The Buzz for March 2012
The bulk of this month's Buzz will be a report of the district GNT final for Flight A, but since this is the first news column of 2012, I'd like to introduce the four district officers for the year .
Left to right in the pcture are Vice President Mark Aquino, President Ausra Geaski, Treasurer Rich DeMartino, and Secretary Carolyn Weiser. You'll see them at our regionals. Between sessions, they are often locked up in meetings, deciding on future district plans.
The match to determine District 25's Flight A team for the 2012 summer nationals in Philadelphia was held March 3, 2012 at the Bridge Spot in Woburn MA. If you haven't played at the Bridge Spot, plan to do so. It's an excellent venue.
Back in February at Sturbridge MA, a qualifying Swiss was held for Flight A (less than 5000 masterpoints), followed by knockout rounds. The survivors were Tsypkin
(from left to right in the picture, Anton Tsypkin, Walter Lee, Pam Miller, Jim Rasmussen) and DeGaetano
(from left to right, Natalie Bassil,Joe DeGaetano, Stephanie Hamilton-Diesel, Charlie Polay). The match was 28 boards with no carryover. All four pairs play five-card majors, 15-17 notrumps, and primarily natural methods, with a lot of the currently popular gadget bids added on.
. Board 1 None vul North N deals ♠K106 ♥K53 West ♦AK4 East ♠J8753 ♣J983 ♠Q9 ♥J84 ♥10972 ♦J9 South ♦Q10853 ♣Q62 ♠A42 ♣AK ♥AQ6 ♦762 ♣10754 South West North East Rasmussen DeGaetano Miller Polay - - 1♣ 1♦ 1NT P P P Hamilton-Diesel Lee Bassil Tsypkin - - 1♣ 1♦ 2♣ P P Double P 2♠ P P P
Rasmussen elected to bid an anti-positional 1NT despite no diamond stopper. The play went well for him: ♦, ♣, ♦, ♣, ♦♦♦, but now the hearts squeezed DeGaetano in the blacks for 120. It wouldn't do Polay any good not to take his diamonds, since then Rasmussen would establish a club for his eighth trick.
I'd go with Hamilton-Diesel's 2♣ myself. It would have been interesting to see if Bassil found the available elimination endplay to make an overtrick. Tsypkin, however, made a hair-raising balancing double and abandoned Lee to his fate in a noxious 2♠ contact. The defense was kind - they just cashed their seven tricks for down two and 100. A tougher defense would beat 2♠ three for 150: cash two diamonds and three hearts, then play a third diamond. If declarer wins in dummy he has to break spades the wrong way, while if he ruffs and leads a spade to the nine, the defense cashes two spades and then a club locks declarer in dummy for a trump promotion. Down only two meant Tsypkin led, 1-0.
. Board 2 NS vul North E deals ♠QJ10953 ♥Q73 West ♦93 East ♠A ♣105 ♠K64 ♥942 ♥K8 ♦A54 South ♦10872 ♣KQ9832 ♠872 ♣A764 ♥AJ1065 ♦KQJ6 ♣J South West North East Rasmussen DeGaetano Miller Polay - - - P 1♥ 2♣ 2♥ 3♣ P P P Hamilton-Diesel Lee Bassil Tsypkin - - - P 1♥ 2♣ 2♥ 3♣ 3♥ P P 4♣ P P P
3NT by East, with the ♥K protected, is cold, but neither East bid 2NT over 2♥, and board two was pushed at 130. Double-dummy, North-South can take a vul-against-not save in 4♠ down one if they could ever find the suit, but 4♥ is no good, running into a spade ruff for -500. Assuming North-South wouln't take this strange sacrifice, 130 meant seven imps missed by our East-Wests. Still 1-0.
. Board 3 EW vul North S deals ♠103 ♥AK82 West ♦J653 East ♠AK6 ♣A42 ♠QJ987 ♥J63 ♥Q10954 ♦KQ10874 South ♦2 ♣J ♠542 ♣97 ♥7 ♦A9 ♣KQ108653 South West North East Rasmussen DeGaetano Miller Polay Hamilton-Diesel Lee Bassil Tsypkin 3♣ 3♦ 4♣ P P P
5♣ is cold North-South. If you're going to make heavy three-bids at favorable vul, as Rasmussen and Hamilton-Diesel did, then perhaps North's 4♣ should be invitational. However, both pairs play it obstructive, to make it difficult for East-West to find a major. Admittedly, the South hand is hard to handle in standard (a big clubber might open 2♣). Passing it goes nowhere, and opening 1♣ might lead North astray into 3NT, defeated by spades. Push for 150, six imps missed by the North-Souths, and Tsypkin still up 1-0.
