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Canberra National Open Teams Final

It was never going to be easy for Don (Rose Don- Michael Courtney, Tania Lloyd- Hugh Grosvenor) in the final of the National Open Teams against Hans (Sartaj Hans, Sophie Ashton, Peter Gill, Andy Hung, Nabil Edgtton). Even though Don lost by a comfortable margin, they could lay a good claim to be the second-best team present.

They were the only team to beat Hans in the qualifying Swiss (by 2 imps), Hans’ smallest victory being by 19 imps. Also, they were the only team in the knock-out stages close enough to force Hans to play the fourth set. Don led after a high scoring first 16 boards,52-45, but lost the other three sets by 23,54 and 34 imps to leave the final score at 202.1-98. Conclusive.

If you ever feel that you always make the wrong lead, then take comfort from the fact that it happens to the runaway winners of the NOT too:

Board 9
North Deals
E-W Vul
8 6 5 2
6 4 3
A J 10 6 4
A J 3
Q 9 7
Q 2
Q J 8 6 2
W   E
K Q 4
10 8
K 5 3
A 7 5 4 3
10 9 7
A K J 5 2
9 8 7
K 10
West North East South
Don Hans Courtney Gill
  Pass 1  1 
2  3  Pass Pass
3 NT All pass    


Firstly, Rose Don asked her partner for more information, especially a heart hold with her 2Heart-small bid. Then, when her partner was unable to provide one, she went for the 9-trick game herself.
After a heart lead and losing club finesse, any West would have no chance. However, Sartaj Hans tried the sneak attack, his own diamond suit. He led low but none of the bottom four diamonds would have worked. Rose won in her hand, lost the club finesse and would have been very relieved that the Heart-smallQ provided her 9th trick.

Meanwhile, 3Diamond-small by North failed by a trick at the other table to give Don 11 imps.
Generally, though, Hans’ defence was stronger. Board 1 in the 3rd stanza set the tone for Don's disaster set which defined who would win the final:

Board 1
North Deals
None Vul
K 4
Q 9 8 7 5
A 10 6 5
A J 8 6 5 3
K 7 4
W   E
Q 9 7
8 6 5 2
K Q 9 8 4
10 2
A 10 9 3
10 6 4 3
7 3 2


At both tables, the final contract was 4Spade-small by West after North-South had started 1Diamond-small- 1Heart-small. Both North’s led Heart-smallQ but only Sartaj Hans and Sophie Ashton managed to defeat this contract. Sophie found the necessary duck of the Heart-smallQ at trick 1. The declarer tried Club-smallJ. Sartaj took his ace and was able to continue hearts. Sophie took two heart tricks with the Spade-smallK being the fourth trick for the defence. Simple? Not quite so after a week of quality bridge.

I hope you have enjoyed this coverage of events in Canberra. I would like to thank Matt Brown and GeO Tislevoll for providing detail of hands earlier in the two weeks.

Richard Solomon

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