The Buzz for May 2012
This month's Buzz is a detailed account of the district 25 GNT final match in the Championhip Flight (unlimited masterpoints), held May 6, 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 round-robin of nine board matches was held for our district's top flight, with four teams qualifying by victory points for 64-board semifinal matches. The semifinal winners were five-handed Panagopoulos
(left to right, Bob Woodard, Dean Panagopoulos, Steve Gladyszak, Melody Bi, and Richard Freedman) and (sorry - no picture) four-handed Binder (Rick Binder, Bill Braucher, Kevin O'Donnell, and Alan Watson). The Panagopoulos team started the 64-board final with a 12-imp carryover from the round-robin match.
For the Binder team, Kevin and Alan play their style of natural bidding, Bill and Rick their homegrown strong club. The Panagopoulos team lines up several ways. Melody playes standard with either Steve or Richard, while Dean plays Kaplan-Sheinwold with Richard, or Polish Club with Bob.
I've competed in the top flight finals before, and I've reported finals before, but this is the first time I've done both. All memoirs are self-serving even when they try not to be, dating back to Caeser's Gallic Wars (even though the Romans were an A team playing in a B flight). So I hope readers will forgive any subdued reporting of my many errors.
. Board 1 None vul North N deals ♠K3 ♥Q1083 West ♦J765 East ♠J872 ♣K85 ♠AQ ♥AK96 ♥J752 ♦AK3 South ♦102 ♣J6 ♠109654 ♣A10432 ♥4 ♦Q984 ♣Q97 South West North East Richard Kevin Melody Alan Rick Bob Bill Dean - - P P P 1NT P 2♣ P 2♥ P 4♥ P P P
1NT is 15-17 in Polish, so both East-Wests reached the normal 4♥ via Stayman. Both Norths led diamonds. Double-dummy, declarer can make five by ducking a club and playing cleverly thereafter (watch out - you can't set up and run clubs, as the third round of diamonds taps dummy). In practice, both Kevin and Bob made 420. This first-deal push preserved Panagopoulos' 12-0 lead. We weren't using guide cards, and apparently this board was played with Melody North. She was South the rest of the quarter.
. Board 2 NS vul North E deals ♠K953 ♥AK3 West ♦J743 East ♠862 ♣KQ ♠QJ10 ♥QJ7 ♥9852 ♦52 South ♦KQ ♣A8742 ♠A74 ♣J963 ♥1064 ♦A10986 ♣105 South West North East Melody Alan Richard Kevin - - - P P P 1NT P 2♣ P 2♠ P 2NT P 3NT P P P Rick Bob Bill Dean - - - P P P 1♣ P 1♠ P 1NT P 3NT P P P
Richard's 1NT was 15-17, and in their methods Melody had to go through Stayman to invite in notrump. My 1♣ was 16+, and we employ two artificial semi-positives: 1♥, about 6-7 points, forcing to 1NT or two of a suit, and here 1♠, about 8-9, forcing to 2NT or three of a suit. My 1NT was forcing, balanced, and unlimited, and Rick said he liked his dummy by jumping to 3NT.
Neither East found the killing club lead - they both led the ♠Q. The declarers won and played diamonds, relieved that they were making their contracts. Both Easts continued spades. I won and played a spade right back. Dean shifted to the ♥9, I won, and led the ♣K to Bob's ace for 630.
Richard ducked the second spade and the defense continued spades. He won, led a diamond to dummy, snuck a club through, and cashed all his winners, catching Alan in a heart-club squeeze for 660. An imp to Panagopoulos, who now led 13-0.
. Board 3 EW vul North S deals ♠K532 ♥J87 West ♦J75 East ♠6 ♣AJ6 ♠Q10987 ♥4 ♥K1053 ♦AK108 South ♦Q2 ♣K1075432 ♠AJ4 ♣Q8 ♥AQ962 ♦9643 ♣9 South West North East Melody Alan Richard Kevin 1♥ 2♣ 3♣ P 3♥ 4♣ P P Double P P P Rick Bob Bill Dean 1♥ 2♣ Double 3♣ P 5♣ P P P
Double-dummy, North-South make only eight tricks in hearts on a club lead, but in practice nine are more likely after the ♦K.
Bob's 5♣ was too high. Rick won my heart lead and played ♠A, ♠. Bob ruffed and led a club to the queen and a club. I won and played another heart. Bob eventually got the diamonds wrong as well, leading to his ten for down three.
At the other table, my guess is Melody thought Richard's pass was forcing after his cuebid. That's a bad agreement to have if you cuebid so light, as you don't want to double many partscores into game. Melody won the heart lead and returned the ♣9. Had Alan covered with the ten, Richard would surely play ♣A, club, and Alan could possibly make his contract by playing for the ♦J to drop or possibly running trumps to squeeze South out of a diamond. In fact, Alan let the club run to the queen, and ruffed a diamond for down one. Binder won 2 imps for 150 vs. 100, and now trailed 13-2.
. Board 4 Both vul North W deals ♠QJ102 ♥Q74 West ♦742 East ♠K874 ♣AJ8 ♠A3 ♥KJ986 ♥A102 ♦K8 South ♦A10953 ♣K9 ♠965 ♣753 ♥53 ♦QJ6 ♣Q10642 South West North East Melody Alan Richard Kevin - 1♥ P 2♦ P 2NT P 4♥ Rick Bob Bill Dean - 1♥ P 2♦ P 2♥ P 4♥ P P P
Alan's default rebid was 2NT, Bob's 2♥. Both Norths led the ♠Q. Bob ruffed two spades in dummy and led a club to his king, losing two clubs and the ♥Q for 620. Early in the play, Alan ran a heart to North's ♥Q and Richard tried a desperate underlead in clubs, hoping Melody had the king. Alan scored 680, 2 imps to Binder, now down 13-4.
. Board 5 NS vul North N deals ♠Q84 ♥763 West ♦QJ9 East ♠K92 ♣AJ93 ♠J65 ♥KJ42 ♥A98 ♦1043 South ♦8765 ♣K62 ♠A1073 ♣Q107 ♥Q105 ♦AK2 ♣854 South West North East Melody Alan Richard Kevin 1♦ P 1NT P P P Rick Bob Bill Dean 1NT P P P
Kevin led the ♠5 to Alan's king, so Richard had 7 tricks. Alan switched a club to Kevin's ten. Richard ducked the ♣Q continuation, risking his contract as the cards lie, but a third club meant 120.
Rick played from the other side, Bob led a heart, and the defense cashed four of those. Rick had no legitimate chance. Had he discarded clubs, a club shift would beat him. In fact he let go spades, and subsequently tried a club to the nine himself, going down one to lose six imps and trail 19-4.
. Board 6 EW vul North E deals ♠J64 ♥854 West ♦Q1043 East ♠Q10 ♣974 ♠A872 ♥Q932 ♥J106 ♦AJ52 South ♦K76 ♣AQ5 ♠K953 ♣K32 ♥AK7 ♦98 ♣J1086 South West North East Melody Alan Richard Kevin Rick Bob Bill Dean - - - P P 1NT P 2♣ P 2♥ P 3NT P P P
Both Norths led a diamond, so nine tricks were assured via heart establishment. Bob found an overtrick to win an imp for 630 vs. 600 and so Panagopoulos led 20-4.
. Board 7 Both vul North S deals ♠K5 ♥K82 West ♦K10863 East ♠QJ942 ♣843 ♠3 ♥J7 ♥AQ643 ♦52 South ♦AQ74 ♣Q1052 ♠A10876 ♣AK7 ♥1095 ♦J9 ♣J96 South West North East Melody Alan Richard Kevin P P P 1♥ P 1♠ P 3♦ P 3NT P P P Rick Bob Bill Dean P P P 1♣ P 1♦ P 1♥ P 1♠ P 2♥ P 2♠ P 2NT P 3NT P P P
Dean's 1♣ was Polish: either a weak notrump, a good hand with long clubs, or any big hand. 1♦ was negative, and 1♥ was ambiguous and not necessarily forcing. 2♥ showed five, thus a big hand. Fancy, but it rightsided the notrump, unless a spade lead would be damaging. Rick led the ♣9, Richard the ♦6, but both declarers knocked out the ♥K for 630.
