Squeezing The Dummy

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Nightmare Set Part 2

When we last left off Italy had outscored us 36-0 in the first 4 boards of the final 16 board segment of the World Youth Teams. They were still down 60 but they had momentum and nothing to lose at this point.

On board 5 systemic differences contributed to a swing. At our table the Italians opened 1 with 4432 shape. This enabled them to easily get to 3 in their 6-2 fit where there was nothing to the play. In contrast, Grue opened 1 and Kranyak had a normal 1N response so clubs were missed. Kranyak could have made 1N by playing for a finesse but instead he took a line requiring 3-2 clubs and 4-4 diamonds. This may seem strange, but it just shows that fatigue is really a factor in these marathon events. Grue and Kranyak played every single board for our team, and this was the last set. If you are ever going to lose focus a 1N contract in a match that you're supposed to have locked up is the time to do it. Kranyak would never have misplayed this hand had he been fresh, but as it was we lost 5 imps.

Italy 41 USA 0

On board 6 our opponents got to 5 with a trump suit of AJT86432 opposite 7 needing to play it for 1 loser. Playing low to the jack caters to KQx onside but loses to Kxx or Qxx onside. The odds are exactly the same for both plays (2 cases each of 3-1 splits). However, getting to dummy to lead up to the AJT would run the small risk of a ruff should a side suit split poorly so declarer played the ace from hand. It was KQ9 onside so he went down 1. This was a potential plus position for us but in the other room Grue played the same way, no swing.

Italy 41 USA 0

On board 7 Ari picked up KJ7654 T3 K87 AJ. With everyone vulnerable he opened 1 and I raised to 2. He had a preemptive 3 bid available now and had to choose whether or not to use it. Personally, I like passing. The only reason to bid is if you fear the opponents can make something at the four level as you can always bid 3 after passing if they balance. With so much defense and no shortness, that risk seems pretty small. Given that you don't need to shut them out of the four level, passing is best because you might buy it there. Ari did bid 3 and went down 2 after misguessing the play. In the other room Lo Presti passed in the same position and got to play it there. He judged the play well and made, so we lost 7 imps. Sometimes these seem like nothing hands, but these 5 and 7 imp losses were adding up quickly.

Italy 48 USA 0

On board 8 I picked up A96432 --- K765 T87. Partner passed, and RHO bid 1. With nobody vul it felt right to jam them with a 2 preempt. The auction proceeded 3 on my left, 4 from partner, 5 on my right, pass, 6 on my left. Partner now doubled them! He was asking for an unusual lead, so I had to pick which minor he wanted.

I considered laying down the spade ace on the assumption that we needed two tricks, so the ace of spades would need to cash. Then after seeing dummy I could tell which minor my partner wanted. Partner may have a trump trick and a void though, or my diamond king may be scoring so if the spade ace got ruffed that would be a disaster. Obviously diamonds is most likely to be partner's void since I have more of them, but a club lead was attractive for a couple of reasons. For starters, if partner was void in diamonds RHO may still hold the ace allowing me to set the contract anyways if I could score my king later. However, if partner had a club void a diamond lead would almost certainly let the contract make. Also, if LHO is bidding based on a long solid minor and heart support it is far more likely that he has clubs since he could have all the honors in that suit. It didn't sound like they had enough HCPs for slam, so they probably had a compensating trick source. After agonizing for several minutes I chose a club to lead.

Partner was void in diamonds, but had 5 trumps and ended up with 2 natural winners anyways to go with my spade ace. It was all irrelevant and we collected a satisfying 300. At the other table the auction had the same start except that 3 showed exactly 3 hearts. Grue, with KT AKT65 JT842 9 didn't like his chances at the five level with an just 8 card fit and the wasted spade king, so he Xed to tell his partner not to bid. His partner obediently passed, but with both opponents void in a red suit the contract proved to be unbeatable! That was 590 and another 7 imps to Italy.

Italy 55 USA 0

After 8 boards Italy had not only shut us out, they had scored an incredible 55 imps themselves! They were down to a manageable 41 imp deficit with 8 more boards left. Usually that would seem like a lot, but since they had just scored 55 imps in the same amount of boards and had tremendous momentum it seemed feasible to everyone that they could win. By the change in their expressions at the table, the Italian players also seemed to believe it.

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