When the students of more than 200 colleges competed recently in the National Intercollegiate Bridge Tournament, they met a new set of conditions designed to minimize luck. The tournament is an annual event based on a series of 18 hands with built-in problems, and it enables students to compete without leaving the campus. It is decided not by the number of points they amass against their opponents, but by the number of points they are awarded—both for bidding and play—against a designated par score. The new conditions have made it virtually certain that a pair can win par points only as a result of its own efforts, not when its opponents err.
In the hand below it should not have been difficult for North-South to avoid getting too high on their combined hands. North has a normal 17-point one-no-trump opening. South, with only five points in high cards, knows immediately that his side is well short of the 26 points required for a game bid. He may, therefore, elect to pass one no trump, or sign off with two spades. Either way, North-South earn five par points. Or they can get two par points if they bid as high as two no trump or three diamonds. But no matter how they bid, the instructions that come with each hand—they are opened after the bidding, of course—require that South play a contract of two spades and that West lead the club ace followed by the club 9.
Now it is up to the defenders to earn their points. In the 18 deals, each player gets about the same number of chances to play the hero's role, but in this case, the fate of his side depends upon East's next play. Regardless of possible false-cards by declarer, the only missing dub is higher than partner's second lead of the 9, so East is certain that his partner can trump the next club lead. But if East gives partner the ruff immediately the opponents make their contract and East-West miss their par points.
Suppose that East-West collect three club tricks and the ace of trumps and ace of diamonds. That will not be sufficient to set the contract. East must find another trick somewhere. Surely it cannot be in hearts or trumps, so it must be in the diamond suit. Before leading the third club, therefore, East must lead the ace and another diamond. He now steps in with the ace on declarer's first trump play and leads the third round of clubs for partner to ruff. West leads back a third diamond, and East ruffs for the setting trick. For playing the two rounds of diamonds before the third club, East gains four par points for his side. For stepping in on the first spade and leading a club he gets two more. And for giving his partner the diamond ruff, West adds two final points to his side's score, bringing the total to a maximum of eight par points.
The directed contract and the automatic leads alert the players to the par possibilities on some of the hands, but, all in all, this is the best method yet for scoring this kind of contest.