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Bocchi-Duboin

Bocc-Dub Italy has been a dominant power in the bridge world since the formation of the iconic Blue Team in the late 1950s. Norberto Bocchi and Giorgio Duboin have been key in prolonging this history and, together, have won four world championships for the Azzurri since 2000. They will represent Italy once again in this year’s Bermuda Bowl, although with new partners (Bocchi with Madala and Duboin with Sementa). This deal comes from the finals of the 2001 Spingold, which the pair won as members of the Jacobs team.

Chang
KJ532
1098
104
AJ3
Bocchi
A8
KQJ
A7653
Q85
Moss M.
104
542
2
K1097642
Duboin
Q976
A763
KQJ98
W
N
E
S
1
1
2
3
P
P
3NT
P
P
P
D
15
3NT North
NS: 0 EW: 0
10
10 tricks claimed
N/S +630
1


The decision whether to play in notrump or a minor-suit contract is often difficult. But a “meh” game is certainly inferior to a cold slam—or even grand. As is the case with so many UFR deals, a little interference made a big difference here. Let’s investigate the alternatives the Italians had available to them in the auction.

Note : We attempted to contact B/D for a better understanding of this disaster and their methods but, alas, we are on our own, at least for now.

Pass of 3
North’s 2 cuebid forced the partnership through 3, so South could pass knowing the auction would not die in 3. Many pairs play that pass shows a stronger hand than bidding 3; however, it hardly seems to be the ideal description with a void. Passing should be reserved for hands that would cooperate with a game-try if partner is non-minimum or hands that have a clear direction after obtaining more information. This hand seems like it should be more declarative than inquisitive—and it will certainly never sit for a penalty double from partner. So Duboin should have taken some action, but what?

  • 3: Would convey strength. While it starts out as a probe for 3NT, other meanings are possible if clarified later.
  • 3: When the opponents have bid two suits, it’s standard practice to cuebid the suit in which you hold a stopper. 3 here likely shows a spade stopper, requesting partner to bid 3NT with a club stopper. As with 3, it might be a prelude to higher aspirations.
  • 4: Would create a game force and initiate a cuebidding auction. While it’s stretching a bit, the excellent trumps and controls make 4 a reasonable choice. Is it best to play 4 as showing club shortness (even a void) as part of a slam-going hand?


3NT
“If not me, who? If not now, when?” Bocchi may have asked himself these familiar questions while sizing up his stoppers in the opponents’ suits. But was 3NT a little premature opposite a partner who had shown extras when their side was known to have at least a 9-card diamond fit ? The meaning of North’s possible bids below 3NT are slightly less clear than South’s because North lacks the ability to make a forcing pass. For instance, would 3 just show a spade stopper and ask for a club stopper? Regardless of the possibilities, isn’t 3 by North a reasonable compromise to committing to 3NT? Did North’s Qxx blind him into making the “truck driver” bid of 3NT, or was he correct to worry that 3 would possibly end-play his stopperless partner?

Pass of 3NT
Bypassing 3NT in a team match is not necessarily disastrous when slam is in the picture even if you are sure 3NT was making. Was it too dangerous for Duboin to bid on after North broadcast strength in clubs? Or was pass more dangerous, considering 3NT had no guarantees? What would it mean if South bid 4 now as opposed to bidding it immediately over 3?

When these many-time world champs play a great grand slam in a poor 3NT, it’s likely that there is plenty of blame to go around. 7 is not easy to reach, but 6 would seem routine. How might the pair have improved on their auction?

We pulled the tape, now we invite you to make the call.

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