Michael Byrne has written a bulletin of the hands for the Harold Poster Swiss Pairs from Friday evening. You can read it below.
The Swiss Pairs event for the Harold Poster Trophy kicked off on Friday evening at 7pm sharp at the refurbished Congress centre in Eastbourne and it was great to see so many pairs make the journey down to the South Coast for the event.
Everyone was so pleased to see everyone, and it was nice to see that the social interaction was as strong as ever, with the novelty of small talk and catching up once again a familiar action.
I don’t think it is particularly controversial to say Andrew Robson and Alexander Allfrey (winners of this event several times) are the bookies favourites, but Frances Hinden/Jeffrey Allerton (also previous holders, and 4th last time this event was held) are also here and many other players with international experience, including (but not limited to) Brian Senior, Peter Crouch, Phil King and Joe Fawcett.
The hands did not disappoint either, with several different hands full of technical interest, and boards 1 and 2 were both equally interesting as each other:
|A10||Q84||You play in 3NT as West after a 3rd seat weak two in hearts by|
|A10||754||South, and get the 3H lead to the jack. When you duck a low|
|AK972||QJ865||heart is returned to the ace and 6. How should you continue?|
Of course with ten top tricks the quest is for an 11th and you should aim to turn the screws on North, who will normally hold the club length and perhaps the KS.
Declarer at our table was Kevin Castner, who cashed most of the diamonds and unblocked the clubs before returning to the last diamond in hand. When the AC was cashed the jack did not drop, but North had been squeezed out of her 3rd heart, and it was clear to exit with a club and get a spade return. Kevin made no mistake putting up the queen and scoring 11 tricks and a good percentage.
Mind you, had the JC been dropping then declarer would have 11 top tricks and a possible throw in for 12, so ducking trick one wouldn’t always be the right play, but it certainly was on this deal.
This was the full hand:
Whilst you’re having a look at the full deal how would you play 6D after the same low heart lead?
The natural line is to draw trumps, throw a heart on the clubs (hoping the jack drops, alas it doesn’t) and ruff out the club before exiting with a heart, hoping that the player who wins the trick began with the KS. This would work if South held a traditional Kxxx, KQJxxx, x, xx or the like.
Of course on this lay out South should pop up with the QH and play a spade through the ace, and that leads to one down, but at one table West and South were playing ping pong. After East opened a mini trump and South overcalled to show the majors West became declarer in 6D and the play went as described, until South ducked the heart to her partner’s King. Now North was endplayed to lead a spade, but of course poor West was convinced (from both the bidding and the defence) that South held the KS. He played low in dummy and had to go one down when South produced the Jack – A curse on the 10S! (Without the 10S West is forced to play the queen from dummy and make the slam!)
Onto board 2, and now a chance for me to get my own back on Kevin (who as you recall stripped and endplayed my partner on the first hand).
You reach the obvious 3NT by South (Uncontested: 1D-1S-2H-2S-3NT) and when dummy hits on the 6C lead you wonder why you got out of bed this morning.
However your job is to try and salvage something from this board and you decide to duck the first trick. So you play the 5…..Have you seen the catch yet?
At trick one I played the 8C from hand and East returned the QC. I won this and cashed 6 diamonds, then exited with my 3rd club and prayed for rain. West cashed some winners including the AS and then had to give me the KH at trick 13 and let me escape for one off – this was the full deal:
Why is false-carding with the 8C important on this hand? Well by concealing the 5 you make East think West has it, which means he will be keen to return a club and set up his partner’s 5 card suit. Actually best is for East to return the 9C, and now the defence have plenty of communication. (Those of you looking at all 4 hand will say “best is for East to switch to a heart at trick two” and you would be right, but in the real world East can’t see his partner’s hand).
Actually West could have saved the ship as well – if he unblocks the 10C at trick 2 then the defence are still in charge.
You might think that a hand that involves a pair overbidding to game and then going one off would not merit a write up in the bulletin let alone a good score but you would be wrong on both counts! This was one of our better boards in a close match which saw good play on both sides and an 11-9 win to Kevin Castner and Phil King.
After 3 matches of 8 boards the leading pair is Brian Senior / Nigel Bird on 49 vps. David and Janet Barnes from Berkshire are 2nd,, tied with Robson/Allfrey on 48 vps, closely followed by 3 pairs tied on 47 vps, including Liam Fegarty and Ben Gardner, who are by far the youngest competitors playing.
Who will be on the podium at the end of the weekend? Only time will tell!