was going to be crucial, and all seemed to be going well, when board 8 came along:
After a typically competitive auction, in which we failed to find our best fit, I arrived in 3 doubled.
Although it looks natural to win the K lead, the bidding and East's 8 at trick one suggest that this will simply lead to a club ruff, and at least five defensive tricks. I therefore allowed the king to hold and awaited developments. West cashed the A and now the contract was unbeatable.
(Ed: The best defence is quite difficult: only continuing clubs or leading a trump will work, and each might cost on a different layout. On a spade switch, declarer cuts communications with a diamond before attacking trumps.)
West switched to a spade. Having a complete count of the honours, I led a heart from dummy. East rose and played a club. However, the A and Q now pinned the jack and secured the contract, as East had no club to return.
The first eight boards set the scene for the start of the match, Cambridge taking a 91-12 lead after 32 boards. However, with Oxford reducing the gap to 50 overnight, we were beginning to get a feeling of d'eja vu. The first set on Sunday morning was going to be psychologically crucial. It certainly did not disappoint:
The 2 bid was Michaels. Not many people can claim to have a clear understanding about North's pass. Surely, one of 2NT and pass should be played as natural, but which? Either way, with the stakes so high, it would take a brave South to find the pass, which results in -200 at worst against a cold 3NT.
(Ed: looks like -500 to me on the marked trump lead. And not everyone will bid 3NT. A bad time for South to get involved.)
This board produced -460 in one room and +1100 in the other, calming any remaining nerves and setting Cambridge up for a 123 IMP victory.
Special thanks must go to the Young Chelsea Bridge Club, whose continued support has been instrumental in preserving the unique atmosphere which this match traditionally generates. The Cambridge team was Zivan, Kelly, Birdsall, Wade, Zalin, O'Gorman with Cooke as non-playing captain.
Congratulations to the University for dealing with its Oxfordshire counterparts summarily. Young players have a reputation for overbidding, just as us older ones are considered chicken-hearted. With this in mind, we present overleaf a special quiz for inveterate overbidders:
The Overbidder's Challenge
1. From which book was the following famous hand taken, in which the hero makes 7 redoubled?
2. What is the minimum number of points needed to make 7NT
against best defence?
3. You reach 7 on the following slender values - plan the play when North leads the 9. (Assuming that the opening leader has not underled KQJ, there is only one possible lie of the cards where you can make the contract.)
4. Often, rather than relying on brilliant play, you rely on awful defence. Can 7NT ever be made with a Yarborough in both hands? If not, what is the least combined strength for which it can be?
Perhaps the villain set up as West in Q1 should have been suspicious, but big hands do sometimes come up. South picked up a balanced 25 count in an Israeli tournament in 1968, as reported in the ACBL bulletin:
Not a wonderful sequence, but are you sure it couldn't
happen to you!?
The defence began with 3 rounds of clubs, ruffed and overruffed. Spades and clubs were cross-ruffed with declarer ruffing in again and again with increasing desperation. By then the spades were established, and he ended up 10 down doubled with his 25 count. Well, he could have made a few tricks by discarding on the clubs, but I dare say he was punch-drunk.