NEBridge - buzz0308


District 25 News for March 2008

The bulk of this month's news is a Grand National Teams update. Other events in New England bridge are briefly covered far below.

District 25 Grand National Teams Update

On Saturday, March 8, 2008, at the Westwood Bridge Club in Westwood, MA (west of Boston), I kibitzed the Grand National Teams district finals for Flight B, between the Margolin team of (left to right in the picture)

Richard Willey, James Jones, Barry Margolin, and Jan Popiel and the Cable team of

Doug Anderson, Steve McDevitt, Matthew Dyer, and Lorraine Cable. Flight B was open to any District 25 player with fewer than 2000 masterpoints, and the GNT has a Flight C for those with less than 500. B is usually our district's largest flight. Back in January, these teams had qualified in a Swiss, and both won 28-board matches in both the quarterfinals and semifinals. Now they would play a 56-board final, the winner to be subsidized on a trip to Las Vegas this summer to represent the District. Flight B uses no carryovers. I think this was the longest match most of our contestants have played.

Although I've been reporting GNT finals for several years, I haven't done a Flight B writeup lately. I thank the eight players for being good sports and letting me watch and put their bidding sequences and card plays under my magnifying glass. I will call attention to noteworthy actions and missed opportunities, which I hope won't disconcert anybody. Sorry to sound elitist, but readers won't see quite the quality of bidding and play that I reported, for example, in last year's district championship flight final. Remember, all these players had to play well just to have the opportunity to compete in this match and have their bridge reported. I hope Flight B GNT finalist teams in future years won't shy away from being subjects of one of these writeups for fear I'll be too harsh on them.

I'd also like to thank everybody who commented on the first draft and helped me fix the annoying errata which plague bridge reporting. Any remaining errors are my own typing or analysis mistakes.

 

Anderson-McDevitt, Margolin-Jones, and Willey-Popiel all play standard, more or less. Dyer-Cable play 10-12 notrumps. Their minor suit openings promise only two cards, because on balanced hands, they open 1D with 13-14 and 1C with 15-17. By mutual agreement the two swingiest pairs, Dyer-Cable due to system, and Willey-Popiel due to personality, played against each other throughout. My watcher chose to kibitz that "wild" table, while I got stuck recording a parade of one-level contracts at the "dull" table of McDevitt-Anderson vs. Margolin-Jones. Nevertheless, there were deals of interest. Board 1 (none vul, N deals):

 

.          North
           S-KQJ432
 West      H-J9      East
 S-        D-94      S-A986
 H-Q108642 C-J54     H-A5
 D-AKJ               D-Q8753
 C-AK109   South     C-72
           S-1075
           H-K73
           D-1062
           C-Q863

 South    West     North    East
 Jones    McDevitt Margolin Anderson
 -        -        2S       P
 3S       4H       P        P
 P

 Cable    Willey   Dyer     Popiel
 -        -        2S       P
 P        3H       P        3NT
 P        P        P

McDevitt guessed trumps for 480. Popiel, without trumps, ducked spades twice, ran his diamonds, and eventually scored 430 to lose 2 imps. Board 2 (NS vul, East deals):

 

 

.          North
           S-Q9742
 West      H-J87     East
 S-J653    D-Q62     S-8
 H-1095    C-K5      H-A632
 D-J83               D-A104
 C-964     South     C-AJ1083
           S-AK10
           H-KQ4
           D-K975
           C-Q72

 South    West     North    East
 Jones    McDevitt Margolin Anderson
 -        -        -        1C
 1NT      P        2H(*)    P
 2S       P        P        P

 Cable    Willey   Dyer     Popiel
 -        -        -        1C
 P        P        1S       P
 2C       P        2S       P
 3S       P        4S       P
 P        P

Jones's 1NT overcall was full value, and he was always making two spades after the transfer. The club lead ran to his queen, and James cashed the spade AK and ran the 10. Anderson erred by discarding a club. So, when Doug won his HA and tapped dummy out with clubs, he had only one club remaining to cash when he got back in with the diamond ace, and Jones made an overtrick. Cable passed over 1C, lying in the weeds, but came to life over Dyer's balance. Matthew stretched for a vulnerable game, but even though he played from the side protected from the tap, there was no tenth trick after a passive lead of the spade 8. Down one, and against good defense he couldn't have made 3NT either, with insufficient entries and the spades blocked. Six imps to Margolin, who led 6-2. Board 3 (EW vul, South deals):

 

 

.          North
           S-KJ106
 West      H-A986    East
 S-Q53     D-A96     S-A87
 H-QJ54    C-107     H-
 D-QJ2               D-K743
 C-J84     South     C-KQ9652
           S-942
           H-K10732
           D-1085
           C-A3

 South    West     North    East
 Jones    McDevitt Margolin Anderson
 P        P        1D       2C
 P        P        Double   P
 2H       P        P        P

 Cable    Willey   Dyer     Popiel
 P        P        1NT      3C
 P        P        P

Popiel jumped to a cold 3C over Dyer's mini notrump. South led a heart, so Jan could have scored an overtrick by eventually setting up diamonds to pitch one of dummy's spades, but he settled for making three. At the other table, if Jones had won the club lead and taken a spade finesse, or laid down the trump king and then finessed in either major, he could eventually make his 2H. But James played a heart to dummy's ace. East obnoxiously showed out, and James no longer had entries to get spades going in time, nor could he avoid two trump losers. The best he could do after this start was to exit repeatedly in the minors, forcing Anderson-McDevitt to break a major at the end. Down one, but that was still two imps to Margolin, who led 8-2. Board 4 (Both vul, West deals):

 

 

.          North
           S-AJ864
 West      H-J93     East
 S-K732    D-83      S-Q109
 H-K7654   C-A54     H-Q10
 D-J107              D-AKQ95
 C-2       South     C-987
           S-5
           H-A82
           D-642
           C-KQJ1063

 South    West     North    East
 Jones    McDevitt Margolin Anderson
 -        P        P        1D
 2C       Double   2S       P
 3C       P        P        P

 Cable    Willey   Dyer     Popiel
 -        P        1NT      P
 3C       P        P        3D
 P        P        P

To beat 3C, West must lead a trump on the go. McDevitt led a mundane DJ for -110. Cable led her singleton spade against Jan Popiel's 3D, so he never had a chance. Lorraine scored two ruffs for down one and a push. Board 5 (NS vul, North deals):

 

 

.          North
           S-J8
 West      H-9753    East
 S-KQ1095  D-A973    S-642
 H-AKQ     C-QJ7     H-1062
 D-K8                D-Q1065
 C-842     South     C-K105
           S-A73
           H-J84
           D-J42
           C-A963

 South    West     North    East
 Jones    McDevitt Margolin Anderson
 -        -        P        P
 P        1S       P        P
 P

 Cable    Willey   Dyer     Popiel
 -        -        P        P
 P        1S       P        2S
 P        4S       P        P
 P

If Jan Popiel is going to raise with this weak an East hand, Richard Willey can't afford to jump to game with the West cards. The Norths led their CQ, and both declarers guessed trumps for nine tricks, but Willey-Popiel had contracted for ten, so five imps went to Cable, who trailed 8-7. Board 6 (EW vul, East deals):

 

 

.          North
           S-A102
 West      H-65      East
 S-Q       D-AQ74    S-K7
 H-AKQ8    C-J642    H-943
 D-K1062             D-J9853
 C-A753    South     C-1098
           S-J986543
           H-J1072
           D-
           C-KQ

 South    West     North    East
 Jones    McDevitt Margolin Anderson
 -        -        -        P
 P        1H       P        P
 2S       P        P        P

 Cable    Willey   Dyer     Popiel
 -        -        -        P
 P        1NT      P        P
 2S       P        P        P

