12th World Bridge Championships Page 3 Bulletin 14 - Friday 23 June  2006


Headed Off at the Pass

By Brent Manley

Going into the final set of the Rosenblum, Rose Meltzerís team led the Christal Henner-Welland squad 123-91. It is better, of course, to be ahead by 32 IMPs than behind by that sum, but no experienced player would take anything for granted with 16 deals left to play. Furthermore, the aggressive Henner squad had demonstrated their ability to come back, winning on the next-to-last deal in their semi-final match.

The final quarter produced some nervous moments for the Meltzer team before they finally pulled away for a comfortable win. This deal helped Meltzer to 7 IMPs.

Board 22. Dealer East. E/W Vul.
 ♠ Q J 10 4
A J 6 3 2
6
♣ 8 7 4

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

WestNorthEastSouth
NystromSontagBertheauBates
  12
Pass2Dble3
DbleAll Pass   

As you can see, in their forcing club system, Fredrik Nystrom and Peter Bertheau can open 1 with no cards in that suit. Roger Batesí overcall was natural. Alan Sontag, apparently looking for a better spot, merely elevated the level of the contract, which Nystrom was happy to double. With the terrible trump stack against him, Bates could take only five tricks. That was Minus 800.

WestNorthEastSouth
HelgemoLindkvistHelnessFredin
  Pass1
Pass1Dble2
DbleAll Pass   

Tor Helness chose not to open the East hand, allowing Peter Fredin to play his doubled diamond contract one level lower. He took the same number of tricks for Minus 500.

The following deal had a surreal aspect to it.

Board 24. Dealer West. None Vul.
 ♠ 6 3 2
A K 8 7 4 2
J 4
♣ 8 5

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

WestNorthEastSouth
NystromSontagBertheauBates
1NTPass3NTAll Pass

Sontag started with a low heart, and it wasnít long before Nystrom was claiming Ė one trick! As you can see, the defenders have six tricks in each major, leaving declarer with one. That was down eight in a voluntarily bid game.

Remarkably, it appeared that the result was going to be duplicated at the other table, but it didnít happen.

WestNorthEastSouth
HelgemoLindkvistHelnessFredin
1NTPass3NTDble
4♣ All Pass   

Helgemo also opened the West hand 1NT, and Helness innocently raised to game. When Fredin offered an opinion about this contract with a double (no doubt calling for the lead of a major), Helgemo believed him, running to 4♣. Magnus Lindkvist led two top hearts and switched to a spade, so North/South were Plus 50, losing 8 IMPs for their effort.

On the next board, there was more 3NT trouble for the Swedes.

Board 25. Dealer North. E/W Vul.
 ♠ J 9 8 7
Q 9 6 2
10 7
♣ 5 4 3

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

WestNorthEastSouth
NystromSontagBertheauBates
 Pass1♣Pass
1Pass1NTPass
2♣Pass2Pass
3NTAll Pass   

The 1♣ opener was strong, and the 1NT rebid must have a wide range for Nystrom to blast right into 3NT after making a negative response.

Bates started with the 3 to the jack, queen and king. Bertheau put all his eggs in one basket, playing a heart to dummyís ace and a diamond to the jack. Bates won the K and played the 10. When it held (Sontag unblocking the 9), Bates cashed the 8 and played a diamond to the 10 and declarerís ace. There was almost no chance that the contract could be made, but Bertheau went to dummy with the Q and played a club to the queen. Disaster! Bates won the ♣K and played the top two spades, continuing the suit. Bertheau won the ♣A at the end for his fifth trick. That was four down for Minus 400.

The auction was more sensible at the other table.

WestNorthEastSouth
HelgemoLindkvistHelnessFredin
 Pass1NTAll Pass

Fredin also started with a heart to the jack, queen and king, but Helness didnít bother with finesses. He cashed the A and played another from hand. Fredin won the K and cleared hearts, but Helness had his seven tricks via two hearts, four diamonds and the ♣A. Plus 90 meant 10 IMPs to Meltzer.

At that point, Meltzerís lead had grown to 156-103. They were cruising, but there was trouble ahead Ė and it didnít take long to arrive.@1st line of hand:Board 26. Dealer East. All Vul.

