Yesterday started out a bit rough, we were down 40 IMPs after the first quarter, and lost another 16 in the second. Down 56 IMPs with 28 to play, we began our comeback in the third quarter, picking up 26 IMPs to bring the deficit to a manageable 30 IMPs with 14 to play. The first board of the final set, I was faced with a minor swing position:
After a fairly normal auction, I found myself declarer in 4♥. East led the ♦J which I covered and West won, and he returned the ♠7. I decided to hook the spade, figuring that 3-3 clubs and other things behaving was too much of a long shot. When the spade hook lost and they cashed the ♦10 and returned the ♠8, I tried to get as much info as possible by ruffing out my diamond and cashing the ♠J. I knew West had at least 3 spades, exactly 5 diamonds, and probably at least 2 clubs. From their spade plays, it seemed like spades were 4-4, so I decided to play a heart to the king, playing West for stiff 10. When West turned up with 3 hearts, I finished down one. At the other table the Grossacks doubled 4♥, so they found the ♥Q and picked up another 12 IMPs, bringing their lead back up to 42 IMPs with 13 to play.
Adam Grossack made a great bid on the second board of the set, eschewing his known 10-card fit to play in 3NT:
After the expected diamond lead, he drove out the ♣A and picked up hearts for 10 tricks: 5 hearts, 2 diamonds, and 3 clubs. This was good for 6 IMPs opposite -170 against 3♥ at our table.
The next board was flat with one table playing in their spade fit making 5, and the other table playing in notrump making 5. Board 4 was also fairly uneventful; Zach and I missed a shaky slam that came home, but we picked up an IMP anyway. Board 5 began the real excitement:
After a relay auction, we landed in 6♥ on a diamond lead. Zach won the lead in dummy, led a heart to his ace, and a heart towards the Q10. When his LHO ducked smoothly, Zach trusted his table feel and played the ♥Q from dummy. +1430 was good for 13 IMPs when the other table stopped short of slam. We had reduced the lead to 22 IMPs with 9 boards to play.
The next board was another flat 3NT, then I judged well on opening lead against 3NT to pick up 12 IMPs, making the difference only 10 IMPs with 7 to go.
The next board I demonstrated exactly how draining playing 20 days straight of bridge can be (10 in Philly, and 10 here). I found myself in 2♦ doubled, and despite having 8 tricks after a slight misdefense, I tanked for a good 10 minutes trying to figure out how to get to 8 tricks... Little did I know they were already there!
We had a bit of a mix-up in the auction, but in the end I found myself in a reasonably playable contract. Once East led a heart and failed to ruff the second one, I had 8 tricks, good for another 7 IMPs when our teammates scored +110 at the other table. We were down by only 3 IMPs with 6 boards to play.
The Grossacks bid and made a 4♥ contract while Zach and I defeated 3♥ at our table. Those 12 IMPs put us in the lead by 9, with both tables bidding and failing in an aggressive 6♣ slam on the next board. Then, I found myself playing another slam:
After the ♠2 lead, which I knew was a singleton, I was cold on 2-2 trump. I started looking for ways to survive otherwise, but transportation was going to be a problem. I couldn't safely ruff two clubs and draw trump without suffering a spade ruff or promoting the ♥8. When I cashed the ♥A, West contributed the ♥10, almost certainly an honest card. Given that hearts are not 2-2, what could I do? I needed to either ruff two clubs in dummy or three spades in my hand, both of which seemed impossible without promoting the ♥8. After studying the hand for a moment, I found the winning line of cashing two clubs ending in hand, and leading my spade towards dummy. If East ruffed, I had a pitch for my diamond loser and could draw trump and claim. If East pitched, I could win the ♠K and lead a third spade, pitching a diamond from hand! Now, even if West returns a fourth spade, I can ruff high, ruff my diamond low, and ruff the last spade high, reversing the dummy as follows:
East ruffed in on the second round of spades so I didn't get to reach this beautiful ending, but it was a cool hand nonetheless. At the other table the declarer tried ruffing clubs in dummy after the ♠2 lead, but Zach Grossack was awake: When declarer led the second diamond off dummy, he flew ♦Q to give his partner a spade ruff for down one. 17 more IMPs to the US sealed their fate, and we won the final quarter 74-12. Today we are playing the finals against Poland, more to come soon hopefully!
Plus... it's free!