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Bermuda Bowl RR3: MONACO vs. CHINA
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The World Championship schedule isn't friendly for those of us in the Pacific time zone, but I managed to watch the first half of MONACO vs. CHINA in the 3rd round of the round-robin.  For this segment, the players were MONACO (Helgemo, Helness, Martens, Allavena) vs. CHINA (Y. Chen, Zhao, Dai, L. Yang).  

The first board was a partscore battle.  Helness was on lead after RHO opened 1 and was raised to 2 to close the bidding  He held:

East
Q95
K43
A5
K7532
W
N
E
S
1
P
2
P
P
P

What would you lead?

East
Q95
K43
A5
K7532
W
N
E
S
1
P
2
P
P
P

No choice is incredibly attractive but Helness selected the diamond ace.  The full deal:

West
K863
10
KJ42
10864
North
J74
AQJ82
Q63
A9
East
Q95
K43
A5
K7532
South
A102
9765
10987
QJ
W
N
E
S
1
P
2
P
P
P
D
1
2 North
NS: 0 EW: 0
A
7
4
3
2
0
1
5
8
K
6
0
0
2
2
Q
3
9
2
0
3
5
A
6
4
3
1
3
5
10
Q
K
2
1
4
9
2
K
J
0
1
5
J
J
2
10
1
2
5
7 tricks claimed
N/S -50
7

The diamond ace lead struck gold.  After three rounds of diamonds ruffed by East, Helness, knowing that North likely held the club ace for his opening bid, found the killing spade shift.  Declarer won and tried the trump finesse, losing.  At this point, the defense had down 2 but lost their way: a spade continuation put West in and he tried to promote the hypothetical heart jack in his partner's hand.  Unfortunately, declarer held that card and the diamond return gave him the opportunity to endplay East, salvaging down 1. Perhaps East should have exited his last trump or the Q to prevent partner from going wrong in the endgame, but it's an easy play to overlook when you're focused on beating the contract.

An interesting question is whether declarer should have gone up with the spade ace at trick 4.  A cursory analysis seems to indicate that doing so practically guarantees two spade losers, which, coupled with the 3 tricks already taken by the defense, leaves declarer needing to play both round suits for no losers to make his contract.  Ducking a spade (and unblocking the J to guarantee two dummy entries) will result in a nasty-looking diamond back, but declarer can ruff with the J, take the likely working spade finesse, and hope to pick up both round suits for 1 loser.

At the other table, North opened 1NT instead of 1 and bought the contract there.  East made the standard but fatal club opening lead, allowing declarer to take 2 clubs, 4 hearts, and a spade to make his contract and win 4 IMPs for MONACO.

Board 2 saw a common bidding decision:

North
KQ54
K10
AJ54
AQJ
W
N
E
S
P
P
3
?

What call would you make?


North
KQ54
K10
AJ54
AQJ
W
N
E
S
P
P
3
?

Chen bid 3NT; Martens doubled (presumably planning on pulling hearts to notrump).  The full deal:

West
A9
Q97
Q
K1075432
North
KQ54
K10
AJ54
AQJ
East
873
J654
K9632
6
South
J1062
A832
1087
98
W
N
E
S
P
P
3
X
P
3
P
4
P
P
P
D
2
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
Q
A
2
7
1
1
0
4
8
10
A
0
1
1
7
K
4
2
1
2
1
K
3
2
9
1
3
1
Q
7
6
2
1
4
1
4
3
8
3
3
5
1
10
4
5
K
2
5
2
6
3
5
J
1
6
2
11 tricks claimed
N/S +650
8

The flexible double was able to unearth a good 4-4 spade fit.  However, both games made comfortably and the net result was just 1 IMP to MONACO.