. Board 4 Both vul North W deals ♠AKQ1064 ♥84 West ♦K4 East ♠93 ♣AQ3 ♠J72 ♥K32 ♥A975 ♦A9863 South ♦Q752 ♣642 ♠85 ♣K10 ♥QJ106 ♦J10 ♣J9875 South West North East Rasmussen DeGaetano Miller Polay - P 1♠ P 1NT P 3♣ P 3♦ P 3♠ P 4♠ P P P Hamilton-Diesel Lee Bassil Tsypkin - P 1♠ P 1NT P 4♠ P P P
Personally, I'd pass my partner's 1♠ opening with the South cards, but Rasmussen and Hamilton-Diesel kept the bidding open. Miller's 3♣ was artificial, 3♦ was waiting, and 3♠ was then forcing, offering Rasmussen a choice between 3NT and 4♠. Not relishing a diamond lead or playing the hand, Jim wisely chose the latter. Passing 3♠ would violate system, which Rasmussen doesn't, a stance I admire although the contract is poor.
Both Easts led trumps, and both Norths took three rounds. Bassil got out with a heart, which ran to the king. Lee returned a club to the queen and king. Some long thought followed, but Anton got it right - cash the ♥A and lead a diamond to the ace for down one.
After drawing trumps, Miller got out with ♣A, ♣Q to the king. Polay really should have cashed his ♥A, after which DeGaetano can't go wrong, but Joe had signalled for a diamond on the third spade, and Charlie led ♦2 to ♦A. Perhaps a higher diamond would have been better. DeGaetano had reason to suppose Miller didn't hold the ♥A, and that Polay couldn't have ♦KQ, but he continued diamonds and Miller claimed five for +650 and 13 imps to Tsypkin, now up 14-0. If I were on a "You be the judge" quiz, I'd give Polay more blame than DeGaetano for this bad defense, but judge for yourself.
. Board 5 NS vul North N deals ♠Q64 ♥109 West ♦Q8532 East ♠A2 ♣987 ♠J987 ♥QJ3 ♥AK76542 ♦KJ764 South ♦ ♣543 ♠K1053 ♣62 ♥8 ♦A109 ♣AKQJ10 South West North East Rasmussen DeGaetano Miller Polay - - P 3♥ Double 4♥ P P P Hamilton-Diesel Lee Bassil Tsypkin - - P 1♥ Double 2♣ P 4♥ P P P
Polay opened with another heavy preempt, Tsypkin with a one-bid. Lee's 2♣ was a constructive raise. 4♥ is cold. South's strongest defense is to shift to trumps after a club or two, but dummy has enough entries to ruff out the ♦A in three rounds, then ruff a spade in dummy and pitch the fourth on the ♦K. Push for 420.
. Board 6 EW vul North E deals ♠108764 ♥82 West ♦964 East ♠J92 ♣Q74 ♠KQ53 ♥K109643 ♥AQ5 ♦K75 South ♦Q10 ♣2 ♠A ♣AKJ9 ♥J7 ♦AJ832 ♣108653 South West North East Rasmussen DeGaetano Miller Polay Hamilton-Diesel Lee Bassil Tsypkin - - - 2NT P 4♦ P 4♥ P P P
Both East-Wests used Texas transfers to a normal, optimal 4♥. Both Souths led the ♠A. Neither then cashed the ♦A, so neither got it. Push for 680.
. Board 7 Both vul North S deals ♠1095 ♥A84 West ♦K1087 East ♠KQ82 ♣KQ7 ♠AJ63 ♥K95 ♥QJ1063 ♦A653 South ♦Q ♣95 ♠74 ♣A43 ♥72 ♦J942 ♣J10862 South West North East Rasmussen DeGaetano Miller Polay P 1♦ P 1♥ P 1♠ P 2♣ P 2♥ P 4♠ P P P Hamilton-Diesel Lee Bassil Tsypkin P 1♦ P 1♥ P 1♠ P 2♦ P 2♥ P 2♠ P 3♠ P 4♣ P 4♠ P P P
Both East-Wests used complex machinery on the way to a normal, optimal 4♠. Bassil led her ♣K and cashed the ♣Q when in with the ♥A, for 650. Miller led an in-theory-inferior trump. DeGaetano started well with ♠A, ♦A, ♦ ruff. Now ♥K (safe enough), and he might make six. But he foresaw dangers, real or imaginary, and drew trumps before knocking out the ♥A. The defense cashed two diamonds for 620, an imp to the Tsypkin team, who now led 15-0.
