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Final Board Decision
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[Editor's note 5/25/12: Lauria's first bid has been corrected]

This week, here’s a hand I played against the CAYNE team in the Round of 16 of the 2012 Vanderbilt. It was the last board of the match, we had a slight lead at the end of 3 quarters, but I felt we were not having a good set.

Sitting North at favorable vulnerability, I was dealt :

Grue
J92
10
Q76
AKJ872
W
N
E
S
1
2
4
5
5
P
6
P
P
?

RHO (Versace) dealt and opened 1 and I overcalled 2. LHO (Lauria) jumped to 4 which showed at least 5 cards in both majors (an interesting agreement by the Italians, who in general have a lot of strong agreements). Partner (Curtis) bid 5 and RHO bid 5. I passed, because I didn’t want to push the opponents into a slam here. After a minute of study, Lauria raised to 6, which was passed back to me.

What would you do?

As I said, we were not having a good set and I thought we were probably behind at this point. But, I had all the faith in the world in my teammates Ish and Thomas. If I truly thought we had no chance of being ahead before this hand I would not have bid 7. But I think it’s a standout bid according to my hand. Since I felt my teammates would keep the match close, I decided to do what I thought was the correct action: bid 7.

Versace/Ish
Q1076
8
AK10853
53
Grue/Sem
J92
10
Q76
AKJ872
Lauria/Bessis
AK8543
AJ753
J
9
Cheek/Duboin
KQ9642
942
Q1064
W
N
E
S
1
2
4
5
5
P
6
P
P
7
X
P
P
P
D
7X North
NS: 0 EW: 0

What a great dummy, we get out for -800 and they were cold for 6. Now I got to watch the last 8 hands being played from my friend’s hotel room because we were about an hour faster than the other table, and there was sooo much drama watching them play. It turns out that our teammates did a lot of great things to keep us in this match with one board to go. In fact with two boards to go Ish made a good bid to win 3 IMPs for us, tying the match with one board to go.

All I needed now was for the auction to get to 6 and we would either tie if Sementa saved in 7 or we would win if he defended 6. But my heart stopped when I saw Ish starting the deal with a PASS instead of 1. I then realized that Alfredo only had 9 HCPs for his opening bid! The auction continued with my hand opening a natural 1. Thomas for whatever reason overcalled just 1 and South bid 2, forcing one round I believe. Ish then bid 4 showing a fit jump which means his hand has 5-6 good diamonds and 4-5 spades. Now normally, especially when we are passed hands, Ish’s hand would just jump to 4 assuming they can’t have slam but it was a two-way bid for Ish:

  1. He wanted to bring his partner Thomas into play if the opponents bid at the 5-level over 4. So showing his diamond values would help Thomas decide whether to defend or bid on, and whether to double them or not.
  2. Ish thought there could be a slam on this hand.

So after Ish bid 4, North passed and Thomas bid 4 as a general slam try (Last Train). Last Train doesn’t show or deny anything in the heart suit, it’s on when you don’t have any other slam-try bids available below game. Now it went 5 with Duboin’s hand over 4. Ish cue-bid 5, Thomas cue-bid 5, then Ish kicked it into 6.

For Sementa, finding the 7 sacrifice was a much more difficult problem, as his partner showed heart values and he had a singleton there. So he figured it was better to just defend and hope they had 2 tricks somehow. This hand gave us 12 IMPs for a 12-IMP win. No offense to anyone else we played that week, as we played a bunch of very good teams, but they proved to be our most difficult opponents that week!

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