Linda Lee — My personal bridge blog

Watching the Spingold final

Last night I watched the Spingold final and it was both exciting and great bridge.  Since it was played on the West Coast the fourth quarter started late but it was definitely worth it.

Here is my real time account.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed watching them play.

Its 11:45 PM and I am watching the final of the Spingold. We are in the fourth quarter as I open BBO.  Boards 1-16 were played in the third quarter and they will be playing boards 17-32. 

They are now playing Board 20. The first four boards were all Gromov, 5 IMPS apiece. This has brought the score to 115 for Gromov and 109 for Welland. This is an interesting deal. You are third to play defending 5H on this auction (all vulnerable)

Dubinin Weinstein Gromov Garner
1D pass 1H 1S
2H 3S 4H 4S
pass pass 5H all pass

You hold S Q854  H 943  D 754  C AQ8

Partner leads the SA and you see this dummy.

S 93 H Q652 D AQJ98 C K2

What do you signal? Do you have a good agreement?  I play that the King asks for count and the ace asks for attitude at the 5-level or higher (below that it is always attitude). So this is easy you discourage or do you?  Weinstein threw the SQ which I am sure was intended to get Garner to switch if he didn’t have the SK. But this got a diamond switch. A costly signalling error which resulted in the loss of a possible game swing. In the other room they played in 4H and only an opening club lead beats four. Declarer held

  S 93  
  H Q652  
  D AQJ98  
Garner C K2 Weinstein
S AJ1076   S Q854 
H 7   H 943 
D 2   D 754
C J97543 Gromov C AQ8
  S K2  
  H AKJ108  
  D K1063  
  C 106  

Board 22 saw a small well earned swing.  On this deal Ron Smith found a great defence to defeat 3D which was made in the other room.  It is amazing how often opening leads are critical to the result on a deal.

You hold S AQ1052 H A5 D J105 C AK10 and open the bidding 1S, eventually you find yourself defending 3D on this auction:

Cohen Balicki Smith Zmudzinski
    1S pass
pass 2D pass 3D
all pass      

Okay over to you. At the other table they lead a "normal" CA and 3D cannot be defeated.  Here Ron Smith started with the SA.  Was he influenced by the fact that the opponents did not try for a notrump game?

Dummy was S KJ  H K874  D 8732  C Q32

Ron continued with a spade to dummy’s SK.  Here is the whole hand.

  S KJ  
  H K874  
  D 8732  
Smith C Q32 Cohen
S AQ1052   S 64 
H A5   H Q10962 
D J105   D 4
C AK10 Balicki C 97654
  S 9873  
  H J3  
  D AKQ96  
  C J8  


Balicki has a lot of work to do.  He led a diamond to his hand and played another diamond seeing the 3-1 break.  The second diamond was a fatal error.  Balicki led a club up and Smith won the CA and played back a high spade ruffed in dummy arriving at this position:

  S —  
  H K874  
  D 8  
Smith C Q3 Cohen
S 105    
H A5   irrelevant 
D J    
C K10 Balicki  
  S 9  
  H J3  
  D Q96  
  C J  

Now Balicki is badly placed leading off dummy.  He led a club to the CJ and Smith’s CK and you can see that when Smith returns a diamond he can’t avoid a heart loser and a spade loser since dummy is now out of trump and he can’t get there fast enough to discard his spade on the CQ.  That gave the Welland team four much needed imps but on the next board they gave back 10 imps when Smith-Cohen missed a 5C game found in the other room.  Team Gromov had outscored Team Welland 28-4 after the first eight boards and were now leading 129 to 113.

The next three boards brought a couple of imps to Gromov and someone noted that Zmudzinski -Balicki were killing Garner-Warner at board of match picking up a lot of uptricks.  In a close match that could be the killer.

There are now only five boards to go and team Welland is down by 18 imps.  Can they come back?  I am going to say no but we will see.

Board 28 is very interesting.  Here is the whole hand.   (As you will notice I have been rotating the boards to keep declarer in the bottom position.)

  S KQ9  
  H 86  
  D KJ108  
Dubinin C KQ64 Gromov
S A7653   S 1084 
H A97   H QJ10 
D Q765   D 3
C 5 Garner C AJ9872
  S J2  
  H K5432  
  D A942  
  C 104  


Dubinin Weinstein Gromov Garner
pass 1NT DBL(1 suiter) 2D (transfer)
pass 2H pass pass
2S pass 3C 3D
DBL all pass    


Gromov’s double showed a one suiter and Garner’s 2D bid was a transfer to hearts.  Dubinin reopened doubled and Garner competed by bidding his four card diamond suit.  Dubinin "expressed doubt" with an aggressive double (or perhaps you think Gromov’s original action was aggressive).  Dubinin led a club and Gromov won and returned the club 2.  Dubinin is thinking about this right now, for a long time.  I think the club should be suit preference but we can see that a heart return here would be fatal.  Oh my, he returned a heart and now Garner is making 3D doubled.  11 imps for Welland who is back in the match trailing by 8.  Do you think that Gromov was wrong to signal for a heart holding the QJ10?

A few imps each way and we are on the second last board with Welland only down by 5 imps. Board 31 is going to be flat. I am going to switch to the other room to check out board 32. 2C by East-West (looks like it will make). At least that is a plus for Welland. To get 5 imps you need at least 170 so North South need +80 to tie the match. They are playing in 1H! If they make 1H it is enough to tie the match (which will lead to an eight board playoff).

Here is the hand:

  S KJ82  
  H 109  
  D J743  
West C J54 East
S 965   S AQ104 
H 86   H Q643 
D KQ52   D 106
C 10986 South C KQ7
  S 73  
  H AKJ72  
  D A98  
  C A32  


It appears that North-South has seven tricks if only South could get to North’s hand to finesse the heart.  The opening lead is a top club and if they defend carefully now they should be able to defeat 1H.  It’s over.  1H is down one trick and Gromov is the Spingold champions by 4 imps.  An exciting and well played match.

1 Comment

DaveJuly 31st, 2008 at 9:52 pm

On one of the late boards, a Vugraph operator scored a contract as 3NT doubled for 100 when it was, in fact, 300. This (accidentally) made the match seem closer than it was. Brent wrote the story for the DB similar to what you described, then had to change it just before we went to press. Nevertheless, it was a great match and very exciting.

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