. Board 8 None vul North W deals ♠J73 ♥K742 West ♦63 East ♠10862 ♣6532 ♠AKQ ♥J96 ♥A105 ♦A105 South ♦K974 ♣874 ♠954 ♣AQ9 ♥Q83 ♦QJ82 ♣KJ10 South West North East Melody Alan Richard Kevin - P P 2♣ P 2♦ P 2NT P 3♣ P 3♦ P 3NT P P P Rick Bob Bill Dean - P P 1♣ P 1♦ P 2NT P 3NT P P P
Neither the standard 2♣ nor the Polish 1♣ auction was revealing. Melody led a passive ♠9. There are ways to ten tricks from here, but Kevin didn't find them and settled for nine. Rick led the ♦2. Dean won cheaply in hand, cashed the spade tops, and led a diamond up, Rick splitting. Dummy's ♦A won, and Dean ditched the ♣9 on the thirteener spade, then ran the ♥9 to Rick's ♥Q. Endplayed in three suits, Rick tried a heart, but Dean took two of those plus the ♦K, then threw Rick in with the last diamond for 460, winning two imps to lead 22-4.
. Board 9 EW vul North N deals ♠J105 ♥43 West ♦103 East ♠AQ8 ♣K86532 ♠K9764 ♥QJ9 ♥A1062 ♦AJ9542 South ♦76 ♣4 ♠32 ♣Q9 ♥K875 ♦KQ8 ♣AJ107 South West North East Melody Alan Richard Kevin - - P P 1♣ 1♦ 3♣ Double P 4♣ P 4♠ P P P Rick Bob Bill Dean - - P P 1NT 2♦ P P P
Bob's 2♦ partial was boring. Our defense was two rounds of clubs. Bob ruffed, played ace and a trump, and eventually discarded hearts on spades for 130. A heart lead might have held him to three (but not double-dummy).
Deep Finesse defeats Kevin's exciting 4♠ - underlead the ♣A to North's king for a heart back. Not very realistic. Melody led a trump. Declarer won in dummy and led a club. Melody won and led another trump, won in dummy for a losing heart finesse. Melody won her ♥K and returned a heart, and declarer was doomed. If he drew trumps he'd lose a club and a diamond. When he tried a diamond instead, Melody won and gave Richard a heart ruff - down one to lose six more imps and trail 28-4.
Declarer can make 4♠ in several ways after the trump lead. My favorite is to win the ♠A in dummy and lead a low diamond. The defenders have to tap dummy or declarer will set up and run diamonds. However that dummy tap is a trick for declarer. He can then cash ♠Q, ♥A, ♠K, ♦A, and trump a diamond, then lead a heart up, losing just a trick in each side suit. A heart through before the dummy tap is no better for the defense.
As the cards lie, declarer could also have made it after the second defensive trump play by leading ♦J from dummy instead of trying that premature heart finesse. Melody wins, but has no third trump to play, so declarer has prepared the way back to his hand after ruffing a club. In fact, by Deep Finesse standards, Richard erred on the club play from dummy. If he rises ♣K to play a heart, the deal is back to the double-dummy way to defeat 4♠. This was one of several very interesting declarer play problems in this match.
. Board 10 Both vul North E deals ♠53 ♥1053 West ♦10987 East ♠AQ9842 ♣AJ93 ♠J ♥AJ74 ♥KQ6 ♦Q South ♦J432 ♣76 ♠K1076 ♣K8542 ♥982 ♦AK65 ♣Q10 South West North East Melody Alan Richard Kevin - - - P 1♦ 1♠ P 1NT P 2♥ P P P Rick Bob Bill Dean - - - P 1♦ 1♠ 2♦ Double P 3♥ P 4♥ P P P
4-3 fits are hard to play and hard to defend. Here the defense started with the ♦10 to the ♦K and a trump back. Bob won in dummy, ran the ♠J, led a trump to hand, ruffed a spade, ruffed a diamond, and drew trumps, but the spades didn't fall on his ace. He had no more trumps, so he couldn't establish spades. He eventually scored dummy's ♣K, but that was down two vs. the 140 made in the safe 2♥ at the other table, 200 and eight imps to Binder, who trailed 28-12.
Double-dummy, 4♥ was cold: at trick three, overtake the ♠J with the ♠Q, ruff a spade, overtake in trumps and draw them, keeping the thirteener, then play ♠A and a spade to South, who either has to set up dummy's ♦J or ♣K. A very tough hand for Bob to declare.
. Board 11 None vul North S deals ♠6543 ♥K52 West ♦K5 East ♠K ♣AQ83 ♠QJ1072 ♥10876 ♥A93 ♦AQ87643 South ♦92 ♣7 ♠A98 ♣J42 ♥QJ4 ♦J10 ♣K10965 South West North East Melody Alan Richard Kevin P P 1♣ 1♠ 2♠ 3♦ P P 4♣ P P P Rick Bob Bill Dean P P 1NT P 2♣ 3♦ P P Double P 3♠ P P P
I'm still kicking myself over board 11. The defenses didn't slip, so 4♣ was down one, 3♠ down 2. North-South can defeat 3♦ if they lead hearts before declarer can play spades, but any slip and declarer makes it - too close for doubling partscores at imps, at least for me. No, my regret is that I opened the North cards. We play 1NT as a good 12 to 15. I'm conservative, and North's is not a good twelve by my lights. Had I stayed in character and passed, our table would have thrown this deal in. But white pockets in third seat fatally tempted me. Mea culpa - two imps to Panagopoulos, who led 30-12.
. Board 12 NS vul North W deals ♠J1085 ♥109 West ♦J7 East ♠K7 ♣AQJ84 ♠432 ♥863 ♥752 ♦AQ10964 South ♦852 ♣73 ♠AQ96 ♣K952 ♥AKQJ4 ♦K3 ♣106 South West North East Melody Alan Richard Kevin - 2♦ P P Double P 3♠ P 4NT P 5♣ P 5♠ P P P Rick Bob Bill Dean - P P P 1♣ 1♦ 1♠ P 2♥ P 3♣ P 3♠ P 4♠ P P P
On board 12, with all cards offside, the only makeable game is 4♠ by South. If West leads a club, declarer rises and plays four rounds of hearts discarding both of dummy's diamonds. The fourth heart gets ruffed, but declarer will lose only the black kings thereafter on best play. No other defense works either.
That might happen if South gets to open 1♥ in fourth seat and North makes a negative double of a 2♦ overcall, but it was impossible to rightside 4♠ at either of the actual tables. At ours, the 1♠ response was artificial and systemic - strong semipositive, and the rest was natural. At the other table, Alan's weak 2♦ opening made Richard the doomed declarer. Melody surely overvalued the South cards by bursting into keycard - the ♦K turned out to be as worthless as the auction indicated. The matching diamond opening leads held North to nine tricks, down one for me, down two for Richard, three imps to Binder, who trailed 30-15.
. Board 13 Both vul North N deals ♠AJ3 ♥Q82 West ♦105 East ♠10985 ♣QJ1098 ♠KQ62 ♥J10743 ♥6 ♦QJ South ♦A72 ♣A4 ♠74 ♣K6532 ♥AK95 ♦K98643 ♣7 South West North East Melody Alan Richard Kevin - - P 1♣ 1♦ Double 1NT P 2♦ 2♥ P 2♠ P P P Rick Bob Bill Dean - - P 2♣ P 2♥ P P P
Vul at imps, you have to open East's 12 points, despite the poor spots. You have the necessary honor tricks, all well positioned in a nice 5431 shape. No problem if you have a natural 1♣ opening available, as Alan and Kevin demonstrated by scoring 110 in 2♠.
For we artificial clubbers, it's harder. Precision opens an amorphous diamond, and would survive here. Rick and I would try a 1♠ opening, also surviving. But the 2♣ opening is prescribed in Polish. West's 2♥ was nonforcing and went down 3 (we can beat it four double-dummy, and passing 2♣ isn't much better). 300 meant ten imps to Binder, who now trailed 30-25.
