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Captain's Diary, Day 7: R16 vs. Spain, Segments 1-4
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Our opponent in the round of 16 was SPAIN, which fielded three pairs playing rather different methods: Frederico Goded-Luis Lantaron, playing transfers over 1 and unusual 2- and 3-level openings, including transfer preempts; Gonzalo Goded-Jordi Sabate, playing a strong club with Multi; and Andres Knap-Arturo Wasik, playing a standard system.

 

Segment 1

SPAIN, with seating rights, played G. Goded-Sabate against Diamond-Platnick and F. Goded-Lantaron against Greco-Hampson.

The round-robin was a perpetual run of bad slam luck for Greco and Hampson, culminating in a lose 11 for 7 down one (losing a trump trick with AKQ9xx opposite xxx) when the other table was in game. Any hope that that streak would be confined to the qualifying phase was dashed on Board 2:

Greco
Q86
K1074
A42
Q98
Hampson
AK953
AJ2
A10543

Hampson, East, declared 6 after opening a strong club. A diamond was led, which Hampson ruffed in hand to play a high spade (seeing an ominous 10 fall from South), and a spade to dummy (South showing out).  After drawing trumps with a finesse. he was unable to play clubs twice from dummy, and as South rated to be longer in clubs than North given the spade split, Hampson played A and another. Of course, KJx sat with North, and 6 failed by a trick, sending 11 IMPs to SPAIN, as East-West played 4 at the other table.

Across the Open Teams, 6 was played at seven tables (out of 16). One declarer succeeded on a heart lead, and two on diamond leads. The Austrian declarer, Terraneo, got home by guessing clubs. Helness, East for MONACO, won the A at trick one and led the Q from dummy, so there was a dignified push at +980 in that match. The four other declarers who received diamond leads failed, including an amusing push in FRANCE vs. NEW ZEALAND: one declarer played 6, the other 5, but both failed by two tricks: -100.

Was this slam lucky or unlucky?

G. Goded
Q96
8742
J10653
9
Platnick
KJ85
AJ109
AQ863
Sabate
A743
Q653
KQ
752
Diamond
102
K
A98742
KJ104
W
N
E
S
2
P
2NT
P
3NT
P
4
P
5
P
6
P
P
P
D
5
6 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
9
3
5
K
3
1
0
A
3
5
Q
3
2
0
2
5
8
K
1
3
0
9
3
K
4
3
4
0
9
6
Q
4
1
5
0
6
2
J
7
3
6
0
10
Q
K
A
2
6
1
7
4
10
A
1
7
1
A
5
4
2
1
8
1
J
Q
10
8
3
9
1
2
6
8
3
1
10
1
J
7
7
9
1
11
1
10
6
8
J
1
12
1
N/S +1370
13

After North's Precision 2 opening, South inquired about strength, shape, and keycards, landing in 6. After the 9 lead (click NEXT to follow the play), Diamond took the K in hand, cashed the A, ruffed a diamond with the 8, crossed to the K, and took another diamond ruff with the Q, ready to claim if East had followed—oops, no luck there. He came to hand with the J—ugh, another show out—and advanced the 10, covered all around. East got out with a third trump to dummy's ace. Declarer cashed the A and led the J, covered and ruffed. When a finesse of the 8 lived, dummy was up: +1370. 3NT made on the nose at the other table, so that was 13 IMPs to USA.

The lead changed hands several times during the segment, but at the buzzer the advantage was SPAIN's: ahead 46-32 after 16 boards.

Segment 2

Knap-Wasik came in for F. Goded-Lantaron, and Bathurst-Lall for Greco-Hampson.

The session started with an exciting deal:

West
KJ106
A3
104
KJ742
North
5
KQJ8
AQ986
986
East
3
10976542
72
A53
South
AQ98742
KJ53
Q10
D
17

Diamond declared 4 as South, and West did well to stay off the A lead, which allow 4 to make at several tables, often doubled. Declarer lost two clubs and three trumps: down two. At the other table, South declared 5, which is makeable, but declarer lost his way and went down two for a push. On Board 18, SPAIN won a 13-IMP slam swing. After that, the deals turned dull, the only large swing coming when Bathurst held:

Bathurst
985
A832
K987
K4
W
N
E
S
P
P
4
P
P
P

He had to lead against a third-seat 4 opener, passed out. His choice of a spade looks normal to me, but it was fatal when either minor would have succeeded: 10 IMPs to SPAIN, ahead 24-7 in the segment.

The Americans got some back here:

West
AQ872
732
J43
K5
North
J1043
AQ1098
AKQ
A
East
5
K5
108765
108632
South
K96
J64
92
QJ974
D
31

Diamond-Platnick played 3NT, which made an overtrick. At the other table, Bathurst opened 1 on the West cards, and the Spaniards were briefly in 3NT, but they retreated to the "safety" of their major-suit fit. East led his spade, and the defense got two spades and a ruff. Declarer, not playing with mirrors, ruffed a diamond winner in dummy and finessed into the now-stiff K for down one: 12 IMPs to USA.