. Board 8 None vul North W deals ♠A543 ♥K1072 West ♦J6 East ♠QJ108 ♣KQ6 ♠ ♥Q9854 ♥AJ63 ♦7 South ♦AQ92 ♣1083 ♠K9762 ♣A9752 ♥ ♦K108543 ♣J4 South West North East Rasmussen DeGaetano Miller Polay Hamilton-Diesel Lee Bassil Tsypkin - P 1♣ P 1♠ P 2♠ Double 4♠ P P P
This normal 4♠ contract is doomed by the bad trump split, losing two aces and two trumps for pushing 50s. An enterprising double would have reaped 100 and a two-imp reward.
. Board 9 EW vul North N deals ♠986 ♥J6 West ♦A76532 East ♠102 ♣32 ♠AKQ753 ♥97 ♥54 ♦Q984 South ♦KJ ♣AKJ86 ♠J4 ♣974 ♥AKQ10832 ♦10 ♣Q105 South West North East Rasmussen DeGaetano Miller Polay - - P 1♠ 2♥ Double P 2♠ 3♥ 3♠ 4♥ P P Double P P P Hamilton-Diesel Lee Bassil Tsypkin - - P 1♠ 2♥ Double P 2♠ 3♥ 3♠ P 4♠ P P P
4♠ by East isn't as good as it looks. You're off three tricks, and the bidding suggests bad splits. Plus the diamonds are blocked. Suppose South led a top heart and shifted to clubs. You could win in dummy, hopefully draw trumps and try the ♦K. But South gets in and plays another club, and you need to find the ♣Q.
Still, you're vul at imps. Tsypkin boldly went game, but the defenders took a diamond ruff to nip him a trick for 100.
Polay wasn't bidding game, so was due to win six imps for 140. He refused to be dislodged from this position by Miller's jostling 4♥. DeGaetano doubled on general principles and led a top club to survey the dummy. A trump shift would lead to 300 and nine imps, but he played a spade. Polay pictured West with a promotable holding like ♥Qx, so played three rounds. Rasmussen gratefully ruffed high, led a club, and eventually ruffed the third club in dummy to escape for 100 and a five-imp loss. Still, the DeGaetano team was off the schneider, trailing 15-5.
. Board 10 Both vul North E deals ♠Q8 ♥AJ8432 West ♦10983 East ♠54 ♣2 ♠J109763 ♥76 ♥Q9 ♦KQ54 South ♦A7 ♣J10754 ♠AK2 ♣K98 ♥K105 ♦J62 ♣AQ63 South West North East Rasmussen DeGaetano Miller Polay Hamilton-Diesel Lee Bassil Tsypkin - - - P 1NT P 4♦ P 4♥ P P P
Both North-Souths used Texas transfers to a normal, optimal 4♥. The defense took three rounds of diamonds, but the declarers picked up trumps and claimed pushing 620s. There are those who would open a weak two as East, but none of our contestants, nor your reporter, is among them. The same contract would then be reached after a 2NT overcall and a transfer, and, after the spade lead, declarer should play ♠Q, ♥K, ♥A, with a club finesse in reserve if trumps don't split. When they do, he can try ruffing out the ♣K, and thus score an overtrick when it falls on the third round.
. Board 11 None vul North S deals ♠A ♥AQ974 West ♦10853 East ♠K854 ♣J62 ♠J632 ♥832 ♥65 ♦Q74 South ♦J62 ♣A53 ♠Q1097 ♣K974 ♥KJ10 ♦AK9 ♣Q108 South West North East Rasmussen DeGaetano Miller Polay 1NT P 2♦ P 2♥ P 3♦ P 4♥ P P P Hamilton-Diesel Lee Bassil Tsypkin 1NT P 2♦ P 2♥ P 3NT P 4♥ P P P
Both North-Souths used a Jacoby transfer to reach a normal, optimal 4♥. DeGaetano led the ♣A, Lee the ♦4, but it made no difference, as the declarers both lost two clubs and a slow diamond for pushing 420s.
. Board 12 NS vul North W deals ♠KJ108 ♥A96 West ♦AJ73 East ♠Q743 ♣AK ♠652 ♥K8 ♥QJ75 ♦Q2 South ♦1054 ♣Q9853 ♠A9 ♣J106 ♥10432 ♦K986 ♣742 South West North East Rasmussen DeGaetano Miller Polay Hamilton-Diesel Lee Bassil Tsypkin - P 2NT P 3♣ P 3♦ P 3♠ P 3NT P P P
Both North-Souths used puppet Stayman en route to a normal, optimal 3NT. Both Easts led the ♣J, as good as anything, and both declarers picked up diamonds and played on spades to make 630. Push.
