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Canberra National Open Teams Semi - Finals

The two semi-finals in National Open Teams at Canberra could not have been more contrasting. In the first Hans (Sartaj Hans, Sophie Ashton, Peter Gill, Andy Hung, Nabil Edgtton) won the first of the four sets 69-2 over Travis (Barbara Travis, Candice Ginsberg, Alan Watson, Rick Roeder, Kate McCallum, Axel Johannsson). In the next two sets, they extended their lead to 90imps and were granted the fourth set off by their opponents.

Meanwhile, although Don (Rose Don- Michael Courtney, Tania Lloyd- Hugh Grosvenor) led by 30 imps after 16 boards against Jacob (Nick Jacob- GeO Tislevoll, Ella Jacob- Simon Hinge, Jamie Thompson- Matt Smith), it was Jacob who led by 11 with 16 boards to play. With just two boards left Don led by 1 imp plus the 0.1 tiebreaker they received for a higher finishing from the Swiss (there was no other carry-over). These were the last two boards:

Board 31
South Deals
N-S Vul
Q 4 3
Q 8 5 2
A Q 8
7 5 4
A J 10 2
J
6 5
A Q 9 8 3 2
 
N
W   E
S
 
K 7 6 5
K 7 6
10 9 4 3
J 10
 
9 8
A 10 9 4 3
K J 7 2
K 6

 

For Don, Hugh Grosvenor-Tania Lloyd bid the North-South cards to 3Heart-small. Tania received the rather helpful Heart-smallJ lead but still had to lose two tricks in each black suit for +140. Meanwhile, Tislevoll- Jacob were one level higher. The contract could not be made on a red suit or spade lead but Nick Jacob (South) received the even more helpful Club-smallA lead.
All that remained was a miracle lie in the heart suit…and Nick played for it by crossing to dummy and running the Heart-smallQ. Notice that (other than playing for singleton king) in 3Heart-small, declarer needs to do the same after a spade or diamond lead. That brought 10 imps to Jacob who now led by 10.9imps.

Board 32
West Deals
E-W Vul
10 2
8
Q J 8 5 3 2
A K 8 5
Q 9 6 5 3
K 10 5 4
4
Q 9 7
 
N
W   E
S
 
A K 7 4
J 9 6 3
A K
6 4 3
 
J 8
A Q 7 2
10 9 7 6
J 10 2

 

For Jacob, Ella Jacob- Simon Hinge bid the East-West hands to 3Heart-small. Had South led Club-smallJ, declarer would have been held to 9 tricks..3 clubs and a heart but diamonds had been bid and supported. Therefore, the lead was a diamond and Ella made an overtrick.

All eyes were on the other table. Courtney-Don had to bid and make game to win the match. Albeit reluctantly, they did the first part:

West              North             East                South

Don                Tislevoll        Courtney      Jacob

Pass                1Diamond-small                   x                   1Heart-small
2Spade-small                 Pass                Pass               3Diamond-small
Pass                Pass                4Spade-small              All Pass

Michael Courtney needed a little persuasion, wake-up call… whatever you like to call the delayed jump to game. This contract could go two down on North’s heart lead, though the defence needed just 4 tricks to win the match.

GeO led the Club-smallA. The North-South club suit is a nightmare for pairs playing reverse signals. Which club does South play? He wants to say “don’t continue clubs” without wasting his jack or 10. So, play Club-small2. Yet, that is encouraging.

Nick was not to know his partner had a singleton heart. Discourage the club and with two club tricks to take, he would give his partner a ruff to beat the contract. That did not happen. The defence slipped and a rather relieved Rose Don was left to draw trumps and play hearts for one loser. The East-West hearts were just good enough and Don gained back the 10 imps they had just lost to win the match by 1.1 imps, 135.1-134.

The “if onlies” always seem to focus on the boards at the end. Certainly, there would have been other chances for a couple more imps either way earlier in the match. Very unlucky for Jacob. Don will need to be at their best in playing Hans in the final, a great effort in itself of reaching it for a 4-person team.

Richard Solomon

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