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The Bowl at Lyon

The Battle for Bronze

58 imps in 64 boards. That was the Bridge Blacks’ target. Nothing to lose. Could they achieve it for bronze?

Set 4 New Zealand 41  Bulgaria 23

As Open captain and chef de mission Derek Evennett said, “after 7 straight losses (against France and Bulgaria), it was great to get a win.” Three big swings, two in the slam zone, with one against the Bridge Blacks, saw the set come our way.

There was no stopping Ashley Bach on Board 21:

Board 21
North Deals
N-S Vul
10 9 4 3
K 8
9 6 3
J 9 7 4
A J 5 3 2
K Q J 8 7 5
K 6
 
N
W   E
S
 
Q J 6
10 9 7 6
A 4 2
A 10 8
 
A K 8 7 5 2
Q 4
10
Q 5 3 2
West North East South
Bach   Cornell  
  Pass 1  1 
2  2  Pass Pass
5  Pass 6  All pass

 

A couple of minor aces and something useful in hearts were what Ashley needed his partner to produce…and Michael Cornell did not let him down. A 2-2 heart break did the rest and New Zealand had 10 imps when their opponents stopped in 5Heart-small.

Bach-Cornell overcame some opposition bidding to reach slam though Ware – Tislevoll did even better a couple of boards later:

Board 23
South Deals
Both Vul
A Q J 8 4
A 8 4 2
J 9 4
10
10 9 7 3
K Q 10
2
K Q 8 7 3
 
N
W   E
S
 
6
9 6 5 3
5 3
A 9 6 5 4 2
 
K 5 2
J 7
A K Q 10 8 7 6
J
West North East South
  Tislevoll   Ware
      1 
Dbl Rdbl 1  2 
Dbl 2  3  3 
5  6  All pass  

 

The Bulgarians found their partial heart fit (x of 2Heart-small probably showing 3 card support) but were much more aggressive when they found their club fit. Meanwhile, Michael Ware was convincing his partner he had a good suit of his own. With 2Heart-small, maybe also 3Heart-small, he might have had ambitions of 3NT. By the time 5Club-small reached him, GeO had a fair idea of what his partner held. From his point of view, the Spade-smallK was either with the doubler (i.e. finessible) or even better with Michael. A very well bid slam to tie this board.

At the end of this set, the deficit had been reduced to 40 imps, certainly “gettable” with 32 boards to play.

Set 5 Bulgaria 48 New Zealand 46

The imps flowed..and for a while in just one direction as after 8 boards, the Bridge Blacks had reduced the deficit to just 14 imps with a slam and a game swing going their way. The slam really was no slam, with Brown- Whibley staying comfortably in game.

Then, just when the match was getting rather interesting, this occurred:

Board 9
North Deals
E-W Vul
J 10 9 2
K 9 8 4
A J 10 7 5
Q 7 6
K Q 9 8 6 4 3
J 7 5
 
N
W   E
S
 
6 5 3
J 10 5 2
2
A 9 8 6 4
 
A K Q 8 7 4
A 3
K Q 10 3 2

 

Ware- Tislevoll and both pairs in the France-USA 2 final played safely in 6Spade-small but the Bulgarian N/S tried for grand. Had Matt Brown (West) been dealt even one trump or had the only diamond not in the West and North hands not been in the East hand, then this would have been a big swing to New Zealand. Alas, three top red tricks followed by 10 tricks with trumps meant the grand was unbeatable..11 imps to Bulgaria.

Three more big swings then went Bulgaria’s way though the Kiwis were not finished as rather aptly, they gained 14 imps on Board 14.

Board 14
East Deals
None Vul
J
10 8 6 5 3
10 6 2
A 8 7 5
8 6 5 4 2
K Q J 4
J 10 9 4
 
N
W   E
S
 
K Q 10 9 7
A 7 2
A Q 7 4
6
 
A 3
9
K J 9 8 5 3
K Q 3 2

 

Michael Whibley (East) was in the normal 4Spade-small contract playing safely for 10 tricks after a heart lead. In the other room, the Bulgarians decided to double Michael Ware (South) in 3Diamond-small. Losing a heart, a club and a couple of trumps, he was home for an excellent 570 in the “in “column.

The swingy set ended with Bulgaria increasing their lead by 2 to 42.

Set 6. New Zealand 43 Bulgaria 17.

The Bridge Blacks needed 43 imps for bronze…and indeed got them. Alas, the 17 in the out tray cost. In the first 6 boards of this set, the deficit actually reduced to just 2 imps. Could this be a huge recovery?

Board 18 got 15 imps for New Zealand:

Board 18
East Deals
N-S Vul
A Q 10 9 4 2
A
A
A Q 8 7 4
K
Q J 7
K J 10 9 6 5 3
K 6
 
N
W   E
S
 
J 8 7 5
10 8 5 4 3
Q 2
J 9
 
6 3
K 9 6 2
8 7 4
10 5 3 2

 

How aggressively should you bid that North hand? The Bulgarian North was left to play in 3Spade-small making two overtricks. Ashley Bach made no overtricks because he got to play and make 6Club-small. He had to lose a trump but that was all.

A game swing and a nice 800 from 3Club-smallX secured more imps but 9 out on Board 23 virtually ended the scoring of imps in the match as Bulgaria won just 8-4 over the last 8 boards to secure the bronze medal.

We can, though, all be very proud of our team’s performance, not just on this day but throughout the whole two weeks of Bridge.

Richard Solomon

 

 

 

 

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