Those West cards are awkward in many systems. McDevitt tried a four card major, Willey an off-shape notrump. It didn't matter as this was South's deal for 140. Push. Board 7 (Both vul, South deals):

 

 

.          North
           S-9
 West      H-9       East
 S-1063    D-Q10752  S-Q874
 H-KQ8     C-KQ8762  H-A7643
 D-AK864             D-J3
 C-54      South     C-J10
           S-AKJ52
           H-J1052
           D-9
           C-A93

 South    West     North    East
 Jones    McDevitt Margolin Anderson
 1S       P        1NT      P
 2H       P        3C       P
 P        P

 Cable    Willey   Dyer     Popiel
 1S       2D       P        P
 Double   P        P        P

North-South are off five top tricks in notrump, but double-dummy, they can make 5C by taking a spade finesse. That's hard to bid and hard to play, so Barry Margolin's 130 in 3C would be about an average at matchpoints. Willey's threadbare vulnerable overcall reaped the whirlwind. Down 2 doubled after Dyer led the club king and shifted to his singleton spade. 500 (Double-dummy, Dyer-Cable could get 800: CK, SJ, SAK with Dyer pitching H and C, H ruff, CA, H ruff. That's 7 tricks, and Dyer still has Q10x of trump behind the AK.) was worth 9 imps to Cable, who took the lead, 16-8. Board 8 (Neither vul, West deals):

 

 

.          North
           S-AJ7654
 West      H-76      East
 S-KQ2     D-K765    S-
 H-984     C-A       H-AJ3
 D-                  D-AQJ10832
 C-Q987652 South     C-KJ4
           S-10983
           H-KQ1052
           D-94
           C-103

 South    West     North    East
 Jones    McDevitt Margolin Anderson
 -        P        1S       Double
 3S       5C       P        5D
 P        6C       P        P
 P

 Cable    Willey   Dyer     Popiel
 -        3C       3S       5C
 P        P        Double   P
 P        P

Dyer's double of 5C was a stretch. Cable's pass in reply isn't to my taste, with four undisclosed spades, a source of tricks on the side that might well fit Dyer's hand, and possibly zero defensive tricks. Matthew led his CA and eventually Lorraine scored a heart for -550. No other defense does better. 5Sx looks like -300 if both sides pay attention, but mistakes in play might result in -100 or -500.

 

I am continually surprised at how many imps are lost in knockout matches on opening leads. In last year's championship flight final, for example, there were huge swings on leads. Here we see the same phenomenon in Flight B. Had Margolin led a club or a heart, or even underled in spades, he would have beaten 6C and won 12 imps. But Barry tried the SA, and McDevitt ruffed in dummy, ruffed a diamond, knocked out the club ace, won the heart shift, discarded a heart on the DA, ruffed a diamond to get the bad news, pitched dummy's two hearts on his good spades, ruffed his last heart, and then safely ruffed a diamond to hand to draw the last trump for 920. 9 imps to Cable, who now led 25-8. Board 9 (EW vul, North deals):

 

.          North
           S-10853
 West      H-Q753    East
 S-K92     D-10      S-AQJ6
 H-AK10    C-QJ98    H-864
 D-A97               D-QJ65
 C-10753   South     C-A4
           S-74
           H-J92
           D-K8432
           C-K62

 South    West     North    East
 Jones    McDevitt Margolin Anderson
 Cable    Willey   Dyer     Popiel
 -        -        P        1D
 P        3NT      P        P
 P

Margolin led hearts and McDevitt played DA, D9 for 630. Dyer led clubs, and because the D10 falls, Willey could have pushed the board by taking a diamond finesse, but he played the same as Steve. 600, an imp to Cable, 26-8. Board 10 (Both vul, East deals):

 

 

.          North
           S-K1032
 West      H-8       East
 S-6       D-KJ1076  S-AQ9
 H-AKJ52   C-1072    H-Q1063
 D-Q83               D-A4
 C-QJ93    South     C-AK84
           S-J8754
           H-974
           D-952
           C-65

 South    West     North    East
 Jones    McDevitt Margolin Anderson
 -        -        -        1C
 P        1H       P        4H
 P        6H       P        P
 P

 Cable    Willey   Dyer     Popiel
 -        -        -        2NT
 P        3D       P        4H
 P        4NT      P        5D
 P        6H       P        P
 P

Push at 1430. If you and your genius partner would find a sequence to 7C for 2140, then be my guest and throw stones. Board 11 (Neither vul, South deals):

 

 

.          North
           S-KJ
 West      H-Q95     East
 S-A542    D-J10974  S-Q1097
 H-108743  C-1087    H-AJ2
 D-                  D-AK932
 C-KQ65    South     C-A
           S-863
           H-K6
           D-Q65
           C-J9432

 South    West     North    East
 Jones    McDevitt Margolin Anderson
 P        P        P        1D
 P        1H       P        1S
 P        3S       P        4S

 Cable    Willey   Dyer     Popiel
 P        P        P        1D
 P        1H       P        2NT
 P        3S       P        4S
 P        P        P

I don't think East-West can take 12 tricks against best defense, but Willey did, winning an imp for 480 vs. 450, to trail 26-9. Board 12 (NS vul, West deals):

 

 

.          North
           S-KJ82
 West      H-AK108   East
 S-Q653    D-2       S-A94
 H-J953    C-AKQ4    H-7
 D-A86               D-KJ7
 C-102     South     C-J98753
           S-107
           H-Q642
           D-Q109543
           C-6

 South    West     North    East
 Jones    McDevitt Margolin Anderson
 -        P        1C       P
 P        P

 Cable    Willey   Dyer     Popiel
 -        P        1C       3C
 P        3D       3H       P
 P        P

Margolin's natural club went nowhere. He won Anderson's trump lead and tried three rounds, getting the bad news, went to the HQ, and played the S10 to SQ, SK, and SA. Doug drew Barry's last trump, led DK and D7 to D10 and DA, and McDevitt put a spade through for down one. The defense scored 3 clubs, 2 diamonds, and 2 spades.

 

Dyer's club opening bid only promised two, so I don't think Cable was going to pass if Popiel hadn't acted. East-West got confused about what defensive bidding methods they were employing. Lucky for them that Matthew didn't double for takeout, which might have resulted in a painful penalty. Instead, he competed in his chunkiest four-card major. Cable pulled in a notch and didn't chase the vulnerable game bonus. Popiel led the diamond seven to the ten and ace. I think on this lie of cards Dyer can score ten tricks against any defense if he takes winning views. 170 probably didn't feel so great at the time, but when added to McDevitt-Anderson's 100, it yielded 7 imps to Cable, who led 33-9. Board 13 (Both vul, North deals):

 

.          North
           S-Q65
 West      H-K74     East
 S-J832    D-Q32     S-K74
 H-62      C-AQ107   H-QJ10985
 D-K64               D-A
 C-8653    South     C-J92
           S-A109
           H-A3
           D-J109875
           C-K4

 South    West     North    East
 Jones    McDevitt Margolin Anderson
 -        -        1C       1H
 2D       P        3D       P
 3H       P        3NT      P
 P        P        P

 Cable    Willey   Dyer     Popiel
 -        -        1D       1H
 2H       P        2NT      P
 3NT      P        P        P

Dyer had to open an amorphous diamond in his methods, but it made no difference. The first heart was ducked, the ace took the second, and a diamond dislodged East's only entry. Push at 630. Board 14 (Neither vul, East deals):

 

 

.          North
           S-QJ
 West      H-9864    East
 S-65      D-874     S-K32
 H-AKQ5    C-KJ98    H-J732
 D-AKQ632            D-J95
 C-6       South     C-532
           S-A109874
           H-10
           D-10
           C-AQ1074

