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The Treacherous Traps
(Page of 2)

For the first time in decades a women’s team (consisting of five women and a male captain with frayed nerves) qualified to compete among the top 12 teams in the Danish 1st division. It’s hard to say who has been anticipating the battles the most; the female players or their male opponents.

In the second weekend of the tournament our team started by playing Team Pharmaservice, which normally contains my good friend Dennis Bilde. Since Dennis decided to play in the Madeira tournament the same weekend (coming in second) I warned him that the girls were going to slaughter his teammates in his absence.

It went more or less according to the plan until the last two boards came up. On the penultimate board I was sitting West facing this bidding by my opponents Henrik Caspersen (N) and HC Graversen (S)

West
QJ97
A109
764
J65
W
N
E
S
1
P
2
P
2NT
P
3
P
3NT
P
4
P
4
P
4
P
4NT
P
5
P
6
P
P
?

Long before the last bid was made, I decided to lead the ten of hearts, knowing declarer held no heart cuebid. We played with screens and I made my lead in a fairly normal tempo in an attempt not to reveal any problems regarding the lead.

As dummy hit the table with K42 I could feel my pulse rise. Declarer, H.C. Graversen, Dennis Bilde’s former partner on the Danish national team, went into the tank for minutes. The air was heavy from the tension and I could almost smell his anxiety and my partner’s excitement from behind the screen, certain she held the queen.

It is in moments like this that bridge to me is better than… well, let’s just say most other sports.

C. Madsen
QJ97
A109
764
J65
Caspersen
65
K42
KQ1092
KQ10
Houlberg
10843
Q765
J853
3
Graversen
AK2
J83
A
A98742
W
N
E
S
 
1
P
2
P
2N
P
3
P
3N
P
4
P
4
P
4
P
4N
P
5
P
6
P
P
?
D

At last he called for the king and soon claimed his 12 tricks. I was vexed and asked him how he guessed. Besides the argument that had he been in 6NT as could be considered to protect the heart king, he needed the jack of diamonds to drop if the heart ace was offside, he confessed that he guessed it because I was the one on lead. Last summer my partner Anne-Sofie Houlberg and I used to play Dennis and H.C. as warm up for the European Championships in Dublin and the World Bridge Games in Lille and had more knowledge of my partner and I than most of the male opponents we are going to face.

I am convinced he was the only male player in the league to expect his blonde opponent to underlead her ace against a slam. At the two other tables where 6 was the contract, the lead was a spade honor.

Luckily, our excellent teammates Lone Bilde and Helle Rasmussen at the other table had bid and even right-sided the slam, tying the board.

During our encounters last summer H.C. always tried to double the girls, leaving his partner Dennis slightly frustrated by the occasional -670 (or occasionally -1000 when we redoubled). On the last board of the match he finally got to double us for +800 (censored for your protection), limiting the defeat to 16-14 in favour of the girls.

The same night Dennis wrote me a message from Madeira saying that we could have been nicer to his teammates. I disagree. If anything, we were too nice.

In the second match of the weekend (a match consists of 2x18 boards) we faced another of our favorite opponents – the captain of the Danish women’s team. Unfortunately he has sat behind us during enough matches to know our untamed desire to play or defend doubled part-scores.

We had just collected 1100 after our captain’s reasonable weak NT opening in third seat all vulnerable with 62 Q63 K74 AK653

Two boards later I held the following powerhouse: QJ63 K842 -- 97543

Pass to my right, pass by me, and not intimidated by the recent board my LHO opened 1NT weak in third seat, but this time white on red. My partner doubled, pass by next hand, asking partner to redouble. After the forced redouble was passed, now what?

North
QJ63
K842
97543
W
N
E
S
P
P
1NT
X
P
P
XX
P
P
?

According to our agreements, if I bid after the forcing pass it shows a one-suited hand. Passing and bidding on the next turn after the redouble shows a two-suiter.

Now I held a 3-suiter, and a very good hand. However our double of a weak NT shows 13+ and we can hardly be described as reluctant to use it. Since my RHO decided to pass the redouble - they play, in my opinion, inflexible runouts that do not allow them to play 1NT-X - I knew the HCP were probably evenly divided between us. With a void, passing was not really an option for me, so I bid 2. The bidding proceeded:

North
QJ63
K842
97543
W
N
E
S
P
P
1NT
X
P
P
XX
P
P
2
X
P
P
?

And there I sat. East’s double was penalty, and since my partner knew me to be two-suited according to our agreements, I knew she had club tolerance. Since she had not bid 2 I expected her not to hold long (or good) diamonds and now I became greedy. I was certain I would make 2-X – however that is only +180, or +380 with an overtrick. We were vulnerable vs. not and might even make game in a major.

So I decided to go for +670 rather than the +180. I redoubled and as expected, my partner bid 2, immediately doubled by next hand just as expected. I redoubled again, my partner bid 2 and I now expected my opponents to be tempted to double even though they might not hold a penalty double, simply based on the bidding.

Alas, both opponents passed in tempo. Laughter came from the other side of the screen as the tray came back without a double. However my partner’s relief matched my disappointment. Dummy went down, and I complimented the opponents for their passes.  The opening lead was the 10 to the A.   Then K, club ruff, spade to the ace, club, ruffed with the ten of hearts and overruffed with the Q. Now West tried to cash the K, leaving my partner with 8 tricks and +110. I wonder what the outcome would have been if they had actually doubled...

After five matches out of 11, the SCHALTZ team (Dorthe & Peter Schaltz, Martin Schaltz-Lars Blakset, Mathias Bruun-Knut Blakset) took a dominant 18 VP lead (old scale) in the Danish 1st division, holding 101 VP.

And the female newcomers...? They are comfortably placed in fifth position Smile Despite that I am sure the bookies still offer high odds on our chances of surviving in the finishing in the top ten.

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