Linda Lee — My personal bridge blog

Dick Cummings Open Pairs

Ray and I had a terrific time yesterday, playing in the open pairs.   We were playing an event called Swiss matchpoints, something I have never seen in North American.  We played six 10 board rounds yesterday with six more today (with no cut to the field).    This means that good pairs tended to play good pairs.  No need for stratified events.  Each board which was pre-duplicated is matchpointed across the field.  You get an average matchpoint percentage  for all your boards that round which is then turned into victory points and you are now paired based on your victory point total.

I realized the reason I don’t like matchpoint events is the pace of it.  When you play two boards a round, you don’t have time to understand the opponent’s system. give the tough hands the extra time they deserve and have a bit more social time with your opponents.  (And like all Swiss almost everyone gets some masterpoints and the satisfaction of winning  rounds).  The ACBL really should consider this event on a trial basis.  I think it would bring back some life into matchpoints.

We did face some wild systems and some on the edge players.  Perhaps the strangest was a pair that played that 2D, 2H,2S showed 4-4 (or more) with spades and the bid suit and 0-9 or 10.  I suppose with more practice we would feel more  comfortable playing against these destructive methods.

We had a “hesitation bid” against us.  I opened 1NT (12-14) and Ray bid 2S.  RHO though for a long time and passed.  I bid 3S a maximum, with four trump and LHO holding S xxx H xxxx D Axx C Axx ventured 4H.  As you can imagine she bought the dummy of her dreams.  With the silent scorepads all the director had to do was get agreement that there had been a hesitation and take the scorepad page away.  Eventually the director came back with an adjusted score and the game was not disrupted at all.

Our first round was against the famed Michael Courtney.  Michael is one of the most interesting bridge thinkers and best rubber bridge players ever.  He has written some books which are amusing and imaginative and every time we see him we ask him to send us some of them so we can consider them for publication.  But as he said again this time, he always loses our business card.  (We shall have to enlist some local help to prod him).  He thinks about the game in a different way then you or I.  Here is an example.  Michael held this hand white on red.

S J7 H A72 D AK32 C 8654

His partner opened 1D and I overcalled 2C.  Having more faith in my overcall thentr is usually justified Michael bid 2D!  While 3NT is possible on a club lead it is requires taking a strange position in diamonds missing  QJxx. 

My most frazzled moment was the last board we played in the third round (just before lunch break).  The bell had sounded meaning time was up (although I could finish the board) and Ray had put me in 7S.

I am still not sure what the best line is but I took the before lunch line.  As it turned out pretty well anything lead to 13 tricks.

S AQ84


D 10

C AKJ765


S KJ65

H K32

D AK32

C 93

The lunch line is to draw trump when they prove to be 3-2, play the top clubs and ruff a club if needed.  (The club queen is third onside).

Afterwards a number of us headed out to the Linda and Nick Fahrer’s house for a lot of stories about bridge, bridge people and life in general.  The food was awesome and I started thinking about moving to Sydney, surely one of the most beautiful cities in the world, where it never gets very cold and the people are so very warm.


Paul GipsonOctober 26th, 2008 at 9:47 am

In the England, Swiss matchpoints is known as Swiss Pairs and is a popular format. The first weekend of the Summer Congress is a 14-round Swiss Pairs tournament.

In Scotland Swiss Pairs is the same concept but often there is no conversion to victory points. So you have a normal matchpoint session, but play a round (8 boards) against another pair on the same percentage score. I’ve never seen this used in England but it does seem to be fairer than converting to victory points.

LindaOctober 28th, 2008 at 8:39 pm

Tom Carmichael told us that this format had once been tried in the US as an experiment but had a low turn-out. Still it takes a few tries and some promotion to get an event established. He did point out that it doesn’t work as well with a very big field since you play few teams. But that is true of all Swiss.

I don’t know if it works better to convert to VP or not. It does dappen the very high score you might receive when you get huge scores against a pair. But I don’t know if that matters.

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