Linda Lee — My personal bridge blog

The finals of the European Open Team Championship

The European Team Championships in Sanremo Italy started with 129 teams from 46 countries.  Going into the last of three segments of the finals of this events the Netherlands White team was facing an Herbst an Israeli team.  The Herbst brothers, Ilan and Ophir were on the Israeli team that did so well in the Round Robin last year in Beijing and I did a blog about that team at the time.

Blog about Beijing Israeli team

So it wasn’t so surprising to see that a Herbst team would make it this far in the event.  I did some commentary on one an early match featuring Ned White.  At the time I thought Ned White was a person but was soon put to rights when I was told that it was one of several teams from the Netherlands.

Coming into the third and last stanza of the final Ned White led by 14 imps, a very close match.  I had watched the Herbst in an earlier stanza and had noticed that they were very aggressive bidders.  I was sure the match would feature very good bridge but exciting bridge too.  The most exciting board of the match was Board 3.   In the Open Room the Netherlands facing a minimum of preemption had arrived at a sensible 6C.  However in the Closed Room the action was fast and furious.  What would you do on these cards? You have:


With your side vulnerable your partner opens 1NT (15-17) and North (Drijver) jumps to 3 natural.  What do you bid?  Zack for Israel found a 6bid.  That would not be my choice.  Anyway South (Brink) bid 6 and it was now up to Barel.


Would you bid 7?  I think I would.  Partner bid 6 without at least three keycards its hard to imagine he doesn’t have hearts controlled and certainly the rest of the club suit.  This was strangely doubled by North, Drjver who held no defensive tricks.  As you can see you basically need two finesse to make and luckily both the spade and diamond finesse worked.

After this result the Herbst team took a one imp lead into Board 5.  But the next two boards were the deciders, the Netherlands winning 7 imps on each board to take the lead back.  Board 5 was interesting.  It talks about something I know I don’t do enough.  Let’s look at the deal in the Open Room where the key decision belongs to Ilan Herbst.  If he had got this one right it would have been enough of an imp difference to win the event.  So no pressure.

Everyone is vulnerable


You are in fourth chair and the auction starts with two passes.  RHO opens 1.  You double.  I know it wouldn’t be to everyone’s taste but that was the way the auction started in both rooms.  Here is how the auction continued in both rooms.

West Wijs North O. Herbst East Muller S I. Herbst
pass pass 1 Dbl
1 2 3 pass
3 pass pass ?

What do you do now?  At first glance it seems automatic to me to pass but as I look at the hand I can see that I might expect to defeat 3 most of the time.  I have two or three trump tricks quite likely, a potential club trick and a spade trick.  Partner has some values for his voluntary 2 bid.  So there is a case for double.  Ilan Herbst passed which is what I know I would have done too.  But Brink doubled.  All of your potential tricks come home.  You do have 3 diamond tricks, a club trick and a spade trick and partner shows up with the HA for you second down trick.  If you double you make +500 to +200 otherwise.  The difference, 7 imps.

You are now down by 6 imps and you come to Board 5.  If you get this one right you can still win the event.  Are you ready for it.  I watched this board live and was surprised by all its twist and turns.  Basically the auction started out the same at both tables.  Here is Ilan Herbst hand.  Once again he is the decision maker at a crucial time.  Partner opens 1and your hand is


Your partner opens 1 and Muller passes.  You bid 1 and it is some sort of transfer, probably to clubs.  On you left you nonvulnerable opponent, Wijs bids 2 for the majors.  Partner passes and Muller bids 2.  What do you bid.? Ilan Herbst bid 3NT.  Its not a bad bid.  You have spades stopped and the hand has likely plays best from your side.  Partner probably has something in hearts.  At the other table East (Zack) bid 3 which makes it a really pressure bid for South who also bid 3NT.  At both tables now the East hand refused to sell and bid 4.  What now?  Do you double, pass or bid?  I am not one to bid now.  I have shown my hand completely.  I have a tenuous spade stopper and no heart stopper and minimum values.  I wasn’t sure about 3NT in the first place.  I double.  I don’t even pass it to partner.  Brink passed and Drijver doubled.  But Ilan bid 4NT.  As it turned out even 3NT doesn’t make.  Here is the whole hand

  O. Herbst  
Wijs QJ10962 Muller
J8632   Q975
AKJ65   Q73
4   QJ653
43 I. Herbst 8

Astute readers will notice that 5 does make although neither table sniffed at a club contract.  After this deal the Herbst team won most of the rest of the imps, a one here, a three there but it was not enough.

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