Lifestyle

Johnson team win Open Teams Championship

The team of Jean Johnson, Marge Way, David Sykes, Edward Betteto and Fabian Hupe are the 2017 Open Teams Champions after a volatile second session.

The Johnson team had a handy lead after last Monday’s first session and appeared to have a grip on the title but I warned that the second session of eight board matches could change things quickly and so it proved.

When the dust had cleared the 18-point first session lead had shrunk to a wafer thin two-point victory margin over two teams in joint second.

The two second placed teams were Ellen Davidson, George Correia, Linda Abend and John Luebkemann and Jane Smith; Gertie Barker, Rachael Gosling and Simon Giffen. Both also won six of their eight matches. The Davidson team suffered their heaviest loss against the Smith team and what cost the Smith team was their own heavy loss against the Douglas team, who were one of the fancied teams but finished in fourth.

This was a deep field with some good teams playing, and represents an excellent victory for the Johnson team — Johnson, Way and Sykes have been winning titles at the club for many years and while Betetto, who recently won the Open Pairs, and Hupe are newer additions to the club they are clearly also players of quality. Congratulations for an excellent performance over the two sessions.

For me, however, the performance of the Davidson team in second place is the real talking point of the event and is nothing short of remarkable. The Smith team deserve credit but that is an experienced foursome and their position was no great surprise

The Davidson team, in contrast, are players who usually play in the lower ranks and for them to sustain a challenge over two sessions and eight matches is huge. Teams bridge is the purest form of the game and is nowhere near as random as pairs, so for this team to have six wins out of eight, including a victory over the winners, speaks for itself. Many, many congratulations and hopefully this will provide the confidence boost needed to keep plugging on in open competitions.

This week’s hand is a low- level partscore hand, but this is where the points are won at duplicate pairs and where a plus score brings great rewards. Once again, the theme is trump management and using the trumps in the hand with fewer trumps to do what they should – ruff.

Dealer East E/W Vulnerable

North

S1092

H532

DQJ

CAQ1092

West East

SQ87 SKJ654

HJ984 HQ10

DAK104 D10652

C63 CK74

South

SA5

HAK76

D9873

CJ85

The Bidding was over quickly – East passed, South opened one club, West passed and North bid two clubs, which became the final contract.

West led the ace – king of diamonds and then switched to a spade and the play went predictably after that. South won the ace and rushed to do what players love to do — draw trumps especially if it entails taking a finesse.

The club finesse loses to the king and East, an experienced player, fired back a club and declarer now began to shift in his seat. Declarer won and tried a spade but East won and played the last club and the hand was over – declarer lost two spades, a heart, two diamonds and a club for down one.

Declarer went wrong after winning the spade — he must plan to ruff one of the losing spades in hand and so must immediately exit with a spade after winning the ace – now the defence cannot stop declarer from winning a spade, two hearts, four clubs and the spade ruff for eight tricks – contract made.

This is similar to a hand here of two weeks ago, but I make no apology for that . Bad trump management is perhaps the single most common fault by early stage bridge players and most of this comes from being afraid that the opponents can ruff something — that is rarely the case unless the bidding or opening lead suggest otherwise and declarers should plan their play on that basis.