. Board 14 None vul North E deals ♠KJ985 ♥85 West ♦K5 East ♠Q42 ♣Q952 ♠A1073 ♥73 ♥K64 ♦J93 South ♦Q864 ♣AJ1084 ♠6 ♣K7 ♥AQJ1092 ♦A1072 ♣62 South West North East Melody Alan Richard Kevin - - - 1♦ 1♥ P 1♠ P 2♥ P P P Rick Bob Bill Dean - - - 1♦ 1♥ Double 1♠ 2♠ 3♥ P P P
Board 14 was pushed at 140. North can luckily make 3NT on only 20 combined high card points by guessing spades on this very friendly lie of cards, but it's too rich for my blood. I don't understand the Polish auction, as I thought the East hand would open 1♣. The opponents can't make anything - I guess they were trying to push me into the lucky game!
. Board 15 NS vul North S deals ♠A10 ♥AJ84 West ♦J97532 East ♠Q7642 ♣J ♠K953 ♥K632 ♥Q ♦AK4 South ♦Q6 ♣10 ♠J8 ♣KQ9653 ♥10975 ♦108 ♣A8742 South West North East Melody Alan Richard Kevin P 1♠ 2♦ 3♣ P 3NT P 4♠ P P P Rick Bob Bill Dean P 1♠ P 3NT P 4♠ P P P
Dean's 3NT was a conventional light splinter, but Bob wasn't interested. Any system would reach this normal doomed 4♠ contract. Both defenses started with two rounds of clubs, promoting North's trump holding, and nothing could save declarer from down one and a push on this bad lie of cards.
. Board 16 EW vul North W deals ♠7 ♥954 West ♦J1052 East ♠A ♣Q10986 ♠Q9862 ♥AKJ763 ♥Q82 ♦K84 South ♦AQ973 ♣J75 ♠KJ10543 ♣ ♥10 ♦6 ♣AK432 South West North East Melody Alan Richard Kevin - 1♥ P 1♠ P 3♥ P 4♥ 4♠ P P 5♦ P 5♥ P 6♥ Double P P P Rick Bob Bill Dean - 1♥ P 1♠ P 2♥ P 3♦ P 3♥ P 4♥ P P P
The first quarter ended with a bang. East-West will normally make six hearts if they bid it, by ruffing two clubs in dummy. North-South have an 800 dive available in 7♣, but they can't even make one spade against a tapping defense.
Rick stayed out of the bidding entirely, and Bob took a conservative view in both the bidding and play. I led my singleton spade. Declarer ruffed a club, but then drew trumps and tested diamonds, making 650. Had he crossed in hearts or diamonds to ruff another club, he'd make 680, but that turned out not to matter to the imp score.
At the other table, the same 4♥ contract was bid, but then Melody couldn't stand it, and offered 800 in 4♠ doubled, scorned by Kevin, who changed his mind and drove to slam! Melody's double sounded like she had a void somewhere and Richard led a club. Alan ruffed in dummy. Also fearing a void, he drew trumps and cashed ♠A and ♦K. Nope - no voids anywhere! What could Melody have? The only thing he could imagine was her actual shape. With the courage of his convictions, Alan led a diamond and finessed dummy's nine for for 1860!
This was a spectacular result. 15 imps to Binder, the new leader, by 40-30. Note that even if Bob had bid his slam at our table, he was losing ten imps for 1430, five imps even for 1660 (but it would be out of character for Rick to double).
For the second quarter, the Panagopoulos team sat Steve Gladyszak and Melody against Kevin and Alan, while Rick and I played against the Kaplan-Sheinwold methods of Dean and Richard.
. Board 17 None vul North N deals ♠Q753 ♥Q93 West ♦953 East ♠8 ♣A87 ♠AJ64 ♥A10875 ♥J42 ♦A872 South ♦J10 ♣543 ♠K1092 ♣K1062 ♥K6 ♦KQ64 ♣QJ9 South West North East Alan Melody Kevin Steve - - P P 1♦ 1♥ Double Redouble 1♠ P P 2♥ 2♠ P P P Dean Bill Richard Rick - - P P 1NT P P P
In 2♠, Alan lost two trumps and a trick in each other suit for 110. Dean's 12-14 notrump lost the spade fit, and I led an attitude ♥5. Winning the king, Dean seemed to lack entries, so he misguessed spades losing to Rick's ♠J, and thus lost three hearts, two spades, a club and a diamond for down one. The fall of the diamonds means that 1NT can be made by playing spades the other way, but that seems a long shot and I don't fault Dean's play of this hand. Four imps to Binder, who led 44-30.
. Board 18 NS vul North E deals ♠732 ♥AK9 West ♦K75 East ♠K64 ♣K1065 ♠AJ95 ♥1085 ♥J3 ♦943 South ♦A86 ♣AJ84 ♠Q108 ♣Q973 ♥Q7642 ♦QJ102 ♣2 South West North East Alan Melody Kevin Steve - - - 1♣ P 1NT P P Double 2♣ P P P Dean Bill Richard Rick - - - 1♠ P 2♠ P P P
Both of these partials are down one against best defense, and so it proved for a push at 50. North-South would make 140 at hearts, but neither North-South pair found the suit.
. Board 19 EW vul North S deals ♠A10763 ♥K West ♦KQ964 East ♠42 ♣Q10 ♠KQ98 ♥AQJ742 ♥10853 ♦852 South ♦J ♣A8 ♠J5 ♣KJ63 ♥96 ♦A1073 ♣97542 South West North East Alan Melody Kevin Steve P 1♥ 2♥ 4♥ 4NT P 5♦ P P P Dean Bill Richard Rick P 2♥ 4♦ 4♥ 5♦ P P P
My 2♥ was systemic - 10-13 points, 6 or 7 hearts. 4♥ makes East-West (five if you lean over and peek at the singleton ♥K, but neither Melody nor I lean well). Should somebody double 5♦? Both Norths showed a spade-diamond two-suiter and might have more pointed cards than a mere ten. Neither East or West is very sure ir's going down - somebody would have to double on general principles. Steve led a trump and the defense got three rounds in to defeat Kevin three. Rick led a heart, so we only beat Richard two. 150 vs. 100 meant a sheepish 2 imps to Panagopoulos, who trailed 44-32.
. Board 20 Both vul North W deals ♠AQ87 ♥963 West ♦652 East ♠J432 ♣K64 ♠1065 ♥AKQ8 ♥J102 ♦KJ South ♦A1098 ♣932 ♠K9 ♣J105 ♥754 ♦Q743 ♣AQ87 South West North East Alan Melody Kevin Steve - 1♣ P 1♦ P 1♥ P 2♣ P 2♦ P 2♥ P P P Dean Bill Richard Rick - 1♥ P 2♥ P P P
Both Norths led trumps against two hearts. Kevin and Alan eventually got their six black tricks for down one. At my table, a wheel came off Richard and Dean's defense. I won the heart in hand and played ♦K, ♦J ducked to South, so if they cashed out I'd be down two. Dean won and played ♠K, spade to ♠Q, signal ♣8 on ♠A, win ♣A, ponder. He tried for a ruff, leading a diamond - curtains! I discarded a club, drew trumps ending in dummy, and discarded my other club on the fourth diamond to make two. Plus 110 meant 5 imps to Binder, who led 49-32.
. Board 21 NS vul North N deals ♠AJ107 ♥82 West ♦Q63 East ♠KQ3 ♣J962 ♠642 ♥106 ♥AQ753 ♦KJ92 South ♦107 ♣KQ85 ♠985 ♣A73 ♥KJ94 ♦A854 ♣104 South West North East Alan Melody Kevin Steve - 1♦ P 1♥ P 1NT P 2♣ P 3NT P P P Dean Bill Richard Rick - 1NT P 2♦ P 2♥ P 2NT P 3NT P P P
Steve and Rick put on their rose-colored glasses and made dubious game tries over a weak notrump, and both Melody and I accepted with an aceless 14 high card points. The resulting 3NT contract was hopeless on a normal spade lead. I went down two, Melody down three, two imps to Binder, who led 51-32.
