Linda Lee — My personal bridge blog

Open US Team Trials: Nickell goes to the World Mind Games

USA had to pick one team this year, not the two they chose in the Bermuda Bowl.  18 teams started and in the end to the original top seeds:

Nickell,Katz, Hamman-Mahmood, Meckstroth-Rodwell playing Diamond,  Platnick,Greco-Hampson, Moss-Gitelman.  

There is a story here.  Diamond, the team that has just not quite been able to win a team trials and Nickell, with Hamman perhaps coming near the end of his incredible bridge playing career.

We all knew that the bridge would be interesting and fun and good and we all wondered if Diamond could break the curse of the bridesmaid.  The last segment of the Final started with Nickell having a 30 imp lead against Diamond 240-210.  

The first two boards presenting some bidding challenges and the two teams traded double digit swings.   Board 2 shows what happens when a psyche goes bad in an interesting way.


♣ –  

 With North-South vulnerable Hampson was in first chair and he took advantage of the vulnerability to open one spade.  Greco bid two clubs, game forcing and when this was passed back to Rodwell it was obvious what was going on.  Rodwell picked double as his most flexible choice.  Now what do you think Meck should do?  He does have 12 high card points.   Have they ever discussed this situation!  Anyway he bid two hearts.  Rodwell might have given this a bump but he passed it.  So there they were in two hearts when they almost certainly would have been higher without the pysche.

At the other table they had a more normal auction passed, Moss opened one spade and Hamman ventured one notrump.  Gitelman doubled and Zia redoubled for rescue.  Hamman pulled to two clubs and Gitelman just bid 3NT.  The auction had made it quite easy for Zia to play a club and now when Gitelman made the obvious diamond play 3NT went down three.  At the other table Meckstroth did make two uptricks in two hearts but only because Greco defending the partscore did not give Hampson a ruff.  So Nickell won ten imps on the board because Hampson’s pysche had keep them out of game which did not make.

The last hurrah for Diamond came on the second last board.  Down by 14 imps, iin the Closed Room, Nickell had gone down 200 in a vulnerable slam.  If Hampson-Greco avoided the slam it would narrow the margin to about an imp with one board to play.


Dealer: South
Vul: Both
♠ AJ  
♠ KQ10  
♠ 865432  



Hampson Greco
1NT 4 
6  6NT
all pass  


Meckstroth, South passed.  Hampson opened 1NT, 14-16.  Greco bid four spades which was a mild slam try, described as weaker than 4NT.  This was a conservative position probably influenced by his 4-3-3-3 shape.  But Hampson who had a fill 16 with a five card suit could not be blamed for bidding a slam.  He bid six clubs along the way to give Greco a choice of slams and this was converted to 6NT.  As it turned out there is no play for 6NT and this ended Diamond’s chances.  There was some discussion during the bidding about whether Hampson might take a swing by not bidding the slam.  But even if her had been inclined to do that he could not have had any idea about where they stood in a match that was as close as this one.




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