Ray Lee

world mind sports games — women’s round 15 match

China and Denmark, respectively first and fourth in Group F when the round began, faced each other in Round 15.  China probably felt comfortable as far as qualifying went, but they had a tough final day, and certainly couldn’t afford to lose blitzes.  Denmark were going to have to play Scotland and France in their last two matches, so it was critical that they pick up some VPs here.

After an uneventful first board, the second deal produced a small swing to China.  The BBO records are incomplete, so we can only guess at the auctions.  Just as well, perhaps.  The Chinese N-S pair subsided in a normal-looking 2H down one, while the Danes climbed all the way to 4S, with a paucity of high cards and a tenuous 4-3 fit.   Three down vulnerable (no double, no trouble) left China ahead by 6.  They added to it swiftly on the very next deal.

West       S QJ62  H 105  D AQ2  C AKQ2            East   S  AK105  H AK9862  D J54  C —

The Danes took seven rounds of bidding to get to the inferior slam: 6H.  The Chinese Precision auction allowed East to describe a major 2-suiter with longer hearts, and they took one round fewer to get to the spade grand.  With both majors breaking 3-2, the play presented no problems.

An overtrick on the next deal added an IMP to the lead, and then came Board 5.  Tina Ege for Denmark held

S 87 H  AK876  D J97   C 1063

RHO opened 1NT (13-15) red on white, and after two passes her partner balanced with 2C, showing majors.  After another pass, what do you do?  She contented herself with 2H, and the auction ended there.  West had

S AKJ52  H J1092  D K84  C 5

The HQ was stiff onside (in fact it was led), and the SQ, although offside as expected, was doubleton, so declarer had no trouble arriving at 10 tricks.  The auction in the other room is unrecorded, but we can hazard that it began with 1C from North and a 1H overcall by East.  South may have raised clubs preemptively (she had KJxx and not much else, along with the stiff HQ), but whether voluntarily or under pressure, the Chinese pair bid to 4H.  This time the lead was a diamond, but two diamonds and a club is the limit for the defense, so add 6 more to the lead, and China is ahead by 26.

In these situations, it’s important to get on the scoreboard at least, and Denmark did that on the next deal — competing to 3C and making an overtrick, while their counterparts were selling out to 2D and beating it two, undoubled.  Just 1 IMP, but a start at least.

On the next deal, Sun Ming picked up as dealer S QJ  H AJ109876 D 6  CAQ10, everyone white.  Well, are you a (wo)man or a mouse?  This must be the Year of the Mouse, for she opened a simple 1H.  The auction continued 1S-pass-2H, and she rebid 3H.  North bid 3S, and East, holding S 1052  H 3  D A10742  C K765 still could not be persuaded to produce anything but a green card.  West was done, and 3S quietly drifted down 2. I would have thought after an initial pass East’s hand is worth a double, even if she felt 4H on a singleton was a bit rich.  Sometimes, though, forcing club players get mesmerized by the thought that partner is limited…

The Danish mouse, I mean player, who held these cards also opened at the one level, but this time over 1S she heard her partner double.  Shedding her fur coat, she leapt to 4H over South’s 2S raise, and a fortuitous trump position (stiff king onside this time) made ten tricks fairly routine (don’t you love those heart spots?).  Denmark had stemmed the tide somewhat, and now trailed 26-9.

The next few deals produced little to note, an IMP changing hands here and there, but there was one last sting in the tail left for Denmark.  Again, it was the East-West players who were featured.

West   S  AK2   H 9   D K764   C Q9753                East  Q643    H KQ8   D Q1095   C AJ

It was Professor Silver who mused some years ago, “Why do they call it ‘duplicate’ bridge when the same thing so rarely happens at both tables?”  This surely looks to be a flat board — but no.  The Danes bid to a routine 3NT:  1D – 2C; 2NT – 3NT.  South led a spade, declarer set up clubs (which were conveniently 3-3) and made a trick in each red suit for ten altogether.

At the other table, East opened 1NT (13-15), and now technology reared its ugly head.  Either Ming was unhappy about playing notrump with a stiff heart, or she had visions of a minor-suit slam.  Anyway, for whatever reason, she had a gadget and she used it: 3H, showing a 4-1-4-4 hand with heart shortness.  Partner, who might have saved her with a clairvoyant retreat to 3NT, forgivably raised spades (who knew, maybe there was a slam there?).  And when spades failed to be as friendly as clubs, the declarer had to lose one trick in each suit, along with 10 IMPs.

Now to be fair, this is a tough hand to be opposite a (weakish) notrump opening.  Give East AQJx of diamonds and three small hearts, and six diamonds is on a finesse while they cash out hearts to beat 3NT.  The trick somehow is to construct an auction that will let partner decide that her hearts are good enough to play 3NT opposite a stiff, which isn’t easy.  For example, forcing Stayman will almost certainly get you to 4S or 5D, while minor-suit Stayman will liely get you to 5D too: 1NT-2D; 2S (denying four hearts) – 2NT; 3D and now what should West do?  Perhaps 3H should be enquiring, but I don’t have any agreements on that sequence… maybe partner would think it was a heart card or even a slam probe in diamonds.    Ming actually did have Minor-suit Stayman available — so perhaps she just had a club in with her spades!

The final score was 29-23 China — a result that probably pleased both captains, who were nicely on their way to the KO stages.

1 Comment

LindaOctober 11th, 2008 at 1:47 am

There seems to be a metaphor problem here. You have mice with stings in their tails. Yeech.