Linda Lee — My personal bridge blog

Round 14 Open – India versus the Netherlands

Going into Round 14 the Netherlands was in second place well behind group leader Israel, who had pretty well locked up the first spot.  But holding on to a qualifying position was by no means certain, so of course the DUtch needed to do well. 

India had more problems.  They were in the fourth and last qualifying spot but there were a number of teams nipping at their heels.  They needed a good win.

The match started off with a good push when both tables got to a nice slam.  The odd imp changed.  Board 18 was a small loss when nothing much made and the Dutch bought the hand at both tables for a minus each way and so it went while the teams settled in.

Board 21 was the first deal to see a bit of action.  We are playing the blame game.  How do you assign the blame?  You get to adjudicate. 

North-South Vulnerable Dealer North

  ♠ void  
  ♥ 53  
  ◊ AQ9432  
Bakkeren ♣ A10952 Bertens
♠ J9   ♠ KQ7652
♥ AQ972   ♥ K8
◊ K105   ◊ J6
♣ QJ8 Chokshi ♣ K43
  ♠ A10843  
  ♥ J1064  
  ◊ 87  
  ♣ 76  

This was the auction in the Open Room where the Indians were sitting North-South.

West North East South
  1◊ 1♠ pass
2♥ 2NT* pass 3◊
pass pass Dbl* all pass

Problem 1: Bidding.

I am not sure what went wrong.  Apparently East’s double was not penalty but suggested something extra.  What Ray and I call a responsible double.  It says partner I am leaving this one up to you and whatever happens you are responsible.

Would a double of 2NT be a desire to penalize?  I guess so.  Nothing East did seems terrible.  What do you think? 

West: I don’t love this pass.  I have diamonds under the diamond bidder and a soft trick in clubs and the heart ace.  I know that this is going to be mighty close.  But what should I bid?  I wish that I was in the pass out chair and could make the responsible double. 

Opening Lead:

If you are going to double them out then your side better find the right lead on the hand.  Bertens got it right with the ♥K the best lead.

Trick 2

Bakkeren Bertens Convention Card

I checked their convention card and they are playing upside carding.  It appears that at trick one they give count and they are playing upside down carding.  Bakkeren played the ♥ 9 showing exactly 5.  Why did Bertens switch to a spade?  I know there are only two spades missing but North is at least 5-5 and he is known to have two hearts.  He cannot have more than one spade and he is quite likely to have zero.  Not continuing a heart is a major blunder as far as I am concerned.

But maybe he took the ♥9 as something else, a spade suit preference?  I still don’t get it.

The spade switch was a disaster and there was no defence at this point.  So perhaps this is 60-40.  70% for Bertens for screwing up the defence and 30% to Bakkeren who probably should have pulled the double.  What do you think? +870 for the Indians. 

In the closed room they did avoid going for a number East-West.

The auction here was similar to a point.

Dalal Wijs Gupta Muller
  1◊ 1♠ pass
2♥ 3♣ pass pass

This is a tough bid I admit.  I sort of like 3♠.  It’s not perfect though and if 3NT is the right contract you will be playing it from the wrong side or not at all.  I am sympathetic.  Superficially 4♠ looks like the best spot but the bad break is going to doom it.  Best of all Dalal avoided getting doubled as they surely would have been in a major suit.  3NT had no play with the bad breaks.  Do you think Muller should have doubled 3NT by the way?  His vulnerable partner must have a very good minor hand.  I think he might have doubled, even if only to encourage them to play in a major.

In the end 13 imps to India.

On the next board you have a decision to make.  Here is your hand

♠ J854 ♥ AK52 ◊ J65 ♣ J6

Board 22 East-West Vulnerable

Bakkeren Venkataram Bertens Chokshi
    1◊ pass
1♥ 1♠ 2♣ 2♠
pass pass 3♣ ?

This is the auction and this is your decision point.  What do you do?  If you like you can change your earlier call.  I “follow the law”.  I am bidding to the three-level.  Larry, you listening.

If you let them play 3♣ (as the Indians did) you will lose 6 imps.  Going into Board 23 it was India 19 imps the Netherlands 7 imps.

Board 23 is fascinating because it is a battle between declarer and the defenders and it can go either way.  Let’s look at it in closed room first.