 South    West     North    East
 Jones    McDevitt Margolin Anderson
 -        -        -        P
 1S       2D       2S       P
 3C       3H       P        P
 3S       4D       P        4H
 4S       P        P        P

 Cable    Willey   Dyer     Popiel
 -        -        -        P
 1S       2D       Double   P
 3C       3H       P        P
 3S       P        P        P

With double fits, "par" is for East-West to save in six of a red suit, down 2 doubled -300, over a cold North-South five spades. In reality, the bidding petered out much lower than that. Both Wests chose a heavy overcall rather than a takeout double. Popiel-Willey wisely didn't bid their cold 4H, so Cable, who had a lot of playing tricks in reserve, was marooned in a partial. I can't fathom McDevitt's decision to push Jones into 4S and then defend, unless he thought his pass was forcing. If so, it was news to Anderson. Neither declarer took the spade finesse, so that was 420 vs. 170 and six imps to Margolin. This deal ended the first quarter, so the teams compared and agreed that Cable led by 18 imps, 33-15. Board 15 (NS vul, South deals):

 

 

.          North
           S-Q1053
 West      H-5        East
 S-K862    D-AKQJ1072 S-94
 H-K7      C-2        H-AQJ642
 D-63                 D-5
 C-AJ965   South      C-KQ104
           S-AJ7
           H-10983
           D-984
           C-873

 South    West     North    East
 Jones    McDevitt Margolin Anderson
 P        1C       1D       1H
 P        1S       2D       3H
 P        P        P

 Cable    Willey   Dyer     Popiel
 P        1C       3C       3NT
 P        P        P

If 3H was invitational, then in my opinion, Doug Anderson underbid. He made five for +200. Elsewhere, our theme of huge opening lead swings continued when Cable placed her club three on the table for -460. I think everybody misinterpreted Dyer's 3C bid. Lorraine lost 6 imps, where a diamond (or perhaps the SA) would win 9. This reduced her team's lead to 12, 33-21. Board 16 (EW vul, West deals):

 

 

.          North
           S-8653
 West      H-92     East
 S-A42     D-752    S-Q107
 H-J52     C-AJ72   H-K106
 D-Q863             D-AK94
 C-Q85     South    C-1094
           S-KJ9
           H-AQ874
           D-J10
           C-K63

 South    West     North    East
 Jones    McDevitt Margolin Anderson
 -        P        P        1D
 1H       1NT      P        P
 P

 Cable    Willey   Dyer     Popiel
 -        P        P        1D
 1H       P        P        P

Three rounds of hearts left McDevitt with no real play for 1NT, but on the run of the diamonds, Jones erred by discarding two clubs, and thus could be endplayed because clubs were now blocked. Understandably, Steve didn't play for this and went down one. With the cards lying so favorably, Cable could have made up to two overtricks in 1H, but after ruffing the third diamond, she was understandably worried about bad breaks, and held herself to +80, to lose an imp, making the lead 11 imps, 33-22. Board 17 (Neither vul, North deals):

 

 

.          North
           S-A932
 West      H-7       East
 S-7       D-32      S-J5
 H-Q6532   C-AK9532  H-AKJ8
 D-AK987             D-654
 C-Q7      South     C-J1086
           S-KQ10864
           H-1094
           D-QJ10
           C-4

 South    West     North    East
 Jones    McDevitt Margolin Anderson
 -        -        1C       P
 1S       2NT      3S       4H
 4S       P        P        P

 Cable    Willey   Dyer     Popiel
 -        -        1C       P
 1S       2NT      4S       P
 P        P

I'm surprised neither East took a 300 dive in 5H. You'd win 3 imps in any event, and you put great pressure on poor South, whose hand sure looks offensive. McDevitt led a high diamond and switched to the C7, I'm not sure why. Eventually, Jones got his clubs going to score 450 and win an imp, to trail by 10, 33-23. Board 18 (NS vul, East deals):

 

 

.          North
           S-864
 West      H-1086    East
 S-AKQ     D-1062    S-732
 H-932     C-10753   H-A7
 D-Q54               D-AK83
 C-KQ96    South     C-AJ82
           S-J1095
           H-KQJ54
           D-J97
           C-4

 South    West     North    East
 Jones    McDevitt Margolin Anderson
 -        -        -        1NT
 P        3NT      P        P
 P
 Cable    Willey   Dyer     Popiel
 -        -        -        1NT
 P        4NT      P        P
 P

6NT is anti-percentage, requiring 4 tricks in diamonds, but 6C is excellent, needing only the absence of horrible splits while negotiating a heart ruff by East. Push at 490. McDevitt just gave up. Willey-Popiel were in the ballpark, but they aren't longtime partners and hadn't discussed how to locate minor suit fits in this sort of situation. Before throwing tomatos, ask yourself if you and your favorite parter have gone over this. It's well worth the trouble - I can tell you that in the championship flight, such layouts usually put elaborate bidding machinery on display. My partner and I would use a lot more than one round of bidding, though I can't promise we'd get it right! Board 19 (EW vul, South deals):

 

 

.           North
            S-QJ1073
 West       H-KJ75   East
 S-6        D-A54    S-AK9
 H-93       C-J      H-A1042
 D-J73               D-KQ9
 C-A1098543 South    C-KQ6
            S-8542
            H-Q86
            D-10862
            C-72

 South    West     North    East
 Jones    McDevitt Margolin Anderson
 P        P        1S       Double
 3S       4C       P        5C
 P        P        P

 Cable    Willey   Dyer     Popiel
 P        P        1S       Double
 3S       4C       P        4NT
 P        P        P

Again the slam cruise ship left port without our East-West pairs, when our Wests let the adverse vulnerability talk them out of preempting 3C, but then bid 4C freely over South's preemptive 3S raise. Anderson's 5C gave McDevitt no shot at bidding slam. Popiel's natural 4NT was closer to doing the trick, but Willey reasoned that Jan was under pressure and might not have such full values. The Margolin squad won 2 imps for 690 vs. 620, when Cable didn't find the obscure heart lead that would have held 4NT to 630 for a push. This reduced the lead to 8, 33-25. Board 20 (Both vul, West deals):

 

 

.          North
           S-Q94
 West      H-Q3      East
 S-KJ2     D-AK5     S-876
 H-A8762   C-QJ1083  H-KJ1054
 D-84                D-Q62
 C-K54     South     C-A9
           S-A1053
           H-9
           D-J10973
           C-762

 South    West     North    East
 Jones    McDevitt Margolin Anderson
 -        P        1NT      P
 P        P

 Cable    Willey   Dyer     Popiel
 -        P        1D       1H
 1S       4H       4S       P
 P        P

Ever since I started watching GNT matches and writing these reports, the results of cheating on notrump ranges have been miserable, no matter the flight, no matter the players. If Margolin's notrump were 12-14, or 13-15, South would run to 3D (however he does that in his system), just as Kaplan Sheinwold recommend, which would probably result in -100, or more likely -140 when East-West balance in 3H. But Margolin's notrump showed 15-17 when what he held was an unappetizing 14 in quackery. Jones saw no reason to run, but 1NT was a horror show. On the run of the hearts, Margolin decided he needed hearts 5-5, the diamond queen dropping, and the opponents to err by leading from the spade king once they finished the hearts. He pitched 2 spades and 2 clubs from dummy, two clubs and a spade from hand. Sure enough, Anderson switched to spades, but the king was wrong, the enemy cleared spades, and the DQ didn't drop. All he got was his 3 top tricks for -400. He could have saved a trick by keeping a third spade in either hand, but on this layout, no line does better than down 3 against best defense.

