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Brilliancy Awards from the Swedish Premier League
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Last weekend, the last five rounds of the Swedish Premier League were played. The format is a complete Round-Robin between 12 teams where a "mere" 4 teams are relegated at the end of the season. Winners of the event were Harplinge BK consisting of the Rimstedt-family (twins Ola and Mikael, second oldest sister Cecilia and dad Magnus) and Dutch/Norwegian/Swedish Marion Michielsen and Meike Wortel. They won by more than a match, an impressive achievement in a tough field. As I prefer writing up deals to study for my exams I thought I would share what I think is the best played, best defended and best bid hand of the tournament in some sort of unofficial brilliancy prize ceremony.

Best played hand

Try your hand at this play problem in 4:

North
QJ9854
A93
A9
107
South
A10732
K82
6
KJ62
W
N
E
S
1
X
4
P
P
P

Taking advantage of the limited 1-opener, partner jumped directly to 4 to not give the opponents a chance to find a good sacrifice. West leads the J - what's your plan?

 

 

You could of course hope for one of the two club honors onside or that you will be able to guess the trumps but there is a much better plan available considering hearts are unlikely to 5-2 after the T/O-double.

Tom Gärds (coach of the Swedish junior teams) ducked the first trick! West continued hearts but now he could win in hand, play a diamond to the ace and ruff a diamond in hand. A heart to dummy eliminated that suit and he could now run the Q knowing that he would make independently of the spade layout. If West won with the stiff K he would be endplayed and if East showed out he could go up with the A and endplay West on the second round of trumps instead.

The entire deal was:

West
J1054
K8753
AQ85
North
QJ9854
A93
A9
107
East
K6
Q76
QJ1042
943
South
A10732
K82
6
KJ62
W
N
E
S
1
X
4
P
P
P
D
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0

so East-West had a cheap sac in 5 available. This was reached at most tables where North started with a Jacoby 2NT and NS then competed to 5. That contract hinged on both the lead (on a heart lead South always goes down) and on guessing the trumps but most declarers got it right. Tom, for example, lost an imp for his efforts.

Best defended hand

First, try playing this 3NT:

North
J72
Q5
10643
AK63
South
A543
A98
AQ87
Q7
W
N
E
S
P
P
1NT
P
3NT
P
P
P

West leads a standard T that you duck. Another spade goes to the king and you duck once more. A heart shift from East is won by West's king and he know sets up his 9 by returning the Q. As you win the trick with the A, East discards the K - how do you plan it from here?

Former Swedish international Tobias Törnqvist deducted that East was trying to create an entry to his partner's high spade via the J and that the layout therefore would be:

West
Q1098
KJ7
J52
984
North
J72
Q5
10643
AK63
East
K6
106432
K9
J1052
South
A543
A98
AQ87
Q7
W
N
E
S
P
P
1NT
P
3NT
P
P
P
D
3NT South
NS: 0 EW: 0

He therefore planned to throw West in with the 9 to play away from his J in a three card-ending. Winning the A he cashed the two top hearts and the three top clubs before coming to hand with a high diamond to endplay West with a spade. As this was the original layout, his plan was foiled when West exited with a heart in the end position:

West
Q1098
KJ72
J2
984
North
J72
Q5
10643
AK63
East
K6
10643
K95
J1052
South
A543
A98
AQ87
Q7
W
N
E
S
P
P
1NT
P
3NT
P
P
P
D
3NT South
NS: 0 EW: 0

East, Open Team Captain PG Eliasson, had noticed that defensive prospects were looking grim after the start and decided that the only chance of beating 3NT would be to give South a chance to go wrong by throwing the K - a play worthy of just this outcome!

Best bid hand

That the tournament was already decided with one match to go didn't stop the Rimstedt-twins from bidding to the best contract on this freak deal in the last round:

West
K103
A
AKQ3
KQJ43
North
J862
65
J952
976
East
AQ95
4
864
A10852
South
74
KQJ1098732
107
W
N
E
S
4
X
P
4
5
5NT
P
7
P
P
P
D
7 East
NS: 0 EW: 0

How do you best handle a semi-solid nine card suit at favorable vulnerability? Simon Ekenberg opened 4 and came back with 5 when his opponents bid 4. After the same start, most Wests decided to double again but Ola Rimstedt instead tried to get his partner to pick a slam with 5NT. Looking at his two aces Mikael now decided that a grand slam should have chances and chose 7 - a great contract that they were only one out of three pairs to get to.

The real chance to shine in the bidding, however, was Per-Ola Cullin's as North. Considering partner had bid twice on his own and that he didn't have any surprise defensive tricks he could and should have sacrificed in 7. Ekenberg couldn't do the same as partner easily might have had a trump trick and it was therefore up to North to save. If Per-Ola bids 7, East-West can then still gain their maximum possible score by bidding on to 7 (and guessing the trumps) or 7NT (squeezing North in the pointed suits). 7 making was worth 17 imps when South bought 5 doubled for 500 at the other table.

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