District 25 News for April 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 Sunday, April 6, 2008, in conjunction with the WMBA Sectional Swiss held at the Melha Shriners in Springfield, I kibitzed the Grand National Teams district finals for Flight A, between Allan Wolf's Connecticut team of (left to right in the picture)
Bernard Schneider, Frances Schneider, Allan Wolf, and Russell Friedman and Derrick Niederman's Massachusetts team of
Adam Grossack, Donald Caplin, Margaret Malaspina, and Derrick Niederman. Flight A was open to any District 25 player with fewer than 5000 masterpoints (Flight B, which I reported last month, is limited to 2000). Nine entrant Flight A teams had played a full round-robin in January, to qualify for semifinal matches, with Wolf and Niederman surviving. Now they'd play a 56-board final with no carryover, the winner to be subsidized on a trip to Las Vegas this summer to represent the District.
Friedman-Wolf, the Schneiders, and Niederman-Malaspina all play standard, more or less, while Caplin-Grossack play a strong club and four card majors. To distinguish between the Schneiders, I'll call them Bernard and Frances. Board 1 (none vul, N deals):
. North S-J1053 West H-AJ1054 East S-98762 D-K9 S-KQ H-K3 C-AK H-Q62 D-AQ D-8532 C-J942 South C-Q1076 S-A4 H-987 D-J10764 C-853 South West North East Friedman Niederman Wolf Malaspina - - 1NT P P P Grossack Bernard Caplin Frances - - 1H P P 1S P P 2H P P P
Friedman-Wolf play Flannery, but Wolf thought the North hand too strong for that. He didn't want to reverse, so chose an odd notrump. When Malaspina led clubs (best), Wolf, not knowing the cards lay so favorably, played hearts from hand. Clubs, hearts, clubs. Wolf had to discard two spades on the third and fourth clubs, which looked like down one to Wolf, but the cards lay so well, with the spades blocked and the diamonds onside, that the defense could do nothing to prevent his making 90.
The North cards weren't a strong club for Caplin. With a benign SK lead and everything friendly, his 2H contract made 140 (double-dummy, he can even make 4 on this very favorable lie). 2 imps to Niederman. Board 2 (NS vul, East deals):
. North S-J963 West H-A2 East S-AK D-Q954 S-10874 H-10963 C-1083 H-K8754 D-K32 D-10 C-A765 South C-KQ2 S-Q52 H-QJ D-AJ876 C-J94 South West North East Friedman Niederman Wolf Malaspina - - - P P 1C P 1H P 2H P P P Grossack Bernard Caplin Frances - - - P P 1C P 1H P 2H P 2S P 3D P 3H P 4H P P P
Frances Schneider's game try proved a winner when she bought a great dummy and a nice lie of cards. 420 vs. 200 meant six imps to Wolf, who led 6-2. Board 3 (EW vul, South deals):
. North S-J84 West H-6532 East S-AQ5 D-KJ92 S-10973 H-KQ C-104 H-AJ84 D-Q7654 D-8 C-KJ5 South C-A976 S-K62 H-1097 D-A103 C-Q832 South West North East Friedman Niederman Wolf Malaspina Grossack Bernard Caplin Frances P 1NT P 2C P 2D P 2NT P 3NT P P P
Caplin led diamonds and scored four tricks in the suit, but Bernard had the rest no matter which black suit finesse he chose to take when he entered dummy.
Wolf led a heart. Niederman lacked dummy entries. As the cards lie, he could have made 3NT in either of two ways. He could have monotonously played diamonds (with or without cashing his second heart), forcing his opponents to either start a black suit for him, give dummy an entry in hearts, or set up his fifth diamond. Or, he could have overtaken his second heart and tried a club to the jack, CK, CA, HJ. The clubs don't drop, but the hearts do, so he could take a spade finesse for his ninth trick. Instead, Derrick cashed his two hearts and ran the CJ to CQ. The defense cashed four diamonds for down 1, 12 imps to Wolf, who led 18-2. Board 4 (Both vul, West deals):
. North S-752 West H-108 East S-10843 D-AQ873 S-AQJ H-KJ973 C-AJ3 H-652 D-96 D-KJ5 C-97 South C-Q1065 S-K96 H-AQ4 D-1042 C-K842 South West North East Friedman Niederman Wolf Malaspina - P P 1C P 1H P 1NT P P P Grossack Bernard Caplin Frances - P P 1C P 1H P P P
The play with hearts trump isn't interesting - declarer loses a spade, a heart, a diamond, and two clubs, for 110. Friedman led the S6 against 1NT. Declarer won SQ, played a heart to dummy's HJ (H8 from Wolf), and ran the C9 to the jack, queen, and king. Friedman-Wolf play upside-down signals, and Russell couldn't read Wolf's H8. Was it low from 108, or high from 8xx? He decided on the latter, and cashed the HA to extract declarer's exit card, then shifted to a diamond to the ace for a spade back. Malaspina took her 7 tricks for 90. This looked like awful defense, but in fact Friedman couldn't beat 1NT on winning the club - whatever he does works badly, whatever declarer tries will work. It takes a diamond opening lead to find seven winners for the defense. An imp to Wolf, 19-2. Board 5 (NS vul, North deals):
. North S-9 West H-K653 East S-A852 D-763 S-K1073 H-1092 C-KQ642 H-J7 D-85 D-KQJ2 C-AJ107 South C-985 S-QJ64 H-AQ84 D-A1094 C-3 South West North East Friedman Niederman Wolf Malaspina - - P P 1D P 1H P 2H P 3C P 3H P P P Grossack Bernard Caplin Frances - - P P 1H P 2NT P 3D P 3H P 3NT P 4H P P P
