36th World Team Championships, Monte Carlo, Monaco Thursday, 13 November 2003

IBPA Annual Awards 2003

Adjudication by Barry Rigal
Commentary by Patrick Jourdain


The Romex Award for Best Auction

Winners: Bart Bramley & Sidney Lazard (USA), Blue Ribbon Pairs, Phoenix, December 2002
Author: Bart Bramley (USA)

It is rare to see an auction with seven natural bids reach the top-scoring contract despite intervention, when three strains and two different levels are under consideration. This was beautifully handled by both players.

The Blues
By Bart Bramley, Chicago

Natural Bidding

Our best bid hand was from the first final session.

Dealer East. All Vul.
ª -
© A K Q 7 5 4 3
¨ A 10 5 3
§ K 7
Bridge deal ª A 10 7 5
© 10 6
¨ Q J
§ A Q J 10 9

West North East South
Lazard   Bramley  
1© 1ª 2§ 3ª
4¨ Pass 4© Pass
4ª Pass 6§ Pass
7© Pass 7 NT Pass
Pass Pass    

Sidney eschewed opening 2§ because the opponents were at favorable vulnerability and he had a spade void. When the opponents jammed the auction Sidney still had a big problem at his second turn. His delicate 4¨ bid was a great solution, as it was natural, forcing, and low. That bid may look obvious, but ask around and you’ll find out differently. My 4© preference was conservative, but I feared bidding more on a potential misfit. Luckily for us, the 4© bid relieved Sidney of any concerns about hearts running. Sidney’s next call, the 4ª cuebid, continued his gradual approach to a complex hand. Having pulled in a notch earlier, I was comfortable driving to slam over 4ª, but I was still not sure of the best trump suit. I chose the descriptive 6§, simultaneously accepting the slam try, showing a strong suit, and offering 6§ as a choice of contract. Note that 6§ could be the winning contract opposite

ª -- © A Q x x x x ¨ A K 10 x x § x x

or the like. That was good news for Sidney, who knew that the §K was huge, so he confidently bid 7©. Equally confidently, I converted to 7NT based on possession of the ªA. I knew Sidney held solid hearts, the ¨A ace, and one of the minor-suit kings.

Note that our auction was completely natural except for 4ª, a cuebid of a void, hardly a big contribution to a contract of 7NT. We used no ace-asking bid and cuebid no aces. Every bid but 4ª showed a suit, and our last several bids were all offers to play. Yet when we reached 7NT we both knew it was cold!

There was a small point in the play. On the spade lead I pitched a heart from dummy. Sidney, who had been looking nervous, perked up and said, “That’s a good sign!” I didn’t need the seventh heart for 13 tricks, but if hearts had been 4-0, I could still have made the contract with the diamond finesse and a squeeze if LHO had Jxxx, J98x, K9xx, x, a holding consistent with the bidding. Plus 2220 was worth 42 on a 51 top.


The ITES Award for Best Defence

Eric Greco (& Geoff Hampson) (USA) at Nebraska Regional
Authors: Larry Cohen & Alan Truscott

One can just imagine the thrill for Greco and the anguish of declarer as the deal unwound. So sad to go three off when at one point you can make 12 tricks!! (Yes, if declarer plays the ace of clubs on the second round of the suit, West gets squeezed later) But there was a sound reason for declarer’s play. So was dummy sympathetic?

Cornhusker Defence

By Larry Cohen, Boca Raton, FL
and Alan Truscott, New York City

Anyone who spotted Warren E. Buffett of Berkshire Hathaway at the Summer North American Bridge Championships in Long Beach, California, last month might have been excused for thinking that he was the wealthiest person present. However, that would have been wrong, for one of his teammates in the Master Mixed Teams was Bill Gates of Microsoft.

A week later, Buffett, back at his Omaha, Nebraska home, entertained a group led by another financial wizard, Peter Lynch, and played a friendly match. Lynch and his wife, Carolyn, then continued to the ‘Nebraska’ regional tournament, played just outside the state, across the Missouri River, in Iowa. Their team was uniformly successful, winning three knockout events and the Swiss teams.

In one knockout event, Eric Greco, West for the Lynch team on the diagrammed deal, produced a stellar defense.

Dealer East. All Vul.
  ª A K 8 7
© J 4
¨ J
§ Q J 10 7 5 4
ª Q 10 6
© 9 6 2
¨ A K 10 8 7
§ K 2
Bridge deal ª 5 4 3 2
© Q 10 8 7
¨ 6 3 2
§ 9 6
  ª J 9
© A K 5 3
¨ Q 9 5 4
§ A 8 3

At the other table, Greco’s teammate South opened a 14-16 no trump, and dummy transferred to clubs and then showed spades. South bid three no trumps and received a fourth-best ¨8 lead. Dummy’s jack won, and the §Q went to West’s king. West cashed the high diamonds, and declarer claimed 10 tricks for plus 630.

Contrast this with what happened at Greco’s table. South opened 1¨, and again the dummy showed clubs and spades with South arriving in 3NT. Greco led a high diamond and got the discouraging 2 from partner, Geoff Hampson. Even looking at all four hands, it’s difficult to see a way to beat the game, but Eric found it. He played the ¨7 at trick two, won by declarer’s 9.

Declarer crossed in spades (East showing an even number) and led the §Q for a finesse. Greco ducked in tempo. Declarer, afraid to lay down the §A (if East has king-third, he can’t be let in for a diamond through), continued with dummy’s §J, passed around to Greco’s now bare king.

