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Lose the Trials Semifinal with Me, V
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After the first day of our 2019 Trials semifinal match,KRIEGEL(John Diamond, Brian Platnick; Oren Kriegel, Ron Smith) trailedFLEISHER (Marty Fleisher, Chip Martel; Eric Greco, Geoff Hampson; Joe Grue, Brad Moss) by 29 IMPs, 135-106.

Fifth Eighth

We had the seed, and we chose what had become our standard lineup: Ron and I played Geoff and Eric, while Brian and JD faced Brad and Joe.

Board 1 was interesting. Here is the auction from the other table:

Diamond
Q104
J98
J86
KQ102
Moss
AK75
Q10432
104
96
Platnick
932
AK75
AK97
J3
Grue
J86
6
Q532
A8754
W
N
E
S
1
1NT
P
3NT
P
P
P
D
3NT East
NS: 0 EW: 0

My partner might be "Ron Light" these days, at least nonvulnerable, but at our table he didn't deem the North hand as worth an opening bid.East opened 1NT (14-16), West passed, and Ron balanced. I became declarer in 2, which went down three (I could have gotten out for down two): -150.

Brad and Joe might be the most aggressive top pair when it comes to nonvulnerable opening bids. Brad's 1 opening pushed his opponents into a thin game. A spade lead would have beaten the contract, but Joe led the normal club. That went to the J, and Brian played another club, ducked to dummy. Brian ran the J, not covered, then led another heart to the Q and A.

Wanting to reach dummy, he led the 9, which Joe ducked. If Brad didn't have the Q, it probably meant he had opened a 9-count. (Brad had signalled for spades by playing the Q instead of the 10, and if Brian had the J, he could have worked on spades to establish his dummy entry. Joe would have had enough information to rise with the Q and take the beat if he lacked the J, so it was likely Joe held the J.) Brian let the 9 ride, which seems like the right play, but on the actual layout it was fatal. Down one and -50 meant 5 IMPs toFLEISHER, whereas if Brian had made the contract it would have been 6 or 7 IMPs toKRIEGEL.

Ron made the bid of the match and maybe the tournament on Board 2:

Greco
95
J10
8763
J7654
Smith
AKJ102
982
AK9
A9
Hampson
Q863
A5
J1042
KQ2
Kriegel
74
KQ7643
Q5
1083
W
N
E
S
 
1
1
P
2
P
2
P
4
P
4
P
4N
P
5
P
6
P
P
P
D
6 South
NS: 0 EW: 0

Ron faked a splinter en route to bidding Blackwood and continued his sharp bidding sequence by jumping to 6, rather than asking for the Q. That would have given Geoff a chance not to double 5, making it more likely Eric would have found a club lead.

The actual lead was a diamond. I won in dummy, led a heart to the K, crossed to the A, and led another heart. After a club return, I would have taken a ruffing finesse in spades. East actually played a diamond, which meant I had enough entries to set up the fifth spade: +1430 and 13 IMPs toKRIEGEL when slam was not bid at the other table.

We lost 2 IMPs on Board 3 when Ron made 3 while JD and Brian reached 3NT down two, vulnerable. Board 4 was another action deal:

Diamond
K3
AJ732
Q8
AKJ4
Moss
J87652
5
6
Q10953
Platnick
10
Q10986
AKJ5
876
Grue
AQ94
K4
1097432
2
W
N
E
S
1
2
3
4
P
P
X
P
5
5
X
P
P
P
D
5X North
NS: 0 EW: 0

At our table, Ron passed over the strong club opening and we defended 4 by East. I led my singleton club. Declarer won, cashed the A, and played diamonds: making five, -650.

At this table, Brian led the K and switched to the 10 to the ace. Brad led another diamond, throwing his heart loser, and wound up down three: -800, 4 IMPs to KRIEGEL. On this particular lie of the cards (diamonds not 3-3 and West having all the cards), ruffing the diamond and exiting in spades would have allowed declarer to escape for down two, but that was far from obvious at single-dummy.

On Board 5 Geoff effected a low-level version of a well-known coup:

Greco
842
8542
AKQ1062
Smith
A109632
A963
J9
7
Hampson
QJ54
QJ5
A76
J84
Kriegel
K87
K107
KQ103
953
W
N
E
S
P
1
P
2
2
X
P
3
P
P
P
D
3 West
NS: 0 EW: 0

4 is an excellent contract but the 4-0 spade split combined with East's having both heart honors makes 3 the limit of the hand: club to West, heart gives declarer no winning option. Geoff stopped off to double 2 for penalty, which convinced me not to compete. 3 made, while I could have achieved +140 by bidding. Note that Stripe-Tailed Ape doubling a partscore into game is only profitable if partner runs.

At the other table, North opened 2, and South raised to 3, which made on the nose: -140 and 6 IMPs toFLEISHER.

We won 6 IMPs back on Board 6 when Ron and Brad had to decide whether to raise a second-seat, favorable-vulnerability 3 opening with:

North
QJ3
AQ6
A765
Q53

I think my 3 openings are sounder than Joe's under those conditions, so perhaps it's not surprising that Ron bid 4, while Brad passed. Opener's hand was 3=7=1=2 including both major kings, so 4 was excellent and made easily: +420, -170.

