Great BBO Vugraph Deals #75

Marc Smith visits the Semi-finals of the TampAlt

The field for the last major Alt event of 2020, the TampAlt, began with 38 teams, but now just four remain. Although two of the surviving teams are all-European, all continents except Australasia and Antarctica are still represented. The winners of the Swiss, CLEMENT (Greece, Lebanon, Canada, Egypt) will take on SWEICE (Iceland, Sweden), whilst RED DEVILS (Belgium) play the only team to cause a quarter-final upset, BERNAL (Colombia, Brazil, Italy). The first-named team in each tie holds a 0.1-IMP carryforward advantage in the event of a tied match.

As usual, we start with some problems for you to consider. We will find out later how your choices would have worked out. For a change, we start with a defensive problem:

You lead the ♣K, partner following with the ♣4 (standard count) and declarer with the ♣3. What do you do next?

If you continue with the ♣Q, everyone follows and you then have to decide what to do at trick three.

Secondly, with only the opponents vulnerable, you are North holding this collection:

What, if anything, do you bid?

Finally, with both sides vulnerable, you hold as East:

What do you bid now?

While you mull those over, let’s dive right into the action from the first half of the semi-finals, where what looks like a routine hand generated the first swing in both matches.

E/W Vul – Dealer South

At one table in each match, an auction similar to that shown led to the obvious contract and the normal result: N/S +420.

West – Amiry  North – Baldursson  East – Samir South – Jorgensen

Playing Icelandic Club, Jon Baldursson opened with his system strong bid (16+ HCP) and heard a natural, game-forcing positive response after East’s overcall. Adalsteinn Jorgensen agreed spades via a splinter bid, which was doubled by West to ask for a non-heart lead. When this was passed back to Jorgensen, he then limited his hand by retreating to game in the agreed suit. Whilst Baldursson has won a world championship title, I really have to question his decision to bid on here. That North hand could not be much more minimum for its strong club opening, and since then it has reduced in value as the heart honours are no longer of much value. Yes, you have good trumps but, even so, if slam was good opposite this would partner really have bid only Four Spades? With the diamond finesse failing, there were three inescapable losers, so even the five-level was too high: N/S -50 and 10 1MPs to CLEMENT.

West – Brenner  North – de Donder  East – Villasboas South – Bahbout

The auction began as it had at other tables but West’s lead-directing double of South’s Stayman bid seemed to throw a spanner into the Belgian works. Steven de Donder’s pass denied a club stopper and Sam Bahbout’s redouble showed that he had game-going values for his original Stayman. All well and good so far. De Donder now jumped to Three Spades, self-alerting that he thought his jump probably showed a five-card suit, which makes some sense. Bahbout’s decision to ignore the nine-card major-suit fit just because he had a cub stopper seems particularly eccentric, and particularly so with the lead coming through his clubs at trick one. To then not correct to spades when 3NT gets doubled seems particularly perverse. The only explanation I can come up with is that South thought his partner’s Three Spade bid showed shortage in the suit, but that does seem to be a fairly basic part of the system for a regular partnership not to know.

Miguel Villas-Boas led a club and dummy’s king was allowed to win. Declarer could cash his five spades and the A, but that was it. N/S -300 and 12 IMPs to BERNAL for no apparent reason.

E/W Vul – Dealer North

Reda Amiry

All four West players were faced with the defensive problem posed at the top of this article. Only Egypt’s Reda Amiry for CLEMENT found a way to legitimately defeat the contract. After cashing two high clubs, he switched to the ♠J at trick three. With only one entry to dummy (the ♠9 on the third round of trumps), declarer can dispose of one heart on the A but a heart to the king leaves him with three losers in the suit. Two down: N/S -100.

At all three other tables, West switched to a heart (either the 4 or the 9) at trick two or three. The declarer for RED DEVILS rose with the K from dummy and the defenders quickly took two clubs and three hearts to beat the contract by two. Again, N/S -100.

At the other two tables, Vassilis Vroustis for CLEMENT and Alfredo Versace for BERNAL, played low from dummy on the heart switch. Winning with the A, East could cash a second club trick (if partner had not already done so) and return a heart through declarer’s jack. However, both declarers won with dummy’s K and immediately ruffed a diamond. When they then played three rounds of trumps, returning to dummy with the ♠9, the A dropped West’s king allowing declarer to dispose of his last heart loser on the Q. N/S +420 and 11 IMPs to BERNAL and CLEMENT.

There is more than one winning solution to the defensive problem, although the ♠J is the most likely one to find. Curiously, though, switching either to a diamond (declarer still has two heart losers) or playing the Q (it removes dummy’s second entry) also defeats the contract.

