Thursday, 1 August 2013


The English Bridge Union Summer SIM Pairs offers a chance for clubs to hold a heat of a pairs event which is replicated across numerous clubs up and down the country, allowing you to compare your score with that of the other 150+ pairs who also held your cards. Given the diversity of clubs - and opponents - it is unsurprising that each deal sports a very wide range of results. The top third of the field are awarded sizable numbers of the the new blue master points.

Many years ago, these SIM events took famous (or infamous) deals from the past, so you could see how you fared compared with Hamman & Wolff, or Garozzo & Belladonna at critical stages of various competitions - but the EBU has now, slightly prosaically, opted instead for random deals with no "history" behind them. I, for one, think this is a shame: all games need "stars" or people with "star quality" or even, dare I say it, "celebrity status". If Bradley Wiggins can be a pin-up and get thousands getting on their bicycles, why can we not create some poster boys (or girls) for bridge?

We also used to be able to look forward to a booklet, distributed at the end of the event, with a commentary "authored" or "ghosted" by a star. Omar Sharif was a long time favourite. That too has gone by the wayside, and this week's events' commentary are written by Jeremy Dhondy  who has done a huge amount for English Bridge  and is a fine player - but possibly with the exception of the eyes of his wife Heather  - a top lady international  player - he is not Omar Sharif.

Anyway - being an obsessive - it is always interesting to read and critique what the expert commentator thinks might happen on an a particular deal and his analysis of the normal outcome.

Anyway, with that long preamble, here is a little defensive problem from the event:

As West, you hold 654  Q862 A6 7432  and hear the bidding proceed:



(1) 17-18 HCP

Partner leads the 3, and you see:









Dummy plays the eight, you follow with a small card and declarer plays the deuce. The 10 is led from table, you playing low - and it holds the trick, partner playing 2. On the next diamond you win with A, declarer plays 9 and partner follows with 4. What do you lead to the next trick?

On the bidding, partner is marked with 7-8 HCP, but where are they? Presumably he has at least two points in spades (the queen) and we know that he has led from a four card spade suit, and also holds three (or five) diamonds.

If partner holds something useful in hearts such as K9x, together with the king of diamonds or clubs, a switch to a heart now could be very awkward for declarer. Knocking out the A before declarer has unblocked his A, might even result in him going down.

Are you convinced?

Well, if so, more fool you, for this is the full deal:

Declarer wins your heart switch in hand with K, cashes A and then follows with a deluge of diamonds. This is the four card ending:














Declarer leads a heart to dummy's ace, and what is poor partner able to throw? Inevitably he will discard one of his club honours, hoping that you have the club ten - but sadly he will be disappointed. Cashing dummy's K, forces you to let go a club while declarer discards his 10. He then crosses back to hand with A and cashes the thirteenth club - it might as well have been the deuce.

Of course, this was all avoidable.......if you lead a club at trick three, it breaks up the squeeze. 

Declarer could have played the hand differently by winning the first trick in hand with the A, and playing on diamonds, as before. Now there is no escaping the squeeze, whatever you return.

[Dhondy writes in his commentary: "on either black suit lead, North should make 11 tricks with the favorable layout". All I can say is that Omar would have made twelve on a spade lead - and so should you!]

Going back to the organsisation of the event, I have one final little beef. When one pays £5.50 for an event - I think that it is unreasonable to play less than 24 boards. The EBU provides 32 deals and while it might suit a normal evening duplicate to have thirteen pairs play a seven table Howell movement with one sit out round, I think this is not right for an event which is played across such a large field - more boards produces a "fairer", "more balanced" result, even if one does not play every other pair in the room - after all, one is not going to be playing against the other 300 plus pairs either!

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