July 25, 2024

BBO Vugraph – The Australian Gold Coast Congress – Part 2

BBO Vugraph – The Australian Gold Coast Congress – Part 2

Vugraph #414

We are back on the east coast of Australia for the annual Gold Coast Congress. 148 teams began the journey, but we are now down to just two in the final of the Open Teams. The survivors are DALLEY (Paul Dalley, Arlene Dalley, Tony Nunn and Ashley Bach) and WARE (Michael Ware, Hugh McGann, Brian Mace, Tom Jacob, Pete Hollands and Matthew Thomson).

The format is a 48-board match divided into four 12-board stanzas. We left things at the midway point of the match, with WARE holding a 15-IMP lead, 57-42.

As usual, we start with some problems. Firstly, with only your opponents vulnerable, you are North holding:

What action do you take?

Next, with only your side vulnerable, you are sitting in the North seat with:

What action, if any, do you take?

Finally, with only your side vulnerable, you hold in the North seat:

What action do you take?

While you consider those, we begin early in the third set with both North players facing the first of the problems above.

Arlene Dalley began with a double of West’s 1 opening, and she doubled again when Hugh McGann rebid 1NT. When her opponents finally came to a halt in 2♣, she jumped to the three-level in spades. Even that was not enough to encourage Ashley Bach to bid any more, and quite right he was too.

Matthew Thomson (left) got the defence off to a safe start with two rounds of diamonds, declarer ruffing. Dally cashed one high spade, and was then at the crossroads. Playing the A and a second heart at this point would have endplayed East to concede declarer’s ninth trick. Alternative, playing a low club to the eight in dummy would have left West with no choice but to play a heart. Again, declarer can endplay East with the K.

When declarer instead laid down her second high trump, the defence was in control. She followed with a low club to the eight, but West could now cash the ♠Q and exit with a diamond. Declarer still had to lose a heart and a second club. One down: N/S -50.

Pete Hollands (right) did not waste much time on the auction. Tony Nunn doubled Hollands’ 4♠ overcall, and then had to find an opening lead. The principle that I teach my students is, “Do I have a good reason for not leading my partner’s suit?”

Nunn decided that the answer to the question was “Yes”, and he tabled the 3. This was the only lead to give declarer a chance, and Hollands was never likely to turn down the opportunity. Not only had the opening lead given away the defence’s heart trick, but it also provided Hollands with an entry to dummy, which cost them their trump trick too. Winning with the Q at trick one, Hollands played a spade to the jack and was soon claiming an unlikely ten tricks. N/S +590 and 11 IMPs to WARE.

A couple of boards later, came a deal with plenty of scope for a big swing if anyone got too adventurous.

Paul Dalley’s 1♠ overcall made it hard for N/S to find their best trump fit. Not that they wanted to do so now they had been warned that the suit was breaking 5-0. Many players would automatically re-open with a protective double when 1♠ was passed back to them. Michael Ware (left) remembered to stop and ask himself what he would want to happen if he doubled. The answer appears to be that, unless partner bids clubs, which seems unlikely, you will not particularly like anything he does. Sometimes, discretion has to be the better part of valour.

Had Pete Hollands led his singleton club, the defence might just have managed to go plus. When Hollands instead led his partner’s suit, the 6, declarer was able to scramble seven tricks in his unlikely 5-0 fit. E/W +80.

After the same start, Ashley Bach did back in with a double, and now N/S were in a potential world of trouble. Arlene Dalley passed the double, but Matthew Thomson didn’t like his chances in 1♠-Doubled, so he redoubled for rescue. Hugh McGann (right) might have gambled it out, but he understandably pulled to 2♣, potentially letting his opponents off the hook. But Bach was not satisfied. Did he perhaps think his partner’s pass of 2♣ was forcing? Should it be? Do you know what your regular partner thinks about this situation?

Bach doubled again, this time intending it to be for penalties. Perhaps Dalley would have done best to pass 2♣-Doubled. After all, it’s not game even if it makes, although those vulnerable doubled overtricks do add up quickly.

When Dalley pulled to 2, it seems remarkable that Thomson did not think it was now time to cash in. No, he let the prize-winning fish swim away, and thus Bach got to play 2 at a cost of just 50/undertrick. There were four of them too: E/W +200 and 3 IMPs to DALLEY when it could have been so much more.

DALLEY won a low-scoring third stanza 22-18, so they trailed by 11 IMPs (64-75) going into the final 12-board segment. One of the most important lessons for young bridge players to learn is how to deal with adversity. It is easy to let a disastrous result on one deal affect your performance on the next one. Both North players had to answer the second of the problems above. Let’s see how the players here reacted to what appears to be a very bad board…

Paul Dalley’s light opening made it easy for Tony Nunn (left) to make a penalty double of North’s 1NT overcall. South had nowhere to go.

The defence started with six rounds of spades. They then collected four club tricks and the A for five down. N/S-1400 does not look like a great sacrifice against the +420 available to E/W in their non-vulnerable spade game.

I am not a fan of 1NT overcalls on a featureless 15-count, but this North hand surely has enough redeeming features that anyone would overcall on it. However, sitting in the N/S seats at the table, you would be sure that this was a bad board. In fact, it turned out to be just another dull flat board when exactly the same thing happened at the other table.

To their credit, neither N/S pair seemed to suffer any ill reaction to the debacle. The set continued with every hand closely fought and a number of flat boards. With just four deals remaining, the match score stood at 77-76 in favour of WARE. Then both North players had to answer the last of this week’s problems.

At his second turn, Pete Hollands judged the North hand to be worth a jump to 3. The appearance of a worthless dummy confirmed that even that was optimistic. Tony Nunn led a diamond, Paul Dalley winning with the A and switching to a trump. Capturing the Q with the king, Nunn cashed the K and then had to guess which black suit to open. He chose spades, which saved declarer one trick. Even so he was still one down when the trump did not behave: E/W +100.

In the replay, Arlene Dalley looked even more fondly upon her shapely 19-count, and jumped all the way to game. Matthew Thomson quickly made the contract 8. The defence here was identical to the first table, so declarer was given one trick in the play, but that still did not reflect well on the scorecard. E/W +500 and 9 IMPs to WARE.

Only overtricks were exchanged on the remaining three deals, so WARE held on to win the title by 10 IMP, 87-77 in a match that was a credit to both teams. Congratulations to Michael Ware, Hugh McGann, Brian Mace, Tom Jacob, Pete Hollands and Matthew Thomson.

We will now be hot-footing it back to London now, in order to bring you the best of the action from the prestigious Lederer Memorial Trophy.