. Board 22 EW vul North E deals ♠K ♥J7 West ♦Q9542 East ♠Q10984 ♣97643 ♠AJ532 ♥654 ♥KQ93 ♦A7 South ♦10863 ♣K105 ♠76 ♣ ♥A1082 ♦KJ ♣AQJ82 South West North East Alan Melody Kevin Steve - - - P 1NT P 3♣ Double P 3♠ P P 4♣ 4♠ Double P P P Dean Bill Richard Rick - - - 1♠ 2♣ 3♠ 5♣ P P Double P P P
Vul at imps, Rick was going to 4♠ if Richard hadn't preempted him out of it, and that contract would make on the nose. I couldn't beat 5♣ doubled three tricks. I led a spade to the ace, and Rick shifted to hearts. Declarer lost a trick in each suit. Had I led ace and a diamond instead, I could win the second club, put Rick in with the ♠A, and score my ♣10 on a diamond return. However, declarer can throw one heart on that trick, and then two more on the other diamonds. It's 300 either way, the par result.
Kevin's 3♣ was weak with the minors. Alan could have won 4 imps by letting 3♠ go for 170, but he competed. Melody changed her mind and bid her vul game. She made this contract doubled, for 790 and 10 imps, so Panagopoulos trailed only 51-42.
. Board 23 Both vul North S deals ♠K1063 ♥Q762 West ♦J East ♠85 ♣A1065 ♠AQ97 ♥5 ♥AJ103 ♦109832 South ♦AQ74 ♣K9432 ♠J42 ♣8 ♥K984 ♦K65 ♣QJ7 South West North East Alan Melody Kevin Steve P P P 1♦ P P Double 1♥ 1NT 2♦ P P P Dean Bill Richard Rick P P P 1♣ P 1♦ P 1♠ P 2♦ P P P
I don't know Melody and Steve's raise methods in the minors, but apparently Melody's hand is too weak for any of them. South led a diamond, but Steve won his ♦Q, played a club, and scored 11 tricks by taking a spade finesse and crossruffing.
Rick and I have disagreed over how to handle East's shape with minimum big club strength. I prefer an overstrength 1♦, hoping to find a fit, because after a strong 1♣ it's hard to get all three suits in play opposite light responding hands, let alone tricky competition. However 1♦ sometimes doesn't work well for slam opposite better hands, and Rick prefers to show his strength immediately. Here, it didn't work too badly, as over the 0-5 1♦ response, his 1♠ indicated minimum values and any shape, and my natural 2♦ (preparing a club rebid over a major) led to finding our 5-4 fit. I think Rick should have raised - the diamond fit might well mean 11 tricks. Here, I wasn't going on over 3♦. Our sequence unfortunately wrongsided diamonds - the ♦J lead would hold me to four. I can rise, concede a club, and crossruff, but I can never score my fifth club - play it out in your head. From the East chair, 5♦ can always be made. However, with nothing to go on, Richard led a spade, I won dummy's queen, and ran the club eight to the ten. Richard shifted to a the ♦J, but I was able to ruff out the clubs and score 11 tricks for 150 and a push. 5♦ by East is a tough game to bid in any system.
. Board 24 None vul North W deals ♠K8654 ♥Q9543 West ♦87 East ♠QJ9 ♣8 ♠A103 ♥A8 ♥K106 ♦KQ102 South ♦AJ93 ♣AK72 ♠72 ♣J106 ♥J72 ♦654 ♣Q9543 South West North East Alan Melody Kevin Steve - 2NT P 6NT P P P Dean Bill Richard Rick - 1♣ P 2♣ P 2♦ P 2♥ P 2NT P 3NT P P P
East-West have 32 high card points, all four tens, and other pleasing spots. 6NT is about 70%. You need the spade finesse, or the club finesse plus either the fourth club to be good or a rounded suit squeeze. 6♦ is only marginally better, if that. Today, you make seven in either strain because the ♣8 falls and North shows out on the second club.
Melody solved this problem by promoting her prime 19 to 20. She did not play to best advantage, but took 12 tricks for 990.
Both wheels came off our auction. 1♣ was strong, 2♣ indicated 10-14 with no 5-card major or 6-card minor, 2♦ denied a five card major, 2♥ denied 4 hearts, and 2NT denied 4 spades. Each of us was a king over minimum but nobody made a move. I thought we had agreed that 3NT was discouraging, with 10 to a bad 12, and that Rick would bid 3 of his better major with 12-13, or 4NT with a full 14. Rick thought I would do something over 3NT with this big a hand. I almost did, because slam might still be there in a minor even if he had a little less, but I had a nightmare about going down one at 4NT opposite a bare 10. Had I made any move, Rick would have gone, and if he made one, so would I. I made 520, to hold the loss to 10 instead of 11 imps, but that still put Panagopoulos back in the lead 52-51.
. Board 25 EW vul North N deals ♠2 ♥76 West ♦KJ10743 East ♠AQ76 ♣6532 ♠109543 ♥109832 ♥QJ4 ♦Q52 South ♦A ♣A ♠KJ8 ♣J1098 ♥AK5 ♦986 ♣KQ74 South West North East Alan Melody Kevin Steve - - 2♦ P 2NT P 3♣ P 3♦ P P P Dean Bill Richard Rick - - P P 1♣ Double 1♦ 2♠ 2NT 3♠ P P P
An Ogust auction put Kevin in 3♦. After the ♥Q lead and a diamond finesse, he could have made it had he peeked at the stiff ♣A, but of course, he went down one by putting up an honor when clubs were played.
Rick's 3♠ is cold. Dean didn't lead his ♥K, so they didn't get their ruff. He led a diamond, Rick won and took a spade finesse, then played hearts for 170, to win 3 imps, putting Binder back in the lead 54-52.
. Board 26 Both vul North E deals ♠A98 ♥QJ865 West ♦ East ♠KQ102 ♣AKJ62 ♠J7543 ♥1043 ♥AK7 ♦J106 South ♦AK73 ♣Q43 ♠6 ♣5 ♥92 ♦Q98542 ♣10987 South West North East Alan Melody Kevin Steve - - - 1♠ P 2♠ 3♠ 4♠ 4NT P 5♣ P P P Dean Bill Richard Rick - - - 1♠ P 2♠ 3♥ 3♠ P P 4♣ P 4♥ P P P
East can make 4♠ if South leads clubs, by covering in dummy and eventually setting up the long diamond for a heart pitch from dummy. However, a diamond lead beats him with a ruff unless North subsequently errs, and the ♥9 lead beats him slowly so long as North doesn't cash his club entry on winning the ♠A, but instead continues hearts.
Neither East played 4♠, however. Richard's 4♥ is hopeless on Rick's ♦K lead even if he finesses clubs - he still loses control. Richard went down two. North's 5♣ can be made double-dummy by ruffing the diamond and leading the ♥Q at trick two. East can't do anything that hurts declarer, so it all comes down to a club guess. Kevin didn't play that way or guess clubs, and went down two for a push at 200.
. Board 27 None vul North S deals ♠103 ♥8 West ♦K32 East ♠7 ♣AKJ10975 ♠AKQ6 ♥KJ2 ♥AQ9753 ♦A9854 South ♦10 ♣8643 ♠J98542 ♣Q2 ♥1064 ♦QJ76 ♣ South West North East Alan Melody Kevin Steve 2♠ P 2NT 3♥ P 4♥ 4♠ Double P P P Dean Bill Richard Rick P P 1♣ Double 2♠ 3♦ P 3♥ P 4♥ P P P
Dean had no club to lead, but Rick couldn't avoid his two losers there anyway, and scored 450. At the other table, Alan went down 5 in 4♠ doubled - heart lead to the ace, draw dummy's trumps, cash hearts, ♦A, ♦ ruff - 8 tricks for the defense, 1100 (sticks and wheels, Joe Silver calls it) and 12 imps to Panagopoulos, who went back in the lead 64-54.
. Board 28 NS vul North W deals ♠KQ64 ♥765 West ♦AKQ5 East ♠J10953 ♣Q5 ♠7 ♥43 ♥AKJ82 ♦982 South ♦J1063 ♣K63 ♠A82 ♣987 ♥Q109 ♦74 ♣AJ1042 South West North East Alan Melody Kevin Steve - P 1NT P 3NT P P P Dean Bill Richard Rick - P 1♦ 1♥ 2♣ P 2♠ P 2NT P 3NT P P P
Steve led a top heart, after which the defense was helpless. Kevin lost a club finesse and two hearts for 630.
I led a heart and Rick played the jack, a fine defense. Double dummy, Dean could make the hand by playing a heart right back. Rick would have to run his hearts and exit, and now Dean could eschew the club finesse and squeeze me in the black suits. But why should I have the ♣K? Dean just tested spades and then took a losing club finesse, and I won and continued hearts for down one, 13 imps, and Binder was back in the lead 67-64.
