Summer Meeting Bulletin 2

August 8, 2021

Michael Byrne has written a second bulletin of the hands for the Harold Poster Swiss Pairs from Saturday. You can read it below.

As the Saturday of the Harold Poster Swiss Pairs sees 6 matches take place it is always the case that at the end of the day the rankings look a bit clearer than at the start.

There were several good hands as usual and casting a critical eye over the travellers I was struck by just how many pairs had not got close to slam on this deal:

Dealer West EW Vul

3   AK86
K6   AQJ5
A10862   Q
97543   AQJ6


7C is basically on the club finesse (4-0 onside will still hold you to 12 tricks) so reaching 6 should surely be possible.

Two EW pairs broke the golden rule of pairs – when you go past 3NT you might as well play in 6 of a minor not 5, since going off in slam won’t be much different to +600 when the rest of the room is chalking up 630 or 660.  They played in 5C making 640 for 1 match point each.

After that many EW pairs bid up to 3NT. Now the critical decision was would EW make 12 tricks or 13?

On an ordinary heart lead declarer would normally win and take the club finesse, the appearance of the King meaning that NS had to get a lot of discards ready.

Where East had shown 23 - 24 points (often by opening 2C and rebidding 2NT) then it wasn’t too hard for South to realise that North’s only high card was the KC, so in the endgame he had to throw his spades and keep the KJ diamonds. North of course didn’t have much of a task, because his holding in diamonds didn’t constitute a stop, especially if he sees partner throw the QS early then he should keep 109x.

Looks very easy you say? No fewer than 6 of the 14 pairs to defence 3NT let through 13 tricks, although they were still rewarded with an above average score (completely undeservedly).

What about people bidding accurately to 6C? Let’s see one of the youngest pairs in the room in action, Charlie Bucknell and Jonathan Lillycrop, both employees of the EBU and enjoying the pairs, despite a sound thrashing by me and my partner in match 5.


2S* – 2NT*

3D* - 6C 


The auction was explained to me as this:


2S = 5/5 in the minors, 5-9 points

2NT = Forcing enquiry

3D = Minimum

6C = Our agreements end here, let’s punt a slam.


7C could easily be cold (xx x Axxxx Kxxxx ) but any grand slam would need even breaks, and given the advantage they had by starting with their 2S gadget it was a sensible stop.

A more mainstream auction was the one had by Phil King and Kevin Castner:


2C    – 2D

2NT – 3S* 

4C   – 6C



2NT = 23-24

3S    = Both minors slam try


Again, the leap to 6C was perhaps a little hasty, but no-one ever lost a pairs event by having practical auctions to small slam.

12 people bid 6C so bidding it and scoring 1390 was enough for a healthy 43/56 matches points.

Did anyone reach a dubious grand slam?

I have been sworn to secrecy by Ian Payn, Chairman of the EBU, but he and his partner Gillian Fawcett (Vice-Chair of the EBU) did the decent thing by being the one pair in the room to have 7C bid against them. They at least led a trump and got the misery over with quickly, even if they scored not a single match point for their opponents effort.

The other fascinating hand I noted was the old battle when one hand has spades and the other hand has hearts:


Board 12: NS Vul, Dealer West


10764   9
107   AKQJ954
J94   Q73
AKQ7   64



A typical auction was something like:


P         1S     4H     4S   (?)

P/5H      P      P        P


Since 4H is beaten on a diamond ruff (found if the 1S opening showed 5, the AS lead seems clear) technically South has done the wrong thing to bid 4S even if West doesn’t double.

However several West players assumed partner must be void of spades (not unreasonable) and worrying that they were facing something like Void, AKJxxxxx, xx, xxx bid on to the 5 level.

Both pairs who bid on to 5H received accurate defence and -100 did not trouble the scorers.

5 other NS pairs who defended 4H correctly also scored very well, getting 48/56 match points for their troubles. (4 pairs led the AS and switched, one led the 2D on the go).

To score well EW needed to bid and make 4H, and ten pairs did this on the lead of the AS, South woodenly playing another one at trick two.

Two pairs actually conceded 11 tricks by leading a trump and a club (the club gets rid of the losing spade and diamonds are correctly guessed) but the top score went to Tom Dessain and Tugrul Kaban who made 4HX on the lead of the AS, this helped them to climb to 4th place.

One final point about the defence to 4H – if you lead the AS and switch to a diamond it is clearest if you switch to the 2D. Otherwise your partner might win the AD and try and cash some spade,s thinking your AS was a singleton. Unlikely on the bidding perhaps, but it’s always best to make life easier for partner!

By this time tomorrow we will know the winners of the trophy. Currently Claire Robinson and Szczepan Smocynski (stalwarts of the Young Chelsea Bridge Club) are leading – will they maintain it?

I certainly hope so, then another two new names will be added to the trophy.