Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Grand Slam USA

This is about the USA team selection for the 2013 Bermuda Bowl. The USA are allowed two teams. In order to choose USA1, there is a massive knock out teams tournament, happening right now. If you lose, at any point, you drop into the draw at an appropriate point to compete for the chance to be USA2.

I've been watching some of the matches on BBO. My favourite player is Zia Mahmood, so I follow his Fleisher team. On the deal below it looked like he had nothing much to do, but he still made a crucial difference (which I'll mention at the end).

The matches are over 120 Boards. This must have been the most important one in Fleisher's quarter-final. Here's the hand and auction, provided in the daily bulletin (click on it to enlarge, or open it in a new tab):

You can see that on the 1st table the Fleisher team, sitting East-West, are playing 7♦. This needs the Diamonds to come home, which they do unless it's a 3-0 split. Although it feels more natural to cash the ♦K first then lead to the ♦AJ it could work just as well cashing the ♦A first, so it's a complete guess. When South lead the ♣Q, declarer did guess correctly to start with ♦K, and then finessed North to claim all 13 tricks.

At the 2nd table the contract was 7NT. I think West bid it because he knew with his Heart suit there could be a chance for 13 tricks even if Diamonds split badly. As it happens, declarer did get Diamonds wrong. There was indeed still a chance for 13 tricks, if he got Hearts right (played for the drop) and then squeezed North in Diamonds and Spades. This is the advantage of being in 7NT, a second chance to make the contract. However, the disadvantage of being in 7NT is that if you go wrong you go lots down. Declarer, seeing that South was void in Diamonds finessed the ♥J and went six off.

Here's what the daily bulletin said:

Fleisher went on to win the match, and set up a semi-final against the Spector team.

A final note - the Daily Bulletin was slightly wrong. I know this as I watched the hand live. On the second table, against 7NT, Zia was on lead. He didn't lead the ♣Q, which would give away that he had long Clubs, but instead made the strange looking lead of the ♣T. This seems harmless, but maybe lead declarer to think that South had short Clubs, leading him to guess to play South for the long Diamonds and go down.

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