 

Dyer correctly evaluated the North cards as 13-14, so he opened his amorphous diamond. I'm not familiar with the Cable-Dyer methods, but I'm guessing Lorraine's free 1S response didn't promise either 5 cards or substantial values, with a negative double denying spades or showing something else. Willey took no half measures, leaping to game. Dyer would have to be on his toes to beat 4H. For example, if Cable led the DJ, Matthew has to win and shift to spades, because I think if Jan Popiel managed to set up his DQ for a pitch, he'd get the spades right on the bidding. Instead of defending, however, Dyer tried a wishful 4S. There was no way to come close to making this. Two rounds of hearts tapped Cable on the go, and all Lorraine managed was her book. I have little sympathy for Dyer, who let Willey push him into overbidding his queenery. Do you think Willey should have doubled 4S? He tells me he considered it, and seemed deflated during the comparison when he discovered his luscious +400 was a push. Board 21 (NS vul, North deals):

 

.          North
           S-4
 West      H-A754    East
 S-975     D-KQ872   S-82
 H-KQJ1083 C-A98     H-962
 D-                  D-A10965
 C-Q432    South     C-KJ10
           S-AKQJ1063
           H-
           D-J43
           C-765

 South    West     North    East
 Jones    McDevitt Margolin Anderson
 -        -        1D       P
 1S       2H       P        3H
 4S       P        P        P

 Cable    Willey   Dyer     Popiel
 -        -        1D       P
 1S       4H       Double   P
 4S       P        P        P

Despite favorable vulnerability, neither East-West took the 300 save in 5H. Perhaps if either had, South would soldier on with a 5S bid to preserve the push at 650, but that sounds easier than it is in these days of nostrums like "the five level belongs to the opponents". Board 22 (EW vul, East deals):

 

 

.          North
           S-Q109
 West      H-965     East
 S-AK753   D-A8543   S-J842
 H-AK7     C-62      H-Q3
 D-106               D-Q9
 C-KQ9     South     C-J10543
           S-6
           H-J10842
           D-KJ72
           C-A87

 South    West     North    East
 Jones    McDevitt Margolin Anderson
 -        -        -        P
 P        1S       P        2S
 P        4S       P        P
 P

 Cable    Willey   Dyer     Popiel
 -        -        -        P
 P        2NT      P        3C
 P        3S       P        4S
 P        P        P

Meanwhile, back at the ineffective opening lead ranch, Margolin led a heart to dummy's queen. McDevitt drew two rounds of trumps and piched a diamond loser from dummy on the hearts, making 4. Dyer led a club, which isn't fatal double-dummy, but of course on winning her CA, Cable couldn't find the dangerous-looking diamond switch from her KJ with Qx in dummy. This deal is a counter example to those who never lead an unsupported ace - it's not so bad from length. Push at 620. Board 23 (Both vul, South deals):

 

 

.          North
           S-J96
 West      H-73      East
 S-K8432   D-K98643  S-AQ75
 H-4       C-96      H-AKJ
 D-72                D-QJ5
 C-QJ1084  South     C-753
           S-10
           H-Q1098652
           D-A10
           C-AK2

 South    West     North    East
 Jones    McDevitt Margolin Anderson
 1H       P        P        Double
 P        1S       P        2S
 P        4S       P        P
 P

 Cable    Willey   Dyer     Popiel
 1H       2H       P        3NT
 P        P        P

Finally, a winning opening lead! Barry Margolin didn't lead partner's heart suit, which lets 4S make. Instead, he led a diamond, for down 2. That would be a bigtime guess in any flight. Popiel's 3NT was cold - even if South were to underlead in diamonds for a heart through, declarer can rise and keep North off play thereafter. In fact, South led and pounded hearts, while declarer countered with clubs. Declarer won the race, scoring 660. 13 imps to Margolin, who retook the lead 38-33. Board 24 (Neither vul, West deals):

 

 

.          North
           S-8
 West      H-AKJ1065 East
 S-AQ72    D-KJ108   S-K1063
 H-73      C-AQ      H-Q942
 D-7652              D-A4
 C-1095    South     C-KJ4
           S-J954
           H-8
           D-Q93
           C-87632

 South    West     North    East
 Jones    McDevitt Margolin Anderson
 -        P        1H       P
 P        P

 Cable    Willey   Dyer     Popiel
 -        P        1H       P
 P        Double   2H       2S
 P        P        3H       Double
 P        P        P       

Yet another opening lead problem. Neither East went for a diamond ruff by leading ace and another, which would hold hearts to eight tricks. Instead, they led their spades, but the tap is ineffective - play it out to see why. Declarer won't take the club finesse if West switches at trick two, and is then ahead in the race for control. Alternatively, if West continues spades, East eventually gets tangled in endplays or lost tempos. This deal is a counter example to those who never lead an unsupported ace - it's not so bad from shortness. For Anderson, the lost trick only meant -140 instead of -110. For Popiel, it meant -530 instead of +100, and losing 9 imps instead of winning 6. The Margolin team's lead had lasted only for one board, and they now trailed 42-38. Here's a tip: pick your opening lead BEFORE doubling partscores at imps. Board 25 (EW vul, North deals):

 

 

.          North
           S-105
 West      H-AJ932   East
 S-AK7     D-Q1074   S-Q96
 H-Q654    C-Q7      H-K107
 D-83                D-KJ96
 C-AJ43    South     C-985
           S-J8432
           H-8
           D-A52
           C-K1062

 South    West     North    East
 Jones    McDevitt Margolin Anderson
 -        -        P        P
 P        1C       1H       1NT
 P        P        P

 Cable    Willey   Dyer     Popiel
 -        -        P        P
 1S       P        2H       P
 P        P
 

Anderson won the spade lead, ran the club nine to the queen, won the spade return, finessed the H10, repeated the club finesse, and even guessed the diamonds, to end up with 9 tricks and +150. Dyer's 2H was hopeless, but after the C9 lead, he somehow made his book for -100, and won 2 imps, to increase the Cable lead to 44-38. Board 26 (Both vul, East deals):

 

 

.          North
           S-J10
 West      H-A8653   East
 S-K96     D-A98     S-A52
 H-Q7      C-AQ10    H-J1094
 D-7                 D-KQ43
 C-KJ98532 South     C-74
           S-Q8743
           H-K2
           D-J10652
           C-6

 South    West     North    East
 Jones    McDevitt Margolin Anderson
 -        -        -        P
 P        3C       3NT      P
 P        P

 Cable    Willey   Dyer     Popiel
 -        -        -        P
 P        1NT(!)   2H       Double
 P        3C       P        3NT
 P        P        P

When it rains, it pours. The Margolin team suffered an 11 imp loss by going down multiple tricks in 3NT at both tables. Barry's thin 3NT overcall didn't buy a sufficiently strong dummy. He won the club lead, and played on diamonds. The defense switched to hearts, and eventually came to two spades, two diamonds, and two hearts, for down 2. At the other table, Willey psyched 1NT. Oddly enough, 2Hx can be beaten if the defense is up to snuff. Suppose Popiel leads the obvious HJ, and Dyer rises HK, finesses CQ, cashes CA, and ruffs C10 in dummy, Popiel discarding a spade. Declarer would have to come off dummy with something, and as long as it's Willey who breaks diamonds rather than Popiel, they get six tricks. I'm not a psycher myself, but the successful ones I've known all had nerves of steel. But having recently lost 530 on a Popiel partscore double, Willey ran. Popiel couldn't take a joke, Dyer led a low heart against 3NT, and Willey tried to get his clubs going. When that failed, he was down 3, taking the same six tricks as the other table's East-West. Score: 55-38. Board 27 (Neither vul, South deals):

 

 

.          North
           S-A96
 West      H-K1086   East
 S-1075    D-107     S-QJ432
 H-Q52     C-A1032   H-7
 D-J842              D-AK953
 C-J96     South     C-Q8
           S-K8
           H-AJ943
           D-Q6
           C-K754

