Even though all teams have played through 28 of the 35 rounds, nothing is settled. In Group A France have opened a wide edge over Indonesia, and Poland are nipping at Indonesia's heels. But the battle for fourth place is fierce. Spain has the edge at the moment, but Denmark, Japan and New Zealand all are close behind. Even Pakistan still has an outside chance of being one of the four qualifiers. In Group B,Italy pulled a little further ahead their lead now is 18 VPs well over half a match. Iceland climbed past Israel into second place. Israel slipped a bit with two losses in the four matches, but they still are only 6.5 VPs behind second. Chinese Taipei are another 9 points in arrears. Once again the competition is lively. Russia, Norway, the Netherlands and Great Britain still have good chances. And even the United States, which have been having their troubles here, are an outside possibility after an 82-VP day.
It looks as if the qualifiers from Group B are just about set. With only three matches remaining, the United States, Canada, Israel and Austria have outdistanced the field. Poland is the closest 28 VPs behind fourth. The big battle now is for position. Finishing first has special perks the team can pick their opponent from among those who finished second, third, or fourth in the other group. With only 9 VPs separating first from fourth, all four places are up for grabs. The picture is far different in Group A. The first three positions seem assured China, Germany and the Netherlands are well ahead of the field. Presently South Africa hold the crucial fourth spot, but there are many teams right on their heels. Denmark, Sweden and Great Britain all are close behind, and even eighth-place Spain has an outside chance.
By Heinz Guthwert, Finland
The meeting between Finland and Israel in Round 23 of the Open Olympiad was a atight encounter, especially when Israel, the Group B leaders, had just been beaten by Slovenia. But the Finnish team, with the Koistinen brothers, and in particular Kauko Koistinen a player known for his outstanding efforts was not going to give anything away.
|Board 2. North/South Game. Dealer East.|
|A K 10 7 5|
|A Q J 2|
|Q 9 8 6 4 2||J 5|
|Q 9 8||J 2|
|4||10 8 7 6 5|
|J 10 6||8 4 3 2|
|10 7 3|
|6 4 3|
|K 9 3|
|K Q 7 5|
|Pass||6 !!!||All Pass|
(1) Multi, 7-11 HCP weak two in a major or a 20-22 HCP balanced hand
How would you play after a diamond lead from West? It didn't take declarer long to play. With trumps 4-3 and hearts divided in a friendly fashion, you play three rounds of trumps followed by four rounds of diamonds, discarding a heart. Next you take the top hearts and ruff a heart. The opponents come to just one trick. Declarer unblocked dummy's two spade honors before he switched back to diamonds. Poor East had to be a spectator as South reached this ending:
When declarer plays a heart from dummy, East is helpless as Salomaa scored his trump 7 en passant for his 12th trick in this peculiar 4-2 contract. At the other table, the Israelis played 3NT making with overtricks.