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Lose the Trials Semifinal with Me, II
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After 15 boards in our losing semifinal effort in the 2019 Open Trials, KRIEGEL (John Diamond, Brian Platnick; Oren Kriegel, Ron Smith) led FLEISHER (Martin Fleisher, Chip Martel; Eric Greco, Geoff Hampson; Joe Grue, Brad Moss) by 19 IMPs, 45-26.

Second Eighth

FLEISHER had the seed. Brad and Joe played back against JD and Brian in the Open Room, while Chip and Marty came to play Ron and me in the Closed Room.

 

The first board of the segment was flat, but this was Board 17:

Smith
KQJ4
J
AQ7432
J7
Kriegel
8763
AQ76
1086
K2
W
N
E
S
1
X
1
2
2
3
3
P
P
P

Ron rebid 2, because he was concerned I would have expected more strength for 2, and the spade fit never came to light. After the A lead and a club continuation, Ron led to the A and lost a diamond plus the black aces: making four, +130.

At the other table, Brad's 1 opening was limited to 15 HCP, so he had no qualm about introducing spades. Joe bid the game, which made an overtrick when Brad finessed the Q (the suit was 2-2 with the king onside): -450, 8 IMPs to FLEISHER.

 

We lost 2 IMPs on Board 18 when a Flannery opening kept us out of the auction and we scored +50 against 2. At the other table, the 1 opening allowed a 2 overcall. Brad and Joe played in 3, which succeeded.

 

Neither pair solved the bidding problem on Board 19:

Smith
4
AK9865
KQ63
Q8
Kriegel
AKQJ
103
A92
AJ54
W
N
E
S
2NT
P
4
P
4
P
4NT
P
5
P
5
P
6
P
P
P

6 is a good contract, but it lost two trump tricks to East's QJ72. Should Ron have bid 6NT? That isn't clear, but with all the keycards and at least 33 total HCP, the greatest danger might be heart losers. On the actual layout, 6NT would have made. Brad and Joe also reached 6 after a strong club opening and a relay auction.

Marty played poker on Board 21 and won a nice pot:

Fleisher
J109653
AQ3
A43
A
Smith
Q2
85
Q62
KJ7653
Martel
87
J9762
985
1084
Kriegel
AK4
K104
KJ10
Q92
W
N
E
S
P
P
1NT
P
3NT
P
P
X
4
P
P
P
D
4 North
NS: 0 EW: 0

Marty chose to pass over 1NT then double 3NT. Ron had been gambling with his 3NT bid, and he expected the double to be based on hearts, not spades. 3NT, of course, was cold (I would have needed to duck if Marty had led the Q, but he wasn't going to), while 4 failed on a spade lead when Ron tried for a discard immediately, rather than playing West for all three aces.

At the other table, Brian doubled 1NT, showing one minor, both majors, or a strong hand, and Brad's jump to 3NT ended the auction. 3NT made five, so FLEISHER won 13 IMPs.

 

I faced an opening lead problem on Board 22 (rotated for convenience) :

West
AJ952
Q7
QJ62
52
W
N
E
S
2NT
P
3
P
3
P
3NT
P
4
P
4
P
P
P

The 4 bid showed a good hand for hearts but nothing specific about clubs. What do you lead?

This was the full deal:

Kriegel
AJ952
Q7
QJ62
52
Fleisher
876
K9643
83
K98
Smith
4
1085
K10954
10763
Martel
KQ103
AJ2
A7
AQJ4
W
N
E
S
 
2N
P
3
P
3
P
3N
P
4
P
4
P
P
P
D
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0

My choice of a club didn't give Chip any problems. He won with dummy's king and lost a heart finesse to me. I switched to diamonds, but declarer drew trumps and threw a diamond on the clubs. He lost two spades for making four: -620. If I had led the Q, Chip would have needed to play hearts from the top. If he finessed, I would have been able to give Ron a ruff (or two, if Chip finessed on the first round and we were double-dummy about it) to beat the contract.

JD and Brian collected 500 against 4-X at the other table, so we lost 3 IMPs.

 

Two flat boards followed, but our woes continued on Board 25:

Fleisher
AQ104
K1092
104
A73
Smith
K
QJ7643
975
J108
Martel
J963
A85
AK3
Q62
Kriegel
8752
QJ862
K954
W
N
E
S
2
X
P
2NT
P
3
P
3NT
P
P
P
D
3NT West
NS: 0 EW: 0

Ron led the 7. Fleisher won in dummy as I encouraged, then ran the 9 to Ron's K. Ron continued diamonds, but Fleisher ducked, and I was unable to play clubs effectively. Fleisher established his ninth trick in hearts: making three.