Greco continued the good work by shifting to the ªQ. Not only did this pin the jack, but it also severed declarer from dummy’s clubs. The §A was now blocking the suit. Declarer countered by ducking the spade! Had Greco woodenly continued spades, declarer could have won in dummy and thrown the §A to make the contract. But, having done everything right so far, Greco wasn’t going to fall from grace at that point. He accurately shifted to hearts, the final nail in declarer’s coffin.

Declarer now had to fail by three tricks, down 300! Declarer, seemingly with nine top tricks, was held to two clubs, two hearts, one spade and one diamond trick. Making the right play in all four suits (at the right time), Greco earned 14 IMPs for his team with his superb defence.


The Digital Fountain Award for Best Play

Geir Helgemo (Norway) OKbridge
Author: Geir Olav Tislevoll (Norway)

Classic Helgemo. This is yet another example of his superior ability to see through complex positions to the way home. Geir’s ability to project the end-position of the cards at the early point of the deal makes him appear a magician at the table.

A Thing of Beauty
By Geir Olav Tislevoll, Trondheim, Norway

This lovely piece of declarer play took place when Geir Helgemo and Jimmy Cayne were practising on OKbridge. Since it did not occur in a big tournament, there was a danger that it would not come to light. To remedy that, here it is:

Dealer South. None Vul.
  ª A K 10 4 2
© 9 7 4
¨ A 2
§ 10 7 2
ª Q 9 8 6 5
© 3 2
¨ K 10
§ Q J 9 3
Bridge deal ª J 7
© K Q 5
¨ Q J 9 5 4 3
§ 8 4
  ª 3
© A J 10 8 6
¨ 8 7 6
§ A K 6 5

West North East South
  Cayne   Helgemo
Pass 1ª 2¨ Pass
Pass 3¨ Pass 3©
Pass 4© All Pass  

East-West were strong opponents and West found the best lead – a trump – which prevented declarer from ruffing a diamond for his 10th trick. Geir took the first trick with the ace over East's queen. If the opponents’ spades had been 4-3 there would not have been much to tell. In that case, declarer would have had no problems in establishing the fifth spade.

The play would continue ªA, ªK, discarding a diamond. Then a spade is ruffed, and if both opponents follow to that trick, declarer plays three rounds of clubs. The defenders must then play two more rounds of trumps to deny declarer a club ruff, and he ends up in dummy with the nine of hearts. He would then ruff another spade, and can get to the now good, fifth spade with the ¨A.

But, luckily for all but East-West, East showed out on the third spade, discarding the §8. Geir ruffed and played the jack of hearts to East’s king (East cannot profitably duck). East continued a heart to dummy’s 9. On that trick, West had to find a discard, and he could not let a black card go without giving declarer an easy task. So West discarded his ¨K, best defence. This was left:

  ª 10 4
© -
¨ A 2
§ 10 7 2
ª Q 9
© --
¨ 10
§ Q J 9 3
Bridge deal ª -
© -
¨ Q J 9 5 4 3
§ 4
  ª -
© 10
¨ 8 7
§ A K 6 5

Now came a strange but beautiful trick: the 2, jack, 7 and 10! If East now switches to a club declarer plays low and West will be end-played, forced to help declarer in spades or clubs. But East continued with a diamond to the ace. On that trick, West had to discard again. He could not give up a club, but since there was no more entry to the North hand he could afford to let a spade go, and so he did. That only delayed the inevitable. Helgemo still had one joker left to play out: he ruffed a spade with his last trump, and that took away West's last spade as well. With four cards left both West and South held only clubs. North had a high spade and his three clubs. A low club toward dummy's 10 gave West no good option. Beautiful, yes?


The OKBridge Award for Best Play by a Junior

Ophir Reshef (Israel) from the ACBL Junior Camp
Author: Andrew Robson

This was a beautiful false-card and quick thinking by declarer not only to realize the significance of dummy’s 9 in the suit, but how East would be tempted into returning the trick conceded, as well as diverting the club switch.

The False-Card
By Andrew Robson, London

Ophir Reshef found a great false-card on this deal.

Dealer East. N/S Vul.
  ª A Q
© 9 7 5 4
¨ K Q J 8 7
§ A 6
ª J 6 4 3 2
© 6
¨ 9 4 2
§ K 10 7 2
Bridge deal ª 9 7 5
© A J 10 8 2
¨ A
§ Q J 9 8
  ª K 10 8
© K Q 3
¨ 10 6 5 3
§ 5 4 3

West North East South
    1© Pass
1ª 2¨ Pass 3¨
Pass 3© Pass 3NT
Pass Pass Dble All Pass

North-South really belong in a part-score – 2NT is their best-scoring spot, but an aggressive auction such as the one shown is quite reasonable. What would you expect the fate of the contract to be? Well, on a spade lead by West declarer drives out the diamond ace, and the defence must play clubs to hold declarer to nine tricks. On a heart lead and club shift, or on a club lead at trick one, declarer cannot make more than eight tricks. Agreed?

Well, consider East's problem if his partner leads a heart to trick one. The obvious solution is to go up with the ace; if no honour appears, shift to clubs and hope for the best. Nice logic, but...

Ophir Reshef was sitting South and on the auction shown above he was treated to a heart lead. Gauging the situation accurately, he called for a low heart from dummy, and when East put up the ace he dropped the queen! East sniffed the air suspiciously for a few minutes then took the bait and returned a low heart, letting Ophir run this to dummy's 9 and collect his 10 tricks for all 15 matchpoints out of 15.

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