Friedman turned down a game try most players would accept, judging that his club singleton wasn't what Wolf wanted. Caplin's passed hand 2NT showed hearts plus a minor. Grossack was in a similar situation to Friedman, but Adam went to game. Both defenses got two diamonds and the black aces, 6 imps to Wolf, now leading 25-2. Board 6 (EW vul, East deals):
. North S-105 West H-J952 East S-KQ972 D-AQJ97 S-AJ43 H-43 C-93 H-AK8 D-863 D-K102 C-AK6 South C-1054 S-86 H-Q1076 D-54 C-QJ872 South West North East Friedman Niederman Wolf Malaspina Grossack Bernard Caplin Frances - - - 1NT P 2H P 2S P 3NT P 4S P P P
Everybody's 4S was a matchpoint exercise - Frances found an overtrick to win an imp. 26-2. Board 7 (Both vul, South deals):
. North S-K93 West H-107 East S-A854 D-KQJ2 S-J10 H-AK86542 C-J753 H-QJ93 D-10 D-A7643 C-10 South C-92 S-Q762 H- D-985 C-AKQ864 South West North East Friedman Niederman Wolf Malaspina 1C 1H 2C 3H P 4H P P P Grossack Bernard Caplin Frances 2C 4H P P 5C P P 5H P P Double P P P
Par on this board is 6C doubled by NS, -500 when West gets a diamond ruff, but is the diamond opening lead by West so obvious? Friedman went quietly over 4H, but Grossack saved. Caplin doubled 5H with few hearts and many clubs, an action I do not recommend, and lost 5 imps for 850 vs. 650 (6C would gain 4 at least), upping Wolf's lead to 31-2. Board 8 (Neither vul, West deals):
. North S-7543 West H-10653 East S-A986 D-J7 S-QJ H-Q C-A32 H-J2 D-KQ432 D-A65 C-KQ8 South C-J109764 S-K102 H-AK9874 D-1098 C-5 South West North East Friedman Niederman Wolf Malaspina - 1D P 1NT 2H 3D 3H 3S P 4C P 4D P P P Grossack Bernard Caplin Frances - 1D P 1NT P 2D P P 2H 2S P 3D P P P
North-South take 9 tricks at hearts, East-West 11 at clubs. 5C isn't impossible to reach. Malaspina, for example, must have thought of raising 4C to 5, and Frances had a couple of opportunities to at least mention the suit. A club ruff holds diamonds to 10 tricks, but that defense would be indicated only against 5D. Against partials, both Souths played HAK. Bernard ruffed, cashed DKQ and switched to clubs, assuring 10 tricks. The defense still didn't take its ruff, so he scored 11. Niederman ruffed the second heart and drew three rounds of trumps before playing clubs. Wolf ducked both the CK and CQ. Friedman had thrown two hearts on the third diamond and second club, clutching his S-K10x. Niederman led a spade from his hand to Friedman's SK. Another heart would have beaten 4D, but Friedman returned a spade. The S10 dropped, Niederman made 130, but an imp to Wolf, 32-2. Board 9 (EW vul, North deals):
. North S-AQ5 West H-KQ98 East S-K73 D-K63 S-J942 H-A102 C-1073 H-54 D-A10752 D-984 C-A6 South C-J942 S-1086 H-J763 D-QJ C-KQ85 South West North East Friedman Niederman Wolf Malaspina - - 1C P 1H P 2H P P 3D 3H P P P Grossack Bernard Caplin Frances - - 1H P 2H P 3C P 4H P P P
Niederman offered 500 trying to jostle Wolf too high, and succeeded. Had he led a spade, he'd beat 3H unless Friedman made a miraculous guess in clubs. Instead, Niederman led ace and a club, but could find no entry among Malaspina's trash. The spade loser got away on a diamond and that was 170. In the replay, Grossack-Caplin overbid all the way to 4H, without jostling. Frances led a spade for down 2 on normal play. 7 more imps to Wolf, 39-2. Board 10 (Both vul, East deals):
. North S-843 West H-1085 East S-AK10 D-Q753 S-J65 H-J732 C-1083 H-AK9 D-A109 D-42 C-A97 South C-KQJ54 S-Q972 H-Q64 D-KJ86 C-62 South West North East Friedman Niederman Wolf Malaspina - - - 1C P 1H P 1NT P 3NT P P P Grossack Bernard Caplin Frances - - - 1C P 1H P 2H P 2S P 3C P 3NT P P P
Friedman led a spade. Malaspina hooked the S10 and ran clubs. With horrid discards to make, Friedman eventually let go a heart, and so Malaspina took all the tricks. Caplin led a diamond, but Grossack was also hard pressed to pitch on the clubs. He did eventually manage to get one trick, to win an imp for Niederman, down 39-3. Board 11 (Neither vul, South deals):
. North S-Q96 West H-AK82 East S-10875 D-A853 S-AJ3 H-QJ109 C-J7 H-765 D-42 D-K1096 C-Q82 South C-954 S-K42 H-43 D-QJ7 C-AK1063 South West North East Friedman Niederman Wolf Malaspina 1C P 1H P 1NT P 3NT P P P Grossack Bernard Caplin Frances 2C P 2D P 2NT P 3NT P P P
Both declarers ducked the HQ opening lead. Niederman continued a second heart, and a third upon winning his CQ, but declarer led a spade to his king and took a diamond finesse. Malaspina didn't cash her SA, and mispitched on the run of the clubs, allowing an overtrick, but this defense wasn't beating 3NT in any case. At the other table, Bernard Schneider found an excellent switch to the S10 at trick 2. Grossack made his best play of covering in dummy, but Frances won the ace and played hearts. When Bernard got in with his CQ, he put the S8 through, and 3NT was doomed. There's no strip squeeze because declarer hasn't been able to cash dummy's second heart winner.
Go back to trick one. Is ducking really a good idea? If dummy just wins and takes a club finesse, declarer can duck a second heart, run any spade shift to his king, and take a diamond finesse for 9 tricks. There's no defense. Anyway, that was 11 imps to Wolf, for 50-3.