Ron's diamond continuation could easily have been the winner from his point of view, so perhaps I should not have encouraged diamonds as emphatically as I did (I gave a positive Smith echo at trick two), but it was not clear to me that declarer had three heart tricks, and my clubs were not so strong that I thought we could establish the suit. The club strength might be a bit of an illusion, because a more important issue could be whether I have an entry once diamonds are established. A simpler solution may lie in the opening lead—it would have been easier to defeat 3NT with a club lead.

At the other table, Joe bid 3 over the double, showing diamonds. He may have been more fearful of a penalty pass than I was, because his pair preempts extremely aggressively at this vulnerability. The 3 call made it harder for JD and Brian to keep 3NT in the picture. They reached 4, down one: 12 IMPs to FLEISHER.

FLEISHER had run off 39 straight IMPs and was now in the lead, 65-45.

I wrote up Board 26 before, so I'll copy my article from May 20th.

Fleisher
1043
A653
J104
532
Smith
KJ76
7
K3
AQJ1084
Martel
AQ82
J1094
A95
96
Kriegel
95
KQ82
Q8762
K7
W
N
E
S
1
P
1
2
2
2NT
P
3
P
3NT
P
P
P
D
3NT South
NS: 0 EW: 0

Fleisher led the 10, Rusinow, and dummy's king lost to Martel's ace. Martel shifted to the J, covered by the queen and ace, and Fleisher returned a heart to the nine and king. At this point, Martel was marked with the high spades and the 10, so he would come under pressure on the run of dummy's clubs.

I ran my winners, reducing to:

Fleisher
103
5
J4
Smith
KJ7
3
4
Martel
AQ
104
9
Kriegel
9
82
Q8
D

On the last club, East and I discarded diamonds. Then, a diamond to the queen squeezed East in the majors, letting me throw him in in one suit to give me a trick in the other. He threw a spade in practice, so the 8 was my ninth trick.

The defense could have prevailed in a number of ways. West could have ducked the first round of hearts or switched to spades after winning the A, but ethically he thought he might have had to win and continue hearts, because the J at trick two was slow. East could have led his low heart, rather than the J, because I certainly would have put up an honor, and I likely would have from other holdings too, such as AQxx.

I was hoping for a pickup, but 3NT made at the other table too. The auction was quite different:

W
N
E
S
1
P
P
2
P
2
P
2
P
2NT
P
3NT
P
P
P

JD and Brian play Rusinow from four-card or longer suits, so the J lead was ambiguous, which caused the defense to continue diamonds at tricks two and three, setting up the suit for declarer.

We finally got off the schneid with an overtrick IMP on Board 27. Board 28 was frightening:

Fleisher
54
AKJ10975
75
52
Smith
J1072
AKQ82
KJ86
Martel
K
2
J10963
A109743
Kriegel
AQ9863
Q8643
4
Q
W
N
E
S
4
X
P
4
P
P
P
D
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0

I felt a little guilty bidding only 4, but I was worried about being overruffed in hearts, and dummy would have needed to cover a lot of losers. Marty led the K, which I ruffed with the J. The K popped up on the first round, so I ruffed a heart low and led a low club from dummy, hoping to steal the Q. No dice: Chip took the A.

When play at our table finished, this board was in progress at the other table. I saw Brad and Joe had reached 6. An already catastrophic set was about to get worse, I thought. However, after a heart lead, ruffed with the 7, Joe cashed the AK, throwing the Q, then led the K, covered and ruffed. Next Joe ruffed a heart with the J, which was overruffed. Joe ruffed the club return and cashed the A, expecting to claim if East followed suit. Instead, East showed out. Joe ruffed a heart in dummy and tried to cash a winner, but West ruffed and cashed the K: down two, and 13 highly unexpected IMPs to KRIEGEL.

Those two deals provided our only IMPs of the session. This was Board 29:

Fleisher
A1086
QJ952
AK6
5
Smith
2
A76
1075
AKQ1073
Martel
QJ4
1043
QJ432
J9
Kriegel
K9753
K8
98
8642
W
N
E
S
 
1
P
1
2
3
3
4
4
P
4
P
P
5
P
P
X
P
P
P
D
5X North
NS: 0 EW: 0

Marty's 4 bid was a bit pushy, but it had two ways to win. 4 would have gone down on a spade ruff, but we took the push, and 5-X was down one: -200. After the same start at the other table, East did not bid 3 over 3, and 3 ended the auction. -130 lost us another 8 IMPs.

 

We lost an overtrick IMP on Board 30, leaving the session score 48 for FLEISHER and 14 for KRIEGEL. We trailed 74-59 at the one-quarter mark.

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