Ray Lee

Squishing the Mosquito

It’s hard to believe, looking back at the rather despondent tone with which I was writing earlier this week, that we are sitting in sixth place as I write this entry.  But much has happened, and so far it has all been good.

The huge win against England on Wednesday proved to be the turning point, at least it looks that way so far.  The team was determined to capitalize on that, and delivered a nice win over Egypt in the third match that day.  Yesterday, we started off with a hard-fought narrow loss to France, one of the top teams here (in fact, the defending champions from Estoril in 2005).  That didn’t dismay us, and we went on to face New Zealand still feeling momentum was building.

It certainly was.  The result of this match was 53-6 — and a whopping 25 VPs.  We were finally in a Q-spot, lying 8th.  With Linda back from her sickbed, we cruised to a comfortable win over Croatia in the last set, finishing the day in a tie for 6th, and beginning to open up a gap over 9th place.

With two days to go, we still have three tough matches left: China, Netherlands, and Germany, but our fate is in our own hands, which is where we want it. We also have two of our pairs sitting proudly in the top 15 of the Butler rankings.

Wish us luck today!

The match against the Kiwis had two points of interest, the first being that Pamela Nesbit herself hails from New Zealand.  Having failed to win a spot on the ladies team Down Under some years ago, she was determined to show them the error of their ways as a Canadian — and she certainly managed that! 

The other interesting point was that one of their pairs was playing MOSCITO, a system rarely if ever seen in North America.  MOSCITO stands for Major-oriented Strong Club, Tactical openings.  Among its features are a forcing club, with a complex relay structure, and one-level openings that do not show the suit bid.  So, for example, a 1D opening shows hearts, a 1H opening shows spades, and a 1S opening shows diamonds. 1NT is 11-14, and 2C is natural with a 6-card club suit.

The inventor of the system, Paul Marston, actually wrote an article in Australian Bridge this year on how to play against it, so we were prepared!  Basically, if they open at the one level, you pretend they have opened the suit they show.  So if they open 1D, showing hearts, double is takeout of hearts, and everything else has a normal meaning (1NT would include a heart stopper, of course).  That leaves a 1H overcall free for whatever you want — a light takeout, or a Raptor type hand with 4 spades and a long minor for example. So the strange openings really should work to the opponent’s advantage.

The relay system after the 1C opening (which is 15+) is very revealing — also for the opponents!  Linda told me that she has never defended so many hands double dummy, since often declarer’s exact shape was known before the opening lead was made.  There was also a deal on which the MOSCITO pair used several rounds of relays but failed to get the information they needed to bid a cold grand, settling for six making seven.

We certainly squished this particular MOSCITO pretty flat!

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