Board 12 (NS vul, West deals):
. North S-K107 West H-63 East S-A6532 D-A853 S-Q8 H-A975 C-8764 H-QJ1082 D-4 D-J1092 C-QJ10 South C-92 S-J94 H-K4 D-KQ76 C-AK53 South West North East Friedman Niederman Wolf Malaspina - 1S P 1NT P P P Grossack Bernard Caplin Frances - 1S P 1NT P 2H P P P
Frances Schneider's 1NT was forcing, and 2H lost two clubs, a spade, and a diamond, for 140. Malaspina's 1NT was not forcing, but still, Niederman chose a bad time to pass. The defense took two top diamonds, played three rounds of clubs, won the SK, and cashed out for 50, 5 imps to Wolf, making the score 55-3. Board 13 (Both vul, North deals):
. North S-J1076 West H-A7 East S-AKQ52 D-K6 S-9 H-53 C-AKQ95 H-KQJ10986 D-Q105 D-742 C-763 South C-82 S-843 H-42 D-AJ983 C-J104 South West North East Friedman Niederman Wolf Malaspina - - 1C 2H P P Double P 3D P P P Grossack Bernard Caplin Frances - - 1NT 2H P P P
Grossack's Rusinow C10 opening lead put Caplin in a quandary - was it J10x or 10x? A switch to the diamond king would beat 2H with a ruff, but after the actual three rounds of clubs, Frances ruffed, discarded two diamonds on dummy's spades, and knocked out the trump ace for 140. Had Friedman-Wolf competed to 3C, they couldn't go down, but they wound up in 3D where they had a trump loser, so any early heart play would beat them. Instead, Niederman cashed his three top spades, Malaspina discarding both her clubs. Giving Malaspina a club ruff would work, as would a heart shift, but Niederman continued with a fourth spade, which she ruffed. Now Friedman could have overruffed and played on trumps to make the hand, but he pitched his heart loser and had to lose a trump as well to go -100. An imp to Wolf, for 56-3. Board 14 (Neither vul, East deals):
. North S-K53 West H-762 East S-AQ2 D-A8 S-1098 H-AK1085 C-AQ1054 H-94 D-Q94 D-J107652 C-K8 South C-J2 S-J764 H-QJ3 D-K3 C-9763 South West North East Friedman Niederman Wolf Malaspina - - - P P 1H 2C P P Double P 2H 3C P P P Grossack Bernard Caplin Frances - - - P P 1H P P P
Caplin-Grossack were never beating 1H. In practice, Caplin led a trump, and Bernard played on diamonds, eventually emerging with 140. Against Wolf's 3C, Malaspina led the H9 to the HJ and HK. Had Niederman given her a ruff, he could wait for two spade tricks because of Malaspina's helpful spots, and thus beat the contract. Instead, he switched to a trump, but Wolf finessed his CQ, drew trumps, and played on spades keeping Malaspina off play, eventually establishing the fourth spade for a heart pitch and +110, 6 imps to Wolf, who led 62-3 after a Blitzkrieg first quarter.
One of the glories of the GNT is that it's New England's only local opportunity to play really long matches. Although the Wolf squad was in wonderful position, the match was not over, and both teams knew it, with 42 boards to play. The Niederman team switched seats, the traditional gambit for a change of luck.
Board 15 (NS vul, South deals):
. North S- West H-AJ108654 East S-Q9 D-Q105 S-J1063 H-2 C-1073 H-K73 D-AK98 D-J764 C-AKQJ42 South C-96 S-AK87542 H-Q9 D-32 C-85 South West North East Friedman Grossack Wolf Caplin 3S 5C P P P Niederman Bernard Malaspina Frances 3S 4C P P P
East-West could make 3NT or beat 3S doubled 800, but West can't see the whole deal and not bidding clubs seems bizarre. Since North has no spade to lead, the declarers got to pitch a spade on dummy's HK. The DQ didn't fall, so 130 vs. 50 sent 5 imps to Wolf, who led 67-3. Board 16 (EW vul, West deals):
. North S-Q West H-Q5 East S-87542 D-AQ S-AK1093 H-86 C-AK1098542 H-AJ D-J642 D-K875 C-73 South C-J6 S-J6 H-K1097432 D-1093 C-Q South West North East Friedman Grossack Wolf Caplin - P 1C 1S Double 3S 5C P 5H P P P Niederman Bernard Malaspina Frances - P 1C 1S P P 3C P 4H P P P
Niederman's 4H is cold. The defense played two rounds of spades, and he knocked out the HA to make 450. The miraculous diamond position means East-West could escape for -200 in 4S doubled, but that's surely too risky at adverse vulnerability.
Friedman had a preemptive 3H response available, but chose an odd negative double instead. He did well to pull 5C, which Caplin could beat either by eventually ducking the first round of hearts, or immediately by cashing one spade and switching to ace and a heart before trumps are drawn. Grossack led a trump against 5H, ducked to Friedman's HK. Major suit plays couldn't work, as Caplin would cash three tricks. Russell can make 5H by overtaking his CQ and pitching a spade on a club, then playing trumps. That requires clubs 2-2, however. Instead, Friedman cashed his CQ and took a diamond finesse, playing Caplin for a stiff club and no diamond king, which seems anti-percentage on the bidding. Caplin won the DK and cashed out for down 2, 11 imps to Niederman, who trailed 67-14. Board 17 (Neither vul, North deals):
. North S-K10 West H-J104 East S-AQ73 D-K974 S-9542 H-A972 C-K752 H-KQ D-108 D-AQJ63 C-AJ3 South C-Q9 S-J86 H-8653 D-52 C-10864 South West North East Friedman Grossack Wolf Caplin - - P 1S P 2NT P 3NT P 4S P P P Niederman Bernard Malaspina Frances - - P 1D P 1H P 1S P 2C P 2D P 2S P 3D P 3H P 4S P P P
Caplin-Grossack open some bad four card majors. Both Wests made slammy noises, but subsided when the Easts showed disinterest. Friedman led a diamond, Caplin won and cashed dummy's trump ace. Returning to hand, he guessed to duck a trump to make six. Niederman led a club. Declarer lost the CK, didn't guess trumps, and so made 420, 2 imps to Niederman, 67-16. Board 18 (NS vul, East deals):
. North S-K West H-AK53 East S-J984 D-854 S-A1053 H-42 C-85432 H-J107 D-AK72 D-1063 C-AKQ South C-J109 S-Q762 H-Q986 D-QJ9 C-76 South West North East Friedman Grossack Wolf Caplin Niederman Bernard Malaspina Frances - - - P P 1NT P P P
Both Norths led clubs. Grossack played on spades for 120, Schneider on diamonds for 90, an imp to Niederman, 67-17. Board 19 (EW vul, South deals):
. North S-Q7 West H-AQ7 East S-A54 D-1098532 S-10862 H-10653 C-J3 H-J984 D-AJ4 D-Q76 C-A65 South C-K7 S-KJ93 H-K2 D-K C-Q109842 South West North East Friedman Grossack Wolf Caplin P 1H P 3H P P P Niederman Bernard Malaspina Frances 1C P 1D P 1S P 2D P P P
The Niederman team declared two hopeless partials. Grossack had to lose 3 hearts and 2 spades. Malaspina had to lose 3 diamonds, 2 clubs, and a spade. 100 plus 50 meant 4 imps to Wolf, 71-17. Board 20 (Both vul, West deals):
. North S-10742 West H-K1074 East S-J95 D-J1096 S-AKQ6 H-62 C-3 H-J9853 D-A52 D-Q C-AQ942 South C-J76 S-83 H-AQ D-K8743 C-K1085 South West North East Friedman Grossack Wolf Caplin - P P 1H P 1NT P P P Niederman Bernard Malaspina Frances - 1C P 1H P 1NT P 2D P 2NT P 3NT P P P
The Schneiders were overboard. Both Norths led the DJ, both declarers took a club finesse and tried to drop a doubleton king, and so ended with seven tricks. Even double-dummy, Bernard can't score more than 8 tricks, as South can cover every club from dummy, to stop the suit with his C5. 200 plus 90 meant 7 imps to Niederman, who trailed 71-24.
