Thursday, 17 August 2017

"Lightning" Strikes! Venice Cup, Lyon, Day 5

Day 4 was a good one for team England, with three victories.   The morning match against arch-rivals, the Netherlands, had a dramatic climax - see below!

One aspect of an international tournament is that of the many different systems and approaches adopted.   For example, rather than being the norm as it would be in England, the "Weak No Trump" is regarded by some with a fair degree of suspicion and some players need very little excuse to double it.   This can lead to some very exciting bridge!

Imagine you are Nevena Senior, at unfavourable vulnerability, holding:

S K102   H  84   D 97653   C K106

Sandra Penfold's 12-14 NT opening is doubled and so you remove to 2D, which, in turn is doubled for take-out - an anxious moment, perhaps?   Your LHO decides to remove to 2S (whew!) and, suddenly, there is a chance to turn the tables as the opponents continue, trying 3NT.   Nevena found a very sharp double of her own.   This was vindicated when a ruthless defence resulted in defeating the contract by four tricks - +800.   One up for the Weak No Trump!

In yesterday's encounter with the Netherlands, there were many swings and exciting deals.

Here is one of the big hands:

Board 22. Dealer East. E-W Vulnerable.
♠ Q
K Q 4 3
7 5 4
♣ T 7 5 3 2
♠ A J 9 7 6 4
A Q 9 3
♣ A 9
Bridge deal♠ K 8 5 2
A T 9 8 7 5 2
♣ -
♠ T 3
T 8 6 2
♣ K Q J 8 6 4

Carla Arnolds         Sally Brock    Martine Verbeek          Fiona Brown
        North                    East                   South                        West
                                      1H                      2C                             2S
          4C                       5C                    Pass                           5NT
        Pass                      6H                    Pass                            7S

Sally's 5C bid showed a good hand with spade support and a void in clubs.   Fiona and Sally have an agreement that they can bid 5NT to ask for key-cards when 4NT has been by-passed, which proved to be extremely useful on this hand.   It elicited a 2 key-card response and Fiona leapt to the making grand-slam - very impressive but just a flat board!

The Dutch had opened up a 13 IMP lead when the final board of the match appeared.

Board 32. Dealer West. E-W Vulnerable.
♠ 8 5
Q 7 6 4 3 2
Q 7 6
♣ T 7
♠ K Q J T 7 2
K 9 5 3
♣ A Q 9
Bridge deal♠ A 6
J 8
A J T 8 4 2
♣ 6 4 2
♠ 9 4 3
A K T 9 5
♣ K J 8 5 3

Catherine Draper        Wietske Van Zwol    Nicola Smith          Magdalena Ticha
        North                               East                    South                         West
         Pass                                3D                        3H                            6S !
          7H                                  7S                       Double !                

East's 3D response was natural, non-forcing and invitational, based on a strong suit.   Opener's rebid certainly put the cat amongst the pigeons and Catherine was faced with her first difficult decision.   With impeccable judgment, she took out some insurance by sacrificing in 7H, only to find that her next decision would be that of finding the best opening lead to 7S, which Nicola had doubled.

Doubles of this kind, referred to as "Lightner", have lead-directing overtones.   The rationale is that by doubling, a player can direct partner to find a lead that, otherwise, would not have been chosen.   There are many variations on this theme but against slams in suit contracts, such doubles are often used to obtain a ruff at trick one.  

Certainly, Catherine had been asked to find an unusual lead.   In the cauldron of a World Championships, on lead to a doubled grand-slam, it is imperative to keep a clear head.   Without the double, a club lead might have been indicated because, obviously, the opponents are fully prepared for a lead of the bid and agreed suit.   So Catherine reasoned that Nicola was after a diamond ruff and, accordingly, led one.

One off and victory in the most dramatic fashion!

Since then we have chalked up three more wins, the last of which was an emphatic victory against the strong Chinese team this morning and we are now in a healthy third place.

After 13 rounds, the "scores on the doors" are:


Derek :)

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