Great BBO Vugraph Deals #70

Marc Smith visits the TampAlt Qualifying event

Sixteen teams were invited to play the qualifying event for TampAlt, the online substitute for the US Fall Nationals, which had originally been scheduled for the Florida city. The format was a 12-match Swiss Teams, with the top eight teams advancing to the main event.

As usual, we start with a couple of problems for you to consider. First, with only the opponents vulnerable, you hold as East:


What action, if any, do you take? What would you bid if North had instead opened a 15-17 1NT?

Secondly, with neither side vulnerable, you are West holding this collection:


What do you bid?

We start with an explosive deal that caused carnage in Match 1. A number of East players faced the first of this week’s bidding problems. Whilst not necessarily decisive in itself, what action they took encouraged their partners to varying degrees.

NS Vul – Dealer West


West – Davis  North – Lall  East – N.Smith  South – V.Gupta


Hermann Lall started with a strong notrump and Nick Smith put his neck on the block with an adventurous pre-empt. It was impossible for Lall to know that an 1100 penalty was on offer so he duly bid game in his side’s nine-card major.

Declarer won the club lead and, playing safely in game, started with a low trump. The appearance of the king solved his problem in that suit and, in the endgame, he also guessed the diamonds to bring home 13 tricks: N/S +710.

West – Birman  North – Punch  East – D’Bilde  South – Peterkin


Outside her notrump range, Sam Punch started with One Heart and Dennis Bilde entered with a weak jump overcall. Stephen Peterkin’s 2NT showed an invitational or better hand with at least four hearts, and Alon Birman upped the ante into four-figure territory. When Punch advanced with 3NT, showing serious slam interest, Bilde took one more shot at a huge penalty but the Scots were having none of it. A couple of cue-bids later, Bilde led the ♣J against the heart slam.

Looking at just the North/South cards, you would not really want to be in slam. With both red suits lying in such a way that declarer can avoid a loser in the suit, though, it was looking like a swing to REMEMBERING ROLAND. Punch won the club lead and played the J to king and ace, and a second trump back to her queen. She then cashed the ♣K and the two high spades before exiting with a trump to West’s ten. Birman returned a club, giving a ruff and discard, but that didn’t help declarer much as she had to throw the spade she could have ruffed anyway. Bilde followed with the ♣Q, trying to suggest some length in diamonds, and it seems that his mild deception worked. Although East did not have room for four diamonds at this point, declarer was persuaded to play a diamond to her king. Down came East’s queen, but that no longer helped and declarer had to surrender a trick to West’s J at the end. N/S -100 and 13 IMPs to VINITA.

Only one other declarer played in Six Hearts, Dutchman Ed Hoogenkamp, who made 12 tricks for +1430. Unfortunately, that was worth just a 1-IMP swing as his teammates were one of two pairs in the field to concede a 1400 penalty in Four Spades-Doubled. In an all-Dutch battle:

West – van Doren  North – Witteveen  East – Spit  South – Arens


N/S +1400 and 12 IMPs to HERRES! when North played peacefully in Four Hearts at the other table. I am glad to report, though, that not everyone who bid to Four Spades was dealt with so severely: my own teammates escaped for just three down in that contract (-500) to earn a 5-IMPs swing to the good guys.

This deal also created fireworks in the meeting between top pairs from neighboring countries, as Belgium took on Netherlands:

West – Moulart North – Nab  East – Lafourcade  South – Drijver


Bob Drijver

Jean Pierre Lafourcade chose to show his two-suiter via a Michaels cue-bid. Bob Drijver’s 2NT was again invitational or better agreeing hearts, and Alain Moulart chose (for some reason) to compete on the West hand. Bart Nab doubled to vshowed a balanced hand with extra values and Drijver jumped to game, but West was not yet done. I do not know how many times in these pages I have observed that sacrifices on balanced hands invariably prove too expensive, and this deal was no exception. Declarer lost the obvious six top tricks: N/S +800.

West – Molenaar  North – V.Labaere  East – Verbeek  South – A.Labaere


Tim Verbeek had a bid to show 6-5 in the black suits and, presumably having waited for years for it to come up, he could not resist using it. Alain Labaere agreed hearts with a Three Spade cue-bid, and Danny Molenaar upped the pre-empt to the five-level. Valerie Labaere’s 5NT was described as Blackwood, which seemed to tip the Dutch over the edge into self-destruct mode. Perhaps the Belgian would have made her slam, but I am sure that Sam Punch wishes she had played this deal against such generous opponents. N/S +1400 and 12 IMPs to BELGIUM2.