Board 21 (NS vul, North deals):
. North S-K5 West H-82 East S-10943 D-10543 S-J7 H-10975 C-Q8654 H-A64 D-J2 D-KQ9876 C-AKJ South C-109 S-AQ862 H-KQJ4 D-A C-732 South West North East Friedman Grossack Wolf Caplin - - P P 1S P 1NT 2D 2H P 2S P 3C P P P Niederman Bernard Malaspina Frances - - P 2D Double 3D P P 3S P P P
Both Souths bid a lot. The Schneiders' 3D would have been one down, but Niederman pressed onwards. Three rounds of clubs for a ruff, plus the HA and a trump trick meant -100. Friedman would surely make 2S, but he thought game was still possible. Wolf did well to pass 3C. Grossack led the DJ to the DA. Friedman knocked out the HA, and ruffed the DK. Caplin had passed in second seat with D-KQ and HA, and Grossack hadn't raised and led the DJ, all suggesting that West held the CAK and only two diamonds, so Friedman really should find the winning play of a trump towards dummy, which actually makes 4 for 130. But Russell played two hearts to sluff one diamond from dummy, and three spades to park the last. Alas, East ruffed, and returned a diamond. West overruffed South with the CK (dummy had to underruff) and played a fourth heart to score two more trump tricks. Down 1 for a push. Board 22 (EW vul, East deals):
. North S-QJ10 West H-K102 East S-542 D-KJ543 S-K873 H-J95 C-97 H-A7643 D-962 D-A108 C-K1062 South C-4 S-A96 H-Q8 D-Q7 C-AQJ853 South West North East Friedman Grossack Wolf Caplin - - - P 1NT P 3NT P P P Niederman Bernard Malaspina Frances - - - 1H 2C P 2NT P 3NT P P P
Grossack led a spade from three small and dummy's queen held. The club finesse lost, and Adam continued spades. Friedman drove clubs, and Adam spades, dooming 3NT, as East had three winners for 50. Friedman might make 3NT by going after diamonds when he sees the bad club split.
Frances led spades from the other side. Malaspina ducked to her hand and took a club finesse. Bernard ducked. Malaspina turned her attention to diamonds, and the defense was helpless. Frances couldn't keep her out of her hand to cash winning diamonds, and Malaspina actually made 460, losing only 2 aces. 11 imps to Niederman, now down 71-35. Board 23 (Both vul, South deals):
. North S-J1062 West H-1095 East S-K9873 D-QJ9 S-Q4 H-A3 C-J76 H-KQ86 D-AK10 D-87 C-A105 South C-KQ984 S-A5 H-J742 D-65432 C-32 South West North East Friedman Grossack Wolf Caplin P 1C P 2C P 2S P 3H P 3NT P P P Niederman Bernard Malaspina Frances P 1S P 2C P 2D P 2NT P 3C P 3NT P P P
I'm disappointed by these East-West auctions. Neither the big club and game-forcing natural 2C response, nor the two-over-one game forcing 2C over a natural 1S, led to this excellent and easy-to-make club slam. Both systems are well designed for this situation, yet they both fizzled. Push for 660. Board 24 (Neither vul, West deals):
. North S-KQ74 West H-KJ7 East S-A D-AK985 S-J1032 H-Q8632 C-J H-A109 D-1032 D-64 C-Q984 South C-A1072 S-9865 H-54 D-QJ7 C-K653 South West North East Friedman Grossack Wolf Caplin - P 1D P 1S P 4C P 4S P P P Niederman Bernard Malaspina Frances - P 1D P 1S Double 4S P P P
Both Souths dredged up a spade response, and both Norths drove to a low percentage game. Both Wests led hearts to the jack and ace, but there is no Santa Claus. Push at -50. Board 25 (EW vul, North deals):
. North S-QJ94 West H-AK84 East S-A1073 D-6 S-K2 H-J6 C-A1063 H-9753 D-Q5 D-A9742 C-KQJ95 South C-87 S-865 H-Q102 D-KJ1083 C-42 South West North East Friedman Grossack Wolf Caplin - - 1C P 1D 2C P 2H P P P Niederman Bernard Malaspina Frances - - 1C P 1D 2C Double P 2D P 2NT P 3D P P
The Niederman pairs had bidding misunderstandings at both tables. West's 2C would probably finish down one, but it's close. However Caplin, who thought he was asked to bid, wound up down 3, and Niederman, who expected a support double, wound up down 2. 9 imps to Wolf, who led 80-35. Board 26 (Both vul, East deals):
. North S-Q1075 West H-8 East S-KJ83 D-965 S-9642 H-J62 C-QJ1085 H-K9754 D-J72 D-AQ4 C-A32 South C-4 S-A H-AQ103 D-K1083 C-K976 South West North East Friedman Grossack Wolf Caplin - - - P 1NT P P P Niederman Bernard Malaspina Frances - - - P 1D P 1S P 2C P P P
Nobody knows how to bid the South cards, but Friedman and Niederman coped. West led trumps against 2C, but with every side suit onside, Niederman scrambled 9 tricks. The defense couldn't do much against 1NT either. On the run of the clubs, it scored 120 for a push. Board 27 (Neither vul, South deals):
. North S-KJ72 West H-93 East S-AQ3 D-Q2 S-1086 H-KJ82 C-AKJ52 H-A1065 D-K8 D-1094 C-10763 South C-Q94 S-954 H-Q74 D-AJ7653 C-8 South West North East Friedman Grossack Wolf Caplin P 1H 2C 3H P P P Niederman Bernard Malaspina Frances 2D Double 3D P P P
With the spades sitting as expected on the bidding, Niederman lost only two hearts, a spade and a diamond, for +110. Against Grossack's 3H, Wolf led the CK, eyed Friedman's upside down C8, and shifted to a dismal spade to the 6, 9 and queen. Grossack picked up trumps, led towards the CQ, and then towards the DK to make 140. 6 imps to Niederman. Score: 80-41. Board 28 (NS vul, West deals):
. North S-A5 West H-A53 East S-32 D-QJ97632 S-KQ976 H-J8764 C-J H-Q D-A5 D-K8 C-A987 South C-Q5432 S-J1084 H-K1092 D-104 C-K106 South West North East Friedman Grossack Wolf Caplin - P 1D 1S Double P 2D P P 2S 3D P P Niederman Bernard Malaspina Frances - P 1D 1S Double 2H 3D P P P
The half concluded with both Norths making 3D by winning the singleton HQ with the ace and playing trumps, and subsequently guessing clubs right. The defenses could get two diamonds, a club, and either a spade trick or a heart ruff, but not both. If East-West somehow got together in clubs, a good guess in trumps would make 4. Anyway, push at 110, and Niederman had subtracted 20 imps from their deficit during the second quarter, leaving Wolf ahead by 39 imps with 28 boards to play after the sandwich break.