All vulnerable

  ♠ 65  
  ♥ A32  
  ◊ AQ63  
Dalal ♣ 6432 Gupta
♠ QJ109   ♠ K72
♥ 9   ♥ KQJ105
◊ KJ10875   ◊ void
♣ A9 Muller ♣ QJ1085
  ♠ A843  
  ♥ 8764  
  ◊ 942  
  ♣ K7  

You arrive in 3NT with no opposition bidding and South (Muller) leads the ♠3.  How do you play the hand? 

On the positive side there is no suit that the opponents can attack that is going to provide them with a lot of tricks.  On the negative side my communication is not good at all. 

Gupta won the ♠Q in dummy and played a heart from dummy.  It seems to me that it is possible for North to figure out what to do at this point.  If he rises on the ♥A the hand is down for sure if his partner has the ♠A and the ♣ K.  Of course there are times when rising on the heart gives up the heart suit (if say partner has the jack) and declarer has an entry to his hand in a black suit.  Maybe it is just too easy double dummy.

The rest of the story isn’t very exciting but Wijs run the heart continuation and got out hearts and Gupta had no problems from there with the favourable club position and all.

In the open room trick one was the same but Bertens decided to go after diamonds and played a high diamond.  This was going to be a good path for eight tricks anyway.  Venkataram lead a heart back from the ace and now it seemed that Bertens was home.  He continued a diamond won by Venkataram.  But a funny thing happened on the way to nine tricks.  When Venkatarm cashed the HA dummy had a very awkward pitch.  Here was the position.

  ♠ 6  
  ◊ 63  
Bakkeren ♣ 6432 Bertens
♠ QJ10   ♠ K7
  ♥ KQJ10
◊ 10875   ◊ void
♣ A9 Chokshi ♣ QJ8
  ♠ A84  
  ◊ 9  
  ♣ K7  

What should dummy pitch?  The defence already has three tricks in the bag and has to make the ♠A.  If Bertens throws a club then Venkataram will continue clubs and the defence will come to the ♠A and the ♣K.  So can he make it?  What does he need to pitch?   This one is for Francine!  I love this ending.  … I am giving you time to work it out… do you see it because Bertens missed it and it cost the Dutch 12 imps.


You have to pitch a spade to set up the eventual endplay.  You are going to want to come down to a three card ending where Chokshi has to keep two clubs and the ♠A.  If you throw a spade you are ready for it. 

If you pitch a diamond then there is no squeeze.   He comes down to the same ending as dummy, equal spades and clubs.  He wins the first spade and puts you right back into dummy on the second spade.

But look what happens when you pitch a spade.  Venkataram puts you back in dummy with a diamond best.  You lead a spade from dummy and duck in your hand.  If Chokshi wins it you have an entry to get to your hand to finesse clubs.  If he ducks you run all the diamonds and eventually throw him in on a spade for a club lead.

Wow and 12 imps to the rampaging men from India who now led 31 imps to 7.

Board 27 was going to help the Netherlands, a lot.  This time both Dalal and Gupta got a terrible result and both were responsible.  I consider it bridge pornography.  I can’t be bothered to writeup the hand other than to say that with the minimum of interference both East and West dramatically overbid their hands to get to 6◊ doubled with no fit and only 23 high card points.  The cards didn’t lie all that well to compound matters and they ended up going for1400 not vulnerable and losing 16 imps.  This brought the score close with India still leading by 6, 32-26.

By the time they reached Board 32, the final board India and the Netherlands were tied.  Board 32 was the final chance for India to win the match.

East-West vulnerable Dealer West

  ♠ void  
  ♥ Q97653  
  ◊ A54  
Bakkeren ♣ KQ103 Bertens
♠ 1074   ♠ K862
♥ K   ♥ AJ10842
◊ J9732   ◊ K108
♣ 9642 Chokshi ♣ void
  ♠ AQJ953  
  ♥ void  
  ◊ Q6  
  ♣ AJ875  



Bakkeren Venkataram Bertens Chokshi
pass 1♥ pass 1♠
pass 2♥ pass 3♣
pass 4♣ pass 4♠
pass pass dbl 5♣
all pass      

Bertens was right.  North-South were not going to make 4♠ and perhaps he should have left it there.  5♣ is in fact an easy make.  Getting and opening club lead Chokshi cashed a spade and conceded a spade trick to the king and ruffed the heart return..  He cashed ♠J and saw the ♠10 drop.  He now made one fatal error.  He didn’t press the claim button.  With only three trumps out and all his spades high he had eleven tricks.  Okay it was late.  At the other table the Dutch reached 6♣ and went one down for a strange push and a strange tie.