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Team USA at the Beijing Hua Yuan Cup
(Page of 23)

The Beijing Hua Yuan Cup is an invitational-only women's tournament held every two years in (you guessed it), Beijing. The USA was invited, and this year the team of (Janice Seamon-Molson - Lynn Deas, Irina Levitina - Kerri Sanborn, Sylvia Shi - Pamela Granovetter) attended on behalf of the USA.

 

 

 The USA Team

 

The tournament consisted of a 3-session pairs game, followed by a double round-robin team game. Eight teams were invited, based on recent good performances in world championship events as well as in the previous Hua Yuan cup two years ago:

China

USA

France

England

Italy

Scotland

Beijing Hua Yuan (local team)

Denmark

 

The prize money was pretty substantial: 1st in the pairs game paid $10,000 USD to the pair that won, and even last place was worth $1,000. Winning the team game was worth a cool $30,000 USD (last place was $12,000). The team that was judged to have performed best overall between the two events would tack on another $10,000 to their winnings, and there were 3 awards given for Best Play, Best Defense, Best Bidding worth another $1,000 per player. (I will write up all 3 awarded hands at the end of this article.)

So, even if a team did extremely poorly they were guaranteed at least $2,500, and since the hotel and meals were paid for, everybody would come away with at least a little something.

The hotel was a five-star Marriott property in the heart of Beijing. The opening ceremonies consisted of about a million speeches by bridge politicians, Communist politicians, and sponsors of the tournament, followed by a meal with so many courses that even after we all were completely stuffed, the food just kept on coming and coming. Bridge is done differently in China; the government and corporations both sponsor the game. All of the $250,000 prize money of this tournament was provided by corporate sponsorship, something that is basically unheard of in America.

On to the pairs:

Lynn and Janice got off to a roaring start, winning the pairs game with scores of 57%, 66%, and 54%. Well done!

 

 

 

A hand from the pairs: how would you play 6NT on the lead of a small club?

 

North
Q86
AQ93
K104
K108
South
A43
KJ2
AJ76
AQ4
W
N
E
S
1
P
1
P
2NT
P
4NT
P
6NT
?

Janice accurately tested spades first by playing low toward the Q, and when the K was on her left, she had the luxury of playing diamonds for only 3 tricks instead of 4. A complete count of the hand followed, and she was able to claim on the marked diamond finesse.

 

West
KJ1072
54
3
96532
North
Q86
AQ93
K104
K108
East
95
10876
Q9852
J7
South
A43
KJ2
AJ76
AQ4
W
N
E
S
1
P
1
P
2NT
P
4NT
P
6NT
P
P
P
D
11
6NT South
NS: 0 EW: 0
3
8
J
A
3
1
0
3
K
6
5
0
1
1
2
10
7
Q
3
2
1
K
4
3
6
3
3
1
J
5
9
7
3
4
1
A
2
8
9
3
5
1
4
5
K
2
1
6
1
Q
8
4
7
1
7
1
Q
10
2
6
1
8
1
A
5
6
10
1
9
1
K
8
7
3
1
10
1
4
9
J
9
3
11
1
12

I wasn't planning on doing much more than being a cheerleader at this tournament, but the team asked me to be their de facto captain and I agreed. I figured this wouldn't amount to much more than putting in the lineups for them, but if they needed somebody to represent them in any rulings or committees I was happy to be able to do so.

Team USA had high hopes for this event; there were 3 powerful partnerships (5 of the 6 were world champions), no sponsor, and good team chemistry. The only thing going against us was history: the previous three American teams that entered this event came in 7th, 6th, and 7th place.

 

The team started with a small win over France. Sylvia made a nice deduction on this hand:

North
K106
985
KQ10654
7
South
A73
QJ73
A2
KJ65
W
N
E
S
P
P
1
1NT
P
3NT
P
P
P

West leads the 2, 4th best. How do you play?