I used my second set of boards numbered 1-28 for the second half, but I'll 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. The players switched opponents again, so they were back to the seats they chose in Q1. Board 29 (Neither vul, North deals):
. North S-653 West H-AK9 East S-1087 D-KQ86 S-J4 H-Q1087432 C-A105 H-J5 D-932 D-J7 C- South C-KQJ8742 S-AKQ92 H-6 D-A1054 C-963 South West North East Friedman Niederman Wolf Malaspina - - 1NT 3C 3H P 3S P 3NT P 4S P P P Grossack Bernard Caplin Frances - - 1NT P 2H Double 2S P 3D P 3H P 4D P 5C Double 5H Double 6D P 6S P P P
Both Souths started with transfers to spades, but parted ways thereafter. With 3-2 splits in both spades and diamonds, there's no stopping 12 tricks in 6D, 6S, or 6NT. In fact, South can even make 7D. 980 vs. 480 meant 11 imps to Niederman, making the score 80-52. Board 30 (NS vul, East deals):
. North S-107 West H-K4 East S-8543 D-KJ84 S-A96 H-QJ C-AJ987 H-109862 D-97 D-AQ63 C-KQ542 South C-6 S-KQJ2 H-A753 D-1052 C-103 South West North East Friedman Niederman Wolf Malaspina - - - P P P P Grossack Bernard Caplin Frances - - - P P 3C Double P P P
Wolf threw in a deal that was his for a partscore. Bernard chose a bad time for an offbeat 3C preempt, because Grossack-Caplin were playing Fishbein - double for penalties with 3D for takeout. Bernard scrambled 5 tricks with a diamond finesse and diamond ruffs, but -800 lost 13 imps, and the score narrowed to 80-65. Board 31 (EW vul, South deals):
. North S-K10873 West H-Q65 East S-962 D-AK S-AJ5 H-A94 C-1042 H-K1032 D-J532 D-1094 C-A53 South C-KQ8 S-Q4 H-J87 D-Q876 C-J976 South West North East Friedman Niederman Wolf Malaspina P P 1S Double P 2D P P Grossack Bernard Caplin Frances P P 1S P P P
Frances led a heart against 1S. The defense didn't cash its clubs, so she was in a pickle when Caplin unblocked diamonds and led towards the SQ. If she ducked, a club loser would go on the DQ, but if she rose, she'd lose a trump trick. -80. The play in Niederman's 2D went: C to CK, D10 to DA, C to CA, D to DK, C to CQ, D to DQ, Thirteener C, winning the trick as Niederman pitched a spade from hand and a heart from the table. Friedman switched to his SQ, but that wasn't good enough, as Derrick won dummy's ace, crossed to his HA, drew the last trump, and led towards the SJ for +90. When South's last club held, only a trump exit and best defense thereafter will beat 2D. 5 more imps to Niederman, to trail 80-70. Board 32 (Both vul, West deals):
. North S-K84 West H-KQJ10 East S-Q2 D-8 S-A103 H-A754 C-Q8764 H-862 D-Q10954 D-632 C-102 South C-AKJ5 S-J9765 H-93 D-AKJ7 C-93 South West North East Friedman Niederman Wolf Malaspina - P P 1C P 1H P P 1NT P 2S P P P Grossack Bernard Caplin Frances - P P 1C P 1H P P Double P 1NT P P 2D P 2H P P P
Friedman's 1NT showed 5 spades and 4 diamonds. Wolf played East for the S10, and so lost two clubs, two spades, and a heart for +110. I can't find any way to beat him. Bernard's 2H looks to be in trouble, but he ducked the first heart, won the second, took a club finesse, and played diamonds from the table. With spades frozen, all the defense got was 3 trumps and 2 diamonds for another 110. I can't find a way to beat this either. 5 imps to Wolf, 85-70. Board 33 (NS vul, North deals):
. North S-J853 West H-KJ106 East S-74 D-AQ4 S-Q109 H-7543 C-Q3 H-Q98 D-KJ82 D-1096 C-K94 South C-J862 S-AK62 H-A2 D-753 C-A1075 South West North East Friedman Niederman Wolf Malaspina - - 1D P 1S P 2S P 4S P P P Grossack Bernard Caplin Frances - - 1H P 1S P 2S P 3C P 3D P 3H P 4H P 4NT P 5D P 6S P P P
These North-South cards just don't reach for slam. Grossack needed the SQ to drop and lotsa luck in the reds, but as I already pointed out, Santa Claus is mythical. 650 and 200 meant 13 imps to Wolf, now up 98-70. Board 34 (EW vul, East deals):
. North S-10875 West H-10932 East S-AJ64 D-10 S-2 H-KJ654 C-AQJ2 H-87 D-K53 D-QJ8764 C-3 South C-K954 S-KQ93 H-AQ D-A92 C-10876 South West North East Friedman Niederman Wolf Malaspina - - - P 1NT 2D P 2H P P P Grossack Bernard Caplin Frances - - - P 1S 2H 3H P 4S P P P
4S isn't a bad gamble, even knowing the HK is wrong. All you need is the club finesse or maybe luck in trumps. Alas, on the singleton club lead, Grossack had to try for his contract and thus went down 2, -100. Niederman's 2D showed majors. Had Malaspina passed it, Niederman would probably make 4 to win an imp. Her 2H contract, however, suffered from inadequate trumps, and Malaspina wound up down 1, -100, after numerous ruffs by both sides. 5 imps to Wolf, 103-70. Board 35 (Both vul, South deals):
. North S-3 West H-AKQJ9874 East S-54 D-Q86 S-AKJ987 H-2 C-K H-53 D-J109 D-A752 C-QJ98754 South C-A S-Q1062 H-106 D-K43 C-10632 South West North East Friedman Niederman Wolf Malaspina P P 4H 4S P P P Grossack Bernard Caplin Frances P 3C 4H Double P P P
Against 4S, Friedman led a heart to Wolf for a trump back. Malaspina won, ruffed her heart, and tried the DJ. In due course, she lost 2 spades and 2 diamonds for down 2. Had she thought to cash her CA before ruffing the heart, the contract would have been interesting, as she could pitch two diamonds on the CQJ, ruff the fourth club, and exit with DA, D. But South can duck to North's DQ, overruff the third heart, and exit in diamonds to avoid being endplayed in trumps. Still, that would be down 1, and if South took his DK on the second round, it would be fatal.
