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NICKELL wins 2014 Vanderbilt

Congratulations to the NICKELL team (Nick Nickell, Ralph Katz, Bobby Levin, Steve Weinstein, Jeff Meckstroth, and Eric Rodwell) who defeated MONACO (Geir Helgemo, Tor Helness, Claudio Nunes, Fulvio Fantoni, along with Pierre Zimmerman and Franck Multon who did not play) 127 to 125. It was a close match the entire way. Going into the 4th quarter, MONACO led by 19 IMPs. 

After 6 pushes, NICKELL picked up 12 when they made a 4 contract that went down at the other table when Weinstein found the correct defense of forcing declarer at trick 3. 2 boards later MONACO gained 9 IMPs back when they doubled Meckwell off in 3 for 500 against a partial.

Then, the board of the match came up:

Rodwell
10
AQ
AKQJ10832
72
Fantoni
KJ8642
J1096
9
106
Meckstroth
7
K875432
74
K83
Nunes
AQ953
65
AQJ954
W
N
E
S
2
4
4
4
P
4
5
5
P
P
P
D
58
5 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
A
6
2
3
3
1
0
A
10
2
7
3
2
0
5
2
8
3
1
3
0
13 tricks claimed
N/S +710
3

Helgemo
10
AQ
AKQJ10832
72
Weinstein
KJ8642
J1096
9
106
Helness
7
K875432
74
K83
Levin
AQ953
65
AQJ954
W
N
E
S
 
P
1
X
1
4
4
5
5
P
6
7
P
P
7
P
P
P
D
58
7 North
NS: 0 EW: 0
2
Q
Q
6
3
1
0
3
10
J
7
1
2
0
10
3
4
2
1
3
0
13 tricks claimed
N/S +2210
3

This was one of those freak deals, where the players were not sure who can make what. Weinstein's pass of 7 perhaps convinced Helness that he had 1st round control of Diamonds, so Helness led a heart. After that, it was a simple manner of taking the club finesse to chalk up +2210, winning 17 when the other room stopped in 5. This put NICKELL into the lead by 1 with 6 boards to go!

MONACO snagged an overtrick on the next board to tie it up. Not for long though, as NICKELL picked up another 5 when both tables took a phantom sacrifice over 5, but the 6-2 fit heart fit played a trick better than the 5-4 club fit when Nunes led his singleton in partner's suit instead of tapping declarer on the opening lead. As a result Meckwell only for went for 300 instead of a possible 800. At the other table Levin and Weinstein collected 500 against 6.

An overtrick gave MONACO another IMP on Board 62 to cut the lead to 4. On Board 63, both tables landed in 3NT. Fantoni's heart lead gave away the 9th trick, so Rodwell had no problem. At the other table, Helgemo tried a 1 opening on AKQ9, so that steered Weinstein away from the heart lead.  Helgemo had to guess where to get his 9th trick, and went for an endplay that wasn't there. This meant 10 IMPs to NICKELL, who now led by 14. MONACO would win 12 for a game swing on the last board, but it wasn't quite enough, as NICKELL held on to win by 2.

Congratulations to both teams on a hard-fought match.

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