 South    West     North    East
 Jones    McDevitt Margolin Anderson
 1H       P        3H       P
 4H       P        P        P

 Cable    Willey   Dyer     Popiel
 1H       P        2NT      3D
 P        P        4H       P
 P        P

Against Jones, McDevitt tried a sporty but ineffective lead of the CJ. James didn't guess trumps, but he made his 4H anyway by losing no club. Popiel got the diamond lead he directed from Willey, but Cable guessed trumps on the bidding, for a push at 420. Board 28 (NS vul, West deals):

 

 

.          North
           S-
 West      H-Q732    East
 S-J832    D-AJ7543  S-KQ109
 H-A       C-AQ2     H-J1095
 D-K108              D-Q2
 C-K9865   South     C-J107
           S-A7654
           H-K864
           D-96
           C-43

 South    West     North    East
 Jones    McDevitt Margolin Anderson
 -        P        1D       P
 1S       P        2D       P
 P        P

 Cable    Willey   Dyer     Popiel
 -        P        1D       P
 1S       2C       2D       P
 P        P

The half concluded with both Norths making two overtricks in 2D when the club finesse worked, the diamonds split, and the heart ace beat the air. Ten tricks might also be made in hearts on careful play, if anybody could find the suit. The teams compared scores and agreed the Cable lead was now 17 imps, 55-38. Play resumed after a short lunch break. I used my second set of boards numbered 1-28 for the second half, but I will report them as 29-56. This will make the vulnerability and dealer appear wrong, but there's no mistake. It's just that we skipped over 4 boards in the usual cycle. Board 29 (Neither vul, North deals):

 

 

.          North
           S-A7532
 West      H-J106    East
 S-Q63     D-J102    S-K9
 H-AQ5     C-97      H-K92
 D-A763              D-K984
 C-Q65     South     C-A1084
           S-J108
           H-8743
           D-Q5
           C-KJ32

 South    West     North    East
 Jones    McDevitt Margolin Anderson
 Cable    Willey   Dyer     Popiel
 -        -        P        1D
 P        3NT      P        P
 P

An aggravating deal for the defense. North's spade lead is won by dummy's SK and a diamond is lost to North. If North continues spades, West has nine tricks. If not, whenever South wins his CK, declarer blocks spades by covering. There's no stopping a push at 400. Board 30 (NS vul, East deals):

 

 

.          North
           S-87543
 West      H-765     East
 S-AQ105   D-K       S-
 H-AQ      C-AQ83    H-K10943
 D-J10               D-AQ765
 C-76542   South     C-K109
           S-KJ92
           H-J82
           D-98432
           C-J

 South    West     North    East
 Jones    McDevitt Margolin Anderson
 -        -        -        1H
 P        1S       P        2D
 P        3C       P        3NT
 P        P        P

 Cable    Willey   Dyer     Popiel
 -        -        -        1H
 P        3NT      P        P
 P

On this lie of cards, there's no beating 3NT. Willey won an imp for 660 vs. Anderson's 630, reducing the lead to 55-39. Board 31 (EW vul, South deals):

 

 

.          North
           S-952
 West      H-J653    East
 S-Q8      D-A3      S-KJ73
 H-A82     C-J752    H-Q1094
 D-K987              D-QJ2
 C-9843    South     C-Q6
           S-A1064
           H-K7
           D-10654
           C-AK10

 South    West     North    East
 Jones    McDevitt Margolin Anderson
 1D       P        1H       P
 1S       P        1NT      P
 P        P

 Cable    Willey   Dyer     Popiel
 1D       P        1H       P
 1NT      P        P        Double
 P        P        P

It's hard to beat 1NT without a diamond lead. Willey led a club, so Cable unblocked her clubs and lead a spade towards the nine. Eventually, the defense had to break hearts or spades and give up a seventh trick. However, Cable's +180 was only worth one imp because Margolin made nine tricks at the other table. A lead of the S3 went to S4, S8, and S9, the clubs were unblocked, and the defense got no better thereafter, making the running score 56-39. Board 32 (Both vul, West deals):

 

 

.          North
           S-AJ93
 West      H-J965   East
 S-106     D-KJ9    S-K752
 H-AQ873   C-92     H-10
 D-7543             D-AQ106
 C-65      South    C-10843
           S-Q84
           H-K42
           D-82
           C-AKQJ7

 South    West     North    East
 Jones    McDevitt Margolin Anderson
 -        P        P        1S
 1NT      P        2C       P
 2D       P        3NT      P
 P        P

 Cable    Willey   Dyer     Popiel
 -        P        1NT      P
 3NT      P        P        P

Anderson opened light in third seat, but directed the wrong lead of the S10, ducked to Jones's queen. James played a second spade to the S9 and SK, and ducked the H10 to West's HQ. McDevitt switched to diamonds, dooming the contract. Jones tried the DJ, losing to the DQ. Jones had already lost 3 tricks when he won Anderson's club shift, and was still off two aces, so he really ought to cash out for down one. Instead, he tried a second heart, and now a second diamond from McDevitt put him down 3, -300.

 

There's no legitimate way to make 3NT, but Dyer did after a spade lead. He dislodged the SK, and Popiel switched to the H10. Had Willey won his queen and played a diamond, with or without cashing the HA, he would have beaten 3NT, but he ducked to Matthew's HJ, the ninth trick. 600 was worth 14 imps, upping the Cable lead to 70-39, and making this match an uphill battle for the Margolin team. Board 33 (NS vul, North deals):

 

.          North
           S-A54
 West      H-7653    East
 S-J82     D-Q76     S-Q10976
 H-QJ102   C-J53     H-K94
 D-1032              D-A85
 C-1062    South     C-74
           S-K3
           H-A8
           D-KJ94
           C-AKQ98

 South    West     North    East
 Jones    McDevitt Margolin Anderson
 -        -        P        P
 1C       P        1NT      P
 3NT      P        P        P

 Cable    Willey   Dyer     Popiel
 -        -        P        P
 1C       P        1H       1S
 2D       P        2NT      P
 3NT      P        P        P

An unlikely heart lead would hold North to nine tricks, but of course both Easts led spades for -660. Board 34 (EW vul, East deals):

 

 

.          North
           S-A87
 West      H-J10863  East
 S-Q1095   D-4       S-2
 H-AKQ9    C-Q872    H-74
 D-J75               D-AK109832
 C-53      South     C-KJ10
           S-KJ643
           H-52
           D-Q6
           C-A964

 South    West     North    East
 Jones    McDevitt Margolin Anderson
 -        -        -        1D
 1S       Double   2S       3D
 P        3NT      P        P
 P

 Cable    Willey   Dyer     Popiel
 -        -        -        1D
 1S       Double   2S       4D
 P        4H       P        5D
 P        P        P

In 5D, Popiel guessed the clubs for 600. After Margolin led a club against 3NT, to the C10 and CA, Jones switched to a heart. McDevitt ran the table for 690 to win 3 imps, making the score 73-39. Board 35 (Both vul, South deals):

 

 

.          North
           S-8653
 West      H-Q6      East
 S-AQJ     D-87      S-974
 H-A75     C-J10863  H-K843
 D-AQJ6              D-1032
 C-A97     South     C-KQ2
           S-K102
           H-J1092
           D-K954
           C-54

 South    West     North    East
 Jones    McDevitt Margolin Anderson
 P        2C       P        2D
 P        2NT      P        3C
 P        3D       P        3S
 P        3NT      P        P
 P

 Cable    Willey   Dyer     Popiel
 P        2C       P        2D
 P        2NT      P        3NT
 P        P        P

