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A Taste of Junior Bridge: The Junior Channel Trophy 2016
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For those not in the know, the Junior Channel Trophy is an annual competition between Belgium, England, France and the Netherlands. Each team sends 3 teams to compete in the U25s, U20s and girls with each country playing two 18 board matches against each team. This year England was the host country and on the 16th-18th of December, over 60 juniors fought for the title of Channel Champions 2016. Here is a selection of some of the more interesing hands.

West
J1085
A754
1076
J9
North
73
QJ3
AJ832
KQ8
East
AKQ
K2
Q954
A643
South
9642
10986
K
10752
W
N
E
S
2
3
X
P
P
P
D
3X North
NS: 0 EW: 0

This was a deal that caused a lot of stress in two sections of the event thanks to the legendary convention known as the Ekren 2. In the 2nd match between the U25 France and England teams West opened 2 (showing both majors and weak). Initially East was frustrated as they now had a guess to make. Inviting with an artificial 2NT seems normal but finding out partner is minimum and mis-fitting wouldn’t go down well. Of course, simply bidding 2 and missing a game wouldn’t be great either. Two suited opening pre-empts are intended to make the opponents life difficult and induce error, which is exactly what happened! The French North player rated his hand as a 3 overcall and suddenly all of East’s problems disappeared. East doubled and with such a horrible dummy this went for 1400 giving England 16 imps when EW failed to make 3NT in the other room.

In the U20 match the roles were reversed as it was the French that opened 2. Playing for England, North doubled showing 13-15 balanced or any strong hand which is considered a pretty standard defence amongst us juniors, though some play double as takeout of spades and 2 as takeout of hearts. East redoubled and when South and West passed North had a decision to make. Should he try to escape into diamonds or should he pass? Unfortunately, he ran to diamonds and went for 1100 when he found partner had no fit with him. It was talked about afterwards and we believe the best course of action is for North to pass. When redoubled at the 1-level, pass from partner usually shows no preference but at the 2-level pass should suggest defending. There is a risk declarer will make their contract, possibly with an overtrick but if they do it’s likely your penalty will be even more costly. 2 is one off double dummy but deep finesse isn’t usually accurate to real life when 4-2 trump fits are involved.

West
8
K1097
Q109
KJ1063
North
5
J432
AKJ653
Q5
East
KQJ107643
8
82
A4
South
A92
AQ65
74
9872
W
N
E
S
P
P
1
4
X
P
P
P
D
4X East
NS: 0 EW: 0

Against the Netherlands our top U20 player made a good play to go only one off in his doubled contract. When East overcalled 4, South had a value showing double available and led the 7. North took the first two tricks and continued with a 3rd top diamond which East ruffed with the K and South (controversially) declined to over ruff. At this stage declarer has a (somewhat) legitimate play for their contract. Declarer could play Ace and another club for a finesse. If the finesse held and the clubs broke 3-3 he would be able to discard his losing heart. However, this layout isn’t exactly likely and if South really did have Qxx in clubs then surely, they would have taken their A and tried to cash a heart. If declarer took a losing club finesse he would find himself going two off in his doubled contract.

Yes only 2 off. If North won the club and attempted a trump promotion by leading a diamond declarer could discard their losing heart. North could enforce the promotion by cashing the A first but if North had the A and the Q South would be left with a maximum of 7 points which wouldn’t really be a value showing double.

These were they type of calculations going on in declarers head and as there was a fear of a trump promotion he reasoned that playing A, K and running the J discarding the 8, cutting communication and preventing south crossing to Norths A, would prevent the trump promotion. And if North covered the J with the Queen, he could safely ruff low and there would be no threat of South receiving a trump promotion as South would now be marked with the A. However, declarer was worried that North would ruff the J. Declarer wished to draw just one round of trumps before performing this manoeuvre so he innocently advanced the T from hand which South (very controversially) ducked! Now with the threat of North ruffing a club eliminated declarer played A, K felling the Queen! Now the J was good for a heart discard and no one could ruff.

4X made. And the award for best safety play goes to……

Sometimes a board can be surprisingly violent. Like this one.

West
A72
J5
J986
AQJ4
North
Q653
Q103
A75
K106
East
KJ94
AK87
K3
532
South
108
9642
Q1042
987
W
N
E
S
1
X
XX
1
P
P
X
P
P
P
D
1X South
NS: 0 EW: 0

In the final U25 England Vs Belgium match, West opened a short diamond (natural or 12-14 balanced). Wound you take action with the North cards?

As bridge has developed, people (and especially juniors) are making more and more aggressive actions. Doubling a minor suit with a weak NT and 4-3 in the majors is something of a modern trend, known by some as a “continental style double” and known by others as a farce. As this is a junior match you can guess what option was taken. The Belgium North player really stuck the boat out when he doubled with his 4333 11 count and this didn’t go well when East dropped the blue card on the table. Unfortunately, it was South that found himself the victim of his partner’s aggressive action as he was the one that had to declare 1X!

West kicked off with the 5 which ran round to the 9. A club was led and West took the A to shoot another heart through and East drew the lot. West encouraged in spades and a spade was led to his Ace. Next came the Q knocking out the King and declarer led a low spade from dummy. East inserted the Jack, dropping the ten and put West in with his last club. West cashed the 4th club, dummy pitching a losing spade and East baring their K! Now when West led a diamond declarer played low and East faced their cards. 5 down and 1400 to England vs -430 in the other room.

In theory, South can always manage 3 off with an end play against East but this would be far from easy. Even so it seemed that South lost their way in the play. You would have thought junior bridge players would have more practice declaring doubled part scores!

After 3 days of play and 108 boards the winners had been decided. France won the U20s and the Netherlands won both the Girls and the U25s.Congratulations to the winners and thank you to all that took part. Full results can be found on the EBU website.

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