4th IOC Grand Prix Page 5 Bulletin 2 - Sunday, 3 February  2002

Smooth Skating

The Canadian team featured in the first vugraph match of the 4th IOC Grand Prix might have suffered in the partnership experience phase of the game, but they still managed two huge swings for an impressive opening-round victory over a USA squad fielding two veteran partnerships.

Canada managed only two swings in the 12-board match, but they made the most of them for the win. Playing for Canada were Fred Gitelman-Joe Silver and Nick Gartaganis-Peter Jones (the two with little if any time at the table together). Their opponents were David Berkowitz-Larry Cohen and Nick Nickell-Richard Freeman, both long-standing and highly successful partnerships.

The match started with a bang that ended up being just another loud push, although it did represent a missed opportunity for Canada.

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

West North East South
Freeman Gartaganis Nickell Jones
  1§ Dble 3§
4© 5§ Pass Pass
Dble All Pass    

After Nickell's initial takeout double, it was not difficult for Gartaganis to deduce the location of the ªK when it came time for that. Declarer easily scored up 11 tricks for plus 550. On vugraph, the auction was quite different.

West North East South
Gitelman Berkowitz Silver Cohen
  2¨ (1) Pass 3§
Pass Pass Dble Redbl
4© Pass Pass 5§
Dble All Pass    

(1) Three-suited hand, short in diamonds, 11-15 HCP.

Silver could have assured a nice gain by passing 3§, but passing with his hand does not rate to gain in the long run. The question in the play, after Silver's initial pass, was whether Cohen would get the spade suit right.

Gitelman started with a trump, a good start considering how revealing the lead of the ¨K would have been. Cohen won in dummy and played a diamond to his 10 and Gitelman's ace, a falsecard that was likely to succeed only if Cohen was asleep --would Silver have played low holding ¨KQJ? Anyway, Gitelman exited with a low heart to the 10, king and ace. Cohen followed with a diamond ruff, heart ruff, diamond ruff, heart ruff with the king and a club to the queen. Cohen had seen what he needed to see in the red suits, so he played a spade to the ace and a low spade and was soon claiming his doubled contract.

Another push followed, then Canada displayed some gold-medal bidding judgment to land their first big swing of the night.

Dealer South E/W vul
  ª 10 5
© 6
¨ J 10 9 5 4 2
§ J 8 7 5
ª Q 9 4 3 2
© Q
¨ K 6 3
§ A 9 4 3
Bridge deal ª A J
© A J 9 8 7 4 3
¨ -
§ K Q 10 2
  ª K 8 7 6
© K 10 5 2
¨ A Q 8 7
§ 6

West North East South
Freeman Gartaganis Nickell Jones
1ª 3¨ Dble Pass
4§ 4¨ 6§ All Pass

The bad breaks in clubs and hearts doomed the contract. Freeman could manage no more than 11 tricks and finished down one.

West North East South
Gitelman Berkowitz Silver Cohen
      1¨ (1)
Pass 3¨ (2) 3© 3ª
4© 5¨ 5© Dble
All Pass      

(1) Precision - could be short, limited.
(2) Weak.

Gitelman did well to raise his partner on a singleton honor, but he must have had some trepidation when Cohen applied the axe. Cohen no doubt was pleased to hear the opponents reach the five level in his second-best suit The lead of the ¨A seemed to give up a trick, but the contract was cold on any lead because Cohen was going to be endplayed at some point to lead a spade or a diamond no matter what. Silver ruffed the ¨A and played a low heart from hand, winning the queen in dummy when Cohen played low. Silver discarded the ªJ on the ¨K and played a spade to the ace, followed by the ©A. Silver was soon claiming his contract for plus 850 and a 14-IMP gain for Canada.

Three more pushes followed, including this well-played deal by Cohen on board 6.

Dealer East E/W vul
  ª 10 9
© A Q 9 4 3
¨ 10 8 7 3
§ 8 5
ª A Q J 7
© 10 8 7
¨ K J 6 2
§ 10 9
Bridge deal ª 8 6 2
© K 6 5
¨ 5 4
§ K Q 7 6 2
  ª K 5 4 3
© J 2
¨ A Q 9
§ A J 4 3

The contract at both tables was 2© by South after a 1NT opening and a transfer by North.

The play record from the closed room was not available, but Jones managed eight tricks after the lead of the §10, the same one Gitelman made.

Cohen thought it over for a bit and ducked Silver's §Q. Silver switched to the ª8, ducked by Cohen to Gitelman's jack. Gitelman got out with a heart, ducked to Silver's king, and a diamond was returned. Gitelman won the ¨K but Cohen was in control. If Gitelman cashed his ªA, Cohen would have two discards for diamonds on the ªK and §A (after the more or less marked finesse). Gitelman exited with a heart, but Cohen read the situation accurately, rising with dummy's ace, pulling the rest of the trumps with the queen and finessing in clubs to discard a spade. All he had to do then was cash the ¨A and play the 9.

That push left the score at 14-0 for Canada with six boards left to play. It was still anyone's match. Until the next deal, that is.

Dealer South Both vul
  ª 10 7 5 3 2
© J 5 4 3
¨ 10 4 2
§ 8
ª 9 8
© A K Q 9 7
¨ A K Q 6 5
§ Q
Bridge deal ª A Q J
© 8 6
¨ 9 3
§ A K J 10 4 2
  ª K 6 4
© 10 2
¨ J 8 7
§ 9 7 6 5 3

West North East South
Freeman Gartaganis Nickell Jones
2§ Pass 3§ Pass
3© Pass 4§ Pass
4¨ Pass 4ª Pass
6§ Pass 7§ All Pass

Gartaganis led the ª3 and Freeman went up with the ace. The lead deprived him of a safe way back to dummy after leading a low club to the queen to guard against a bad split in trumps. He could have succeeded even on the damaging opening lead if he guessed which red suit to play after a club to the queen. Obviously diamonds would work, but Freeman couldn't know that, and rather than guess, he made the reasonable but fatal play of cashing the §A at trick two. The trump loser was unavoidable and Freeman was down one. The auction and result were vastly different in the open room.

West North East South
Gitelman Berkowitz Silver Cohen
2§ Pass 3§ Pass
3© Pass 4§ Pass
4¨ Pass 4ª Pass
5§ Pass 5ª Pass
5NT Pass 7NT All Pass

Gitelman also got a spade lead. He went up with the ace and earned high marks from the bridge judges by displaying flawless technique. Instead of relying on clubs to break, Gitelman played a heart at trick two, cashing the top three cards in the suit and turning to diamonds when hearts did not divide 3-3. When diamonds did break favorably, Gitelman was able to claim the grand slam and earn 20 IMPs for his team. The grand would still have been makeable if Gitelman had started on clubs at trick two, but only if he guessed which red suit to discard from his hand, since he would have been forced to cash all of his club winners.

USA was down 34-0 before earning their first IMP, an overtrick IMP on board 8. The Americans had two more swings, but they scarcely made a dent in the huge Canadian lead. The final score was 34-5 for Canada.

Page 5

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