A normal push at 660. Because South guards everything, declarer might make six - win the club lead in dummy, D10 covered and won (repeat the finesse if the D10 holds), duck a heart, win the club return in dummy, take the spade finesse, and cash the CA squeezing South in 3 suits. Any red discard gives up the twelfth trick, and if he lets go the S10, two more spades squeeze him in the reds. There's no defense. Board 36 (Neither vul, West deals):

 

 

.          North
           S-Q832
 West      H-Q75     East
 S-AK954   D-73      S-J7
 H-A6      C-9632    H-10982
 D-962               D-KQ8
 C-874     South     C-AQJ10
           S-106
           H-KJ43
           D-AJ1054
           C-K5

 South    West     North    East
 Jones    McDevitt Margolin Anderson
 -        P        P        1C
 P        1S       P        1NT
 P        2D       P        2H
 P        2NT      P        3NT
 P        P        P

 Cable    Willey   Dyer     Popiel
 -        1S       P        2C
 Double   2S       P        2NT
 P        3C       P        3S
 P        3NT      P        P
 P

Both Souths led the DJ. Anderson won the DK and ran his SJ to North, who put a diamond through. South ran his diamonds to beat 3NT, and exited in spades. Doug ran his spades, and the defenders mispitched, letting him out for down 1. Popiel, on the other hand, won the DK, led S7 to SA, and lost a club finesse. Cable laid down the DA and cleared diamonds. Jan took some clubs, ran his SJ, and wound up with nine tricks for 400. These 10 imps made the match score 73-49. Board 37 (EW vul, North deals):

 

 

.          North
           S-AK983
 West      H-9865    East
 S-Q7      D-A94     S-5
 H-AQJ1032 C-K       H-K4
 D-J32               D-Q1065
 C-109     South     C-Q86543
           S-J10642
           H-7
           D-K87
           C-AJ72

 South    West     North    East
 Jones    McDevitt Margolin Anderson
 -        -        1S       P
 3NT(*)   P        4S       P
 P        P

 Cable    Willey   Dyer     Popiel
 -        -        1S       2NT
 3D       3H       3S       P
 4C       P        4D       P
 4H       P        4NT      P
 5C       P        6S       P
 P        P

Dyer-Cable recovered from their ineffective defense on board 36 with a thin but excellent slam venture. Cable's 3D over Popiel's offshape unusual 2NT indicated a good hand with spades, and then she cue bid twice more, inducing Dyer to go. Jones's 3NT indicated a constructive 5-card raise, but didn't budge Margolin into a slam try. Perhaps James should splinter 4H instead. 980 vs. 480 and 11 imps raised the Cable lead to 84-49. Board 38 (Both vul, East deals):

 

 

.          North
           S-AQ97
 West      H-K65     East
 S-105     D-43      S-KJ2
 H-J82     C-K1094   H-Q10974
 D-8752              D-AK10
 C-7532    South     C-A8
           S-8643
           H-A3
           D-QJ96
           C-QJ6

 South    West     North    East
 Jones    McDevitt Margolin Anderson
 Cable    Willey   Dyer     Popiel
 -        -        P        1H
 P        P        1NT      P
 P        P

+110 in 2S is best for North-South, but both Norths balanced in notrump. Popiel lost a tempo by leading his DK. He could have still held 1NT to 90 by switching to hearts, but he didn't, so there was no stopping eight tricks. At the other table, Anderson led a better H10, which held, and continued the suit. Perhaps Margolin's duck wasn't such a good idea. He could have scored 90 by winning the first heart with his king and playing a diamond from hand, but now he was stuck in dummy, and not knowing about the fortunate diamond position, he took a spade finesse. Down 1, 6 more imps to Cable, up 90-49. Board 39 (Neither vul, South deals):

 

 

.          North
           S-AQ8
 West      H-Q974    East
 S-KJ      D-K74     S-76
 H-AJ3     C-A95     H-K106
 D-108               D-QJ965
 C-KQ8762  South     C-1043
           S-1095432
           H-852
           D-A32
           C-J

 South    West     North    East
 Jones    McDevitt Margolin Anderson
 P        1C       1NT      P
 2H(*)    P        2S       P
 P        P

 Cable    Willey   Dyer     Popiel
 P        1C       1NT      P
 2H(*)    3C       3S       P
 4S       P        P

Once Willey and Dyer overbid at the three level, Cable was overcome with irrational exuberance and bid game with next to nothing. Even the dream position in trumps shouldn't have been enough for ten tricks. Popiel led the C10 to CJ, CQ, CA. Club ruff, SQ, SA, club ruff, heart from dummy, ducked to the queen and king for a diamond shift. Even though East-West are ahead in the red-suit race, the contract now made because West possessed both remaining heart winners and no third diamond. You may think Willey could beat 4S by rising HA to play the D10, but then Dyer could switch gears and play three rounds of diamonds, endplaying Popiel. To beat 4S legitimately, Willey has to make a clever "second hand middle" play of the HJ! 420 vs. 140 in 2S meant 7 more imps, for 97-49. Board 40 (NS vul, West deals):

 

 

.          North
           S-1064
 West      H-984    East
 S-AJ83    D-1096    S-KQ52
 H-AJ6     C-AQ85    H-105
 D-A                 D-K543
 C-K10962  South     C-J43
           S-97
           H-KQ732
           D-QJ872
           C-7

 South    West     North    East
 Jones    McDevitt Margolin Anderson
 -        1C       P        1S
 P        4S       P        P
 P

 Cable    Willey   Dyer     Popiel
 -        1NT      P        2C
 P        2S       P        3S
 P        4S       P        P
 P

Jones led his singleton club to Margolin's CQ, and Barry cashed his CA and gave Jones his ruff, but now the heart loser went away. It's a nice idea to underlead the club ace for the ruff, but that doesn't work legitimately here because declarer can set up a heart to discard his third club so you lose your CA. Willey's offshape notrump led to 4S from the other side and a D10 lead. He won, drew trumps, and lost a club. Dyer didn't find the heart shift, so that was 450, an imp to Margolin, who trailed 97-50. Board 41 (Both vul, North deals):

 

 

.          North
           S-972
 West      H-K54     East
 S-A       D-109752  S-KJ8653
 H-A987    C-KQ      H-J6
 D-KQ8               D-64
 C-J9632   South     C-A108
           S-Q104
           H-Q1032
           D-AJ3
           C-754

 South    West     North    East
 Jones    McDevitt Margolin Anderson
 -        -        P        P
 P        1C       P        1S
 P        1NT      P        2S
 P        P        P
 
 Cable    Willey   Dyer     Popiel
 -        -        P        2S
 P        P        P

McDevitt rebid an offshape 1NT rather than a noxious 2C. Popiel spared Willey the aggravation of rebidding by opening 2S. Push at 140. Board 42 (Neither vul, East deals):

 

 

.          North
           S-K542
 West      H-J62     East
 S-J10     D-5       S-A98
 H-A1095   C-KQ1054  H-87
 D-A86632            D-KQ109
 C-9       South     C-AJ87
           S-Q763
           H-KQ43
           D-J7
           C-632

 South    West     North    East
 Jones    McDevitt Margolin Anderson
 -        -        -        1D
 P        2D       P        2S
 P        3H       P        3NT
 P        P        P

 Cable    Willey   Dyer     Popiel
 -        -        -        1D
 P        5D       P        P
 P

The third quarter ended with pushing nonvulnerable games, both cold for 400. The teams compared and Margolin learned they were down 97-50 with one 14-board set to play. Both teams knew the Margolin team would need big boards to get back in the match. Board 43 (NS vul, South deals):

 

 

.          North
           S-109873
 West      H-A6       East
 S-6       D-A4       S-QJ52
 H-732     C-A1084    H-KQ1098
 D-K9876              D-Q32
 C-KQ96    South      C-3
           S-AK4
           H-J54
           D-J105
           C-J752