. Board 13 Both vul North N deals ♠8743 ♥J104 West ♦52 East ♠Q5 ♣K943 ♠AJ106 ♥K87653 ♥Q ♦QJ South ♦A10874 ♣J87 ♠K92 ♣Q102 ♥A92 ♦K963 ♣A65 South West North East Rasmussen DeGaetano Miller Polay Hamilton-Diesel Lee Bassil Tsypkin - - P 1♦ P 1♥ P 1♠ P 2♥ P P P
This auction to a normal, suboptimal 2♥ partial, would occur at most tables in most systems. Both Norths found the best lead of the ♦5, ducked to South, who returned the suit. Both declarers played trumps. Rasmussen won the trump ace and returned a third ♦. Declarer ditched a spade as North ruffed. When Miller played a spade next however, DeGaetano rose dummy's ace, ruffed a spade to hand, and cashed the ♥K, thus holding the remaining losses to the ♥9 and two clubs, down one for 100.
At the other table, Hamilton-Diesel also won the trump ace and gave Bassil a ruff as Lee discarded a spade. Bassil found a better defense of a club to the ace, and Hamilton-Diesel returned a fourth diamond - Lee discarded a club, so North scored a second ruff with her last trump. She had only to cash the ♣K for down two, but now she returned a spade. Lee rose dummy's ace and played the fifth diamond, so South could either ruff and lose her trump trick, or discard and see Lee's last club go away. Push for down one.
Makes you wonder how automatic that 2♥ rebid by responder should be, with scattered values and a rotten suit. 2♦ by East is cold.
. Board 14 None vul North E deals ♠J10542 ♥3 West ♦KJ5 East ♠987 ♣Q653 ♠KQ3 ♥Q985 ♥AJ ♦94 South ♦AQ86 ♣A1082 ♠A6 ♣K974 ♥K107642 ♦10732 ♣J South West North East Rasmussen DeGaetano Miller Polay - - - 1♦ 1♥ P 1♠ Double P 2♣ P P P Hamilton-Diesel Lee Bassil Tsypkin - - - 2NT P 3♣ P 3♦ P 3NT P P P
In his safe 2♣ partial, DeGaetano won the heart lead with the ace, cashed ♣K, and led the ♥J to South's king. South returned a heart, ruffed and overruffed. Declarer crossed to his ♣A, finessed the ♦Q, ♦A, ♦ ruff, cashed his good heart to pitch a spade, lost a spade to the ace, and made four for 130.
At the other table, Tsypkin shaded a 2NT opening and got to a thin nonvulnerable game. He won the heart lead with his jack and led the ♣4 to the ace, ran the ♣8, led the ♣10 covered and won, cashed the ♣9 (South pitching hearts all the way), and exited with a diamond to the nine and jack. North put a low spade through to the king and ace (it would be double-dummy for Anton to play low on this trick), and South returned a spade. Now Tsypkin was at the crossroads. If North had the ♦K, he could make by winning his ♠Q, cashing the ♥A forcing a spade pitch from North, then exiting with a spade to endplay her. However, he decided to play South for the ♦K, so he ducked the spade, won the next, and when South discarded the ♥10, cashed the ♥A dropping the ♥K (South counts out to 2641), and played the ♦Q. This play would make the hand if South had the ♦K no matter who held the ♦10. Alas, Bassil won and cashed a spade before conceding the last trick. Down one, 50 points and 5 imps to DeGaetano, who trailed 15-10 after a low-scoring half.
They broke for lunch. There are several good eateries near the Bridge Spot. Both teams returned properly fortified and vowing to do better - one did.
. Board 15 NS vul North S deals ♠K84 ♥Q53 West ♦A1094 East ♠Q1093 ♣AQ10 ♠A5 ♥J1074 ♥862 ♦7 South ♦KQ62 ♣9652 ♠J762 ♣K743 ♥AK9 ♦J853 ♣J8 South West North East Rasmussen DeGaetano Miller Polay P P 1NT P 2♣ P 2♦ P 2♥ P 2NT P 3NT P P P Hamilton-Diesel Lee Bassil Tsypkin P P 1NT P 2♣ P 2♦ P 3NT P P P
I prefer a passive lead of the ♥8 with the East cards, but both Anton and Charlie led an aggressive ♦2. Bassil won in hand with the ♦9, revealing to Anton how bad his lead had been. She crossed in hearts and ran the ♣J. Anton won and, deciding he'd done enough damage, exited passively. Declarer eventually tried a spade to the king, but nothing worked and she scored only three hearts, two diamonds and two clubs, for down two, 200.
