Great BBO Vugraph Deals #7

Marc Smith visits the 2019 World Championships in China

This week we return to Wuhan, China for a match from the round Robin stage of the 2019 Bermuda Bowl. After five days of the eight-day round robin, Australia were lying in tenth, just outside the qualifying places for the knockout stage. Chile were a few spots behind the Australians, but still not out of the hunt with eight matches still to be played.

Almost halfway through the 16-board match, the Australians led 13-7, but then the match suddenly exploded. This deal produced the first significant swing:

None Vulnerable Dealer West      

Liam Milne advanced over his partner’s discouraging 3NT bid with a self-agreeing heart cue-bid. Trevor Nunn signed off again, but Milne made one more try with Five Diamonds. Should Nunn have realized that all his partner needed was that vital club control and jumped to slam in his void? It’s a tough ask, but the answer at this level is probably yes. E/W +480 and a chance for Chile to take the lead in the match.

If science doesn’t get the job done, perhaps there is another way:

West – Caracci        North – Hans East – J Robles       SouthGill

Jose Manuel Robles started with a strong jump shift. Over his partner’s 2NT, it seems that he then decided on a Zia-style psychic cue-bid. Having, he hoped, discouraged a club lead, Robles then boldly leapt to the grand slam.

Experienced international Peter Gill, who first represented Australia at the 1984 Olympiad has seen most things before. He duly laid down the ♣A to claim an unexpected plus score on the deal: E/W -50 and despite an ‘A’ for imagination for the Chilean player, 11 IMPs to AUSTRALIA.

The very next deal produced another double-digit swing:

E/W Game  – Dealer North

Sartaj Hans led a top heart and switched to the ♣K at trick two. Declarer won with the ♣A and played trumps from the top. The defenders made tricks with their two black queens, but declarer had the rest: E/W +650.

West – Nunn         North – Pacareu   East – L Milne          South B Robles

After a similar start to the auction, Chile’s Joaquin Pacareu fully appreciated the huge disparity in his offense-to-defence ratio and contested with a brave double of Nunn’s Four Spades. With six-card support for his partner’s presumed heart suit, Benjamin Robles was never tempted to defend.

Declarer ruffed West’s high spade lead in dummy and cashed the A, felling the queen. Now came a diamond to East’s king and a spade through declarer’s queen, dummy ruffing with its penultimate trump. A second diamond was won by East, and he exited with his last trump to dummy’s king. Declarer now ruffed the third round of diamonds, setting up the suit, and played a club. Although Robles still had two spade losers in his hand, East was down to only clubs so, after winning with the ♣A, he had no choice but to give the lead to the apparently entry-less dummy. E/W +100 and a well-deserved 11 IMPs to CHILE.

            None Vulnerable Dealer South

The Chileans quickly established hearts as trumps, and Pacareu then showed serious slam interest with his 3NT bid. Robles cue-bid in clubs and now North’s Four Heart bid surely pinpointed the need for a diamond control. Robles felt he had done enough, though, and there matters ended. The defenders just had their ace to take: N/S +480 and so much for the scientific approach.

West – Caracci        North – Hans East – J Robles       SouthGill

This time it was the Australians who applied the bludgeon to the problem. Peter Gill opened with an artificial Strong Club and Sartaj Hans’ One Spade response showed a positive with at least five hearts. Gill showed slam interest and agreed the suit with his jump to Three Hearts and now Hans simply rolled out Blackwood despite holding two losing diamonds. Gill showed one of the missing key-cards and Hans knew there must be plenty of stuffing opposite (he had opened a Strong Club, after all) and jumped to the excellent slam. N/S +980 and 11 IMPs to AUSTRALIA.

It is rarely good news when your team plays in the same suit at both tables. The Australians found this out to their cost when they played not only in the same suit as their teammates, but in the same doubled contract.

            None Vulnerable Dealer East

The normal theory of bidding over a 1NT opening is that the hand with shape bids, which is why most systems are geared to showing either single-suited (six-card or longer) hands or two-suiters (at least 5-4). One reason for this is that it is particularly easy for the opponents to double when one of them has shown a limited, balanced hand. Many inexperienced players would consider it quite normal to bid on this South hand because of the reasonable number of high cards. As you can see from what happened to Peter Gill, that decision was punished severely here.

Gill’s Two Diamond overcall showed a single-suited hand with one of the majors and Hans simply made the minimum bid in his partner’s presumed suit. Robles doubled to show heart shortage (almost always a doubleton) and Marcelo Caracci was delighted to pass.

Robles found the good lead of a trump. Declarer won with the king, cashed the A, and then ran the ♠9 to East’s queen. Robles continued the good work by switching to the ace then queen of diamonds, declarer winning with the king. Declarer took the club finesse and now played another spade, to East’s ace. Robles could now cash the J, allowing West to rid himself of his last spade. A fourth round of diamonds enabled West to score the 9 as dummy pitched a club. The defence still had two trump tricks to come: N/S -300.

West – Nunn         North – Pacareu   East – L Milne          South B Robles

In a strange kind of symmetry, the Chilean South passed and West bid Two Diamonds and Milne completed the transfer. When Two Hearts rolled around to Pacareu in the North seat, he made a takeout double. Just as Caracci had been at the other table, Robles was delighted to convert for penalties.

At this table, the defence was only a one-trick favourite. Robles got off to a good start with the ♠9, won by declarer with the queen. Milne led the J around to Pacareu’s king, but then made the mistake of putting up the king when North switched to a club. Declarer won the next trick with the ♠A and cashed two diamond winners, shedding a spade from dummy, and then played a spade, ruffed and overruffed. Declarer still had two clubs and three trumps to lose: E/W -300 and an unusual 12 IMPs to CHILE.

AUSTRALIA won a remarkably high-scoring match by just 1 IMP, 54-53. Alas, neither team quite made it into the knockout stages of the event, Australia finishing twelfth and Chile sixteenth in the 24-team field.