 South    West     North    East
 Jones    McDevitt Margolin Anderson
 P        P        1S       P
 1NT      P        2C       P
 3S       P        P        P

 Cable    Willey   Dyer     Popiel
 P        P        1S       2H
 3H       5H       Double   P
 P        P

Both Souths drove that South hand hard, but nothing bad happened to them. Anderson led a normal HK. Margolin won to lead a heart up, won the club switch, and went to dummy's SA to pitch a diamond on the HJ. Eventually he didn't pick up spades but he did pick up clubs for 140. Cable's cue bid talked Willey into saving against a game that probably wasn't going to be bid or made. Popiel played well to lose just the four aces for -300, but that was 4 imps to Cable, now leading 101-50. Board 44 (EW vul, West deals):

 

 

.          North
           S-98532
 West      H-96     East
 S-KQJ6    D-J743   S-A7
 H-A854    C-93     H-KJ7
 D-106              D-AK
 C-A107    South    C-KJ8652
           S-104
           H-Q1032
           D-Q9852
           C-Q4

 South    West     North    East
 Jones    McDevitt Margolin Anderson
 -        1C       P        4NT
 P        5H       P        6C
 P        P        P

 Cable    Willey   Dyer     Popiel
 -        1C       P        2C
 P        2H       P        4C
 P        4S       P        5D
 P        5S       P        7C
 P        P

Willey-Popiel gambled on an approximately 57% grand, with imp odds of 16-13 against them. Not a bad shot, which paid off when Willey played normally for the drop in clubs, making the score 101-63. The scoring table breaks at 1500, so imp odds for vulnerable grand slams are 16-13 against in the minors, but a slightly less appetizing 17-13 in other strains, which in such marginal cases as this, improves the long term expectancy. Also, because anything from 750 to 890 is worth 13, Anderson-McDevitt could have saved an imp by bidding 6NT, but Willey-Popiel could have gained no imp for bidding 7NT. Board 45 (Neither vul, North deals):

 

 

.          North
           S-J7
 West      H-83      East
 S-KQ9853  D-AK10    S-A642
 H-A       C-AJ9875  H-K7
 D-J8653             D-Q972
 C-2       South     C-Q104
           S-10
           H-QJ1096542
           D-4
           C-K63

 South    West     North    East
 Jones    McDevitt Margolin Anderson
 -        -        1C       P
 1H       1S       2C       2H
 3H       4S       P        P
 5C       P        P        Double
 P        P        P

 Cable    Willey   Dyer     Popiel
 -        -        1C       P
 1H       2NT      3C       3D
 4H       4S       P        P
 5C       5D       Double   P
 P        P

Lots of shape, lots of bidding. Cable led her singleton spade. Popiel had a useful pitch on his HK, but he couldn't get to it, and so lost the obvious 3 tricks in 5Dx, down 1. Had Jones played in hearts, he too could lose only three tricks. Against clubs, however, the defense could have scored four. They didn't because they crashed their heart honors for down 1. In a parallel universe where Jones elects to defend, Margolin would find the diamond ruff that beats 4S, because he was playing upside-down attitude signals, so Jones's singleton D4 would be fortuitously encouraging. Perhaps Dyer would have found this defense also, but it's hard not to put a heart through dummy's Kx. I don't fault either South for saving, but I'd insist on hearts being trump, myself. 5 more imps to Cable, 106-63. Board 46 (NS vul, East deals):

 

 

.          North
           S-6543
 West      H-875     East
 S-K972    D-A3      S-A108
 H-106432  C-KQ63    H-K
 D-K7                D-QJ962
 C-97      South     C-8542
           S-QJ
           H-AQJ9
           D-10854
           C-AJ10

 South    West     North    East
 Jones    McDevitt Margolin Anderson
 -        -        -        P
 1C       P        1S       P
 1NT      P        P        P

 Cable    Willey   Dyer     Popiel
 -        -        -        P
 1C       2H       P        3D
 P        P        P

Jones should have taken 8 tricks in his 1NT, but managed only 7 for +90. At the other table, far behind in the match, Willey went shooting. Popiel's 3D contract looked horrid, but the fall of the spades let him get out for down 2, -100 and a push. Board 47 (EW vul, South deals):

 

 

.           North
            S-KJ5
 West       H-       East
 S-Q873     D-Q863   S-A1096
 H-96       C-KQJ432 H-Q1053
 D-A105              D-972
 C-10985    South    C-A7
            S-42
            H-AKJ8742
            D-KJ4
            C-6

 South    West     North    East
 Jones    McDevitt Margolin Anderson
 1H       P        2C       P
 2H       P        3NT      P
 4H       P        P        P

 Cable    Willey   Dyer     Popiel
 1H       P        2C       P
 2H       P        2NT      P
 3H       P        3NT      P
 P        P

Neither game stands much chance of making on this misfit. Against 4H, the defense took their three side aces and waited for East's two trump tricks, down 2. Against Dyer's 3NT, East led a spade to the SQ and SK. Dyer knocked out the club ace, and Popiel put Willey in with the DA for a spade through to defeat the contract. However, Dyer now had eight tricks and escaped for down one to garner 2 more imps, 108-63. Board 48 (Both vul, West deals):

 

 

.          North
           S-J43
 West      H-Q632    East
 S-AQ976   D-J642    S-8
 H-875     C-72      H-AK104
 D-985               D-AQ10
 C-Q3      South     C-J10865
           S-K1052
           H-J9
           D-K73
           C-AK94

 South    West     North    East
 Jones    McDevitt Margolin Anderson
 -        P        P        1C
 P        1S       P        2C
 P        P        P

 Cable    Willey   Dyer     Popiel
 -        P        P        1C
 P        1S       P        1NT
 P        P        P

Popiel and Anderson chose opposing standard answers to East's common but ugly rebid problem. It didn't turn out to matter. Both Souths elected to lead the HJ and continue hearts after getting in with clubs, and the board was pushed, 120 vs. 110. Board 49 (NS vul, North deals):

 

 

.          North
           S-Q542
 West      H-J108762 East
 S-1096    D-J95     S-
 H-A       C-        H-K543
 D-KQ10872           D-A654
 C-954     South     C-AQ1063
           S-AKJ873
           H-Q9
           D-
           C-KJ873

 South    West     North    East
 Jones    McDevitt Margolin Anderson
 -        -        P        1C
 1S       P        3S       P
 P        4D       P        5D
 P        P        P

 Cable    Willey   Dyer     Popiel
 -        -        P        1C
 1S       2D       3S       4D
 4S       5D       P        P
 5S       Double   P        P
 P

This bidding was a train wreck for the Margolin team, and the play wasn't much better. When Jones didn't bid North-South's vulnerable game over Margolin's preemptive raise, he let McDevitt balance and East-West bid a game of their own. On the spade lead McDevitt could have made six: S ruff, DA, HA, S ruff, HK pitching C, H ruff, S ruff, H ruff, draw trumps, lose a club. A trump lead is no better. Steve erred by discarding a spade on dummy's HK and so was held to contract because he couldn't escape two club losers. Perhaps in slam he'd get it right.