Miller won the first trick with dummy's ♦J. Polay ducked the ♣J smoothly, and Miller paused to consider. She had few winners, but had so far lost nothing. So, she came off dummy with a spade, and when Joe followed with a sleepy ♠3, stuck in the ♠8, forcing the ace. Polay was probably still going to beat the hand if he got out a heart. Double-dummy, Miller can make on an endplay, but wouldn't she repeat the club finesse and go down? However, Charlie decided to hope Joe had the ♦10 and returned the ♦6. Curtains! Miller repeated the club finesse trying for an overtrick, then settled for nine: a spade, three hearts, three diamonds, and two clubs, 600 and thirteen imps to Tsypkin, who led 28-10.
. Board 16 EW vul North W deals ♠863 ♥AKQJ102 West ♦J76 East ♠AJ10742 ♣4 ♠5 ♥5 ♥7643 ♦932 South ♦AQ54 ♣K92 ♠KQ9 ♣Q753 ♥98 ♦K108 ♣AJ1086 South West North East Rasmussen DeGaetano Miller Polay - 2♠ 3♥ P 3NT P P P Hamilton-Diesel Lee Bassil Tsypkin - 2♠ P P 2NT P 3NT P P P
Both Wests led the ♠J to South. Rasmussen crossed in hearts to lead a diamond. Polay rose the ♦A to put a club through to the jack and king. DeGaetano returned the ♣9 to the ♣10. On the run of the hearts, Polay couldn't discard effectively and Rasmussen made five for 460. At the other table, Tsypkin also rose the ♦A, but then gave the hand some thought. Hamilton-Diesel sped things up be claiming her nine tricks, but that meant two imps to Tsypkin, up 30-10.
. Board 17 None vul North N deals ♠AQJ7 ♥8753 West ♦A9 East ♠642 ♣KQ10 ♠K103 ♥106 ♥Q94 ♦KJ10753 South ♦862 ♣A3 ♠985 ♣6542 ♥AKJ2 ♦Q4 ♣J987 South West North East Rasmussen DeGaetano Miller Polay - - 1NT P 2♣ P 2♦ P 2♠ P 4♥ P P P Hamilton-Diesel Lee Bassil Tsypkin - - 1NT P 2♣ 2♦ 2♥ P 4♥ P P P
I like Walter Lee's lead-directing interjection of 2♦ here. I'm such a wretched opening leader myself, I want all the help I can get! The occasional number will be offset by getting the defense off to a good start on many deals. In reality, Miller got an unchallenging club lead. She won the second club, cashed ♥AK. and played clubs, so the diamond loser went away. Tsypkin led a diamond to the queen, king, and ace. Bassil crossed the ♥A and took a losing spade finesse. Tsypkin won but didn't continue diamonds - he returned a spade. Bassil won, led a heart to the king, and played more spades to pitch dummy's diamond. Push for 420. I think that if the defenders cashed their diamond trick, Bassil would get the trumps right anyway, but I still like Lee's bid.
. Board 18 NS vul North E deals ♠109842 ♥Q7 West ♦9865 East ♠65 ♣64 ♠QJ7 ♥AK864 ♥53 ♦Q1042 South ♦AJ ♣J9 ♠AK3 ♣AKQ1052 ♥J1092 ♦K73 ♣873 South West North East Rasmussen DeGaetano Miller Polay - - - 1♣ P 1♥ P 3♣ P 3♦ P 3NT P P P Hamilton-Diesel Lee Bassil Tsypkin - - - 1♣ Double 1♥ 1♠ 2NT P 3NT P P P
Both Souths led a top spade, got an encouraging signal, and played three rounds. Declarer ran the clubs, squeezing South in the reds for five. A heart shift at trick two would break it up, to save a trick. Push at 460.
. Board 19 EW vul North S deals ♠K108 ♥AK973 West ♦105 East ♠Q32 ♣1082 ♠765 ♥Q1054 ♥J86 ♦AK73 South ♦J8 ♣43 ♠AJ94 ♣KQ976 ♥2 ♦Q9642 ♣AJ5 South West North East Rasmussen DeGaetano Miller Polay 1♦ P 1♥ P 1♠ P 2♣ P 2♦ P 2♥ P 2NT P P P Hamilton-Diesel Lee Bassil Tsypkin 1♦ P 1♥ P 1♠ P 2NT P 3NT P P P
If I were South, this deal might be passed out.
