All five major contenders in Group A had reasonable days yesterday as the field completed the 24th match in their 35-match round-robins. Defending champion France held onto first place despite a loss to Japan. However, Poland gained 5 VPs with an 83-point day and now are only 12 Victory Points behind France. Indonesia and Denmark round out the top four, but Spain are only 3 VPs behind Denmark.Italy moved back into first place in Group B despite a so-so day. Erstwhile leader Israel suffered three losses to Slovenia, Finland and Switzerland, but all three were close matches. Israel now are 3.5 VPs behind Italy. Chinese Taipei started the day by losing to the United States 12-18, but three strong victories after that kept them solidly in third place. Iceland won all four matches, but three of them were close so Iceland was unable to advance beyond fourth place.
Four teams have pulled away from the field in Group B after the completion of 16 of the 21 round-robin matches. Austria, Israel, Canada and the United States all are about a match ahead of fifth-place Poland. China had close to a perfect day 72 VPs out of 75, to pull further ahead in Group A. Germany lost to South Africa, 14-16, and that was enough to drop them 18 VPs behind China. The Netherlands had a strong day 66 VPs to take a solid hold on third place.
Today's hand features a terrific battle between Jerry Goldfein of the United States and Santanu Ghose of India.
|Board 20. Game All. Dealer West.|
|K J 8 2|
|A K 9 7 2|
|A K 10 6 5 4||Q J 8|
|A 10 7 6 4||5 3|
|-||9 5 3|
|Q 5||J 10 6 4 3|
|A K Q J 8 6 4 2|
|(1) Suggesting that partner to bid 3NT with a spade stopped.|
At the other table, the Indian West was pushed to 5 after South first cuebid in spades and then bid 5 on his eight-carder. On a diamond lead this was beaten one trick plus 200 for the U.S.
Ghose seemed to have a natural club lead, but he decided from the bidding that it was inmportant to lead a trump and indeed this was the best lead. Goldfein saw the problems he was going to face as a result of the trump lead, so he won with the queen and immediately went after clubs, the queen losing to the ace.
Ghose saw what was coming a Morton's Fork Coup. If he returned another trump, Goldfein would lead another club, and Ghose would be impaled. If he won the king, that would set up two club tricks in dummy. And if ducked he would never get his club trick. On the carding that took place on the first club trick, he decided correctly that his partner had a singleton. So he shattered the possibility of the coup by returning a low club, which Jaggy ruffed with his last trump.
Jaggy tried to cash a diamond, but Goldfein ruffed and led the A, on which Jaggy played the 9, and continued with a second heart. Ghose thought long and hard about this. If his partner had the 10-9 doubleton, then he should play the jack so that he could return a trump. But if his partner had the queen-9 doubleton, then he had to perform a Crocodile Coup, rising with the king to swallow partner's queen. Finally he decided that Jaggy would have unblocked the queen if he had it, so he didn't have it. Therefore, he played the jack and was most unhappy when his partner had to overtake with the queen. Now there was no way to stop Goldfein he ruffed the diamond return and was able to ruff two hearts in dummy. Then he was able to draw the last trump and score his game-going trick with the long heart. Plus 790 for a 14-IMP gain.
Excellent defense on the part of Ghose and excellent declarer play on the part of Goldfein.