West
Q952
4
J873
10982
North
K106
985
KQ10654
7
East
J84
AK1062
9
AQ43
South
A73
QJ73
A2
KJ65
W
N
E
S
P
P
1
1NT
P
3NT
P
P
P
D
8
3NT South
NS: 0 EW: 0

It's unusual that West led from a ratty 4 card suit. Chances are West doesn't have a 5-card suit to lead, and given the known heart information, it's odds-on that West is exactly 4=1=4=4. Sylvia backed her deduction and cashed A and a diamond to the 10 and was rewarded when East showed out. Well played! Win 10? Not exactly...

 

West
Q952
4
J873
10982
North
K106
985
KQ10654
7
East
J84
AK1062
9
AQ43
South
A73
QJ73
A2
KJ65
W
N
E
S
P
3
3
X
P
P
P
D
8
3X East
NS: 0 EW: 0
A
3
5
9
3
1
0
2
7
10
2
2
1
1
4
3
9
10
1
2
1
7
A
5
2
2
2
2
J
A
2
6
3
3
2
7
5
K
8
1
4
2
K
7

I would make the same overcall and go for -800 just like Irina did (actually I might go for -1100, she seems to have done well in the play). Score it up for the French North's aggressive 3 opener and South's accurate double.

Solid wins against Scotland and Denmark followed, and a tie against Beijing. We were cruising along, but Beijing was doing even better. After day 1, we were in second place, 5 VP behind Beijing.

What would you do in this position? Yes, I realize you might have chosen a different action at your first call, but bear with me.

North
8
95
K6432
QJ853
W
N
E
S
P
1
X
1NT
2
X
P
?

Did you choose to pass? Irina did, and this worked out spectacularly well, to the tune of +800 on a slight misplay, and declarer must have been regretting her strange-looking decision to compete to 2. This was worth 14 IMPs in the match against Scotland.

West
76
AQJ2
Q105
A974
North
8
95
K6432
QJ853
East
K10943
8743
J8
106
South
AQJ52
K106
A97
K2
W
N
E
S
P
1
X
1NT
2
X
P
P
P
D
6
2X East
NS: 0 EW: 0
K
A
3
6
0
0
1
5
2
J
A
3
1
1
2
4
J
10
1
2
1
8
9
J
6
3
3
1
A
7
3
4
3
4
1
5
J
4
3
0
4
2
10
K
8
7
1
5
2
Q
7
10
7
3
6
2
2
Q
6
10
0
6
3
A
5
3
6
0
6
4
Q
9
K
9
1
7
4
5
4
K
9
3
8
4
Q
2
8
8
2
8
5
E/W -800
13

Another one where I don't know the right answer:

What would you lead against 5?

South
94
AQ5
J96
Q8654
W
N
E
S
P
1
P
1
P
5
P
P
P

As you can see, the only winning defense is to play three rounds of hearts, promoting a trump trick for South. Should you find this lead on the auction presented? I don't know. Why shouldn't you need to wait for two heart tricks, instead of cash out immediately? In any case, the auction was slower in the other room and the Beijing pair did find the killing defense, whereas Sylvia led a club.

West
AKQJ3
94
K
J10972
North
98752
KJ832
5
K3
East
6
1076
AQ1087432
A
South
104
AQ5
J96
Q8654
W
N
E
S
P
1
P
1
P
5
P
P
P
D
5 East
NS: 0 EW: 0

The next day the ladies started against China and defeated them soundly. Beijing finally had a misstep against France and USA was in the lead for the first time.

