Ray Lee

World Mind Sports Games bridge – Canada/Russia slugfest

With the BBO archive now posted, I can bring you some deals and commentary on the Round 6 Wornen’s match between Canada and Russia.  This turned out to be a wild one, and the swings began on Board 1.

The East-West hands were as follows:

West  S A 6   H A Q 10 9 4  D K 10 7 4  C 7 4

East S J 10  H 6 5  D Q 9 8 2  C A K Q 9 5

After Chubarova opened the East hand a Kokish-style 1D, and then rebid clubs several times, West probably began dreaming of a diamond slam.  The pair quickly got past 3NT, and eventually subsided in 5D.  After a spade lead, declarer played 3 rounds of clubs, throwing a spade from dummy.  When they all lived, she needed to find the jack of diamonds or have the heart finesse work, and was successful on both counts.  In the other room, after 1C-1H; 2C-2D; 3D-3S Fung chose to bid 3NT, which turned out to be the wrong decision.  After the inevitable spade lead, even with clubs 3-3, she needed both heart honours onside, and that wasn’t to be.  11 IMPs to Russia.  I suppose it depends on what their agreement is regarding 3S, but it seems to me to be unlikely to show more than West actually had.  However, if West’s red suits had been       H Q10xxx D A K x x, bidding 3NT would have been very right.  C’est la vie.

Board 2 was a routine 3NT, where a Russian overtrick increased the lead to 12.  Then came another minor-suit auction.

West   S K Q 10 9  H Q   D A K Q 7 3  C K J 2

East  S  5  H A 7 4  D 10 8 6  C 9 8 6 5 4 3

Susan Culham opened the West hand 1D in second chair, red against white, and when it went 1H-pass-2H back to her, made the obvious double.  After a pass from North, Fung bid 3C and South backed in again with 3H (I really don’t like this kind of bidding).  Culham pushed on to 4C, and Fung. no doubt thinking how much worse her hand might be for the auction, bid on to game.  With the trump queen doubleton onside, the play presented few problems.

The Russian West opened a forcing club on these cards, and again doubled after the heart overcall and raise.  East bid 2NT over this (presumably some kind of Lebensohl-type negative), and West made her first natural call — 3D.  East raised to 4D, but perhaps this showed little enthusiasm, for that’s where they played it, making 11 tricks and losing 10 IMPs.  Curious that East-West failed to locate their nine-card fit here.

The gap was now only 2 IMPs, but that did not survive the next board.  This time the North-South pairs were in the spotlight:

North S K 8 7 2  H K 5  D A K 7 2  C  K 8 7

South  S A  H A Q 6 4  D  J 10 3  C  A 10 9 6 4

In the Open Room, the Canadian pair got to 6C from the North hand after a 1NT opening and a transfer auction, and Pascale Gaudreault received a diamond lead which went to the jack, queen and ace.  The hand probably looked too simple now, and she played a club to the ace, getting a rude awakening when West showed out on this trick. In the Closed Room, Ponomareva played 6C from the South hand, also on a diamond lead.  She won the ace and cashed the king of clubs, getting the bad news.  However, the club spots are more than good enough for her to survive, and she did so.  She ran the C7 (East not splitting), then played a third club to the queen and ace.  Drawing trumps and playing off some top cards pressured West into releasing diamonds, and the queen popped up when declarer eventually led the jack from hand towards dummy.  16 big IMPs to Russia, and the lead was now 18.

The match now settled down to small exchanges of an IMP here and there, the only significant swing being on Board 27.

West held   S A 9 8 6 5 2  H Q 5 3  D 3  C Q J 6

Neither vul., South opened 1H at both tables.  In the Open Room, Culham for Canada chose to overcall 2S (not my cup of tea with poor spades and defense outside).  Partner gave her a courtesy raise and eventually they defended 4D.  This could and should have been defeated, but the Canadian pair fell from grace and let it through.  At the other table, Vorobeychi made the (IMHO) superior call of 1S over 1H, and East-West were well on their way to a making 4S.  However, Lacroix and Gaudreault bid on to 5D, and escaped for down two undoubled, and a loss of only 6 IMPs.

With two boards to play, Russia had what looked like a comfortable 24-IMP lead.  However, on Board 31 Lacroix and Gaudreault bid a very pushy 3NT, which needed an incredibly fortuitous lie of the cards to make, and it was all there.  That regained 10 IMPs when the Russians stopped in partscore, and the deficit was now only 14.  And Board 32 was just the kind of bizarre layout Canada must have been hoping for:

North    S  K J 10 7   H  A 9   D J 8 6 5  C K 10 9

West     S  —  H K Q J 10 6 2   D A K 2   C Q J 7 2

East     S 3  H 5  D Q 9 7 4 3  C A 8 6 5 4 3

South  S  A Q 9 8 6 5 4 2  H 8 7 4 3  D 10  C —

The bidding in both rooms was as bizarre as the deal itself.  East-West were vulnerable, and Vorobeychi in the Open Room opened 1H on the West cards. North doubled, East passed, and Lacroix made the practical call of 4S on the South hand.  Now West doubled again — surely intended for takeout, but I would have thought 4NT would have served that purpose better.  East clearly thought it was for penalties, for nothing else explains her pass — if it’s card-showing, she has an easy pull to 4NT, or even 5NT.  West led a heart (what ever happened to Barry Crane’s dictum that if you have an AK you don’t have a lead problem?).  Declarer won this, drew the trump, and eventually when she led a club off dummy East popped ace, and Lacroix chalked up two overtricks.

The Closed Room auction was even more strange.  After the same start (1H-dbl) Kizmet Fung bid 1NT as East.  Perhaps she had several minor-suit cards mixed in with her majors — I can’t think of any other explanation for this call.  South bid 4S, and Culham, possibly expecting some kind of balanced hand with scattered values opposite, bid on to 5H.  I have no idea if the Russians thought they were in a forcing auction (although I can’t imagine why they would), but when this was passed around to South, Ponomareva doubled.  There must be some rule about not defending when you hold an 8-card suit for which partner has promised support, but if there is, this pair weren’t aware of it.  Partner failed to find the club lead that would at least have brought them a plus score, and saved 3-4 IMPs.  One club and one heart trick later, the Canadians had made a doubled game in both rooms, scoring up 17 IMPs on this last deal to emerge ahead by 3.

I imagine captain John Rayner must have needed an extra glass of wine or two at dinner after watching that one!

Leave a comment

Your comment