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About Ned Paul Bridge

Ned Paul Bridge Club has embraced online bridge during Lokdown.  We organise bridge tournaments, practice sessions and tuition.  All are welcome at any playing session; single players are paired up and everyone is guaranteed a game. Enquiries are welcome: email ned@nedpaul.com or phone or text 07792 715517.  We will of course restart Face-to-Face when it is possible.

John Balson Remembered

The late John Balson died at the Princess Alice Hospice Esher in 2019. In March 2021 we ran a memorial bridge day in his name that raised a massive £4,700+ for the Hospice.

Here is a bridge story that typifies John. You deal and hold:

♠ A K Q 9 8 3
♥ A Q
♦ A 9 4 2
♣ K

You are behind in a match you need to win and the boards are running out.  You open 2♣ and partner responds 3♣, a positive response promising 8+hcp and two of the top three honours in clubs. What is your rebid and what was the late John Balson's rebid?  Fot the answer click on this link.

New for 2021 - Partner Finder Service

New for 2021 is the Bridgewebs 'Partner Finder' service, which you can use for any advertised online tournament. 

Click  the 'Find a Partner' link above.  To register for the service, you will need to enter your EBU number and your email address. You will be sent a link to your private 'member's area' on this website. When activated this will allow you to choose sessions where you need a partner. 

If you have difficulty registering (or do not have an EBU number yet) please send an email to Ned (ned@nedpaul.com) and we will send you your number and confirm your entry in our players' list.

Cafe Bridge

For up-to-date Cafe Bridge News and Fixtures check out Victor Lesk's Cafe Bridge Page

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Princess Alice Day - Mar 12th
Princess Alice Hospice Bridge Day Friday March 12th 2021
Princess Alice Hospice Bridge Day  Friday March 12th 2021

£4,700+ Raised For Princess Alice Hospice - Friday March 12th 2021

On Friday March 12th, we held a bridge day that raised an unbelivable £4,700+ for the Princess Alice Hospice in Esher. The Hospice provides end-of-life care for SW London and the neighbouring part of Surrey. The Hospice is a charity, relying on local donations, and receives only 24% of its income from the NHS. The money raised came via entry fees, entries to a prize draw and donations on the Richmond Friends of PAH Just Giving page.
 

Ned paul writes:  The day was in memory ofJohn Balson, my friend and long tine bridge partner, who died at the Hospice in 2019. I miss John at bridge and I miss his friendship. We had played together for 35 years. So when John Hughes, a member of my Kingston Bridge Club whose wife Marta is a member of the Richmond Friends of Princess Alice Hospice, approached me to run a fundraising bridge event for the Hospice I said yes. I was happy to agree to do so in John B's memory.
 

Did you find John's winning bid.  Read on to see if you were right.

A Prayer Answered ...

You are playing the last round of the annual Twickenham Round Table Swiss Teams. The event raises money for the Princess Alice Hospice in Esher and in 2016 it was actually being held at the Hospice.

In the Swiss Teams format your team of four plays other teams in short matches. Win and you play other winning teams; lose and you go down the table for supposedly easier opponents. To win the whole thing you  basically have to win all your matches against tougher and tougher opponents.

You've done the first part, got to the top table for the last round, and now you are playing for the win. Unfortunately the first few boards of the round are indifferent and as you draw your cards for the last board you judge you need what in other sports is called a 'Hail Mary', an unlikely and magic play that will recover a lost position. The first part of your prayer is answered when, sitting East, you deal and pick up:

S: A K Q 9 8 3 
H: A Q 
D: A 9 4 2 
C: K

You open 2C, your system strong bid (23+hcp if balanced or forcing to game if not balanced) and after South passes, partner bids 3C. This is good news – to make this 3C bid partner requires a positive response (min 8hcp) and at least a 5-card suit, headed by two of the top three honours. This is a good agreement to have - if all you have got is a mish-mash of middle honour cards just go 2D and find out what partner has got for their 2C bid. Then add your hand to it and catch up.

With the 3C response, East now knows that West has the the ace and queen of clubs and at least one other decent card. If either the spades run or the clubs run, you are going to make a lot of tricks and obviously you want to be in slam. But which slam?

John Balson held this hand. 'Obviously' struck John as the operative word because it is clear that the opponents will bid a slam too. So John's bid? Direct to 7NT!

Wow, that's more like three 'Hail Marys'. South led a low heart and this was the layout:

Dealer E. N/S Vul
…………….. S: J 10 7 
…………….. H: J 10 9 4 
…………….. D: Q J 5 3 
…………….. C: Q 10 
S: 6
............................. S: A K Q 9 8 3 
H: K 2
.......................... H: A Q 
D: K 10 7 6
.................. D: A 9 4 2 
C: A J 8 5 3 2
............... C: K 
…………….. S: 5 4 2 
…………….. H: 8 7 6 5 3 
…………….. D: 8 
…………….. C: 9 7 6 4
 

Eek! Partner has lied about the CQ, relying on the extra length in clubs to validate the 3C bid! Also partner's shortage in hearts matches yours so there is no extra trick there. You're starting with only nine top tricks and need all thirteen.

You win the heart with the HA and cash the top spades. The next part of your prayer is answered and they divide 3-3 but you're still not out of the woods. That's only three more tricks. You need a third trick from diamonds or a third trick from clubs without losing the lead. There are squeeze chances if the opponent with the CQ also has the long diamonds. You cash the long spades, and in total discard three clubs and two diamonds from dummy. You feel the opponents feeling the heat as you run the spades but with three discards each to find the opponents just pitch hearts. You cash the CK and cross to dummy with the HK. South follows, North discards a diamond. This is the position:

…………….. S: - 
…………….. H: - 
…………….. D: Q J 5 
…………….. C: Q 
S: - .............................. S: - 
H: - .............................. H: - 
D: K 10 .......................  D: A 9 4 2 
C: A J ........................... C: - 
…………….. S: - 
…………….. H: 8 
…………….. D: 8 
…………….. C: 9 7

You cash the CA and North's now singleton CQ falls. You show your CJ and the two top diamonds and claim thirteen tricks. Grand slam made!

Making 7NT on three Hail Marys did indeed win the match and was one of the defining moments of John Balson's 50 year plus bridge career. Those who play team sports will know the feeling of that MVP ("Most Valuable Player") moment and will know that the MVP always says they did it for the team. The team in this case was myself as John's partner and team-mates Maureen Dennison and David Hull. We were thrilled and our opponents, initially stunned, were gracious.

Three years later, John died a few days short of his 79th birthday at the Hospice which had such happy memories for him. He had an advanced brain tumour and the surgeons were not able to save him. He passed away quietly in the early hours of March 10th 2019. The previous day he had sat up and watched the rugby. A friend had bought flowers for John and suggested he leave them to his favourite nurse at the Hospice. "They're all my favourites!", said John.