Board 3 saw CHINA reach a thin 3NT that was booked to go down:

West
K1082
AJ83
QJ32
A
North
AQ
K10975
K98
J97
East
743
62
A754
KQ64
South
J965
Q4
106
108532
W
N
E
S
P
1
1
1
P
1NT
P
2NT
P
3NT
P
P
P
D
3
3NT West
NS: 0 EW: 0
7
2
Q
A
0
0
1
Q
K
4
6
1
1
1
9
5
10
J
0
1
2
2
8
A
6
2
1
3
7
5
2
Q
1
2
3
7
4
2
A
0
2
4
8
A
3
9
1
3
4
K
6
4
3
1
4
4
9 tricks claimed
E/W +600
8

1 presumably denied 4 spades.  

After the opening heart lead was won, declarer (West) ducked a diamond into the safe North hand.  Two more rounds of diamonds were played and South chose to discard from his jack-fourth of spades instead of his ten-fifth of clubs, giving declarer the ability to set up the spades with two ducks.  North, when in with the spade queen, could have easily set the contract by conceding a trick to the J to set up his hearts, but North was probably worried that declarer could take 9 tricks outside of spades (3 diamonds, 2 hearts, 4 clubs).  North exited passively and this gave declarer the tempo to continue setting up spades for his 9 tricks.  

The other table only reached 2 making, so the first big swing (10 IMPs) went to CHINA, now leading 10-4.

MONACO answered quickly on the next board:

South
AJ
AKQ95
AQ9
K106
W
N
E
S
P
P
1
X
P
1
P
?

Both tables saw the auction start this way.  How would you continue to bid this hand?

South
AJ
AKQ95
AQ9
K106
W
N
E
S
P
P
1
X
P
1
P
?

Zhao chose to make the value bid of 2NT, Allavena chose to cue-bid 2 and then show his hearts over North's rebid of 2.  The full deal:

West
9753
1074
10832
J2
North
Q1042
63
J4
98753
East
K86
J82
K765
AQ4
South
AJ
AKQ95
AQ9
K106
W
N
E
S
 
P
P
1
X
P
1
P
2
P
2
P
3
P
4
P
P
P
D
4
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
2
4
K
A
3
1
0
A
4
3
2
3
2
0
K
7
6
8
3
3
0
Q
10
3
J
3
4
0
A
3
2
6
3
5
0
J
5
4
K
2
5
1
A
6
2
5
2
5
2
11 tricks claimed
N/S +650
7

Showing the source of tricks in hearts induced North to take a shot at the vulnerable game.  With hearts 3-3 and cards lying favorably for declarer, it was a good time to be optimistic.  Declarer could simply win the lead, draw trumps, and set up spades, leaving the defense no answer but to help declarer take his tricks. MONACO regained the 10 IMPs lost on Board 3 and was back in the lead 15-10.

After three dull boards that saw only overtrick IMPs change hands, board 8 (neither vulnerable) was about a common part-score theme:

West
K876
52
AQ9743
4
W
N
E
S
P
1NT
P
2
X
P
P
XX
P
2
P
P
?

What's your choice?

West
K876
52
AQ9743
4
W
N
E
S
P
1NT
P
2
X
P
P
XX
P
2
P
P
?

Both tables essentially faced the same decision, and both Wests bid 2, not willing to sell out with neither vulnerable.  This was not a success, as partner ended up passing at both tables and the full deal was:

West
K876
52
AQ9743
4
North
10953
AQ
KJ5
AQ92
East
AJ
9743
6
KJ8765
South
Q42
KJ1086
1082
103
W
N
E
S
P
1NT
P
2
X
P
P
XX
P
2
P
P
2
P
P
P
D
8
2 West
NS: 0 EW: 0
A
3
6
2
1
1
0
3
J
Q
K
0
1
1
4
A
5
3
1
2
1
Q
4
8
5
1
3
1
5 tricks claimed
E/W -150
4

It's uncommon to see both tables in a world championship declare with a minority of trumps in a contract higher than the 1-level, but it happened.  CHINA went down 2, MONACO down 3; 2 IMPs to CHINA to make the score halfway through the match MONACO 16, CHINA 14.

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