Kerri and Irina did well to get to 4 on this hand, a contract that half the field missed. Watch Irina's elegant line of play:

West
98
74
K10974
K1062
North
K1043
AJ8
3
A9854
East
Q652
Q102
AJ5
QJ7
South
AJ7
K9653
Q862
3
W
N
E
S
P
1
P
1
P
1
P
1NT
P
2
P
4
P
P
P
D
8
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
9
3
6
J
3
1
0
3
6
A
7
1
2
0
3
A
2
4
2
2
1
Q
3
2
4
3
3
1
A
8
4
2
3
4
1
8
9
8
5
1
5
1
5
J
5
K
3
6
1
6
7
J
J
1
7
1
9
10
K
10
3
8
1
Q
K
A
5
1
9
1
K
Q
7
4
0
9
2
7
8
Q
6
2
9
3
2
9
10
10
3
10
3
N/S +420
13

Based on her opponent's play of the 6, Irina was certain that spades were 2-4 and not 1-5, and when she led a club to the Ace and they both gave true count, she believed clubs were distributed as the actual layout as well. Crossing to the A to lead a diamond from dummy was a very thoughtful play, as if East wins the trick (as happened here) she would be unable to attack trumps. A pretty crossruff / elopement followed for +620 and 11 IMPs.

A small loss to England followed, which included this you-be-the-judge:

West
A5
65
KJ102
KQJ98
North
1074
QJ872
Q74
76
East
863
AK103
A105432
South
KQJ92
94
A98653
W
N
E
S
P
1
1
2
X
4
4
X
P
5
P
P
P
D
5 East
NS: 0 EW: 0

This hand looks pretty difficult to me when the opponents are jamming you this badly. No doubt some people will feel more strongly one way or the other, but I personally have sympathy for everybody's actions. The net result was a missed slam and -11 IMPs. In the other room, Sylvia and Pamela weren't able to put any pressure on the auction after a 1 overcall and the opponents had a much easier time.

The final match of the first round robin we defeated Italy 22-0. After the first of the two round robins, USA was in first place, almost 9 VP ahead of Beijing and 20 VP ahead of 3rd place.

The second round-robin started out with a bang, USA collecting 19.02 out of 20 VP against Scotland. Beijing soundly defeated China though, so although we gained a little ground on them they were still only 10 VP behind.

 

This hand shows the way things were going for Team USA:

West
KQJ43
J4
A5
KQ75
North
9
K1032
J62
AJ1094
East
652
AQ976
1083
82
South
A1087
85
KQ974
63
W
N
E
S
1
X
2
3
X
P
P
P
D
8
3X South
NS: 0 EW: 0
K
9
2
A
3
1
0
3
Q
A
8
1
2
0
J
2
6
K
0
2
1
J
K
A
5
2
2
2
6
7
Q
2
1
3
2
10
8
9
5
3
4
2
10
3
2
5
3
5
2
8
J
J
6
1
6
2
9
10
K
7
3
7
2
4
5
6
3
1
8
2
4
7
8
A
0
8
3
10 tricks claimed
N/S +570
11

Scotland had a misunderstanding, with the doubler believing she was making a general-values game try and her partner believing it was penalties. (I know that you know what your partnership agreement on double is, but are you sure that your partner does)? It's worth clicking through the play; I especially like the first round of trumps played, which went 4-5-6-3!  

Now, a two-part problem:

 

What would you bid as West?

West
9
9
KQJ96542
985
W
N
E
S
?

 

 

And, taking a different seat on the same board, what would you bid as South?

South
Q1065
108653
10
K107
W
N
E
S
3
X
P
?

In our match, Janice opened 4 whereas the Italian counterpart opened 3

Irina chose to jump to 4 over the 3 opener, which seems to me an overbid, but as a result Kerri had no trouble driving to the cold grand slam. Somehow they were the only table in the field to get to 7; it is definitely much harder against a 4 opening, but I would have expected some Souths to find out about the K and take a chance.

West
9
9
KQJ96542
985
North
AK3
AKJ74
A
AQJ2
East
J8742
Q2
873
643
South
Q1065
108653
10
K107
W
N
E
S
3
X
P
4
P
4NT
P
5
P
5NT
P
6
P
7
?
D

The Americans looked to be in command after the second round-robin match against Italy, as they pulled 12 VP further ahead of Beijing to lead by 22 VP, more than a full match. But, then France handed the USA ladies their only sound defeat of the tournament, holding us to 3.63 VP. Luckily for us, Beijing lost to Denmark, so they only picked 5 VP back to still trail by 17.