SPAIN won the segment 34-22 to lead by 26 at the one-third mark.

Segment 3

The third stanza began with a string of flat boards, where only overtrick or undertrick IMPs were exchanged. There was some swing potential—a juicy penalty opportunity passed up, a pushed grand slam, and a pushy game and slam bid by neither table—but very few IMPs. USA led 4-2 after 10 boards. The first significant swing:

West
A84
102
J104
A10652
North
1062
98
AQ8753
KQ
East
J9753
7653
K
843
South
KQ
AKQJ4
962
J97
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
3NT
P
P
P
D
11
3NT South
NS: 0 EW: 0

The bidding and early play were identical. West led a club to dummy, and the declarers, Bathurst and Wasik, led a spade to the queen, hoping that the opponents would win and continue clubs or, if they did not, that they wouldn't work out what was happening. Lantaron took the A and played a club. Bathurst won in dummy, ran hearts, and eventually made 11 tricks when West discarded diamonds. Greco ducked the A, and when declarer switched back to clubs he worked out the position: he won the A, cashed the A, and continued spades for down one and 11 IMPs to USA.

When F. Goded found an ineffective lead against a sacrifice, the 300-point undertrick that got away sent 7 IMPs to USA. Another 6 went our way when Hampson did very well to make a 3NT, while a light opening by Bathurst helped keep his opponents low. On the last board we scored 10 IMPs when the Spanish pair played the wrong game, down, while Bathurst made a fairly routine 4.

USA outscored SPAIN 38-5 in the segment, turning a sizable deficit into a small lead. The US Women had a similar experience against AUSTRALIA, winning the session 60-18 to take over the lead by 10 IMPs.

Segment 4

It seemed like Eric, Geoff, Justin, and Kevin were doing just fine, so we played them back. Sabate-G. Goded sat against Greco-Hampson and Knap-Wasik faced Bathurst-Lall.

There were lots of flat deals to start the session. USA had added 11 IMPs to its lead when this board hit the table:

West
Q942
K8
83
Q9874
North
10
97532
AK62
A106
East
A5
AQJ1064
954
32
South
KJ8763
QJ107
KJ5
D
24

Uncontested, North-South start1 - 1 - 2. How high would you go as South? Bathurst (who had bid 1NT to show 5+ spades) only raised to 3 since his partner's opening could have been extremely light. Everyone passed, and Lall made 12 tricks on a club lead.

Gonzalo Goded bid 3, then 5 over his partner's 3NT. That was the right decision, as Hampson, East, would have worked out what to lead against 3NT. Hampson led a trump, won by North, then smoothly ducked the A when declarer, Sabate, led the 10 at trick two. Declarer misguessed, losing to Greco's Q. Greco returned a heart, ruffed in dummy. Declarer cashed the J and ran the K to Hampson's ace.

On Vugraph, it looked like Hampson needed to play a heart now to beat declarer, but on the K North had discarded a club from hand and could no longer pick up the suit if Greco held the Q. Accordingly, Hampson had a sure beat by playing a third trump. Declarer ruffed the spade good and had to finesse Hampson for the Q on the way back. Greco won the queen and the defense had three more hearts to take: down four, 9 IMPs to USA.

SPAIN got its first IMPs of the session when Bathurst-Lall bid a light game that failed, and it got more when Greco-Hampson's streak of slam luck came home to roost:

Sabate
2
AKJ2
AKQ92
A86
G. Goded
J43
87
843
QJ943

Goded, South, declared 6, and the defense started with two rounds of spades. Declarer cashed the AK, played AK, heart ruff (queen from East). West had overcalled spades, so his hand almost certainly was 5=4=2=2. When the Q was covered, it was clear to finesse against East's 10xx, which worked. All that culminated in +920, 11 IMPs to SPAIN when our pair unimaginatively played in game.

That cut our session win to 21-17. We led 113-102 after 64 boards, with 32 left to play.

The big surprise in the Open Teams is NEW ZEALAND's hefty 51-IMP lead over FRANCE. Two matches are close: ITALY leads CANADA by 12 IMPs, and ENGLAND staged a comeback to lead ISRAEL by 24.

Four matches are blowouts: MONACO over AUSTRIA by 117, THE NETHERLANDS over RUSSIA by 88, SWEDEN over JAPAN by 78, and POLAND over SWITZERLAND by 104.

The other US teams are all ahead in their matches. The Women lead 182-119 vs. AUSTRALIA, a big reversal from an early deficit. The Seniors continue to roll through their event, up 117 against CHINA HONG KONG. The Mixed Team's match has been much closer throughout, and it holds a 114-109 advantage over JAPAN.

Tomorrow's play begins at 5:30 pm local time, due to the marathon shutting down the city earlier in the day. There are two 16-board segments to finish the first round of the knockout.

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