APR_08_EB_p40-41 Debate 14/3/08 3:49 pm Page 37
pairs is the best
form of bridge
Or vote by post (Editor, English Bridge, 23 Erleigh Road, Reading RG1 5LR).
Comments for publication (not more than 200 words, please) are welcome. Frances Hinden
ALL across the land, every night of the week 1
Transfer to spades ting just because the contract is a part-score.
at clubs grand and modest, tens of thou- 2
Cue-bid That’s also what makes match-points more
sands of players sit down to play match- 3
Roman Key-card Blackwood fun: because small score differences are so
pointed pairs. Considerably fewer people important, there is always much more bid-
will be playing teams, and yet the ‘Test The 2♣ opening was either a strong or a ding on part-score hands, and wild pre-
Your Play’ or ‘Test Your Defence’ problems weak hand with diamonds, so East could empts, delicate doubled contracts and
in English Bridge are always at rubber or not make an immediate positive response large penalties are seen more often.
teams scoring, never pairs. The same is of 2♠. It is often said that
true of most of the hands you see written North led the ‘Match-pointed pairs is a harder teams of four is the
up by various bridge columnists in the seven of diamonds game . . . and more fun’ purest and most skill-
daily papers. Is that because match-point which went to de- ful form of the game,
scoring is less important or perhaps less clarer’s king. Declarer played the queen of while pairs is ‘imperfect’ and ‘random’. Well,
interesting? Or because it’s less commonly spades and North followed low. At pairs this if you have good enough team-mates, you
played worldwide? No, it’s because pairs is is a difficult problem because declarer has to can sometimes get away with playing less
a far harder game. decide whether it is right to play for an than your best, as their good results will
At teams, defence is simple: beat the overtrick by taking the spade finesse – cover for you. Or you can always blame
contract if you can. At pairs, you don’t risking a possible diamond ruff - or to them for your bad results. At pairs, however,
know when choosing your opening lead if ensure the contract by playing ace and it is all down to your partnership. It’s true
you are trying to stop the second overtrick another trump. How likely is it that the lead that over twenty-four boards in a one-
or ensure the vital second undertrick. was a singleton, given that South did not session pairs event the best pair will win
Similarly, in a teams match it doesn’t double 2♦ or 5♦? Will the rest of the field rather less often than the best team would
matter whether you play in four of a major be in the same contract, or will some people win a short multiple teams, because it
or 3NT if both contacts are making ten have stopped in game or bid a grand slam? makes a big difference if the cards go your
tricks – but at match-points those ten How many will play in a slam by East after a way or not. However, once you start playing
points are the difference between a top 2♠ response to a 2♣ opening? Will every- a lot of deals that factor disappears. Look at
and a bottom. one else get a diamond lead and face the the winners of previous World Open Pairs
Here is a deal from the 2007 National Pairs same problem? This is all part of the fasci- and you will see the world’s top players
final, with partner and me North-South: nation of match-points, while at teams this (such as Fantoni and Nunes, or Meckstroth
is a dull hand: you lead a spade to the ace at and Rodwell). They clearly think these
trick two and ensure the contract, with an events are worth playing in, even without a
♠ QJ862 ♠ A 10 9 7 3 overtrick if the king is singleton. sponsor at the other table paying their
♥ K52 Pairs is also fairer, because every hand wages.
♦ AK S ♦ J653 counts equally. Last year my team lost the I enjoy every form of bridge, whether it
♣ AK83 ♣ 9 final of a national teams knock-out by less is a rubber with my parents, a county
than the swing on one board when the league match, simultaneous pairs events at
opposition bid a grand slam that depended the club, a national teams knock-out or
West East on a finesse. The other hands in the final even the occasional international event.
2♣ 2♦ set turned out to be virtually irrelevant They are all challenging in different ways.
2NT 3♥ 1 compared to that one 50% decision to bid There would be less variety and much less
4♣2 4♥2 a grand slam. At match-points it doesn’t fun if we had to stop playing match-points
4NT3 5♦ matter whether the contract is 7NT re- because it’s deemed an inferior form of
6♠ All Pass doubled or 1♣. You can’t stop concentra- the game.
www.ebu.co.uk April 2008 English Bridge 37