2010 Fall NABC: Senior KO, Board 57

Board 57 Senior KO Round 4 of 4

Going into Board 57, the Knock Out match was neck and neck.   But still waters can only last so long and on this hand the sparks flew on both tables.   With favorable vulnerability, how do you feel about a preemptive 2 Heart opening bid in first seat with 2=5=4=2 shape?  Well, Bob Hamman’s the bid ultimately drove the opponents to a 4 Spade contract they ultimately would not have chanced.

At least that’s what partner Zia believed when he doubled Bates 4 Spade bid.  When partner preempts but then leads another suit, most often it’s a singleton and pard is looking for an immediate ruff.  But recall Hamman’s shape was 2=5=4=2 so the lead of the Club 8 was from a doubleton.  Zia, believing Bob Hamman was short returned the Club Ace – but it turned out declarer Bates held the stiff Club, leading to a ruff of Zia’s Ace.  Ouch, any return other than the Ace or a Diamond sets the contract.   Playing double dummy is sooo much easier than only seeing half the cards after long hours of grueling play.  Do you think when Bob and Zia went to sleep that night they both wish the opening lead would have been the top of sequence Diamond 10?  Might that lead have come if Zia didn’t risk the double of 4 Spades?  Did the dark angel wisper for Zia to return the Club Ace instead of the neutral Spade Queen?  Questions, questions, questions – that’s what keeps us Bridge-types going…

So when the dust settled in the Open Room, Bates chalked up 790, 4 Spades doubled, making and vulnerable.  Let’s look at the action before going to the other table…

Board 57
North Deals
E-W Vul

♠ 9 6
♥ A Q J 8 3
♦ 10 9 8 6
♣ 8 6

♠ J 10 8 7 5 3
♥ 6 4 2
♦ A 7 5
♣ 7

N

W

 

E

S

♠ A K 4
♥ K 10 9
♦ Q 4 3
♣ K J 10 4

 

♠ Q 2
♥ 7 5
♦ K J 2
♣ A Q 9 5 3 2

West

North

East

South

Bates

Hamman

Wold

Zia

 

2 ♥

2 N

3 ♥

3 ♠

Pass

4 ♠

Dbl

Pass

Pass

Pass

4 ♠ x by West

Trick

Lead

2nd

3rd

4th

1. N

♣ 8

J

Q

7

2. S

♣ A

♠ 7

6

4

3. W

♠ 5

6

A

2

4. E

♠ K

Q

3

9

5. E

♣ K

2

♦ 5

♥ 8

6. E

♣ 10

3

♦ 7

♥ 3

7. E

♦ 3

J

A

6

8. W

♥ 4

A

9

5

9. N

♦ 10

Q

K

♠ 8

Meanwhile, in the other room, Drewski also opened 2 Hearts holding the 2=5=4=2 shape.  Does that make your head spin just a bit?  Again, this was followed by a 2 Notrump balancing bid by Ekeblad.  However, this time South (Krekorian) quietly passed.  And sitting West, Rubin, jumped to 4 Hearts – a Texas Transfer to 4 Spades by Ekeblad.  So this time the lead came from the other side of the table, with the Notrump bidder’s hand closed.

Normally, playing the strong hand as declarer is good for about a trick.  But not so on this hand.  Krekorian was not about to lead his unprotected Club Ace, instead leading the normal high Heart 7 from doubleton.   So this time, seeing the dummy’s exact shape (singleton Club and 5 red suit losers, the defenders got all their due tricks to set declarer Ekeblad by 2 tricks, down 200.

So much for still waters with a 990 point swing to the O’Rourke team over Meltzer’s boys.  Here’s the board in the Closed Room.

Board 57
North Deals
E-W Vul

♠ 9 6
♥ A Q J 8 3
♦ 10 9 8 6
♣ 8 6

♠ J 10 8 7 5 3
♥ 6 4 2
♦ A 7 5
♣ 7

N

W

 

E

S

♠ A K 4
♥ K 10 9
♦ Q 4 3
♣ K J 10 4

 

♠ Q 2
♥ 7 5
♦ K J 2
♣ A Q 9 5 3 2

West

North

East

South

Rubin

Drewski

Ekeblad

Krekorian

 

2 ♥

2 N

Pass

4 ♥

Pass

4 ♠

Pass

Pass

Pass

4 ♠ by East

Trick

Lead

2nd

3rd

4th

1. S

♥ 7

2

J

K

2. E

♠ A

2

3

6

3. E

♠ K

Q

7

9

4. E

♣ K

A

7

8

5. S

♥ 5

4

Q

9

6. N

♥ A

T

♣ 2

6

7. N

♦ 10

Q

K

A

8. W

♦ 5

6

3

2

9. N

♦ 9

4

J

7

And so as the evening went on, and On, and ON – the play was EXTREMELY slow.  Eventually even  the Director couldn’t resist chiding the players to do *something* with the play running late and hour our two after most mortals would finish.  But at the end of a critical and close team KO game, mortals are all tucked in their beds.   Yet the momentum began swinging with this pivotal board with the O’Rourke team winning the match by a modest margin.   And on the next evening, they outright clobbered their opponents to win all the gold.   Well done – great play to the team who seemed to defy gravity!  And who said the out-of-town “away team” gets sleepy, anyway?

Epilogue – While many viewers probably nod their head if partner makes a preemptive 2 Heart call with 2=5=4=2, top players use advanced hand evaluation and tend to “mix it up” a bit when conditions are right.  Here’s some of their considerations:

1. Favorable vulnerability – check
2. First seat (better than second seat) – check
3. Positive shape (5-4-2-2 better than 5-3-3-2) – check
4. Four card suit suit not a major – check
5.  Ideal strength (7-8 losers) – check
6. Top players in the world – check

And as we have witnessed in a top team game, it’s “mano-a-mano” which helps explain why both players opened 2 Hearts.  In fact it was Bob Hamman who once explained the following difference between an IMP and Matchpoint duplicate Bridge game (not an exact quote):

“… In a team IMP game, it’s like two prize fighting boxers going at it for 15 rounds with the best man left standing.   However, in a Matchpoint game, you put the two prize fighters in the ring with a bunch of lunatics…”

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