Have you ever tried playing in a Swiss Pairs?  You play a match of 6 to 8 boards against one pair, but with match point scoring. The match points are converted to victory points on a scale of 0 to 20. It needs about 65% to achieve a 20-0 win. After the first round,  the pairs are ranked according to their scores and 1st plays 2nd, 3rd plays 4th  etc in the next round. This continues throughout,  except you cannot play the same pair twice.  In the NEBA event 2017 we played six rounds of six boards.

This year we played at the premises of Durham Bridge Club. 30 pairs turned up for an 11am start playing three matches before we were treated to an excellent lunch. Three more matches after lunch with a 4.30pm finish, all for just £10.

Now to some Bridge - On the -1st board of the day you hold as East -

S  K109.       NS vulnerable

H QJ97

D 843

C AK2.        And the bidding proceeds -


North East South West

1NT      P      2H      P

2S.     P      P         X

  P      P     ?

The opponents have stopped in 2 spades, Georgia us in the protective seat so does not have to be very strong. What would you bid?  The optimists would bid game in either 4H or 3NT, or you could try 3H which is game invitational. Well, I decided to go for the vulnerable penalty. Georgia had the singleton SJ which made my S10 worth a trick so the penalty was 800. A good start towards our 20-0 win.

We continued to be East/West and another decision -

S AJ6.             Love All

H 98752

D 76543

C ---           This time the bidding is -


North East South West

                     P       1C

 2S      P       P        X

  P       ?

Georgia is reopening with a double again. This time we could pass but bidding hearts seems obvious but you have choices - a immediate 3H is encouraging whilst going via 2NT is not. Alternatively,  you could give partner a choice of the red suits which might be best if she has only 3 hearts. Your choice?

Well,  I went for the encouraging 3H and Georgia bid 3NT. It sounds like she has 18/19 balanced with only 3 hearts and a spade stopper. I removed it to 4 hearts and made an overtricks. Georgia's hand was

S K2

H KQ10


C Q987

If you passed 2S doubled, you need to defend well for one down. If you gave a choice of the reds, you play 3D with 3 overtricks. Our +450 was a top on the way to a 19-1 win.

We were now leading, so got to be North/South at table 1. We were playing a pair who had just beaten one of our main rivals 20-0, very well done. We started by making a tactical error by bidding a slam when missing an ace and 4 trumps including the queen. Of course an opponent had three to the queen so I went down. As many pairs our way had missed game or got to the wrong contract that was a chance wasted but unlucky?

A board or two later we got lucky  as our opponents bid -

1H - 2C - 3S and then Blackwood to 6S which opener passed after some thought. The trump suit was AK only with opener and QJxx with responder. There were 13 tricks when trumps were drawn. Usually the spades would break 4-3 and they would score 1010. Today they broke 5-2 so the contract was down 2 as we won 18-2 to lead the field by 10vps at the lunch break.

In match 4 we played badly with poor bidding and play and the opponents bid a slam on 32 points missed by  most and we lost 16-4 and dropped to table 2.

We were going ok when vulnerable against not -

S ----

H AKJ1097

D Q4

C K8643

I opened 1H and heard 1S - 2H -4S - what now?.

Well, who knows but I tried 5 hearts and heard 5 spades on my left all pass. It could have made but didn't. My 5 hearts could be 3 down on a diamond lead.

Another win moved us back to table 1 for the last match. We were scoring well when the last board arrived. I held with everyone vulnerable -


H AQ93


C J9764

and saw my right hand opponent open a weak 2 hearts passed to Georgia - guess what she bid? Of course she doubled just for a change. Again she may not have too much but game probably in 3NT looks near certain for 600+. Again I decided to pass and try for 800. I lead the AD and was vey surprised to find dummy with  3 hearts and only 2 spades. It seems Georgia had doubled with no hearts and loads of spades - most odd. It was easy to get 800 but I made it difficult and we got only 500 for a poor score. Still we had hung on to win.

So, if you would like to try Swiss Pairs, why not come to the NEBA Congress on November 4th. If you would also like a good day out with a nice lunch look out for next years' event at Durham.

Steve Ray