Defeating 4Hx is easiest when looking at the hand record. You must cash both your black winners, exit with a trump, hold three diamonds as long as North retains a trump, and then duck if declarer leads a diamond towards dummy. If you don't cash both black winners, you get endplayed with either of them after trumps are drawn. Frances did cash SK and CA, but she couldn't read the spade spots and tried to cash her SA, and so -790 meant 11 imps to Niederman, and 103-81.
Board 36 (Neither vul, West deals):
. North S-A82 West H-KQ1097 East S-Q1093 D-853 S-K765 H-A642 C-65 H-85 D-42 D-AKJ97 C-Q87 South C-K3 S-J4 H-J3 D-Q106 C-AJ10942 South West North East Friedman Niederman Wolf Malaspina - P P 1D P 1H P 1S 2C 2S P P P Grossack Bernard Caplin Frances - P P 1D 3C P P P
Grossack's 3C went down 2 after three rounds of diamonds ruffed by West for a spade switch. Malaspina in 2S ducked the HJ, H to HA, S to SK, S to SJ, SQ, and SA. She ruffed the heart return, but had no further entries to her hand except in diamonds, so she couldn't ruff out diamonds and run them, and so was held to 140. An imp to Niederman, 103-82. Board 37 (EW vul, North deals):
. North S-AK West H-QJ109 East S-763 D-7 S-QJ1095 H-A863 C-KJ9642 H-K5 D-AJ103 D-KQ64 C-A10 South C-75 S-842 H-742 D-9852 C-Q83 South West North East Friedman Niederman Wolf Malaspina - - 1C 1S P 2C 3C 3D P 4S P P P Grossack Bernard Caplin Frances - - 2C P P Double P 4S P P P
At the favorable vul, North-South do best to save over the cold 4S, but nobody did. Push at 620. Board 38 (Both vul, East deals):
. North S-K872 West H-Q108 East S-A54 D-A10542 S-QJ H-AKJ952 C-5 H-743 D-963 D-J C-A South C-KJ97632 S-10963 H-6 D-KQ87 C-Q1084 South West North East Friedman Niederman Wolf Malaspina - - - P P 1H P 2H P 4H P P P P Grossack Bernard Caplin Frances - - - 3C P P P
Wolf led a spade, giving Niederman an overtrick in his cold 4H. Frances's preempt left Bernard speechless, and she didn't even make 3C after trumping the second diamond. She could have, via CA, spade from dummy, to lose only a diamond, a spade and two trumps, although that would only reduce a 13 imp loss to 11. Wolf now led by only 8 imps, 103-95. Board 39 (Neither vul, South deals):
. North S-AQ852 West H-943 East S-K10 D-K75 S-J9 H-102 C-107 H-AQJ87 D-86432 D-J9 C-KJ54 South C-AQ93 S-7643 H-K65 D-AQ10 C-862 South West North East Friedman Niederman Wolf Malaspina P P 2S 3H 3S P P P Grossack Bernard Caplin Frances P P P 1H P 1NT P 2C P P P
With everything lying pretty as can be, Wolf's 3S is cold. So is the Schneiders' contract of 2C. They even scored an overtrick on misdefense. 110 and 140 gave 6 imps to Wolf, making the score 109-85. Board 40 (NS vul, West deals):
. North S-9 West H-AQ9654 East S-1076 D-A43 S-AQ54 H-32 C-Q72 H-8 D-Q1075 D-KJ2 C-10984 South C-AKJ63 S-KJ832 H-KJ107 D-986 C-5 South West North East Friedman Niederman Wolf Malaspina - P 1H Double 4H P P Double P P P Grossack Bernard Caplin Frances - P 1H Double 2H P P Double Redouble 2NT P 3C P P 3H P 4H P P P
Oddly enough, it was Frances, embroiled in a far murkier auction, who declined to increase the stakes at 4H. Right she was. Both Easts cashed a top club, saw dummy, and failed to find the killing diamond switch. The declarers set up spades for two pitches. 990 vs. 650, 8 imps to Wolf, who led 117-85. Board 41 (Both vul, North deals):
. North S-Q10854 West H-K73 East S-AK93 D-94 S-J7 H-82 C-654 H-J10654 D-Q5 D-KJ8 C-Q10987 South C-AK3 S-62 H-AQ9 D-A107632 C-J2 South West North East Friedman Niederman Wolf Malaspina - - P 1H P 1S P 1NT 2D P P P Grossack Bernard Caplin Frances - - P 1H P 2C P 2H P 2NT P 3NT P P P
The Schneiders' 3NT was cold. They knocked out the DA and had nine tricks. Niederman surely didn't bid enough. The defense scored 2 spades, 2 clubs, and 2 diamonds to defeat Friedman, but 100 loses 11 to 600. Wolf led 128-95. Board 42 (Neither vul, East deals):
. North S-106 West H-Q9875 East S-Q D-J6 S-K932 H-432 C-A542 H-J D-K9853 D-Q102 C-K986 South C-QJ1073 S-AJ8754 H-AK106 D-A74 C- South West North East Friedman Niederman Wolf Malaspina - - - P 1S P 1NT P 3H P 4H P P P Grossack Bernard Caplin Frances - - - P 1C 1D 1H 3D 4D P 4H P 6H P P P
The third quarter ended with a bang. Frances could have defeated 6H by leading a diamond, but Grossack sounded ready for that, so she tried a club. Caplin ruffed in dummy, cashed the HA dropping the HJ, cashed the SA dropping the SQ, and played a spade. There was no defense. Bernard in fact ruffed to play a diamond, but Caplin could win DA, S ruff, HK, S ruff, C ruff, S pitching D, S, D ruff, CA. He scored 7 trumps, 3 spades, and the minor aces for 980. Nor is it any good for Bernard not to ruff the second spade - Caplin still makes his slam.
