Brighton Congress 2011
by Michael Byrne

"This Year's Brighton was once again a great success, with players coming as far as field as Europe, New Zealand and The United States of America. The main events are the Swiss Pairs for the Harold Poster Trophy (won by Martin Hoffman and Mark Teltscher) and the 4 stars teams Championship (won by Michael Byrne, Duncan Happer, and Ireland's finest - Tom Hanlon and Hugh McGann)

In addition there were many other midweek events which provided a variety of light relief for the players who had worked hard at the weekends.

On the first Sunday evening there was an open teams/pairs event for those that hadn't had too much after 5 Swiss matches, and this was an interesting deal from one:

SA K 6   H--   DK Q 10 9 4   CK 10 7 6 3

It is game all and dealer on your right passes so you open this hand with 1D, partner responds 1H and you rebid 2C. Expecting to hear some number of hearts you are pleasantly surprised to hear partner bid 3D - what now?


My team-mate looked at her double spade stopper and chose 3NT. Any problems with that? Unfortunately the opponents found a rather rude surprise attack in the form of a heart lead -- despite partner having bid the suit.

This was the full hand:

SA K 6
DK Q 10 9 4
CK 10 7 6 3
SQ 10 5 2
HA 9 7 6
D8 3
CJ 8 2
HandS8 4 3
HJ 10 5 4 2
DA 6
CQ 9 5
SJ 9 7
HK Q 8 3
DJ 7 5 2
CA 4

Double dummy 3NT was cold as east holding neither of the 7 or 6 of hearts meant you could block the suit by covering the jack with the queen and then winning the second round. My team-m,ate didn't find this line and went down however. At our table I had been hopeful of winning an imp as our opponents had butchered 5D and held themselves to 600.

What would have been the best call over 3D? Well various calls are possible, one would be 3S, hedging your bets -- it's unlikely partner can produce a spade stopper, but 3NT from partner's side will certainly be more promising. Alternatively a practical leap to 5D will hardly come to any harm, and even slam is possible providing partner can produce a minor suit ace and some promising club holding.

I suppose the ultimate thought must be that if partner has got 10-11 points and it is wrong to bid 3NT when partner has half their points in hearts, then what would the outcome have been if partner had less?

Is this dummy the ultimate nightmare:

S7 5   H10 8 7 4 3   DA J 7 6   CA 4

Explaining to your teamies why you went down in 3NT when they led a low heart from AQJ32 whilst they were conceeding 2140 in 7D would not be a pleasant conversation!