One of our only pickups against France:

West
Q976
8754
KQ87
K
North
K43
10
A10942
9852
East
A10
J9632
J5
J1043
South
J852
AKQ
63
AQ76
W
N
E
S
P
P
1NT
P
P
P
D
5
1NT South
NS: 0 EW: 0
6
3
A
2
2
0
1
J
K
4
10
3
1
1
A
K
2
3
3
2
1
5
7
K
10
1
3
1
8
10
8 tricks claimed
N/S +120
5

Kerri had 6 sure tricks but no clear route to seven, but she found the good safety play of cashing the A which led to an easy +120. In the other room, France overreached to 3NT and took only 6 tricks, for 7 IMPs to USA.

Then, one of the more sensational hands of the tournament against Denmark:

West
1053
KQ84
763
KJ2
North
AQ987
652
2
AQ87
East
J64
10954
1096543
South
K2
AJ10973
AKQJ8
W
N
E
S
 
1
P
2
P
2
P
3
P
3
P
4
P
4N
P
5
P
5
P
5
X
XX
P
P
P
D
11
5XX North
NS: 0 EW: 0
5
11 tricks claimed
N/S +1000
1

 

A typical relay Precision auction where every bid is alertable. East was lulled by South's 3 bid (slam try in spades) into thinking that the final contract would be in spades. East's double was intended to get a heart ruff against an eventual spade contract, but seems horribly dangerous to me: partner didn't overcall 1, so she either has long weak hearts and will lead one anyway, or doesn't have heart length at all.

Sylvia was headed for 6-1 (unless her LHO was foolish enough to double that; she had enough information from the descriptive auction to know that 6NT would have play) so this was a gift-wrapped 15 IMPs courtesy of Denmark.

Beijing lost again this round while we beat Denmark badly, and the event was looking more and more like a battle for 2nd through 8th.

Defense is definitely the hardest part of bridge; not being able to see your partnership's combined assets and yet still play accurately requires visualization and imagination, not to mention the ability to remember and process all the cards that have been played. It might be said, then, that the best measure of how well someone is playing is how well they are defending. I'd like to show you two small examples of how well the team was playing, on a pair of lowly part-score hands:

Janice and Lynn found themselves defending 2, which was made by Pamela at the other table. You lead the 5, which declarer wins in dummy with the K. Declarer leads the 6, which goes to the 5, J, and your Q. What do you return?

West
Q742
Q108
AJ
J853
North
6
J54
Q1092
KQ1092
W
N
E
S
P
1
P
1NT
P
2
P
P
P

Janice found the excellent switch to the 10 (kudos to Lynn for ducking the A to get to this point), and declarer ended up going one down after the defense scored 3 heart tricks separately. 

West
Q742
Q108
AJ
J853
North
6
J54
Q1092
KQ1092
East
A95
K76
K8765
74
South
KJ1083
A932
43
A6
W
N
E
S
P
1
P
1NT
P
2
P
P
P
D
2
2 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
5
K
4
6
1
1
0
6
9
10
Q
0
1
1
10
4
6
A
3
2
1
3
2
5
5
1
3
1
2
7
A
3
3
4
1
K
4
J
A
1
5
1
Q
7
9
8
3
6
1
3
8
9
K
2
6
2
5
3
A
2
0
6
3
Q
10
6
2
0
6
4
J
9
7
4
0
6
5
J
Q
K
8
2
6
6
8
J
7
10
1
7
6
N/S -100
13

The second example was one of my favorite moments to watch on BBO (maybe I'm weird if a 2 contract does it for me). Pamela and Sylvia had gotten to 3-1, trying for game, while the Italian pair had stopped in 2. This was at a moment in the middle of the tournament where we were struggling to stay in front of Beijing and it felt like gaining some momentum was critical. 2 had eight top tricks, so lose 4?