At the midway point of the matches, CLEMENT had opened a 19-IMP advantage, winning the stanza 44-25. In a higher-scoring set, 48-40, it was RED DEVILS were had edged ahead. The second set had barely begun when IMPs began flying back and forth.

EW Vul – Dealer South

Two of the North players were faced with the first of the bidding problem posed at the top of this article:

West – Brenner  North – de Donder  East – Villasboas South – Bahbout

Steven de Donder started with a Michaels cue-bid, showing hearts and a minor. Bahbout’s 2NT asked which minor and Diego Brenner doubled to show a good hand. Although South’s Three Heart bid was alerted as invitational, Brenner still thought that, with eight likely tricks in his own hand, he was worth one more try. The Belgians decided they had no reason to bid again and Villas-Boas produced the perfect dummy for the Brazilians: E/W +600.

Diego Brenner

West – Caputo  North – Bernal  East – Vandervorst South – Versace

When Philippe Caputo opened Two Clubs (either a weak two in diamonds or artificial and very strong), Francisco Bernal jumped all the way to the four-level at his first turn. What he did not know, though, was that he had one enough to win the board. Caputo backed in with Four Spades and now Bernal introduced his second suit, thus converting a plus score into a minus. Thanks to the excellent result at the other table, though, E/W +300 was still 7 IMPs to BERNAL.

Back to the original problem:

West – Fallenius  North – Eidi  East – Nilsland South – Vroustis

Lebanon’s Michel Eidi chose to start with a jump overcall in his major. When Vassilis Vroustis then advanced with a heart raise showing diamond values, though, it is difficult to blame North for saving over West’s Four Spades. E/W +300.

West – Papak’opolous  North – Baldursson  East – Delim’dakis South – Jonsson

Birkir Jonsson was alone in thinking that this South hand constituted an opening bid, albeit a Precision-style One Diamond (10-15 HCP 0+¨). The effect, though, was that North could show both of his suits below game but then pass the decision back to his partner when West carried on in spades. I suspect that North’s Four Diamond bid would have created a forcing Pass situation on many pairs, but not for the Icemen. Well judged! E/W -100 meant 9 IMPs to SWEICE.

Both Vul – Dealer East

One East player in each match was faced with the last of this week’s bidding problems:

West – Caputo North – Bernal  East – Vandervorst South – Versace

North led a spade, and only a miraculous lie of the defensive cards would allow this contract to make. Not today! A careless discard allowed declarer to score an eighth trick: E/W -100.

Nikos Delimpaltadakis

West – Papak’opolous  North – Baldursson  East – Delim’dakis South – Jonsson

After the same start, Greece’s Nikos Delimpaltadakis advanced with a fourth-suit Three Spades, which looks to me a much more sensible option. After all, will 3NT not need partner to hold something like KQxxxxx or something similar, or perhaps the K/♣K/A? If he has a hand that will make 3NT, will not game (or even slam) in diamonds also be making?

When West could not provide help in spades, Delimpaltdakis settled for a raise to Five Diamonds. Even game was not assured, but declarer was destined to make on this layout: E/W +600.

The other two tales had, perhaps, more sophisticated methods:

West – Fallenius  North – Eidi  East – Nilsland South – Vroustis

Mats Nilsland started with a Gazilli Two Clubs, showing any hand with 16+ HCP. Bjorn Fallenius’s jump to Three Diamonds was non-forcing, showing at least a six-card suit but only 5-7 HCP (as any hand with 8+ bids an artificial, game-forcing Two Diamonds). Nilsland decided that was enough for game and declarer managed to score an overtrick: E/W +620 but only 1 IMP to SWEICE.

West – Brenner  North – de Donder  East – Villasboas South – Bahbout

Brenner’s One Spade response showed any hand without at least five spades, and North’s double showed spades. Miguel Villas-Boas redoubled to get his strength across and the rest of the auction was natural. Again, declarer managed an overtrick: E/W +620 and 12 IMPs to BERNAL.

The second set was close in both matches. RED DEVILS won the stanza 38-33 to pad their small advantage and win the match 86.1-73. In the other match, SWEICE narrowed the gap by winning the second half 27-23, but it was not enough and CLEMENT advanced to the final with victory by 67.1-52.

The final would be contested by the two teams who had finished first and second in the Swiss earlier in the week. On one side was the most transnational team in the field, with representatives from four different continents, CLEMENT (Greece, Canada, Egypt, Lebanon), and on the other was the all-Belgian RED DEVILS. We will return next week to bring you the best of the action from that final.