. Board 29 Both vul North N deals ♠K5 ♥10842 West ♦7643 East ♠J872 ♣1042 ♠A9 ♥KJ6 ♥Q75 ♦9 South ♦KJ1052 ♣AQ853 ♠Q10643 ♣J76 ♥A93 ♦AQ8 ♣K9 South West North East Alan Melody Kevin Steve - - P P 1♠ P P 1NT P P P Dean Bill Richard Rick - - P P 1♠ P P 2♦ P P P
What's the best balancing act with the East cards? Alan led a spade against 1NT, but Steve picked up the clubs and lost only a spade, a heart, and two diamonds. Rick's 2♦ can be held to two if Dean just plays spades at every opportunity, and Richard ruffs the third and fourth rounds with the ♦6 and ♦7. They didn't find that defense, so Rick made 110 to lose an imp and lead 67-65.
. Board 30 None vul North E deals ♠6432 ♥Q4 West ♦42 East ♠KJ ♣A10876 ♠AQ75 ♥A97 ♥K853 ♦J9865 South ♦AK3 ♣Q52 ♠1098 ♣J9 ♥J1062 ♦Q107 ♣K43 South West North East Alan Melody Kevin Steve - - - 1NT P 3NT P P P Dean Bill Richard Rick - - - 1♣ P 2♣ P 2♦ P 2♥ P 2♠ P 3♦ P 3♠ P 3NT P P P
Our big club auction made me declarer. Richard led a club to the ♣K and ducked the club return, so I had to run for home with my nine tricks for 400.
Alan led the ♥6 to the ♥Q and ♥K, and Steve played three rounds of diamonds. The ♥J cut his entries, so he crossed to the ♠K, took his diamonds, and overtook his ♠J. The ♠7 turned out be high when the 1098 fell, so Steve made an overtrick and 430 to win an imp. Panagopoulos trailed 67-66.
. Board 31 NS vul North S deals ♠Q432 ♥7 West ♦87652 East ♠9875 ♣Q102 ♠K6 ♥102 ♥AQJ5 ♦AKJ South ♦109 ♣A863 ♠AJ10 ♣J9754 ♥K98643 ♦Q43 ♣K South West North East Alan Melody Kevin Steve 1♥ Double P 3NT P P P Dean Bill Richard Rick 1♥ Double P 2NT P P P
To beat 3NT, South must lead a minor and whenever North wins the ♣Q, he has to play a spade through. The defense would have only four tricks, but even with the diamond finesse, declarer would have only eight, for down one. In real life, both Souths led unimaginative hearts, the declarers played clubs, and so when North put his spade through and South cashed three spades, declarer had the rest with 4 clubs, 3 diamonds on a finesse, and two hearts. 400 vs. 150 meant 6 imps to Panagopoulos, back in the lead 72-67.
. Board 32 EW vul North W deals ♠Q8 ♥K863 West ♦A104 East ♠K102 ♣AQ93 ♠A96 ♥975 ♥AQ102 ♦976 South ♦KJ53 ♣10842 ♠J7543 ♣K7 ♥J4 ♦Q82 ♣J65 South West North East Alan Melody Kevin Steve - P 1NT P 2♥ P 2♠ P P P Dean Bill Richard Rick - P 1♣ 1NT P P P
Steve had a tough lead to make against 2♠. He tried a low diamond, which ran to the ten. He got thrown back in and wound up beating the contract only one for 50.
Rick got a favorable spade lead against 1NT, to the ♠Q and ♠A, and crossed to dummy with the ♠10. A heart to the ♥Q would make the hand, but he misguessed, running the ♥9, and couldn't recover when South won and played a third spade. Down one meant four imps to Panagopoulos, who led by nine at the half, 76-67.
We broke for sandwiches at Subway. The players are mostly all friends, and the banter was fun. For the third quarter, Rick and I would reprise against Bob and Dean, the pseudo-Poles, while Alan and Kevin took on Steve and Melody.
. Board 33 None vul North N deals ♠J876 ♥532 West ♦K854 East ♠K942 ♣Q10 ♠AQ5 ♥A ♥KJ10876 ♦632 South ♦J97 ♣98653 ♠103 ♣7 ♥Q94 ♦AQ10 ♣AKJ42 South West North East Alan Melody Kevin Steve - - P P 1NT P P P Dean Bill Bob Rick - - P 2♥ 3♣ P P P
The East hand didn't fit either 1♥ or 2♥ for Steve, so he passed throughout. This worked badly, as 2♥ makes his way, and there was no way Melody could find the defense to hold South's notrump to eight tricks. She led a club, and Alan ran nine for 150.
Rick's 2♥ (10-13, 6 or 7 hearts) put it to Dean. He chose 3♣ instead of 2NT, a mistake on this deal. I led the ♥A and Rick played the ♥10, intending it as suit preference for spades. Alas, I didn't so read it, and played a diamond. Dean scampered home with 110 to lose only an imp. His team still led 76-68.
. Board 34 NS vul North E deals ♠A1065 ♥K86 West ♦AQ983 East ♠7 ♣10 ♠QJ43 ♥J752 ♥93 ♦106 South ♦KJ72 ♣AJ9632 ♠K982 ♣Q74 ♥AQ104 ♦54 ♣K85 South West North East Alan Melody Kevin Steve - - - P 1♣ P 1♦ P 1NT P 2♠ P 4♠ P P P Dean Bill Bob Rick - - - P 1♣ P 1♠ P 2♠ P 4♠ P P P
Both Easts led the ♥9. It doesn't look it, but 4♠ can actually be made against this foul lie of the cards, by rising in hearts, losing the diamond finesse, and subsequently guessing both spades and diamonds. Believe it or not, Kevin O'Donnell did just that, for 620. Very well done!
Bob Woodard did less well. The ♥9 went to the ten, jack, and queen. He thought the lead looked like a singleton, and so played ♠A, ♠K. When the diamond finesse lost, Rick drew trumps as I high-lowed in clubs. Rick played the ♣Q through for down 4, 400, and 14 imps. The Binder team retook the lead 82-76.
. Board 35 EW vul North S deals ♠753 ♥Q32 West ♦A82 East ♠AKQ10984 ♣QJ32 ♠ ♥J ♥K10964 ♦73 South ♦KQ965 ♣754 ♠J62 ♣K86 ♥A875 ♦J104 ♣A109 South West North East Alan Melody Kevin Steve P 4♠ P P P Dean Bill Bob Rick P 2♠ P 3♥ P 4♠ P P P
Melody just blasted the West hand to 4♠. I chose our 2♠ opening (10-12, 6 or 7 spades). Rick had a chance to shine by passing this, but he went hunting for a vulnerable game. His 3♥ was forcing one round, and I, too, suffered from exhuberence. I jumped to 4♠, hoping for three tricks in dummy. I got one. Both Norths led the ♣Q, and both defenses quickly cashed five tricks for pushing 200s.
. Board 36 Both vul North W deals ♠96542 ♥Q83 West ♦K102 East ♠AJ83 ♣A8 ♠K7 ♥J1092 ♥A764 ♦93 South ♦AJ5 ♣Q64 ♠Q10 ♣K932 ♥K5 ♦Q8764 ♣J1075 South West North East Alan Melody Kevin Steve Dean Bill Bob Rick - P P 1NT P P P
Steve's 1NT was 15-17, so Melody was nearly good enough for Stayman. Rick's 1NT promised a good 12 to 15, so I wasn't close to a bid. After a diamond lead, on this lie of cards the only way to make 1NT is to win the ace and lead a low heart from hand, playing South for a doubleton honor. That same unnatural play would make ten tricks with hearts trumps, provided declarer also guessed North for the doubleton ace of clubs. 2♥ seems enough, but that final contract is more likely in Kaplan-Sheinwold. Neither declarer played that way in 1NT, so they both went down one for a push.