It's hard to open that South hand and stop low enough on this misfit. Miller's 2♣ relayed to 2♦, and 2♥ was invitational but not forcing. Rasmussen, wishing he hadn't opened, ran to 2NT. But he got a club lead to the queen and ace, led a spade to the ten, and soon had eight lucky tricks - four spades, two clubs, and two hearts.
Bassil's 3NT needed even greater miracles, even though she received a helpful low club opening lead to her ♣8. Four spade tricks wouldn't be enough - she needed at least one diamond trick. She tried the ♦5 - ♦8, ♦9, ♦K. Lee accurately shifted to a heart. Bassil won the ace and continued ♦10 to ♦J-♦Q-♦A. Note that at this point, dummy has ♦642 and Lee ♦73. If Lee had played another heart, the contract would be doomed, but he couldn't see North or Easts hearts, so he misguessed, playing a club, and now Bassil had a shot at her contract - win dummy's ♣A, drive out the ♦7 to establish eight tricks, then guess the spades right for her ninth. However, she ducked the second club, giving Anton a chance to switch back to hearts. However, despite having no entries, Tsypkin cleared the clubs (Lee discarding a heart) and Bassil was still in business.
Unfortunately for her, Natalie had forgotten the spots and thought her only chance was that diamonds started 3-3. She called for a "low diamond", dummy played the ♦2, and Walter won the ♦3! Of course, he cashed the ♦7 for the setting trick before playing a heart. Bassil could cash out for down two, but she finessed Anton for the ♠Q trying for down one (I would too - the previous play suggested Tsypkin had some hope of getting in). So, Walter won the ♠Q and cashed a heart for down three, 150 and seven more imps to Tsypkin, up 37-10. This 3NT contract is not recommended by your reporter!
. Board 20 Both vul North W deals ♠65 ♥KJ852 West ♦Q1086 East ♠1042 ♣K6 ♠KJ98 ♥AQ6 ♥93 ♦754 South ♦K ♣J1085 ♠AQ73 ♣AQ9742 ♥1074 ♦AJ932 ♣3 South West North East Rasmussen DeGaetano Miller Polay - P P 1♣ Double 2♣ 3♥ 3♠ P 4♠ Double 5♣ P P P Hamilton-Diesel Lee Bassil Tsypkin - P P 1♣ 1♦ 2♣ 2♥ 3♣ 3♥ P P P
What a strange game bridge is! Game North-South on board 20 gets all the breaks - the ♥Q, ♠K, and ♦K are all onside, so 5♦ and 4♥ are cold. Meanwhile, 5♣ is unlucky. Rasmussen led a trump, which did Polay no harm, but after drawing two rounds, he lost both finesses in the majors for down two.. An opening heart lead might be worse for him - either he gives up on his contract by rising, or he finesses, in which case he could run into spade ruffs to go down four.
Against 3♥, Tsypkin led his singleton ♦K, but on the next trick, Lee didn't rise his heart ace and give him a ruff, so Bassil made five. Push for 200!
. Board 21 NS vul North N deals ♠AQ1075 ♥32 West ♦J4 East ♠KJ984 ♣Q762 ♠6 ♥K106 ♥A974 ♦3 South ♦AQ10965 ♣AJ93 ♠32 ♣54 ♥QJ85 ♦K872 ♣K108 South West North East Rasmussen DeGaetano Miller Polay - - P P P 1♠ P 1NT P 2♣ P 3♦ P P P Hamilton-Diesel Lee Bassil Tsypkin - - P 1♦ P 1♠ P 2♦ P 3♣ P 3♦ P 3NT P P P
Polay's 3♦ can be made double-dummy against any defense. Rasmussen led the Rusinow ♥J. Polay could make, for example, by winning in dummy and taking a diamond guess - it turns out not to matter which on this lie of the suit. (I think finessing the ♦Q is best percentage). Rasmussen could win and put a spade through, and Miller could win to play back a heart, but Polay could rise, draw trumps and claim, losing one trick in each suit.
However, Polay, who didn't know the diamond lie, judged correctly that the lead was from ♥QJ, and decided to try to lose no heart trick, at the cost of messing up his entries. So, he ran the jack to his ace and led a spade to the jack and queen. Miller returned a heart to dummy's ♥10. To make 3♦ legitimately, Polay would now have to play ♦A, ♦Q, smothering the ♦J, but of course he finessed. Rasmussen won his ♦K and gave Miller a ruff with the ♦J, but in doing so he led back the ♥Q, I'm not sure why. This had two unfortunate effects - it gave away the contract since Polay's ♥9 was now high, and it misled Miller. She decided to play Polay for something like xx Kxx AQ10xxxx x, and played the ♠A, planning to continue the suit for a trump promotion. Polay ruffed, drew trumps, and claimed four, for 130.