Niederman led a low diamond against 4H. Friedman won his ace and played HA dropping the HJ, H to dummy, and ran the S10 to SQ. Niederman cashed DK and played a club. Friedman won dummy's ace pitching his last diamond, and led dummy's spade. When East followed, he could finesse and claim, no matter whether it won, lost or got ruffed. Inexplicably, however, he put up his ace! Niederman ruffed and played a club, tapping poor Friedman, whose crossruff now came up a trick short - he lost dummy's last club in the end for -50, 14 imps to Niederman, who thus trailed 128-109 at the three-quarter turn.
The players all elected to retain their seats for the last set. Board 43 (NS vul, South deals):
. North S-J107 West H-J832 East S-A843 D-Q97654 S-KQ92 H-A10 C- H-KQ4 D-AJ D-832 C-AK1052 South C-Q76 S-65 H-9765 D-K10 C-J9843 South West North East Friedman Niederman Wolf Malaspina P 2NT P 3C P 3D P 3H P 4S P 4NT P 5D P 5S P 6S P P P Grossack Bernard Caplin Frances P 2NT P 4C P 4D P 6NT P P P
Grand slams are system testpieces, such as this delicate layout, on which the only grand that makes against best defense is 7S by West. Unaware of partnership nuances, I'm unwilling to critique these auctions in detail. Should Niederman, for example, after showing a good 20 points, 4 spades (to puppet Stayman), and 4 aces (to 3014 Blackwood), bid 6C over Malaspina's 5S? And if he did, might she consider bidding a grand, holding the club, rather than the diamond, queen? And should Frances tell Bernard more about her hand after she hears a four ace response? All I know is that Niederman won an imp for 1460 vs. 1440, when 13 were available to anybody with the right tools in the shed. Wolf led 128-110. Board 44 (EW vul, West deals):
. North S-85 West H-KJ873 East S-J9 D-A63 S-AQ106 H-Q42 C-853 H-A9 D-852 D-QJ104 C-AKJ92 South C-1076 S-K7432 H-1065 D-K97 C-Q4 South West North East Friedman Niederman Wolf Malaspina - P P 1D 1S 2C P 2NT P P P Grossack Bernard Caplin Frances - P P 1D P 2C P 2NT P 3NT P P P
Grossack led a spade against 3NT. Frances picked up clubs, drove out the SK, and had nine tricks. Friedman led a killing heart against Malaspina's 2NT. After picking up clubs, she tried a forlorn spade finesse, going down two instead of one. 13 imps to Wolf, who led 141-110. Board 45 (Neither vul, North deals):
. North S-7 West H-KJ643 East S-A942 D-A1053 S-KQJ106 H-10 C-543 H-982 D-Q876 D-942 C-A1098 South C-K2 S-853 H-AQ75 D-KJ C-QJ76 South West North East Friedman Niederman Wolf Malaspina - - P P 1C P 1H 1S 2H 2S 4H P P 4S Double P P P Grossack Bernard Caplin Frances - - P 2S Double Redouble 3H P P 4S P P P
East-West's 4S (and similarly North-South's 4H) should be defeated by careful defense, as Friedman demonstrated by just leading trumps at every opportunity. Grossack led his HA. Caplin-Grossack play suit-preference when dummy has a singleton. Caplin tried the H6, but Grossack didn't read it, and switched to clubs. 11 more imps to Wolf, up 152-110. Board 46 (NS vul, East deals):
. North S-AJ1096 West H-J1053 East S-875 D-1042 S-K2 H-KQ94 C-K H-8762 D-J986 D-K7 C-76 South C-AQ1043 S-Q43 H-A D-AQ53 C-J9852 South West North East Friedman Niederman Wolf Malaspina - - - 1C P 1H 1S 2H 3H Double 3S P P P Grossack Bernard Caplin Frances - - - 1C P 1H P 2H P P 2S P 4S P P P
I can't find a defense that beats 4S by North, and neither could either pair of defenders. 620 vs. 170 meant 10 imps to Niederman, down 152-120. Board 47 (EW vul, South deals):
. North S-A43 West H-AK8 East S-K95 D-K73 S-Q1062 H-Q9642 C-Q632 H-J7 D-J8 D-AQ652 C-1084 South C-K7 S-J87 H-1053 D-1094 C-AJ95 South West North East Friedman Niederman Wolf Malaspina Grossack Bernard Caplin Frances P P 1NT P P P
Both Easts led a diamond to declarer's DK. Both declarers picked up clubs and ran the suit. Caplin made 2, Wolf 3 on misdefense. An imp to Wolf, 153-120. Board 48 (Both vul, West deals):
. North S-KJ53 West H-92 East S-A84 D-AK743 S-Q96 H-Q3 C-KQ H-AJ75 D-J9862 D-Q C-953 South C-J8742 S-1072 H-K10864 D-105 C-A106 South West North East Friedman Niederman Wolf Malaspina - P 1D P 1H P 1S P 1NT P 2NT P P P Grossack Bernard Caplin Frances - P 1NT P 2D P 2H P P P
Niederman-Malaspina kept playing monotonous clubs against Friedman's 2NT. Nothing worked for him, and he wound up down 2, -200. In 2H, Caplin lost two spades and 3 hearts for 110, 7 imps to Niederman, 153-127. Board 49 (NS vul, North deals):
. North S-KJ985 West H-93 East S-1063 D-65 S-Q H-AJ654 C-QJ104 H-102 D-1094 D-AKJ32 C-K3 South C-A8752 S-A742 H-KQ87 D-Q87 C-96 South West North East Friedman Niederman Wolf Malaspina Grossack Bernard Caplin Frances - - P 1D P 1H P 2C P 2D P P P
Malaspina made 3, Frances 4, an imp to Wolf, 154-127. Board 50 (EW vul, East deals):
. North S-K954 West H-K982 East S-QJ1087 D-Q2 S-A6 H-AQ3 C-KJ7 H-J74 D-9873 D-AJ105 C-10 South C-AQ95 S-32 H-1065 D-K64 C-86432 South West North East Friedman Niederman Wolf Malaspina - - - 1NT P 2H P 2S P 2NT P 3NT P P P Grossack Bernard Caplin Frances - - - 1NT P 4H P 4S P P P
