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NZ Mixed Nearly Pulls It Off.

Some of you may be aware that there was a major on-line teams event last weekend on Real Bridge, organised by the ABF and involving 30 strong teams from Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Thailand, Korea and Indonesia. The event, in honour of the top Australian women’s player who recently passed away, was called The Margaret Bourke Invitational Teams with the consolation named Ted Chadwick Cup.

They played 4x 12 board matches Swiss style on the first two days after which the top 4 played a 24-board semi-final and final (+3rd/4th place play-off) while the rest played a consolation event.

Among a group of strong NZ teams were NZ Mixed which comprised of Jenny Millington- Barry Jones, Liz and Blair Fisher and Jo and Sam Simpson and Cornell (Michael Cornell – Ashley Bach, Peter Newell – Martin Reid). 

Day 1 started reasonably for these 2 teams with NZ Mixed finishing in 8th place after 2 wins, a draw and an absolute thumping inflicted by the Thompson team. That thumping was to have an unusual twist. Meanwhile, Cornell were not far behind their compatriots in 13th place after three wins and a loss.

Day 2 saw consistent performances from these two teams. NZ Mixed had three wins (including one over Cornell) and a small loss while Cornell had two big wins and another small loss. The decimals were to favour Cornell as these were the top 6 at the end of qualifying, with 4 qualifying:

1. Thompson      131.61  Ben Thompson, Renee Cooper, Phil Markey, Joe Haffer

2. Ashton             95.65   Sophie Ashton, Sartaj Hans, Maurits van der Vlugt,

                                          Avi Kanetkar, David Wiltshire, Ellena Moskovsky

3. NZ Mixed          95.01

4. Cornell             94.36

5. Thomson         94.28   Ian Thomson, Paul Dalley, Jon Hunt, Tony Nunn,
                                       Matt Mullamphy, Ron Klinger

6. Japan Seniors 94.18

Given choice of semi-final opponents, Thompson somewhat logically chose the team they had scored 20vps off in the qualifying..but NZ Mixed were after and got their revenge with a fine 83-70 win. (Australians seem loathe to have carry-forwards!) and in the final played Ashton who had a huge 84-18 win over Cornell. The final was close for the first 15 boards with Ashton ahead by only 7 imps at that point but the last 9 boards were small but “one-way” traffic with Ashton winning the match 59-18. Nevertheless, a fine performance from the three Kiwi pairs.

Cornell were narrowly ahead in the 3rd/4th place play-off, a match which had to be curtailed part-way through and finished equal third.

Just one board from each Kiwi team. Jo Simpson picked this as her favourite board from the event, a board which helped her team into the top four.

What would you bid holding as South:

Spade-small Q5  Heart-small 865432  Diamond-small AK43   Club-small T

in this auction:

West              North            East                South

Pass                1Spade-small                   Pass                ?

1Spade-small was Precision style. Jo decided her long suit was worth bidding and soon enough she had another decision:

West              North            East                South

Pass               1Spade-small                   Pass                2Heart-small
Pass               3Heart-small                Pass                   ?

Worth bidding once but twice? Of course, yes, as that partially spade fit and good controls in the minors left just one weakness…trumps! Jo bid to game and was well rewarded when this was the lay-out:

 

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

 

With trumps breaking kindly, there were just two trump and one club loser. Length and shape and placement of honours can all be much more important than how strong you are.

However, placement of honours did not favour Michael Cornell and Ashley Bach in this semi-final board. With their opponents in 6Diamond-small and needing some imps in, they bid to grand slam on the following lay-out:

 

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

 

1Diamond-small showed hearts with 2Diamond-small being a natural reverse. 3Diamond-small agreed the suit with 3NT an offer to play. Both 4Club-small and 4Heart-small were cue bids and were followed by a key-card ask. 5Spade-small confirmed the presence of all the key-cards after which 5NT was a grand-slam try. With a good club suit, Ashley was there.

It looks like the grand slam leads little more than a favourable trump and club break and the ability to ruff two hearts in the West hand. In that case, the spade finesse is irrelevant. All was good except for one thing…that trump break which caused 16 imps to go out rather than  13 in and saw their team suffer a heavy semi-final defeat.

The auction was similar at the other table but West, Sophie Ashton, elected only to bid 6Diamond-small and was heard to comment at the table: “I do not like grand-slams with 4-4 trump fits.” Very prophetic words under the circumstances.

Richard Solomon

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