The most impressive team throughout this event turned out to be THE MUGS. Flying the British flag and playing four-handed, Kay Preddy/Norman Selway and Jon Cooke/Cameron Small won 10 of their 12 matches and qualified as the leading team. In Round 2, they put down an early marker with a 61-1 victory over BELGIUM2. The opening deal of the match set the tone:

Nil Vul – Dealer North


West – Preddy  North – Dewasmes East – Selway  South – Dehaye


Norman Selway

The British pair backed into the auction and then judged to bid game. Not unreasonably, Bernard Dehaye led his partner’s suit, the ♣Q, and that was all the help Norman Selway needed. He ruffed the club continuation, played the ♠9 and overtook with dummy’s jack, and ruffed dummy’s last club. Selway then played his last trump to South’s ace. The defense had one heart to take but, apart from that, dummy was high: E/W +420.

West – Bigdeli  North – Small  East – Coenar’ts  South – Cooke


Cameron Small’s first-seat pre-empt put the pressure on, but the Belgian’s still managed to find their 4-4 fit and bid game. Jon Cooke increased the stakes with a double and Small kicked off with the 4. Faramarz Bigdeli won and played a trump, but Cooke won with the ♠A and played a second diamond. Declarer drew a second round of trumps, but has only nine tricks. If he draws a third trump, he will score just five diamonds and four trumps. He chose to leave one trump outstanding, which allowed Small to ruff the third round of diamonds. The ruffing trick went with three aces for the defense: E/W +100 and 11 IMPs to THE MUGS.

After three rounds, the cream was rising to the top and two likely contenders met at Table 1, with VINITA (USA/Denmark/Israel) taking on COPPENS, a strong Dutch team. The first board again set the tone, with one player faced with the second of the bidding problems posed earlier.

None Vul – Dealer West


West – Wijman  North – Lall  East – Ros  South – V.Gupta


With only three major-suit cards, Gert-Jan Ros’s non-vulnerable Three Club opening does not look like an unreasonable choice, but he found his partner with the good hand. Rob Wijman advanced with a natural Three Hearts and then had to make a decision when Ros rebid 3NT. Do you pass or repeat your hearts?

Wijman decided to table dummy and Vinita Gupta had no problem selecting her opening lead. It all came down to who held the 6 and 7. Unluckily for the Dutch, East’s ‘stopper’ was not quite good enough, so South was able to cash five tricks in the suit. The ♠A was the sixth defensive trick: E/W -100.

West – Birman  North – Nab  East – D.Bilde  South – Drijver


Dennis Bilde

Dennis Bilde’s decision to pass the East hand worked out much better. Alon Birman overcalled in hearts and Bilde was then able to introduce his clubs via a transfer bid at his second turn. Finding out that his partner had some values opposite was all Birman needed to know and he jumped to game in his long suit. With the club finesse working, the defense could come to no more than their two aces. E/W +450 and 11 IMPs to VINITA, who were off and running enroute to an emphatic 67-5 win.

Round 6 produced a slam-bidding problem for East/West, with nine of the 16 pairs passing the test and seven stopping in game.

Both Vul – Dealer South


West – Sprinkh’n  North – Lall  East – Eskes  South – V.Gupta


Gerard Sprinkhuizen started with what, to me, looks like a perfectly normal One Club opening. Onno Eskes made an inverted raise and Sprinkhuizen showed an unbalanced minimum. Eskes advanced with Three Diamonds, showing values and, when his partner showed something in spades, he needed to do no more than check on key cards. Declarer won the heart opening, drew trumps and took the spade finesse for the overtrick. North won with the ♠Q, so declarer claimed the rest, the diamond loser going on the ♠A. E/W +1370.

West – S.Bilde  North – Helle  East – D.Bilde  South – Green


Soren Bilde began with a pass and Dennis Bilde’s Two Diamond opening showed a balanced 18-19. West’s 2NT was a transfer, described as ‘slammy with clubs’, and Dennis showed interest in clubs and values in diamonds. Soren cue-bid in spades and Dennis waited with Four Clubs, but his partner had nothing more to show. His partner’s original failure to open the bidding persuaded Dennis that game was high enough: E/W +620 and 13 IMPs to IMP, who would go on to inflict a first defeat on VINITA, by a score of 11-29.

With six of the 12 matches played, these were the standings:

THE MUGS83.93 VPs
VINITA79.61 VPs
IMP75.11 VPs
BELGIUM270.44 VPs
JEDI KNIGHTS70.22 VPs
COPPENS68.34 VPs
TRANSNATIONALS61.29 VPs
DE ZEEROB58.33 VPs

We will be back next week with the action from the remaining six matches.