Friedman led a club against 3NT. Malaspina knocked out the SK, and soon chalked up 630. In 4S, Frances ducked Grossack's heart lead to the king, and Caplin switched to a killing DQ. If Frances ducked, the next diamond would destroy the entries to finesse clubs and set up the C9 by ruffing. When instead she won her DA, she couldn't avoid losing the SK, DK, and a ruff. Double-dummy, she could make 4S by rising the HA at trick 1, taking a club finesse, and driving spades, but I think you'd have to peek to foresee Caplin's devastating shift and play the hand in such a desparate manner. Anyway, down 1, -100, 12 imps to Niederman, 154-139. Board 51 (Both vul, South deals):
. North S-KQ52 West H-A3 East S-986 D-A92 S-J H-K1084 C-Q863 H-Q972 D-K10 D-Q6543 C-K1094 South C-J52 S-A10743 H-J65 D-J87 C-A7 South West North East Friedman Niederman Wolf Malaspina P P 1NT P 2H P 3S P 4S P P P Grossack Bernard Caplin Frances P P 1NT P 2H P 2S P 3NT P 4S P P P
Both Easts led hearts. The declarers drew trumps and set up the CQ for a diamond pitch. A diamond lead works no better, because they're blocked. Push for 620. Board 52 (Neither vul, West deals):
. North S-AK West H-108732 East S-87532 D-J63 S-QJ109 H-K6 C-Q108 H-54 D-A8742 D-K1095 C-2 South C-AJ3 S-64 H-AQJ9 D-Q C-K97654 South West North East Friedman Niederman Wolf Malaspina - P P 1D 2C Double 2D 2S 3H 4S P P P Grossack Bernard Caplin Frances - P P P 2C 2S 3H 3S 4H P P P
Friedman led his singleton DQ, so 4S was quickly down one. Frances led the SQ. Caplin took the heart finesse, lost to the king, and also lost two aces and a ruff, down 1. He can make 4H double-dummy by playing trumps from the top and guessing clubs, but I can't see any reason why he should. A pair of 50's meant 3 imps to Wolf, 157-139. Board 53 (EW vul, North deals):
. North S-A653 West H-9843 East S-94 D-2 S-J72 H-J1065 C-QJ54 H-A7 D-J1098 D-A63 C-A32 South C-109876 S-KQ108 H-KQ2 D-KQ754 C-K South West North East Friedman Niederman Wolf Malaspina - - P P 1D P 1H P 2NT P 3S P 4H P P P Grossack Bernard Caplin Frances - - P P 1D P 1H P 1S P P P
Our North-South pairs didn't shine here. Perhaps fatigue was becoming a factor. Caplin thought Grossack couldn't be strong enough to make game a decent bet, since Adam hadn't opened a strong club. Adam lost only three aces. Friedman thought Wolf had shown longer hearts than spades, and veered into the wrong game. Down 2, -200, 7 imps to Niederman, 157-146 with 3 boards to play. Board 54 (Both vul, East deals):
. North S-Q42 West H-AJ5 East S-K1097 D-J876 S-J63 H-K943 C-AQ10 H-10876 D-AK4 D-Q1052 C-KJ South C-86 S-A85 H-Q2 D-93 C-975432 South West North East Friedman Niederman Wolf Malaspina - - - P P 1NT P P Double P P Redouble P 2H P P P Grossack Bernard Caplin Frances - - - P P 1NT P P P
Caplin led the D6. Bernard somehow emerged with 7 tricks for 90. This contract could have been defeated in several different ways. Friedman's double indicated a one suiter in a minor or both majors. North converted although he had no idea what Russell had. Malaspina ran. North led diamonds, but Niederman had at least six losers, and ended down 1, 5 imps to Wolf, 162-146. Board 55 (Neither vul, South deals):
. North S-873 West H-Q10985 East S-Q4 D-K72 S-KJ6 H-AJ762 C-K4 H-3 D-QJ5 D-A8643 C-Q105 South C-9876 S-A10952 H-K4 D-109 C-AJ32 South West North East Friedman Niederman Wolf Malaspina 1S 2H P P Double P P P Grossack Bernard Caplin Frances 1S P 1NT P 2C P 2S P P P
Grossack lost 2 diamonds, a heart, and two trumps, for 110. Niederman lost a spade, 2 clubs, and 4 trump tricks, down 2, -300, 5 imps to Wolf, 167-146. Board 56 (NS vul, West deals):
. North S-K2 West H-Q86 East S-A10653 D-A95 S-Q8 H-973 C-J10943 H-542 D-Q842 D-10 C-8 South C-AKQ7652 S-J974 H-AKJ10 D-KJ763 C- South West North East Friedman Niederman Wolf Malaspina - P P 3C Double P P P Grossack Bernard Caplin Frances - P P 3C 3D P 3NT P P P
Malaspina took only 5 clubs and the SA, down 3, -500. You can't duplicate that result playing Fishbein, but Frances led an unfortunate CA, cutting defensive communications, and was caught in a trap. If she didn't take her clubs, declarer could set up diamonds. When she did take them, declarer could just lead towards the SK. An inspired opening lead of the SQ would beat this contract. A passive heart isn't good enough double-dummy, because declarer can win his HQ and play CJ to put you back in the same trap. 600 meant 3 imps to Niederman, making our final score 167-149 in favor of Wolf.
The team of Allan Wolf, Russell Friedman, and Bernard and Frances Schneider can be very proud of their performance. They made lots of good bids and plays, and deserved to win. We wish them victories in Las Vegas. I think the losing Niederman team can hold their heads up also. They had their chances, and had triumphs among their tragedies. I'd also like to thank those players who commented on the first draft and helped fix my many annoying errata. Any errors that remain are mine.