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YOUNG CHELSEA MARATHON—15 & 16 December 1973

by Mahmoud Sadek, April 1974

Lured by a £60 first prize, 69 enthusiasts (or maniacs) entered the first Young Chelsea Marathon pairs event. Play commenced at 2.20pm on the Saturday, and, with remarkably few bleary eyes in evidence, was concluded about 3.00pm on the Sunday, 156 deals later.

 

Seventeen entries involved threesomes, the players working out their own shift systems for play and rest. The remaining nine pairs played throughout.

 

Several words of praise should be extended to Warwick and the various helpers and scorers whose efforts made the event run extremely smoothly, especially considering that there were never less than 60 people in the club during the entire time.

 

Now to the play. First, the only grand slam in the entire competition:

 

South Deals
Both Vul
J 8 7 6 2
5 4 3
3
10 9 5 2
Q 5 3
6
A K Q 10 9 8 6
A 6
N
W E
S
A
A K Q
J 7 5 2
Q J 8 7 4
K 10 9 4
J 10 9 8 7 2
4
K 3

 

South passed, and West (Roger Edmonds) called 2! Imagine East’s feelings! I quietly called 3. Then the fun started. David Sherman called 3 on the South cards, and West bid 4. Clearly all finesse had to be abandoned so I bid 4NT (Roman Blackwood) and before receiving the appropriate two‑ace response, South blistered the air with 5.

 

West bid 5♠, which I took to show two aces on the basis that double would show one and bid 7 hopefully awaiting a 7 call (worth a 2300 penalty) which alas never came. There were no problems in the play. One pair called 7NT, possibly over 7, and found the K well placed for a complete top.

 

At the end of the first session, the leaders were Tim Bolshaw & John Atkin 392, J. Smith & Jeremy Dhondy 382, and Dick Shek & Richard O’Reilly 380.

 

The second session was quite tough, we found, with few presents coming our way. Terry Roberts & Tony Judge had no such problems and finished with over 68%, easily the best session of all. It brought them from nowhere to second place on 735. Tim Bolshaw & John Atkin still led with 737. Frank & Kathy To moved up to third on 726.

 

The third set started poorly for us. Then after ten boards, Colin Simpson, hot from the theatre, and Bill Maddock, hot from a bar, turned up to kibitz, and our fortunes changed dramatically for the better.

 

This was one of the deals they watched:

 

South Deals
N‑S Vul
5
K 8 7 5 4
J 6 4
10 9 5 3
8 7 6 4 3 2
J 9 3 2
2
6 2
N
W E
S
A K Q 10 9
10
A K Q
A Q J 4
J
A Q 6
10 9 8 7 5 3
K 8 7

 

After three passes, East opened a strong 1. South (Roger) bid 1. West and North both passed and after a long trance East also passed! (Surely one of the biggest “no bids” ever.) 1 was duly made for +70 with 6♠ bid and made seven times. It was not a top however. One East played in 4 down three when, one can only assume, his partner passed out a cue‑bid.

 

Frank To & Mel Sears moved into the lead with 1116, followed by Terry Roberts & Tony Judge on 1069, and Dick Shek & R. O’Reilly on 1062. This was easily our best set to date and we moved into fourth spot with 1044.

 

At this point, Colin Simpson took over from Roger in this healthy position, comfortably tucked in behind the leaders, although half the field were still in the running.

 

Very early on in the fourth set, this monstrosity occurred. We scored a bottom, but it was worth untold matchpoints over the remaining sessions.

 

East Deals
Both Vul
7
A J 10 7 3
6 2
J 8 7 6 3
A J 10
6 2
A 10 9 5 4
A K Q
N
W E
S
5 3 2
K Q 9 8 5 4
8 7 3
4
K Q 9 8 6 4
K Q J
10 9 5 2

 

After one pass, I opened, as South, with 1♠. No one should quibble with that at pairs. West called 2 and East 2. This was passed to North who doubled. South not unnaturally took out to 2♠, doubled by West. North now called 2NT (ugh!) which was also doubled. This went for 1100. North lost a trick in the play, or else we would have scored two matchpoints. 2 doubled plus one would have cost 870. South, uncharacteristically, said very little except to point out that these tactics were unnecessary. Dissent and controversy in a marathon must be avoided. That, and keeping to a simple system, are perhaps the two basic essentials of extended pairs play to minimise fatigue.

