Linda Lee — My personal bridge blog

The Final Quarter of the Vanderbilt Finals

When I put on BBO to watch the last quarter of the Vanderbilt I am pleased to see that the score is close with the Diamond team trailing the Katz team by 16 imps.  I have the TV on in the background showing the curling Canada Cup.  It is the Men’s Finals too with the Martin team, who are in my opinion the current top curling team in the world playing the Ferby team.  The Martin team has just come off winning the Canadian Championship (the Brier) and the team is noticeably tired.

It only takes one board before the action starts in the Vanderbilt.   In the open room the auction on Board 50 seems normal enough.  You are white on red holding

♠ QJ10
♥ Q5
◊ J109765
♣ A6

Here your partner opens 2◊ showing 11-15 and diamond shortness.  South doubles.  Unfortunately I don’t know what that double means.  It certainly shows cards but more than that I cannot say.  What do you do on this hand?  Partner is not likely to have a five card major (the way I play it partner can’t have a five card major but the description on BBO suggests that they could be 5-4-0-4).  There may be no better place to play this hand than diamonds.  It does look to be your hand.  I don’t know enough about their system to know what each bid means but the question is where do you want to head.   Notrump seems a possibility but maybe diamonds is as good as anywhere else.   Hampson redoubled which I assume is for penalty and he was unlucky when Sadek could sit there.  Sadek held

♠ AQ832
♥ AJ87
◊ AQ832
♣ 5

The whole deal was

  ♠ 7654  
  ♥ 1032  
  ◊ K  
  ♣ 98742  
♠ QJ10   ♠ K82
♥ Q5   ♥ K964
◊ J109765   ◊ 4
♣ A6   ♣ KQJ103
  ♠ A93  
  ♥ AJ87  
  ◊ AQ832  
  ♣ 5  

Playing in 3◊doubled the defense took their side suit winners and Greco had to play guess diamonds to hold 2◊redoubled to down 1.  He didn’t and he was –600 for a loss of 11 imps on what looked like a “nothing” hand.   Meanwhile in the curling the Martin team unexpectedly lost a four ender to trail Ferby 4-1.  This is a lot harder to overcome than 11 imps.

Board 52 was a strange board with an unusual set of “tactical” bids.  Moss didn’t know about the 11 imp loss a few boards back.  Did he suspect his side was down and needed a lift or did he just decide that this was a good way to handle this hand?

Brad held

♠ K3
♥ AKQ6432
◊ 74
♣ Q5

He was in third chair with both vulnerable and opened a strange 2NT showing a balanced 20-21.   When Fred bid Stayman he denied a major.  I guessed he figured Fred wasn’t looking for hearts.   This auction is particularly interesting because Ray tells me that he is editing a book by Marshal Miles where a very similar hand in a very similar situation is discussed and Marshal discusses the possibility of opening 2NT.  Maybe this is a classic pysche that I just don’t know about.  How did this board turn out? Gitleman bid 4NT over the 3◊ response to Stayman and Moss of course passed hoping that where there are nine tricks there are ten tricks.  The opening lead was the ◊3 and this was the whole deal:

  ♠ AQ107  
  ♥ 98  
  ◊ KJ85  
Weintstein ♣ J82 Levin
♠ J9   ♠ 86542
♥ 1075   ♥ J
◊ 10632   ◊ AQ9
♣ A1094 Moss ♣ K763
  ♠ K3  
  ♥ AKQ6432  
  ◊ 74  
  ♣ Q5  

Moss played the ◊J and Levin won his ◊Q.  As you can see there are at least ten tricks assuming a heart split (and actually eleven since the spades play for four winners) if you can only get the lead.  Levin has to find a club shift to beat the hand.  On the auction a heart shift would seem attractive but there is something weird about this deal.  Levin can see 21 HCP so Moss has at most 19.  Okay that is possible.  Partner could have seven small hearts I suppose and no other high cards.  But if that is so do you have any chance at all to beat 4NT.  Moss would have four spade tricks, at least two club tricks with the finesse and three heart tricks.  If declarer is 3-3-2-5 then he has more club tricks coming etc.  Levin took quite a while to make a play at trick two.  It was just too much to smell out and he decided to go passive with a heart return and Moss had his eleven tricks.  At the other table on a normal auction North-South reached 4♥.  Now if only Hampson could find a minor suit lead.  But alas he made a normal looking spade lead.  The board was a push.

What do you think about the 2NT opener?  Do you think there is any chance Levin could have found a club shift?

In the end the Diamond team could not generate any positive action and Katz won a closely contested final 107-80.  In curling, the Martin team fought its way back and won the match.  The funny thing was that in the end the Martin team didn’t look tired at all.

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