Wigan Bridge Club entered a team in Division 2 of the East Lancashire Bridge League for the 2016/2017 season under the captaincy of Steve Fanning. On the league's website, the team is known by the captain's surname rather than than by the club's name.
The squads for teams in this league are limited to a total of eight players and each match pits four of our players against four from the opposing team. Last season we played most of our away matches at Bolton Bridge Club with one at a private house in Blackrod and so no great travelling distances were involved.
In 2016/2017, the team played four league matches, only winning one but finishing mid-table due to the closeness of the lost matches. Two cup matches were also played but both ended in defeats. The remainder of the squad for that first season was Mike Nicholson, Des King, Clive Wood, Pat Holleron, Dave Reilly and Bill Poole. All matches were enjoyable and played in a friendly spirit, with some of our players gaining valuable experience of teams bridge.
Steve has volunteered to captain the team again for the 2017/2018 season.
On Friday 10th November the team was faced with the biggest possible challenge, a home match in the Sarkar Cup against a Pendlebury team that won both the 1st Division and the Sarkar Cup last season. A tough night was in prospect for our pairings of Mike Nicholson & Des King, Clive Wood & Steve Fanning.
Steve and Clive got off to a nervy start, with Steve leading out of turn on the first board and Clive forgetting their agreed bidding system soon afterwards. Fortunately neither of these errors made any difference on the scoresheet and both Steve and Clive soon recovered their composure.
At the halfway stage the match score was very tight, with our team leading by the tiny margin of 2 IMPs with all to play for in the second half.
Things took a turn for the worse on the 16th board of the evening when the visitors bid and made an optimistic slam against Mike & Des which Steve & Clive didn’t find.
However after that low point, our team came crashing back into the lead on board 17. Clive bid and made 3♥x (with Steve wisely keeping out of the auction altogether on this occasion) while Des & Mike gained a large score when their opponents had a bit of a bidding mix-up (Steve’s counterpart unwisely getting involved!), ended up in an improbable contract that was doubled and comfortably defeated for a big swing in our favour.
Then followed a string of good boards for our team and we ended up winners by the large margin of 39 IMPs. This was a great performance that will undoubtedly be noticed by the other teams in the league.
The team's first match of the season was at home against the team captained by Nil Ghosh and was played on Friday 6th October 2017. Our team comprised Mike Nicholson & Steve Fanning, with Clive Wood & Paul Mercer. It is worth noting that the majority of the opposing players are very experienced and played in the league's first division last season.
After a slight delay at the start of the evening due to some traffic problems experienced by two of our opponents, play got underway at around 7:30pm.
At the halfway stage we were 20 IMPs behind but battled back well to win the second half by 9 IMPs. The overall defecit of 11 IMPs corresponds to a 13 - 7 VP defeat using the VP scale adopted by the East Lancashuire Bridge League.
Our next match will be in the Sarkar Cup, at home against the Pendlebury team (who won the first division last season!).