 ♠ 7
K 6 4 3 2
5 4 3 2
♣ Q 5 3

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

WestNorthEastSouth
NystromSontagBertheauBates
  1♣1
1NT34Pass
4Pass4♠Pass
5Pass6All Pass

Bates led the A, and that was it. Bertheau quickly claimed 12 tricks for Plus 1370.

WestNorthEastSouth
HelgemoLindkvistHelnessFredin
  13♣
Pass4All Pass  

Fredinís jump overcall, showing the majors, silenced West and effectively blew the Norwegians out of the water. The contract could not be made Ė after the lead of the ♣K, declarer has only three apparent losers but not enough winners. Even so, Minus 100 was a huge break for Henner, who gained 15 IMPs.

Another 5 IMPs went to Henner when Nystrom and Bertheau stopped in 3♠ on Board 27, earning Plus 140 while Helgemo and Helness bid to game, going one down. Then came this deal.

Board 28. Dealer West. N/S Vul.
 ♠ Q J 9
Ė
A K 10 8
♣ K 10 8 6 4 3

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

WestNorthEastSouth
NystromSontagBertheauBates
1Dble4All Pass


Nystrom had to lose two diamonds and a club, but that was it – Plus 420.

The auction worked out much better for the Swedes at the other table.

WestNorthEastSouth
HelgemoLindkvistHelnessFredin
12♣45♣
5All Pass   

Lindkvistís decision to overcall his long suit rather than doubling for takeout earned a huge dividend, as Helgemo was forced to bid on to avoid a double game swing Ė 5♣ was cold. The defense had the same three tricks, Helgemo was one down and Henner had another 10 IMPs. With four boards to go, Meltzerís lead had shrunk to 23 IMPs.

The next deal was a killer for Henner, but it could have been another big swing for them.

Board 29. Dealer North. All Vul.
 ♠ A 10 7 4 3
9 6
A Q 9 3
♣ J 6

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

WestNorthEastSouth
NystromSontagBertheauBates
 1♠Pass3♣
Pass3Pass4NT
Pass5Pass5♠
All Pass    

Bates made a game-forcing spade raise, then checked for key cards, signing off at 5♠ when he learned his side was missing an ace and the trump queen. His discretion was rewarded when the defense turned out to have a trump trick in addition to the A.

At the other table, Lindkvist and Fredin had a lengthy, complicated sequence that ended when they reached the no-play slam. That was 13 IMPs to Meltzer, but it would have been 13 IMPs to Henner had trumps been 2-2 or 3-1 with a singleton honor in the East hand. That put Meltzerís margin at 36 with three deals to go, and they put the icing on the cake on the next deal.

Board 30. Dealer East. None Vul.
 ♠ K 10 8 5
8
7 5
♣ A J 10 8 5 2

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

WestNorthEastSouth
NystromSontagBertheauBates
  Pass1
1Dble3Pass
4All Pass   

Sontag led the 7 to the 10 and queen. Nystrom cashed the A and played a third round, overruffing Sontagís 8 with dummyís 10. A heart went to the jack and queen, and the A picked up Southís king. Now Nystrom played the club from his hand, ducking when Sontag played the jack. A second round of clubs was ruffed by Nystrom, who then played a spade to dummyís ace. Bates erred by not playing the queen, and Nystrom took advantage to score an overtrick. He ruffed dummyís last club and exited from hand with the ♠6. Bates had to win and provide a ruff-sluff, on which Nystromís losing spade disappeared. That was Plus 450. Nicely played, but still a loss of 8 IMPs because of what happened at the other table.

WestNorthEastSouth
HelgemoLindkvistHelnessFredin
  Pass1NT
22NT3Pass
44♠Dble5♣
DbleAll Pass   

Helgemo led the ♣6, taken by Fredin with dummyís ace. He played the 8 to his jack and Helgemoís queen, then ruffed in dummy when Helgemo continued with the A. A diamond went to the jack and queen, and the ♠J was ducked to Fredinís queen. Fredin cashed the ♣K and played the K to Helgemoís ace. Helgemo could now put Helness on lead with the ♠A so that he could cash the ♣Q and play another heart, forcing dummy to ruff. The defense still had another spade trick coming for Plus 800.

That 8-IMP gain put Meltzer up 177-133. They tacked on 2 IMPs more and had the championship with a 179-133 victory.



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