 

Near the end of the session, this deal came up:

 

East Deals
E‑W Vul
8 5 4
A 9 7
9 8 7 3
9 7 6
A K 6 2
Q 8 4
K 4
A Q J 4
N
W E
S
10 7
6 3
A J 10 6
K 8 5 3 2
Q J 9 3
K J 10 5 2
Q 5 2
10

 

After two passes, I opened 1 with the West cards. This was raised to 3 (a slight push) and on the “simple system principle”, I called 6. (I was not alone in this contract!) Anyway, 9 was led to the J, Q, and K. Trumps were drawn and South discarded a diamond and a spade.

 

5.00am Sunday morning is my only excuse for failing to spot that spade discard. The contract, of course, can now be made by establishing the ♠2 for a heart discard. I had a fixation about getting four diamond tricks, and eventually went one off.

 

Terry Roberts & Tony Judge were now leading on 1449, followed by R. O’Reilly & C. Duckworth on 1427, and Malcolm Landau & Mrs Charlie Esterson on 1424 (in the top three for the only time; they were never to drop below fifth).

 

The fifth set was, for us, as smooth as the second set was tough, although we could not touch Martin Hoffman and John Peirson who banged in more than 65%. Martin was his usual brilliant self, playing the cards with machine‑gun rapidity, and complaining cheerfully that his team‑mates had left him too much to do in pulling up from twelve tops to “only” eight tops behind. Despite Martin’s blitzkrieg, Terry Roberts & Tony Judge still led with 1788, Sadek & Simpson 1761, and the Tos on 1734.

 

Now the last lap got under way at about 11.30am, all set for an exciting finish. There had not been much for squeeze addicts. The following deal at the start of the last set changed that (at least for us):

 

East Deals
N‑S Vul
9 8 5
Q 8 5 4
A K 9 8 5
5
J 7
A 9 3
J 6 4 3
6 4 3 2
N
W E
S
K 10 6 3 2
10 6 2
10
A J 8 7
A Q 4
K J 7
Q 7 2
K Q 10 9

 

South played in 3NT and received the 3 lead. Dummy took the ace and led a heart, taken by West, who returned a heart. After the third heart, a club was led to the king, which held. Dummy was re‑entered and all the red suit winners played out. East was caught in a club‑spade squeeze and declarer made twelve tricks. (Not a top, however, as one pair played 3NT doubled.)

 

An amusing incident occurred on deal 12 in this set. It had not been redealt from the third session. Colin Simpson picked up a 16‑pointer with two queen‑doubletons. Lisa Christie opened 1, Colin called INT (ugh, yet again!) and Tim Cope doubled. I futilely called 2, doubled. When dummy went down, Tim astonishingly remembered the hand from some 12 hours back. Not surprisingly the previous five tables had not recalled it. Thankfully the board was declared void and our scheduled −500 or −800 never materialised.

 

This was our scrappiest and least satisfying set of boards, and I thought we would be a top above average only. During play we heard rumours that the Chinese (Dick Shek, and Frank & Kathy To) were doing well, and that Terry Roberts was faltering. At the end we resigned ourselves to third or fourth place.

 

When all the smoke had cleared the final result was as follows:

 

1st Roger Edmonds, Colin Simpson, Mahmoud Sadek 2123
2nd Frank & Kathy To, Mel Sears 2094
3rd Dick Shek, Richard O’Reilly, Chris Duckworth 2066
4th= M. Landau, Charlie Esterson 2065
4th= Terry Roberts, Tony Judge 2065

 

 

Page last updated 11 September 2017

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