 

At the other table, Popiel had more offense and less defense than his 4D bid suggested. Maybe if he'd jumped to 5D or cue bid 4S, Willey would go slamming and have a chance to make the conclusion of the match very interesting. A club lead surely beats 5Sx, but Willey cashed his singleton HA as Cable dropped her queen. A club shift is still good enough: Lorraine must ruff in dummy or she's down off the top. When East shows out on the first trump, declarer can't draw trumps, so must play hearts. But West can ruff, and another club puts declarer back in the same pickle: if she ruffs in dummy, dummy won't have enough trumps, so she'd have to pitch and go down 1. However Willey played a diamond at trick 2. Curtains - with no dummy tap, Cable could draw trumps and set up hearts. 850 and 400 add up to 15 imps, making the match score 123-63 with only 7 boards to play. Board 50 (EW vul, East deals):

 

.          North
           S-654
 West      H-KQ7     East
 S-Q87     D-K75     S-AK1092
 H-A       C-J653    H-J1085
 D-J10962            D-Q4
 C-KQ109   South     C-42
           S-J3
           H-96432
           D-A83
           C-A87

 South    West     North    East
 Jones    McDevitt Margolin Anderson
 -        -        -        P
 P        1D       P        1S
 P        P        P

 Cable    Willey   Dyer     Popiel
 -        -        -        P
 P        1D       P        1S
 P        2S       P        3H
 P        3S       P        P
 P

North-South can't beat 4S if declarer plugs away at diamonds. Nobody bid that high, and in practice, Anderson made only nine tricks to lose an imp, 123-64. I think this Willey-Popiel auction was affected by the disaster on board 49. If they'd thought they still had a chance, one of them might have chased the vulnerable game bonus and won some points. Board 51 (Both vul, South deals):

 

 

.          North
           S-J7
 West      H-942     East
 S-9853    D-QJ5     S-AKQ102
 H-86      C-KQ1064  H-KQJ5
 D-AK1074            D-832
 C-AJ      South     C-7
           S-64
           H-A1073
           D-96
           C-98532

 South    West     North    East
 Jones    McDevitt Margolin Anderson
 P        1D       P        1S
 P        2S       P        3C
 P        4S       P        4NT
 P        5H       P        6S
 P        P        P

 Cable    Willey   Dyer     Popiel
 P        1D       P        1S
 P        2S       P        3H
 P        4S       P        P
 P

There was no miracle in diamonds, and two club plays killed any squeeze chances, so Anderson's "death holding" of three small diamonds sent 13 imps to Margolin, 123-77. I think Popiel took a good inference from Willey's decision not to cue bid on the way to 4S. Board 52 (Neither vul, West deals):

 

 

.           North
            S-Q5
 West       H-8       East
 S-K83      D-Q1096   S-10972
 H-AKQJ1032 C-K109876 H-75
 D-53                 D-KJ72
 C-4        South     C-AJ5
            S-AJ64
            H-964
            D-A84
            C-Q32

 South    West     North    East
 Jones    McDevitt Margolin Anderson
 -        1H       3C       P
 4C       4H       P        P
 P

 Cable    Willey   Dyer     Popiel
 -        4C       P        P
 P

McDevitt bought a good dummy. Eventually he guessed the diamonds and led towards his SK for 420. Willey thought he was playing Namyats, but unfortunately Popiel thought he wasn't. Oops. That dummy wasn't nearly as good at their table - down 7, -350, 13 imps to Cable, 136-77. Board 53 (EW vul, North deals):

 

 

.          North
           S-K75
 West      H-J10876  East
 S-J63     D-Q92     S-Q9842
 H-A4      C-K2      H-K93
 D-AJ7643            D-K10
 C-J3      South     C-A74
           S-A10
           H-Q52
           D-85
           C-Q109865

 South    West     North    East
 Jones    McDevitt Margolin Anderson
 -        -        P        1S
 P        2D       P        2NT
 P        3S       P        4S
 P        P        P

 Cable    Willey   Dyer     Popiel
 -        -        P        P
 P        2D       P        P
 P
 

After Dyer led a normal HJ, Willey made his 2D for +90, losing a club, two spades, a trump and a ruff. A club lead and good defense surely beats 4S, with North ruffing over dummy. I think a heart lead also beats it by threatening the entry to dummy's diamonds. However, continuing the run of subobtimal opening lead choices in this match, Jones led a diamond. Anderson won in hand to lead a spade. Jones rose SA to play another diamond, and Anderson drove trumps for 650, to win 11 imps, 147-77. Board 54 (Both vul, East deals):

 

 

.          North
           S-K76543
 West      H-AQJ64   East
 S-10      D-        S-AQJ92
 H-109852  C-108     H-
 D-32                D-AJ987
 C-J9754   South     C-KQ3
           S-8
           H-K73
           D-KQ10654
           C-A62

 South    West     North    East
 Jones    McDevitt Margolin Anderson
 -        -        -        1S
 2D       P        2H       2S
 3H       P        4H       P
 P        P

 Cable    Willey   Dyer     Popiel
 -        -        -        1S
 2D       P        2H       2S
 3H       P        3NT      P
 P        P

What propelled the vulnerable North-Souths into game on this misfit? Both were lucky not to get whacked by East-West. Popiel led a good CK against Dyer's 3NT, and Matthew did well to find seven tricks and win 3 imps when Margolin scored only seven in 4H. 150-77. Board 55 (Neither vul, South deals):

 

 

.          North
           S-J65
 West      H-J54     East
 S-A10     D-A1085   S-Q84
 H-Q10982  C-A102    H-A7
 D-632               D-KQ9
 C-QJ5     South     C-K9874
           S-K9732
           H-K53
           D-J74
           C-63

 South    West     North    East
 Jones    McDevitt Margolin Anderson
 P        P        P        1C
 P        1H       P        1NT
 P        P        P

 Cable    Willey   Dyer     Popiel
 P        P        1NT      2S
 P        2NT      P        3C
 P

Jones led a spade and Anderson made 120. Popiel's 2S was a transfer overcall over the mini-notrump. 2NT inquired, and 3C showed a minimum. Cable led a heart and Popiel made 130 for a push. Board 56 (NS vul, West deals):

 

 

.          North
           S-Q104
 West      H-87642   East
 S-A8532   D-A4      S-K97
 H-95      C-J96     H-AQ103
 D-J102              D-K876
 C-A43     South     C-Q2
           S-J6
           H-KJ
           D-Q953
           C-K10875

 South    West     North    East
 Jones    McDevitt Margolin Anderson
 -        P        P        1D
 P        1S       P        1NT
 P        P        P

 Cable    Willey   Dyer     Popiel
 -        P        P        1D
 P        1S       P        1NT
 P        P        2H       P
 P        2S       P        P
 P

Matthew Dyer offered his opponents 500 with his risky vulnerable 2H, in order to push his opponents from 1NT to 2S. He lost an imp for his troubles. Willey lost 2 diamonds, a heart, a spade, and a club for 110. Against 1NT, Jones led a club. Anderson won his CQ, cleared spades, won the club ace, ran spades, and scored the HA for 90. The match was over. Lorraine Cable, Matthew Dyer, Steve McDevitt, and Doug Anderson defeated the Margolin team by 150 to 78. There can be no question the Cable team decisively outbid and outplayed the Margolin squad. Good luck to them in Las Vegas. I hope readers enjoyed this slice of life in Flight B.

 

Buzz from the Knockout Regional in Cromwell CT

District 25 held its biggest and longest regional, the Knockouts, in Cromwell CT over the six days February 13-18, 2008. I see from the results that we had a big turnout, but that didn't include me, as I was on vacation in South Carolina. My wife and I did play a day of pairs at the Hilton Head Regional, which also had a big turnout. I'm hearing that ACBL attendance is up this year all over. One of the finalists in Cromwell's premier Flight A Knockout, which started Friday the 15th and ended Sunday the 17th, reports that both teams missed a very desirable grand slam on this pair of hands:

.West      East
 S-        S-A109xx
 H-KQJxx   H-A10x
 D-Kxx     D-AQJx
 C-AKxxx   C-x
 
 One table         Other table
 
 1H     1S         1H     1S
 2C     2D         2C     2D
 3D     3H         3C     4H
 4C     4NT        5C     6H
 5S     5NT
 6C     6H

You might want to go over how you and your favorite partner would bid this pair of hands in your own favorite methods.