. Board 37 NS vul North N deals ♠J1073 ♥Q1083 West ♦J762 East ♠Q9865 ♣10 ♠42 ♥A42 ♥KJ75 ♦Q95 South ♦A83 ♣A2 ♠AK ♣QJ54 ♥96 ♦K104 ♣K98763 South West North East Alan Melody Kevin Steve - - P P 1♣ 1♠ P 1NT P P P Dean Bill Bob Rick - - P P 2♣ P P P
Alan led the ♦4 against 1NT. All the cards lay perfectly for Steve and he made 120, as he can on any lead. I led a spade against 2♣. All the cards lay badly for Dean, which meant down 2, 200 and 2 imps to Binder, who led 84-76.
. Board 38 EW vul North E deals ♠QJ986542 ♥Q1093 West ♦ East ♠ ♣5 ♠A7 ♥J4 ♥AK8765 ♦KQJ542 South ♦ ♣J8732 ♠K103 ♣AKQ96 ♥2 ♦A1098763 ♣104 South West North East Alan Melody Kevin Steve - - - 2♣ 4♣ P 4♦ 6♥ P P P Dean Bill Bob Rick - - - 1♣ 3♦ P 3♠ 4♥ 4♠ 5♥ 5♠ 6♥ P P P
Board 38 was wild. The trouble with opening strong two-suiters with an artificial bid at unfavorable vul is that the auction often gets out of hand and you never get to show both suits. Here, East-West can make 7♣ for 2140, but North can save in 7♠ and lose only three aces for 500 by playing to pin the HJ, a play that would surely be found at this level of competition.
Alan's 4♣ was exclusion - diamonds or the majors. Kevin kept his powder dry with 4♦, and Steve had no sensible action, so blasted into the wrong slam. At our table, the system bid over 3♦ with my hand is double, showing 6-9, but I intentionally violated system by passing, showing 0-5, evaluating my diamond honors as worthless paper, as they were. Rick made the remarkable decision to bid only 4♥, and now if I had just passed 4♠, Rick would have followed with the magic word clubs. I fell from grace with 5♥, and so we went into the 6♥ soup with Steve. Both Souths led the ♦A and both Norths discarded their club. Steve went down 2, Rick down 1, 3 imps to Binder, who led 87-76.
. Board 39 Both vul North S deals ♠832 ♥72 West ♦8743 East ♠A10974 ♣K864 ♠Q ♥J94 ♥AK1085 ♦1095 South ♦AJ ♣Q7 ♠KJ65 ♣AJ1053 ♥Q63 ♦KQ62 ♣92 South West North East Alan Melody Kevin Steve P P P 1♥ P 2♥ P 4♥ P P P Dean Bill Bob Rick P P P 1♣ P 1♥ P 2♥ P 3♥ P 4♥ P P P
4♥ East-West is routine in any system. Pushing 650s.
. Board 40 None vul North W deals ♠K1097 ♥K4 West ♦AK2 East ♠J432 ♣J875 ♠Q86 ♥J832 ♥AQ10 ♦5 South ♦QJ1043 ♣A1094 ♠A5 ♣K2 ♥9765 ♦9876 ♣Q63 South West North East Alan Melody Kevin Steve - P 1♣ 1♦ 1♥ P 1NT P P P Dean Bill Bob Rick - P 1♣ 1♦ P P P
Steve led the ♦Q. Alan won and played a club up and eventually escaped for down one, 100. The defense to Rick's 1♦ started with three rounds of spades for a ruff, but all they managed thereafter were North's AK of trumps. 90 and a push. Double-dummy, the defense can hold Rick to seven tricks.
. Board 41 EW vul North N deals ♠A ♥KJ53 West ♦AQ7643 East ♠K10987 ♣108 ♠53 ♥A62 ♥Q104 ♦852 South ♦KJ109 ♣J6 ♠QJ642 ♣9542 ♥987 ♦ ♣AKQ73 South West North East Alan Melody Kevin Steve - - 1♦ P 1♠ P 2♦ P 3♣ P 3♥ P 4♣ P 4♦ P 4♠ P P P Dean Bill Bob Rick - - 1♦ P 1♠ P 2♦ P 3♣ P 3NT P P P
Despite 26 combined high card points, North-South can make no game. Alan's 4♠ was down two and lucky to escape a double. Bob's 3NT had a chance if clubs were 3-3, but as it was, he couldn't make it against best defense. Rick led a heart to the ♥A, I returned a heart to the ♥Q, and Rick played a spade to Bob's ace. ♣A, ♠Q to ♠K, and now a diamond through would doom declarer. I erred, returning the third heart, and Bob cashed two tricks in the suit. Now he could make by abandoning his ♦A, cashing dummy's black winners, then throwing Rick in with a club for a diamond endplay. However, Bob cashed his ♦A before crossing to dummy and now that pesky ♣9 meant five tricks for the defense, down one, but 2 imps to Panagopoulos, who trailed 87-78.
. Board 42 Both vul North E deals ♠Q1082 ♥A84 West ♦K86 East ♠54 ♣A74 ♠K963 ♥K2 ♥5 ♦AJ4 South ♦Q9732 ♣Q109853 ♠AJ7 ♣K62 ♥QJ109763 ♦105 ♣J South West North East Alan Melody Kevin Steve Dean Bill Bob Rick - - - P 3♥ P 4♥ P P P
With the ♥K, ♠K, and ♦A all onside, this routine 4♥ made 680 at both tables for a push.
. Board 43 None vul North S deals ♠K1074 ♥KJ6 West ♦K8 East ♠82 ♣8763 ♠Q963 ♥842 ♥Q7 ♦AQJ105 South ♦973 ♣J95 ♠AJ5 ♣AQ102 ♥A10953 ♦642 ♣K4 South West North East Alan Melody Kevin Steve 1♥ P 1NT P 2♦ P 3♥ P P P Dean Bill Bob Rick 1♥ P 1♠ P 1NT P 3♥ P 4♥ P P P
With both minor aces right, ten tricks rolled home in this thin nonvul game. 420 versus 170 meant 6 imps to Panagopoulos, who trailed 87-84.
. Board 44 NS vul North W deals ♠K8 ♥8 West ♦Q9765 East ♠AJ643 ♣QJ732 ♠5 ♥102 ♥AJ7653 ♦AK8 South ♦432 ♣AK10 ♠Q10972 ♣965 ♥KQ94 ♦J10 ♣84 South West North East Alan Melody Kevin Steve = 1♠ P 1NT P 3NT P 4♥ P P P Dean Bill Bob Rick - 1♣ 1NT P 2♣ 2♠ P 3♥ P P P
Rick showed 0-5 by passing over the unusual notrump. When he bid 3♥, I expected a six card two-loser suit, less than three spades, and no side cards. That might mean only nine tricks, 4 hearts and my five tops, so I passed. Too conservative. I gave Rick nothing for his play. He might be able to do something with the spades. So it proved, as both Steve and Rick used dummy's bountiful entries to ruff four spades in hand. There was nothing the defense could do. 420 versus 170 meant six imps and the lead, 90-87 for Panagopoulos.
. Board 45 Both vul North N deals ♠Q10984 ♥74 West ♦KQ93 East ♠KJ7 ♣103 ♠53 ♥QJ1098 ♥K52 ♦1062 South ♦84 ♣96 ♠A62 ♣AKQJ52 ♥A63 ♦AJ75 ♣874 South West North East Alan Melody Kevin Steve - - P 1♣ P 1♥ P 2♣ P P 2♠ P P P Dean Bill Bob Rick - - P 2♣ P P P
Rick's 2♣ stole the pot. He was always making this, and in fact made 130 when the defense goofed. Kevin's 2♠ is also cold. In fact, he made 140 by getting the trumps right. 140 and 130 meant 7 imps to Binder, back in the lead 94-90.
. Board 46 None vul North E deals ♠9 ♥AKQ10542 West ♦63 East ♠AJ2 ♣KQ7 ♠874 ♥876 ♥3 ♦AJ8754 South ♦K1092 ♣6 ♠KQ10653 ♣A9532 ♥J9 ♦Q ♣J1084 South West North East Alan Melody Kevin Steve - - - P 2♠ 3♦ 4♥ 5♦ P P 5♥ P P P Dean Bill Bob Rick - - - P 2♦ P 4♥ P P P P
I didn't overcall Dean's Wagner 2♦ (showing a weak 2 in an unspecified major). With a blind lead, Rick chose a diamond, so we only got one club ruff to beat 4♥ 50.