West
10875
109642
AJ54
North
962
AKQ3
K865
Q2
East
J
85
AQJ1097
K1093
South
AKQ43
J7
432
876
D

Irina led a heart against 2.  Declarer cashed one top spade, and abandoned spades to play a club. Kerri won this with the 9 and worked out why her partner had not led a diamond. She played A, Q, as Irina discarded two hearts. Declarer now played another club, trying for that club ruff in dummy, and look what happened: Kerri won this, cashed a diamond, and played a 4th diamond for a ruff and overruff. This was the position:

West
108
9
AJ
North
96
AKQ
East
8
97
103
South
KQ4
7
8
W
N
E
S
P
1
P
1
P
1NT
2
X
P
2
P
P
P
D
2 South
NS: 0 EW: 0

Irina had to play a heart here to have any chance, and she found it: now declarer was going to go down as there was no way to neutralize Irina's 10. I loved this because the defense won out by giving a defender who started with 5 hearts a heart ruff. 

 

How about a weird one: what do you open?

South
KQ109862
QJ10942
W
N
E
S
?

Against us, England opened 4NT showing at least 6-6 in the minors, and North had to guess. She guessed to gamble 6, and this time, she was right.

Kerri chose to pass the South hand and wait and see, and West did the same. Irina opened 1NT and at this table it was South who gambled a slam. It's worth noting that the solid diamond fit fails whereas the club fit succeeds; it's so often right to play the slam in the suit missing the Ace in this type of situation, to make it harder for the opponents to get a ruff.

West
AQ973
K98543
3
6
North
K84
AQJ2
A7
K875
East
J10652
1076
J54
A3
South
KQ109862
QJ10942
W
N
E
S
P
P
1NT
P
2NT
3
P
3
6
P
P
P
D
6 South
NS: 0 EW: 0

Going into the penultimate match of the tournament, USA was 38 VP ahead of second, and winning was all but a formality. More interesting was the dogfight that had materialized for 2nd place: France had 130.43, and Beijing, which had once looked like a sure bet for 1st or 2nd, had 129.17. Both France and Beijing won big, so it would come down to the final match, where France played the last-place team (Italy) and Beijing played USA.

 

Amazingly, in the match against China, Lynn and Janice bid not one, but two grand slams after their opponents had opened at the 1-level:

West
AKJ1092
AQ63
A63
North
875
K92
872
8542
East
Q63
Q107
KJ10954
Q
South
4
AJ86543
KJ1097
W
N
E
S
 
1
X
2
3
4
4
P
6
6
7
P
P
7
X
?
D

 

Janice and Lynn bid to 7, over which South of course took a favorable vulnerability sacrifice. Janice and Lynn doubled and took their two tricks for +300.

At the other table, our opponents did well in theory to find 7 over the 7 sacrifice, but in practice it cost them 11 IMPs when Kerri doubled and Irina accurately led a diamond. In practice, they needed to find 7 from the short side, and the only sequence I can construct where that happens occurs only in my imagination (West passes 7, East works out why West did this and bids 7).

 

From the same match:

West
3
Q86
AK
QJ109643
North
AQJ9872
AKJ10
A8
East
10
542
QJ9532
K52
South
K654
973
108764
7
W
N
E
S
3
P
4
5
P
5
P
6
P
7
P
P
P
D
7 South
NS: 0 EW: 0

Wow. I can't be the only one to admire the beauty and simplicity of this auction. A great sequence by Janice as North and a wonderful 7 bid by Lynn at the end.

