12th World Bridge Championships Page 3 Bulletin 12 - Wednesday 21 June  2006

The Unexpected

By Brent Manley

The second set of the Rosenblum quarter-final match between the Nickell and Meltzer teams featured a somewhat unusual set considering Jeff Meckstroth and Eric Rodwell were playing – 14 boards, only five swings and only three of those of any consequence.

The net result was a 26-13 gain for the Meltzer team, trying to make it to the semi-final round of the knockout (they did). Two of the double-digit swings went to Meltzer – on consecutive deals.

Board 20. Dealer West. All Vul.
 ♠ Q 6
A K J 4
♣ J 9 6 4 2

♠ K J 10 7 5 2
10 7
10 8
♣ Q 5 3
Bridge deal
♠ A 3
8 5 2
K Q 7 5 4 3
♣ 10 7
 ♠ 9 8 4
Q 9 6 3
9 6 2
♣ A K 8

Pass4All Pass  

Meckstroth, South, had no chance for 10 tricks after Geir Helgemo started the defense against 4 with the 10. Meckstroth won the A, cashed the A and played a club to his ace. Now two more rounds of hearts put him in dummy and he played a club to the king. When the ♣Q did not drop, Meckstroth had to concede one down.

At the other table, the contract was played from the other side.

Pass4All Pass  

Freeman’s pass as dealer would be considered conservative in some circles. The effect was to give Alan Sontag and Roger Bates a free run to the heart game. More importantly, it concealed Freeman’s spade strength, which had a bearing on the player later.

Nickell led the K, which went to Sontag’s ace. Sontag played a club to dummy’s king at trick two, then a heart to his ace, and another club to the ace. A third round of clubs put Freeman in, and he played the 10 to the jack and queen. The defenders were in a position to cash the setting tricks with two top spades, but Nickell played a third round of diamonds so that Freeman could ruff and prevent a discard on the good 9. Sontag overruffed, pulled Nickell’s two remaining trumps and discarded two of dummy’s spades on good clubs. He conceded a spade trick but chalked up the vulnerable game for a 12-IMP swing to Meltzer. There was more bad news on the next deal.

Board 21. Dealer North. N/S Vul.
 ♠ 9 7 6 4
K 10 8 7 6
9 5
♣ 7 4

♠ K 10 8 3 2
Q 3 2
7 6 2
♣ Q 2
Bridge deal
♠ A Q J 5
A J 10 4 3
♣ K J 6
 ♠ –
A J 9 5
K Q 8
♣ A 10 9 8 5 3

4♠All Pass   

Meckstroth started with the K, taken by Tor Helness with the ace, Rodwell playing the 9 (reverse attitude). No doubt the contract looked secure to Helness until he played the ♠Q and saw Meckstroth discard. He thought over his next move for a time before putting the 10 on the table. Meckstroth won the Q and could have scuttled the contract by giving Rodwell a diamond ruff, but the count was not clear to Meckstroth, and when he cashed the A, Rodwell signalled encouragement. Meckstroth played the J next, and Helness was able to ruff, pull trumps and cash three diamond tricks for plus 420.

The auction at the other table was exactly the same, but the opening lead was not. Bates started with the ♣A, playing a club to dummy’s ♣Q at trick two. Nickell played a spade to his ace at trick three, continuing with his singleton heart at trick four. Sontag took dummy’s queen with the king and continued with the 9 to the jack and queen. Bates exited with the ♣3, ruffed in dummy with the ♠10 as Sontag discarded his other diamond. With three tricks in, Sontag took no chances when Nickell played a diamond from dummy, ruffing for the setting trick. Plus 50 was worth 10 IMPs to Meltzer. Nickell got part of it back on this deal.

Board 24. Dealer West. None Vul.
 ♠ Q 5 2
K 9 6
K J 8 5
♣ A Q 4

♠ A 8 6 4
J 7 5
Q 10 7 6
♣ 9 5
Bridge deal
♠ 10 7 3
Q 10 8 4
4 3 2
♣ 10 7 2
 ♠ K J 9
A 3 2
A 9
♣ K J 8 6 3

All Pass    

Bates’ 3 was described as puppet Stayman. With 4-3-3-3 shape and a minimum for his 1NT, Sontag declined the invitation.

Nickell started with a low heart to the 2, jack and king. Sontag played the ♠Q from hand, taken by Freeman with the ace to play another heart. Sontag had to take his 11 tricks and quit.

All Pass    

Meckstroth’s 2NT was puppet Stayman, 3♣ denied a five-card major, 4♣ was natural and slam-invitational, 4 was key card for clubs, 4 showed three and 5NT asked Meckstroth to pick a slam. He opted for notrump, which turned out to be a good choice.

In 6♣, for example, there were two ways to secure a 12th trick – diamond finesse or two top diamonds and a ruff. As is obvious, the finesse works but the ruffing play does not. Helness started with a passive club. Rodwell won in hand and cashed four more clubs. Rodwell then played dummy’s ♠9. Helgemo went up with the ace and returned a spade. Rodwell won the queen, and could delay the inevitable no longer. He played a diamond to the ace and a diamond to the jack, claiming when it held. That was plus 990 and 11 IMPs to Nickell, still in the lead despite losing the set.

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