Tsypkin is adamant that the East cards consitute an opening bid - 6-4 shape, two and a half honor tricks all in the long suits, no rebid problems. Perhaps he's right, but once he opened, Lee's sketchy 3NT seems inevitable. However, the diamond suit lies favorably for declarer, and to beat 3NT, Bassil must lead a heart, the unbid suit - not impossible. Declarer would win the ♥K and lose a diamond, but now a spade through and a heart back puts him in a pickle. If he ducks, South wins and a second spade gives the defense five tricks. But if he rises, he has to mangle his hand with five discards on the diamonds, and there's no ending that escapes one down with best defense. North can also defeat 3NT on winning the spade at trick three by shifting to a low club to the king.
However, North's opening lead was the the ♠7, Lee won cheaply and finessed the ♦9, and now he had nine tricks. South held off a while, but couldn't read North's discarding, and switched to a low heart on winning the diamond giving a tenth trick, and the defenders mispitched on the diamonds, so Lee scored 460 to win seven imps and lead 44-10.
. Board 22 EW vul North E deals ♠J642 ♥K84 West ♦K73 East ♠7 ♣K75 ♠AKQ9853 ♥AQ53 ♥ ♦1062 South ♦J54 ♣AQ863 ♠10 ♣J104 ♥J109762 ♦AQ98 ♣92 South West North East Rasmussen DeGaetano Miller Polay - - - 1♠ P 2♣ P 2♠ P 3♥ P 4♠ P P P Hamilton-Diesel Lee Bassil Tsypkin - - - 3♠ P P P
Polay reached the normal pushy game, but it couldn't be made even though South led a heart. He lost a trump, two diamonds, and a club for 100. Rasmussen might have led a diamond on the auction for 200.
Talk about heavy three-bids - look at Tsypkin's! It is too much to ask of Hamilton-Diesel to start with the ♦A on this uninformative bidding, so Tsypkin made 140 for six more imps and a lead of 50-10.
. Board 23 Both vul North S deals ♠KQJ ♥10982 West ♦A62 East ♠1062 ♣AJ3 ♠974 ♥ ♥AJ7654 ♦109754 South ♦K8 ♣KQ975 ♠A853 ♣82 ♥KQ3 ♦QJ3 ♣1064 South West North East Rasmussen DeGaetano Miller Polay 1♣ P 1♥ P 1♠ P 2♦ P 2♥ P 3NT P P P Hamilton-Diesel Lee Bassil Tsypkin 1♣ P 1♥ P 1♠ P 3NT P P P
Tsypkin led a heart, and cleared hearts upon winning his ♦K, so Bassil ran for home with her nine tricks.
Polay led a spade, and switched to clubs on winning the ♦K, so Miller made four, to win an imp and lead 51-10.
. Board 24 None vul North W deals ♠AJ10 ♥AQ3 West ♦93 East ♠KQ ♣98753 ♠87652 ♥976 ♥J8 ♦AJ10876 South ♦K ♣AK ♠943 ♣J10642 ♥K10542 ♦Q542 ♣Q South West North East Rasmussen DeGaetano Miller Polay Hamilton-Diesel Lee Bassil Tsypkin - 1♦ P 1♠ P 3♦ P P P
East-West overbid to 3♦, but if they didn't, South can balance and make 2♥. The Norths led clubs. West won and played clubs, ruffed. When the defenders took out dummy's ♦K, a good club couped South out of his ♦Q, but there were still a spade and three hearts to lose. Push for 50.
. Board 25 EW vul North N deals ♠A10432 ♥Q5 West ♦K76 East ♠J875 ♣J72 ♠KQ6 ♥J1097 ♥A842 ♦AQJ104 South ♦ ♣ ♠9 ♣KQ10986 ♥K63 ♦98532 ♣A543 South West North East Rasmussen DeGaetano Miller Polay Hamilton-Diesel Lee Bassil Tsypkin - - P 1♣ P 1♦ P 1♥ P 4♥ P 5♥ P P P Hamilton-Diesel Lee Bassil Tsypkin - - P 1♣ P 1♥ 1♠ 3♦ P 4♥ P P P
Voids are peculiar values - they can be great, or not. This deal is a clear case of bad voids. In the DeGaetano-Polay auction, both players overvalued their shortnesses. A better plan is to SHOW your shortness, as Tsypkin did with his 3♦ splinter. Lee knew not to go slamming.