The USA women's team at the Hua Yuan Cup played outstandingly well, fully deserving their victory. Because they did well in the pairs also, they won the Best Overall Performance award, which was based on a point system combining your top two pairs results with your team result. Congratulations to Lynn Deas, Janice Seamon-Molson, Pamela Granovetter, Sylvia Shi, Irina Levitina, and Kerri Sanborn on a tour de force performance.

 

Well, I promised to show you the "Best Hands" awards, so here they are (as voted on by a representative from each team).

First, Best Declarer Play:

Best Declarer Play

This went to Wang Ping of the Beijing team in their crucial second RR match against China, which Beijing won 44-14.

West
KJ102
QJ1053
K103
5
North
A54
AK8742
A87
8
East
9863
9
62
AKJ1074
South
Q7
6
QJ954
Q9632
W
N
E
S
1
3
P
P
3
P
3NT
P
P
P
D
5
3NT South
NS: 0 EW: 0
5
8
10
Q
3
1
0
6
3
K
9
1
2
0
A
3
2
5
1
3
0
7
2
Q
K
0
3
1
3
8
6
4
1
4
1
A
4
5
10
1
5
1
2
A
3
10
0
5
2
Q
4
6
6
0
5
3
J
7
7
9
0
5
4
10
4
8
Q
3
6
4
9 tricks claimed
N/S +600
10

 

The same 3NT contract was reached in the other room, and there it drifted three down, -300. In this room, Wang Ping did not give up, and once East made the normal but fatal decision to try to keep a link with her partner by ducking trick 1, that was all she needed. West got caught in an endplay to give her the Q for her ninth trick, and that was a pretty +600.

Best Bidding

This went to Samantha Punch and Paula Leslie from Scotland

West
Q105
95
92
AKJ754
North
AJ92
K432
AKJ76
East
643
10
10843
109632
South
K87
AQJ876
Q5
Q8
W
N
E
S
P
1
2
5
P
5
P
5NT
P
7
P
P
P
D
7 South
NS: 0 EW: 0

Not much to say here: a successful auction, although a couple other pairs made it to 7 as well on this deal.

Best Defense

This went to Pamela Granovetter and Sylvia Shi from USA, for possibly the most sensational hand of the tournament.

West
4
AK10
AQJ765
A95
North
AKJ9872
J854
9
Q
East
1065
97632
3
7632
South
Q3
Q
K10842
KJ1084
W
N
E
S
1
P
1
P
2
X
XX
P
P
P
D
3
2XX South
NS: 0 EW: 0
4
K
5
3
1
1
0
9
3
2
J
0
1
1
A
Q
2
4
0
1
2
K
4
7
Q
0
1
3
7
7
3
4
2
1
4
6
Q
5
2
0
1
5
5
8
6
8
2
1
6
3
10
10
5
3
2
6
5 tricks claimed
N/S -1000
8

Sylvia had no clear action to take on the first round, so she sensibly passed. When the auction came back to her, she doubled, and North chose a very strange redouble, perhaps hoping to jump in spades at her next turn. Pamela made the first great decision of the auction to pass, despite holding 5 cards in the suit her partner is ostensibly doubling for. She was able to do this because they have the agreement that passes of redoubles are never intended as “to play.” I asked Pamela why she passed, and she said it was in case Sylvia had an unusual hand that might want to defend 2-XX, since on this type of auction Sylvia's failure to enter the auction on the first round was often an indicator of a very awkward, very strong hand. South passed, of course, and Sylvia decided that yes, she did in fact want to play 2-XX, thank you very much.

The defense was ruthless: spade lead, diamond to West, A, K, diamond ruff, spade ruff, diamond ruff, and 2 diamonds to come for 3 down, +1000 (if you've been reading this article, you'll note that this wasn't their only +1000 of the tournament)!

The Hua Yuan Cup is held every two years in Beijing. The event was extremely well run from top to bottom, with high quality organization, management, directing, venue, you name it. You can bet the USA will be ready to defend its title in 2019.

 

 

Photos courtesy of Jerry Li

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