Melody did overcall, so now Steve went to 5♦, which would have made today. Kevin did well to bid on, and nobody had much to double him with. Against 5♥, Steve found the ♣A lead followed by the deuce and Melody ruffed and underled in diamonds for two club ruffs, down three and 150, 3 imps to Panagopoulos, who now trailed 94-93.
. Board 47 NS vul North S deals ♠106 ♥J6432 West ♦KJ7 East ♠853 ♣AJ2 ♠AKQJ97 ♥9 ♥10875 ♦Q86543 South ♦1092 ♣K94 ♠42 ♣ ♥AKQ ♦A ♣Q1087653 South West North East Alan Melody Kevin Steve 1♣ P 1♥ 3♠ 4♣ 4♠ 5♣ P P P Dean Bill Bob Rick 1C P 1♥ 1♠ Double 2♠ 3♥ 3♠ 4♣ P 4♥ 4♠ Double P P P
In 5♣, Alan took the club finesse for a simple 600. Dean's first double indicated 3 hearts. He did well not to go 5♥ over 4♠, which is defeated by three rounds of spades. (Even 4♥ is fascinating to analyze - Deep Finesse says the defense can prevail). Dean's defense to 4♠ doubled wasn't best, and Rick escaped for down one and 100. On best play all around, this contract goes down two. 11 imps to Binder, who led 105-93.
. Board 48 EW vul North W deals ♠AQJ93 ♥54 West ♦973 East ♠K5 ♣973 ♠862 ♥Q106 ♥K32 ♦852 South ♦AKQJ10 ♣QJ652 ♠1074 ♣K10 ♥AJ987 ♦64 ♣A84 South West North East Alan Melody Kevin Steve - P P 1NT P 2♣ P 2♦ P 2NT P 3NT P P P Dean Bill Bob Rick - P P 1♣ 2♥ Double P 2NT P 3NT P P P
Both Souths led a heart, which ran to the king. Both declarers led the ♣K and ♣10, both ducked, and led a heart, also ducked, to dummy's ♥Q. The declarers ran 5 diamonds to make 600. Bob and Kevin sat there, quietly eating 14 imps worth of spades.
The teams compared and agreed that Binder led by 12, 105-93. For the last quarter, Bill and Rick took on Steve and Melody, while Alan and Kevin sat down against Dean and Richard, the Kaplan-Sheinwold pair.
. Board 49 None vul North N deals ♠Q984 ♥76 West ♦J1098 East ♠K102 ♣K98 ♠J63 ♥KJ52 ♥1094 ♦63 South ♦AQ2 ♣AQ42 ♠A75 ♣J763 ♥AQ83 ♦K754 ♣105 South West North East Dean Alan Richard Kevin - - P P 1NT P P P Rick Melody Bill Steve - - P P 1♥ P 1♠ P 1NT P P P
Alan led a heart. Dean won his ♥Q and played a spade up. With the cards all friendly, no further defense could stop him from making his 90.
Forewarned, Melody led a club to Steve's jack, and ducked the club return. Rick won in dummy. Steve rose ace on the ♦J, and tried the ♥10. Rick could make by rising and leading a spade up, because Melody's last two clubs were the AQ, so she couldn't have gotten to Steve for another heart play. To beat 1NT legit, she had to unblock the ♣Q at trick two. However, Rick took the heart finesse and went down 2, -100, 5 imps to Panagopoulos, who trailed 105-98.
. Board 50 NS vul North E deals ♠Q9532 ♥A West ♦1086 East ♠AJ87 ♣K654 ♠106 ♥10852 ♥KQ6 ♦J75 South ♦KQ32 ♣109 ♠K4 ♣AQ32 ♥J9743 ♦A94 ♣J87 South West North East Dean Alan Richard Kevin Rick Melody Bill Steve - - - 1NT P P P
The cards lie well for this 1NT contract. Double-dummy, North-South can hold it to two by playing clubs at every opportunity, but neither defense managed to find that, and both declarers scored 150 for a push.
. Board 51 EW vul North S deals ♠1073 ♥QJ75 West ♦J1097 East ♠Q4 ♣65 ♠AK62 ♥A84 ♥K62 ♦Q54 South ♦AK82 ♣AK982 ♠J985 ♣73 ♥1093 ♦63 ♣QJ104 South West North East Dean Alan Richard Kevin P 1NT P 2♣ P 2♦ P 3♦ P 3NT P 6NT P P P Rick Melody Bill Steve P 1NT P 2♣ P 2♦ P 3♣ P 3H P 6NT P P P
I'm not sure how to interpret these auctions, but they both ended in a reasonable, but pushy slam. What's the right way to play the clubs? If they split 3-3, anything works. If North has only two, there are exactly as many doubletons that work out for ducking as playing from the top. However, ducking preserves squeeze chances and is therefore the better play. Melody won the ♦J lead in dummy and ran the ♣7, which won. She cleared clubs and claimed. When Alan won the spade lead in dummy and led a club, Dean split, which could be right on a different deal, but here Alan just returned to dummy for another club, picking up the suit for a pushing 1440. I don't think Dean's play cost, as I believe Alan would have matched Melody's fine play.
. Board 52 Both vul North W deals ♠Q954 ♥KJ73 West ♦32 East ♠A3 ♣J53 ♠J108 ♥852 ♥64 ♦10964 South ♦A75 ♣K762 ♠K762 ♣A10984 ♥AQ109 ♦KQJ8 ♣Q South West North East Dean Alan Richard Kevin - P P P 1♦ P 1♥ P 1♠ P 2♠ P 4♠ P P P Rick Melody Bill Steve - P P P 1♣ P 1♥ P 1♠ P 1NT P 2NT P 3NT P P P
No game is great here, but 4♥ is the best of the bunch, and can be made by playing West for the doubleton ace of spades. No, you can't avoid this play by setting up three diamonds, because after a normal defense of two rounds of clubs, you haven't enough entries without playing spades yourself.
Dean's 4♠ was given no chance, as the defense led two rounds of clubs. Even if he plays a spade to the queen and ducks on the way back, a third club then establishes a second trump trick for the defense. Down one.
My artificial 1♥ was a weak semipositive, Rick's 1♠ was artificial, indicating a minimum-range strong club. My 1NT denied a 5-card suit. Rick fished for a major by raising, but I was a dolt and didn't mention either of them. 3NT was really hopeless - Steve and Melody ran seven tricks for down 3. You will recall way back on board 23 that I said opening a strong club with South's shape runs the risk of missing a fit opposite modest responding hands. Unfortunately, I proved my own point. 5 imps to Panagopoulos, who trailed 105-103.
. Board 53 NS vul North N deals ♠AK3 ♥9875 West ♦1087 East ♠Q102 ♣Q63 ♠85 ♥KQ ♥J1032 ♦J432 South ♦A96 ♣A987 ♠J9764 ♣K542 ♥A64 ♦KQ5 ♣J10 South West North East Dean Alan Richard Kevin Rick Melody Bill Steve - - P P 1♠ P 2♠ P P P
After customary light third hand openings, Alan and Melody led the ♥Kagainst 2♠. Rick won and ran the ♣10 to the king, and Steve returned a heart to the queen. To beat 2♠, Melody must lead a diamond to Steve so he can play hearts. Instead, she led ace and a club, the heart went away, and Rick used dummy's spades to lead twice towards his diamonds. He got overruffed once in hearts, but made 110.
Dean ducked the first heart and won the second. He cashed the ♠AK and led a diamond to his king, and exited a club. Alan won his ace, cashed his spade, and led the ♣9. Kevin won and cashed a heart. Another heart would result in down two, but he cashed his ♦A for down one, 5 imps to Binder, who led 110-103. By the way, fatigue was starting to become a factor for several of us, particularly the six who played the whole match.
. Board 54 EW vul North E deals ♠AKQ983 ♥76 West ♦98 East ♠10642 ♣743 ♠J7 ♥9 ♥KJ1032 ♦Q7654 South ♦J1032 ♣AJ9 ♠5 ♣52 ♥AQ854 ♦AK ♣KQ1086 South West North East Dean Alan Richard Kevin - - - P 1♥ P 1♠ P 3♣ P 4♠ P P P Rick Melody Bill Steve - - - P 1♣ P 1♠ P 2♥ P 2♠ P 3♣ P 3♠ P 3NT P P P
Richard's 4♠ came home despite bad positions in the black suits when the heart finesse worked. Melody's diamond lead doomed Rick, and he misguessed the play to go down two. In retrospect, I should have pulled 3NT to 4♠. 11 imps to Panagopoulos, back in the lead 114-110.