We won a bigger swing on Board 7:

Greco
84
A986
J4
Q10854
Smith
AQJ75
K72
A853
7
Hampson
10
QJ1054
KQ97
A92
Kriegel
K9632
3
1062
KJ63
W
N
E
S
 
P
P
1
2
4
4N
X
5
P
5
X
P
P
P
D
5X East
NS: 0 EW: 0

I led a spade to Ron's A, and he switched to his singleton club. Geoff lost a trick in each suit: +500. How good that result was was unclear, as the fate of 4 was uncertain.

At the other table, West passed over 4, and that became the final contract. Brian did well by leading a diamond. (Low would have been more effective than his choice of the K, but how can you blame him for that?) Due to the diamond blockage and the A being onside, declarer could have made by winning trick one and playingclubs before hearts. Declarer actually chose to let the K hold, and he was down when Brian continued diamonds: +100 and 12 IMPs toKRIEGEL.

We had cut our deficit to 7 IMPs, butFLEISHERadded 6 IMPs on Board 8:

Greco
8742
KJ8742
64
K
Smith
QJ6
106
832
QJ1096
Hampson
95
Q93
KJ10
A8543
Kriegel
AK103
A5
AQ975
72
W
N
E
S
2
P
4
X
P
5
X
P
P
P
D
5X North
NS: 0 EW: 0

Geoff's jump put us under pressure, and Ron guessed wrong by pulling the double. I didn't know whether to pass 5-X or run to 5, but I thought Ron might have bid 4NT or passed with his actual shape, while if he was something like 3=2=2=6, pulling could be very bad.

My pass didn't actually wind up costing. Ron won the heart lead (a spade could have resulted in down three) and lost a club to Eric, who cashed the K and played a spade. Ron led another club, which Geoff won to play the Q. Ron knew that was his last heart, so he discarded on it, and was able to draw the rest of the trumps and take a diamond finesse for down two: -300. If East had kept a lower heart, Ron would have had to ruff the third heart, but he could still have gotten out for down two.

At the other table, East bid 2NT over 2. South doubled, West bid 3, which was passed back to South, who doubled again. North bid 4, and South pulled to 4, which went down one: +50 but 6 IMPs toFLEISHER.

We got 4 IMPs back on Board 9 when we went plus at both tables on defense, but a one-two punch byFLEISHERwas coming, first on Board 10:

Greco
KJ108
1093
3
KQ1052
Smith
9764
J752
KJ
863
Hampson
3
AKQ864
Q8762
9
Kriegel
AQ52
A10954
AJ74
W
N
E
S
1
X
4
P
P
X
P
P
P
D
4X East
NS: 0 EW: 0

I led the A, and when Ron played the J, I thought the hoofbeats I was hearing were a zebra, not a horse. I concluded the J was an alarm-clock play screaming for a spade shift, ignoring the more-likely scenario that he had played the J because he was short in diamonds.

Continuing diamonds would have ensured down one, but I shifted to the A (wrong), and then got nervous that declarer had a singleton club (right) and cashed the A (fatal; shifting to a low diamond at trick three would have been fine). My belated diamond play at trick four was too late. Geoff ruffed, cashed the black kings, and took a first-round finesse in hearts: -790.

At the other table, West started with a redouble, and North bid 1, but the final contract was the same. Joe led the A and continued diamonds: down one, -200; 14 IMPs toFLEISHER.

Then on Board 12:

Greco
Q
8
KQJ1032
108642
Smith
J72
K109753
A
J75
Hampson
K643
AJ4
9754
Q9
Kriegel
A10985
Q62
86
AK3
W
N
E
S
3
P
4
P
P
P
D
4 West
NS: 0 EW: 0

I passed over 4, thinking that doubling would often result in an inferior fit, and when we had a game partner might be able to back back in. That was too chicken; I should have doubled first and asked questions later. Ron might have balanced with 4, but that doesn't change the fact that I should have doubled 4. We took the obvious four tricks for a disappointing +50.

North-South reached 4 at the other table and made an overtrick when declarer guessed hearts: -650 and 12 IMPs to FLEISHER.

We won 5 IMPs on Board 13 when Geoff and Eric reached 4 on an invitational auction and went down one. JD and Brian stopped at the three-level and made 110. Board 14 was flat, and this was Board 15, the last deal of the segment:

Greco
QJ10865
K10
K64
KQ
Smith
32
9643
J7
J9874
Hampson
K94
8752
Q93
532
Kriegel
A7
AQJ
A10852
A106
W
N
E
S
2NT
P
P
P
D
2NT South
NS: 0 EW: 0

Eric led the J, Rusinow. I wasn't wild about the idea of playing any suit out of my hand, so I won the A and exited in spades. Geoff won the 9 and played a club, which I ducked to the Q. A third spade was led to Geoff's K, and he played a heart. I finessed, and Eric cashed his spades. I won the rest of the tricks,but that was down two, -200, a frustrating result, as attacking clubs would have let me get out for down one.

At the other table, declarer chose to lead a diamond to the J at trick two, so he could not avoid losing five spade tricks plus one in each other suit: down three, +300 and 3 IMPs toKRIEGEL.

The segment score looked like the first half of a basketball game:KRIEGEL47,FLEISHER 45. With three sets left to play,FLEISHERled 180-153.

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