New Players Tournament

by John Phelps

Thirteen was a lucky number for me and my partner at this year’s New Players' Tournament, held at Trumpington Village Hall. It was the first time I had entered a day-long event, and No 13 was our first hand. It was the first time, too, for many of the other 55 people who had turned up to compete, though my partner Andrew Hawthorn had taken part last year. Andrew and I had hardly every played together before and for this reason alone perhaps we needed a slice of luck.

A good start was particularly important, I felt –- and this came in Spades, or to be more precise, No Trumps, on Hand No 13. It was the first of 36 hands to be played. I was East, with Andrew West, and we had 11 points each. Andrew was strong in the minors and we ended up in 3NT. The ploy worked and, with a combined point count of 22, we secured a score of 600. Our cards were:

S KJ62
H A109432
D 96
W         E
S 84
H 7
D AQJ853
C A952

From that point, we both felt encouraged to continue bidding aggressively at every opportunity. The exception was Hand No 6, where we played in 1s and ended up with 10 tricks. We only had 21 points, but perhaps at this point, a better player will point out that points are beside the point!

After 18 hands and a fine buffet lunch came the opportunity to study the half-time scores, computer-recorded by the director David Harrison. Bill and Sue Sutton were in first place and Dennis and Valerie Beaumont second, with Andrew and me delighted to be fourth.

There were still another 18 hands to be played, though, and Andrew and I both felt the second session was less successful for us than the first. That said, Andrew bagged a score of 650 by making 5h on Hand No 5, and, on Hand 15, we gained 500 by taking the opposition 3 down in 4h. Pity they weren't vulnerable!

Our biggest failure came towards the end, on Hand 7 (a lucky number?), when I was bamboozled in 3c against Rosalind Barden and Kay Hunt. North held 4 trumps and a void in diamonds and somehow I went 3 down:

S K6
D J982
C AQ6432
W         E
S AJ1084
H 1053
D KQ10
C J9

So, with that hand still fresh in my mind, I was flabbergasted when Gladys announced the results shortly after close of play.

Dennis and Val, with a clear lead, deservedly won the trophy. Then Andrew and I, who thought we had slipped back badly during the second session, were handed bottles of wine as runners-up! Lazlo David and Pat Fletcher were third, while Bill and Sue, with another engagement almost immediately after the tournament on their minds, ended up fourth.

I thoroughly enjoyed the event, organised by the ever-patient Gladys Gittins, who was on hand to deal with any problems and keep the tyros on track. It was an excellent social occasion, too.