Great BBO Vugraph Deals #105

Marc Smith visits the final stages of the Midi Alt Swiss Teams

Last week, we left the Midi Alt Swiss Teams with eight matches played. We return now to see the action from the final four matches in the twelve-round event. These were the standings at the top of the table going into Round 9:

MOSS    110.94 VPs

As usual, we begin with a couple of bidding problems for you. We will find out later how your choices would have worked. Firstly, with both sides vulnerable, you are East holding:

What action, if any, do you take?

Next, with just the opponents vulnerable, you are North with:

What action do you take?

While you consider those, we begin at Table 1, where LEVINSON were the next opponents for the leaders. Most East players faced the first of this week’s bidding problems on this deal:

Michal Nowosadzki did not advance facing his partner’s vulnerable, four-level pre-empt. The hands fit beautifully: E/W +710.

Oyvind Saur, a member of the Norwegian Junior team that won the 1996 European Championships and reached the final of the World Championships a year later, took a more optimistic view. His 5 cue-bid was exactly what Geir Brekka wanted to hear. E/W +1430 and 12 IMPs to LEVINSON.

At Table 2, Katherine Todd passed on the East cards for QUARANTEAM. E/W +710.

Oyvind Saur

Franco Baseggio’s approach was perhaps a bit more rustic, but no less effective for that. E/W +1430 and 12 IMPs to AMATEURS.

LEVINSON held MOSS to a 27-27 tie, so AMATEURS returned to the top of the leaderboard with their 35-10 win over QUARANTEAM. FOLLOW SUIT scored a 44-20 over MACAVITY to regain their place on the podium after a one match absence.

LEVINSON were still at Table 1 for Round 10, to take on the new leaders. This time, though, they were on the wrong end of a slam swing:

Franco Baseggio

There is an old adage that says you should not bid bad suits on good hands, so Steve Levinson’s reluctance to introduce that motley spade suit is understandable. However, his simple raise to 4 left his partner guessing. Had he showed some interest via a club cue-bid over 3, surely Barent Shenkin would have been sufficiently encouraged to drive the partnership the rest of the way.

Slam is not a bad contract: a 3-3 spade break, a club/spade squeeze, or a helpful opening lead. In fact, East’s lead of the J was all the help declarer needed. Of course, though, spades were breaking anyway: N/S +480.

Amhed Soliman

Amhed Soliman, an Egyptian junior international in 2003, did bid 2♠ in the same situation, showing his shape. David Checkelashvili agreed hearts and the pair then exchanged minor-suit cue-bids. Soliman could not advance beyond game but his partner had heard enough and rolled out their version of RKCB. Finding all three trump honours opposite was enough for the Georgian to bid the slam.

Here too, East opened a diamond, but he chose the 3. Soliman was sufficiently alert to insert dummy’s nine at trick one, ensuring that he too did not need to depend on any luck in the black suits. N/S +980 and 11 IMPs to AMATEURS, who won the match 55-13 to open a 10-VP gap between themselves and the field. Second-placed MOSS won, but only 20-16 against CANTOR.

The format of this event was Swiss with a double-Danish, meaning that rematches were permitted in both of the final two rounds. It would, therefore, be AMATEURS vs MOSS at Table 1 in Round 11. AMATEURS had won the first head-to-head matchup, 24-4, way back in the very first round of the event.

Board 8 was a curious deal, in that East/West could make exactly eleven tricks in any of the five denominations. In most matches, it was an unremarkable flat board at E/W +460 or similar. However, the alure of intervening over a potentially Strong Club proved irresistible to some:

Polish Bermuda Bowl winner Jacek Kalita stuck his toe into the shark-infested water even though West’s 1♣ opening was of the Standard American variety. Bill Pettis, a member of gold medal winners in the Mixed Teams at the 2018 World Bridge Series, was perhaps feeling benevolent. Rather than playing for penalties against non-vulnerable opponents, he simply bid game. E/W +460.

Switzerland’s ex-Pat Polish world champion was not willing to be so forgiving. The 1 opening here was Polish, either clubs, a weak notrump type, or any 16+. Here, too, North ventured the same 1 overcall. The American pair tried valiantly to find a playable spot but there simply was not one. They finally alighted in their 4-3 spade fit. Declarer managed to make his two trump tricks, but that was it: E/W +1100 and 12 IMPs to MOSS. This was the only significant swing in a match that finished 18-6 to MOSS.

AMATEURS still led, but there was now little to choose between the two teams. With one match to play, it was AMATEURS 148.96 VPs, MOSS 146.03 with RIPPEY far behind in third place on 129.39. In Round 12, it would be AMATEUS vs MOSS at Table 1, for the third time. MOSS needed to win by 5 IMPs or more to take the title.

You might have thought that it is easier to find a sacrifice after your side has opened with a pre-empt. Let’s see what happened on the only deal that produced a double-figure swing in the key match.

Once again, the key decision fell to Bill Pettis, faced with the second of this week’s problems. When Jacek Kalita made a Leaping Michaels overcall of 4, showing diamonds and a major, Pettis had to choose between 4 and 5♣. He opted for the latter. What this meant, though, was that he was left with the last guess when Michal Nowosadzki’s raise to 5 came back to him. Pettis elected to defend at the five-level, and he then had to find an opening lead.

As you can see from the whole diagram, the defenders can cash two clubs and a spade to beat the Poles’ diamond game by a trick. However, North’s K lead proved to be a fatal choice. Away went one of declarer’s club losers and Kalita was soon claiming eleven tricks. E/W -600.

Although 5 goes one down on the right lead, taking the insurance in 5 would have been a cheaper option. Had Pettis advanced with 4 over West’s 4 bid, might South not them have competed to 5 over East’s 5?

At the other table, South did not open:

Michal Klukwoski

Michal Klukowski passed the South hand as Dealer, but he then bid his suit as a fit-showing heart raise at his second turn. When David Chechelashvili bid his second suit at the four-level, Piotr Zatorski then had a fairly straightforward 5 bid.

Having passed throughout so far, Jiang Gu found himself with a remarkably good hand: two aces and support for both of the suits that his partner has bid to game all on his own. One can hardly blame Gu for thinking that his side could make at least eleven tricks. I would guess he was more worried about missing slam than going down at the five-level.

Piotr Zatorski made no mistake: he tabled the A and continued with a second round of the suit. The ace of trumps was still to come: E/W -100 and 12 IMPs to MOSS.

MOSS won the match 27-7, comfortably more than the 5 IMPs they required to overtake their opponents. The final standings were:

MOSS161.61 VPs

Next week, we will be back with the best of the action from the opening matches from Heat 5 of the monthly New Alt Competition.