It was a little harder for DeGaetano, but in my view, 4♣ over 1♥ should still be a splinter raise even though it's opener's suit. Or perhaps 3♥ rather than 4♥ would have been more prudent, allowing Polay to make a slam try below game level and get his exciting-looking hand off his chest.
Both declarers suffered a spade ruff, but either minor-suit ruffing finesse then led to ten tricks. Unfortunately for Polay, he had contracted for eleven. Twelve more imps to Tsypkin, 63-10.
. Board 26 Both vul North E deals ♠K1073 ♥10843 West ♦32 East ♠962 ♣A64 ♠AJ854 ♥AK9 ♥Q65 ♦K987 South ♦AQ10 ♣Q109 ♠Q ♣53 ♥J72 ♦J654 ♣KJ872 South West North East Rasmussen DeGaetano Miller Polay Hamilton-Diesel Lee Bassil Tsypkin - - - 1♠ P 1NT P 2♦ P 4♠ P P P
Both defenses led clubs and cashed two of them. Now, how to play this trump combination for one loser? I maintain the best results are obtained by leading dummy's ♠9. You still might not hold the losses to one if North covers with the ♠10 to the ♠J and ♠Q. When you next lead the ♠6 from dummy and North plays the ♠3, you have to guess.
However, North can't see East's spades. Declarer could be just playing with your head, holding AQJ8x, not intending to run the nine at all. In that case, a cover blows a trump trick. It's even worse if declarer has AQ854 - a cover blows one trick for sure and probably two.
At the table, both declarers started with a low spade from dummy to the ♠8 and could no longer make. Push for down one. Leading low saves an undertrick if North has the singleton ♠10, ♠Q, or ♠K, but that's no way to think at imps. I'm convinced leading the nine is better. If you're North, you should be thinking about whether to cover that nine as soon as you anticipate it, and be ready when your moment comes, whatever you do.
. Board 27 None vul North S deals ♠A63 ♥A654 West ♦96 East ♠975 ♣9543 ♠J10842 ♥QJ9 ♥107 ♦AJ1085 South ♦KQ32 ♣QJ ♠KQ ♣76 ♥K832 ♦74 ♣AK1082 South West North East Rasmussen DeGaetano Miller Polay Hamilton-Diesel Lee Bassil Tsypkin 1NT P P P
Both Souths opened an offshape notrump, ending the auction. I'm not a fan, but I admit that if my partner opened 1♣ and raised my 1♥ response to 3♥, I'd bid 4♥ as North and probably go down by getting the clubs wrong on the restricted choice theory.
Lee led his ♥Q. Hamilton-Diesel ran her seven tricks and discovered she had ten. DeGaetano led the ♦8 to the ♦Q, Polay returned the ♦2 to the ♦J, and DeGaetano the ♦5 to the ♦K. Polay now shifted to clubs, and Rasmussen also ran seven tricks and scored ten. Push for 180.
. Board 28 NS vul North W deals ♠QJ65 ♥ West ♦873 East ♠842 ♣J109742 ♠K103 ♥J1075 ♥A984 ♦J South ♦A542 ♣AQ853 ♠A97 ♣K6 ♥KQ632 ♦KQ1096 ♣ South West North East Rasmussen DeGaetano Miller Polay Hamilton-Diesel Lee Bassil Tsypkin - P P 1♦ 1♥ 1NT P P P
I'm not so sure about our Wests' free 1NT response. A pass might have worked out better, as North-South would have difficulty finding a plus score.
The Norths both led the ♣J. The declarers tried hearts, but the Souths won and drove diamonds till the ace was dislodged. Lee just continued hearts for down one, losing four diamonds, two hearts, and a spade. DeGaetano took his clubs and tried a spade to the king for down two. 100 vs 50 meant 2 imps to Tsypkin, who won the match 65-10.
The Tsypkin team pitched a 50-0 shutout in the second half. There were no big penalties in this match, and no slams. There wasn't much difference in system, and the match featured an unusual number of identical auctions. Where the bidding differed, it was mostly in whether to bid marginal games, and both teams got similar lucky and unlucky results on those deals. The exception was board 25, but by then DeGaetano-Polay were pressing.
The real difference in this match was in the play, and particularly the defense. The DeGaetano team had far more defensive lapses. I hope readers did not find the match boring because of the runaway score on the second half or the tameness of the deals. For those of us who find bread-and-butter defensive positions interesting, the Tsypkin team put on a good show of steadiness all around.
I think the Tsypkin team will have good chances in Philadelphia and wish them good luck, and I thank all the players for letting me watch. I also want to thank those players on both teams who reviewed my first draft and corrected many errors by me. Any that remain are my fault.