Tuesday, 31 July 2012

U20 World Championships - part 7

So we have just qualified for the quarter finals of the World Championships, and in the end it was quite close.

Our team scored 15-15 and 15-15 with Singapore and Japan, but as it turned out even two huge wins would not have been enough to come in 4th place as the other results didn't go our way.

It was worth noting that Italy (who we beat 24-6) and China (who we beat 16-14) were just behind us in joint 8th/9th, so both of those results were crucial.

This was one bright spot from the final match against Japan:

S A x x x
H A Q x x x
C A x x
S Q 8 7
H K 10 8 x x x
D J x x
C x

You bid to 6H after South has opened 1D and North has raised pre-emptively to 3D.

What now?

As usual the thing to look out for when you have a huge fit and shortages is an end-play. The Japanese declarer started well by ruffing clubs and diamonds and drawing trumps (1-1) leaving himself with just the spade suit to sort out.

He eventually tried a spade off the dummy and Chris (sitting north) played the ten — what now?

Thinking that South had short spades, something like 2-1-5-5 shape, he ducked hoping that the king would fall on the next round. Freddie now overtook the ten and played another and Chris claimed one off, having started with K109x in spades.

Rather than try and sneak a spade to the 8 declarer should have played ace and another putting up the queen, which gains when North has the king or when South has it doubleton. Nevertheless a good shot by declarer and goes to show the high standard of this event — as this was from the team that was bottom!!!

Tomorrow we face Poland who as European Gold Medallists are favourites for the event, but their bidding is notoriously unstable, and while they play the cards well so do my team. Alex as ever found a way to see the bright side of things when he pointed out that the advantage of beating Poland in the quarter finals rather than the final would be that we don't have to hear the Polish National anthem at the closing ceremony!

We shall see....

Monday, 30 July 2012

U20 World Championships - part 6

Today we cemented our qualifying position, but we need a final good day to have a chance of making the top 4.

We started with the Norwegians, who are normally more threatening than they were this morning.

A moderate start became a losing position, but we pulled it back with interest to win 19-11.

This hand seemed obvious to me and Chris who held it:

S K 8 2
D K 10 9 8 7 6 4 3 2
C 5

The textbooks remain strangely silent about what you should bid on hands like these, but at game all I can't see anyone with red blood bidding less than 5D. That's how it appeared to Chris too, and he was greeted with a double and a singleton trump in the dummy. Freddie also put down the ace of clubs though, and only a trump promotion got it two down for 500.

4H made a comfortable 11 tricks next door so 4 imps to the good.

The second match we lost to the French heavily when both rooms struggled a bit.

Once more we bounced back with a good thrashing of Argentina. Unfortunately the match was marred by a director call on the first board which took a lot of time and seemingly made the match a bit more hurried.

This was the interesting first board that shows you should never give up:

S K 5 3
H A Q J 10 3 2
D 10 9
C Q 10
S A Q 7 4
H 9
D A K J 8
C K J 6 3

You bid to 6NT after West shows the minors, and East doubles it — what do you do?

A diamond lead is led and the ten holds on dummy, if you overtake it and lead a club to the queen, you have a chance of a brilliancy....

West is 6-6 (in the minors) and east 6-5 (in the majors) so once the queen of clubs holds you are home! Simply play a heart off the dummy towards your 9.

If East puts the king up you have 11 easy tricks (3 diamonds, 1 club, 4 hearts, 3 spades) and when you cash the ace and king of diamonds East is squeezed. There is no guess to make as either the hearts become good or if one is still out then the spades are.

Instead if East ducks then you knock out the ace of clubs and again you have 11 tricks (3 clubs, 3 diamonds, 2 hearts 3 spades) and East is again squeezed in the majors on the run of the clubs and diamonds.

In the open room our declarer was put off by the hesitation when he played a club to the queen and 9, clouded by the fact that East had given preference to clubs during the auction. The directors were sympathetic, but they didn't feel they could adjust the score because declarer had taken a very long time to play to trick one and it was thought that East needed a bit of time to wake up and realise what suit was being played. However declarer did recover to strip and end play East to get out for down one, -100.

Why does this show you should never give up?

When we came to score up the other table read out first (as they always do when I watch one table) and announced "plus 500" for win 9 imps.

At the end of the scoring I ventured to ask what contract they had doubled, thinking perhaps they had bid to 6H or something fanciful.

"Oh, I doubled 4S" said Alex.
"I suppose I should have passed, but I was fairly sure they wouldn't run to 4NT" he added, almost as an afterthought.

Tomorrow we have a bye (18vps) then lowly Singapore and bottom placed Japan — time to relax and enjoy the pressure being off before the quarter finals the day after.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

U20 World Championships - part 5

Another tough day, but again a disappointing result was followed by a solid one.

Against Israel we lost 24-6, with several key swings on hands that could have gone the other way.

This was one bright spot that saved a few VPs:

S K 8
H A Q 10 8 7 2
D 5
C K 9 8 3
S J 7 5 3 2
H J 9 5 3
D K Q 7
C 2

Alex Roberts was North and reached 4H after a heavy weak two 3rd in hand and a deceptive 2NT enquiry by Shivam.

East led the queen of clubs to the ace and the queen of spades was switched to, Alex winning the king.

Without a moment's thought he banged down the ace of trumps and dropped the singleton king offside. I tried to explain to him about finessing, but he has always struggled with card combinations. Worse was that he even claimed his line was "completely obvious" and that he had counted points and that the fact that west had failed to open the bidding told him where the king of trumps was! All nonsense of course, and he's lucky I don't put him on the first plane home. If it's one thing I can't stand it's people that do something clever — especially when it works! Ah well, it's better to be lucky than good. (I've heard some people say that sarcasm doesn't come across well in print — I trust that isn't the case here)

In the second match we played China who were rather unstable and our team showed great appreciation of what to do with a double fit in both rooms:

Game all, dealer North.
S K 10 9 8 7
H A K Q 8 6 3
C 7 4
S J 6
H J 10
D K 10 9 4
C K Q 9 8 2
S 5
H 5
D A J 7 6 5 3 2
C A 10 6 5
S A Q 4 3 2
H 9 7 4 2
D Q 8
C J 3

In the open room Toby opened 1H as North and East overcalled 2D, and Michael sitting South bid 2NT to show a limit raise or better in hearts. West bid 3C presumably for the lead (4C would have been a fit jump and a more sensible bid) and Toby bid 3S to show his second suit, always a good plan in murky auctions. East bid 4NT (which on one side of the screen was blackwood and on the other was choice of games!) and Michael knowing of the double fit bid 5H. West passed and East bid 6C converted to 6D which came back to Toby. What now? Partner hasn't doubled 6C so he will have values in spades, so it seemed safer to bid on, and 6H ended the auction and was one down.

This seems a shame as we had a chance of a plus score, but when you see things from the closed room you appreciate that taking out insurance is a sound policy.

This time Alex as East overcalled 3D weak and Shiv made a fit non jump of 4C over 3D. North bid 4H, East 5C, and eventually Alex saved in 6D over 5H. South doubled and cashed his ace, and north encouraged — two easy spade tricks to take.....

That was a painless 1540 in the plus column and 16 imps to England. "Thanks for coming lads, but we won't be seeing you in the knock outs" I felt like saying as China were disposed of.

Tomorrow we have an unstable Norway, solid boring France and rather loose Argentina, and we hope to make our qualification look more likely.