. Board 55 Both vul North S deals ♠AQ ♥Q92 West ♦87643 East ♠963 ♣QJ6 ♠J42 ♥J ♥AK10753 ♦AQJ5 South ♦ ♣K8732 ♠K10875 ♣A954 ♥864 ♦K1092 ♣10 South West North East Dean Alan Richard Kevin P P P 1♥ P 2NT P 4♥ P P P Rick Melody Bill Steve P P P 1♥ P 1NT P 2♥ P P P
Three rounds of spades for a ruff can hold declarer to nine tricks in hearts (I don't want to hear about the miraculously cold 3NT). Both Rick and Dean led their singleton clubs, however, so both declarers rose in dummy, pitched a spade on the ♦A, ran the ♥J, ruffed a diamond, drew trumps, and drove clubs for ten tricks. 620 versus 170 meant 10 imps to Binder, right back in the lead 120-114.
. Board 56 None vul North W deals ♠108 ♥Q104 West ♦AK103 East ♠K976542 ♣7632 ♠3 ♥5 ♥J86 ♦985 South ♦J764 ♣KJ ♠AQJ ♣AQ954 ♥AK9732 ♦Q2 ♣108 South West North East Dean Alan Richard Kevin - 2♠ P P 3♥ P 4♥ P P P Rick Melody Bill Steve - 3♠ P P 4♥ P P P
King and another club would put 4♥ at risk, although South would probably still make by ruffing the third club high and later finessing East for the ♥J. Both Wests actually led passive diamonds for pushing 450s.
. Board 57 EW vul North N deals ♠QJ ♥KQJ63 West ♦95 East ♠1052 ♣10873 ♠863 ♥92 ♥A75 ♦J8643 South ♦KQ102 ♣K92 ♠AK974 ♣AJ5 ♥1084 ♦A7 ♣Q64 South West North East Dean Alan Richard Kevin - - P 1♦ 1♠ P 2♥ P 3♥ P P P Rick Melody Bill Steve - - P 1♦ 1♠ 3♦ P P P
Richard made ten tricks at hearts - win the diamond lead, cash three spades to pitch a diamond, lead a heart to the king ducked, and a small heart towards the ten. The defense can't keep him from dummy, nor can it afford to break clubs. 170, but bidding game would be wildly optimistic. Thus, Melody's threadbare vulnerable 3♦ preempt turned out to be a bad idea. Steve lost three spades, a heart, a diamond, and the ♣Q on a late finesse, for down 2, 200, and an imp to Binder, who led 121-114.
. Board 58 Both vul North E deals ♠743 ♥QJ653 West ♦AKQ4 East ♠J65 ♣7 ♠AQ9 ♥A ♥942 ♦J962 South ♦103 ♣AQJ63 ♠K1082 ♣K10982 ♥K1087 ♦875 ♣54 South West North East Dean Alan Richard Kevin - - - P P 1♣ Double 2♣ Double 3♣ 3♥ P P P Rick Melody Bill Steve - - - P P 1♣ Double 2♣ Double 3♣ 3♥ 3♠ P 4♣ P P P
Steve Gladyszak won 7 imps by competing over 3♥ with the East cards. This deal follows the law of total tricks exactly. Richard's 3♥ lost a club, a heart, and 2 spades for 140, while Melody lost only two diamonds and a spade for 130. The match was tied at 121 with six boards left.
. Board 59 None vul North S deals ♠865 ♥Q8653 West ♦J97 East ♠Q93 ♣A6 ♠AK1072 ♥AJ9 ♥742 ♦A32 South ♦5 ♣QJ104 ♠J4 ♣K987 ♥K10 ♦KQ10864 ♣532 South West North East Dean Alan Richard Kevin 2♦ Double 3♦ 4♠ P P P Rick Melody Bill Steve P 1NT P 2♥ P 2♠ P 3NT P P P
Kevin's 4♠ is preferable to Melody's 3NT. Kevin lost only a heart and a club for 450. I led a heart against 3NT, but switched to diamonds on winning the ♣A, and she had to run her ten tricks for 430. Had my opening lead been a diamond, we could hold her to three - she has to duck twice, and then a heart switch would set up our fourth trick before the ♣A is dislodged. An imp to Binder, who led 122-121.
. Board 60 NS vul North W deals ♠J82 ♥987 West ♦J103 East ♠109763 ♣AQ98 ♠AKQ4 ♥KJ1043 ♥5 ♦K6 South ♦AQ754 ♣J ♠5 ♣1043 ♥AQ62 ♦982 ♣K7652 South West North East Dean Alan Richard Kevin Rick Melody Bill Steve - P P 1♦ P 1♠ P 3♠ P 4♠ P P P
Richard led a trump and Alan made six. I led a heart and Rick won and switched to clubs, so Melody made 5. An imp to Binder, who led 123-121.
. Board 61 Both vul North N deals ♠K1075 ♥543 West ♦AJ82 East ♠862 ♣Q6 ♠ ♥AK962 ♥Q1087 ♦Q643 South ♦K1097 ♣4 ♠AQJ943 ♣98732 ♥J ♦5 ♣AKJ105 South West North East Dean Alan Richard Kevin - - P P 1♠ P 2♣ P 4NT P 5♥ P 6♠ P P P Rick Melody Bill Steve - - P P 1♣ 1♥ 2♣ 3♥ 3♠ P 4♠ P 4NT P 5♥ P 6♠ P P P
A baby slam in any system meant pushing 1430s.
. Board 62 None vul North E deals ♠10876 ♥QJ3 West ♦KQ92 East ♠KJ92 ♣94 ♠AQ43 ♥1042 ♥K98 ♦107 South ♦J863 ♣8765 ♠5 ♣Q3 ♥A765 ♦A54 ♣AKJ102 South West North East Dean Alan Richard Kevin - - - 1♦ 2♣ P P Double Redouble 2♠ Double P P P Rick Melody Bill Steve - - - 1♦ 2♣ P P P
With the clubs coming down and spades 4-4, 3NT makes North-South, but nobody was finding that. A spade lead and continuation would have held Rick to 130, but Melody led a diamond, so he made 5. Kevin had won imps by daring balancing acts earlier, but not here. Alan took all the tricks he could, six, for -300. 4 imps to Panagopoulos, to take the lead at 125-123.
. Board 63 NS vul North S deals ♠J43 ♥AKJ9863 West ♦ East ♠Q105 ♣J75 ♠AK72 ♥Q74 ♥52 ♦KQ95 South ♦J1063 ♣Q63 ♠986 ♣K98 ♥10 ♦A8742 ♣A1042 South West North East Dean Alan Richard Kevin P P 3♥ P P P Rick Melody Bill Steve P P 2♥ P P P
The heart finesse won, so Richard and I both made 140. Oh, how I wish this finesse had lost!
. Board 64 EW vul North W deals ♠86 ♥Q109765 West ♦A942 East ♠9 ♣2 ♠AKJ52 ♥J32 ♥K8 ♦KQJ85 South ♦7 ♣K1086 ♠Q10743 ♣AQJ97 ♥A4 ♦1063 ♣543 South West North East Dean Alan Richard Kevin - P 2♥ 4♣ P 5♣ P P P Rick Melody Bill Steve - P P 1♠ P 1NT 2♥ 3♣ P 5♣ P P P
Dean led the ♥A, so Kevin made his 5♣. Rick led a trump. Steve won and led a diamond to the ♦J and ♦A. I returned the ♥10, and Steve paused to consider. He couldn't read the hearts from either my bidding or my play. However, there was a crucial inference from the opening lead. Rick would be more likely not to lead my suit holding the ace than the queen. So, with an air of resignation, Steve played low and won the match by two imps, 125-123.
This was a hard fought battle, and everyone had their triumphs and tragedies. I wish the Panagopoulos team good bridge in Philadelphia. Wait till next year! I want to thank the players who corrected numerous errors in my rough draft of this article - those that remain are my own. I hope readers enjoyed this exciting match as much as I did.