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USA2 Semifinals, Day 1

After losing to NICKELL in the USA1 final, DIAMOND got to choose its USA2 semifinal opponent from the winners of the USA2 Round of 8. It selected HARRIS, the Cinderella team that upset FLEISHER and ROSENTHAL. That made the other semifinal enounter DWYER vs. FLEISHER.

The boards were exciting from the start. Board 1 was a cold 7 for East-West that was difficult to reach after an enemy heart preempts. Two tables played 6 and two played 7, but the contracts in both matches were identical, so no IMPs were scored. After a dull 3NT, Greco-Hampson, Grue-Moss, and Becker-Kamil acquitted themselves well on a potential slam deal, staying low and going plus (they were off AK and a ruff in spades, just off the AK in diamonds or notrump). Liu-Lo rocketed to the six-level, and Diamond issued a speeding ticket: 11 IMPs to DIAMOND. Next:

Pepsi
9653
Q32
73
K985
Becker
AQ
K87
KJ1082
J106
Rosenberg
J107
AJ
AQ
AQ7432
Kamil
K842
109654
9654
W
N
E
S
P
1NT
P
2
P
2
P
2
P
P
3NT
P
P
P
D
4
3NT East
NS: 0 EW: 0
5
2
7
J
2
0
1
2
2
K
6
0
0
2
3
2
Q
6
2
0
3
A
4
9
10
2
0
4
Q
4
8
J
2
0
5
7
5
5
8
2
0
6
4
6
3
10
2
0
7
3
4
5
A
2
0
8
J
8
6
Q
1
1
8
K
A
9
7
2
1
9
7
K
9
J
3
2
9
11 tricks claimed
E/W +660
11

Everyone had to contend with North's 1NT opening, and only Rosenberg-Pepsi hit the 3NT target, albeit in unusual fashion. Cohen-Cohler got to 5 at the other table, which had chances on a non-spade lead with spades blocked. However, the 3-0 trump split meant that the defense would always come out on top, so FLEISHER won 13 IMPs. Both tables in DIAMOND-HARRIS played partscore.

On the next board, only Rosenberg-Pepsi failed to bid an excellent 6, sending 11 IMPs back to DWYER. A few boards later, a good 6 was reached at all four tables. The next board was an "impossible" slam for standard bidders, but Grue-Moss were able to relay to it and win 11 IMPs for FLEISHER:

Cohen
52
K9542
KQ97
85
Grue
K7
A108
A85
AKJ73
Cohler
QJ93
QJ763
103
92
Moss
A10864
J642
Q1064
W
N
E
S
 
1
P
1N
P
2
P
3
P
3
P
3
P
3
P
3N
P
4
P
4
P
6
P
P
P
D
9
6 North
NS: 0 EW: 0
9
4
5
K
1
1
0
K
3
4
2
1
2
0
7
Q
A
5
3
3
0
10
2
3
9
1
4
0
7
2
10
8
3
5
0
12 tricks claimed
N/S +920
5

After 15 boards, DIAMOND led HARRIS 31-11 and FLEISHER led DWYER 38-17.

Early in segment two, Kamil-Lee for DWYER were the only pair to reach an excellent 6, for a rare 9-IMP slam swing: 4 at the other table made all 13 tricks. Shortly thereafter:

Diamond
8
QJ109765
AQ92
K
Morgan
K10752
AK4
73
A107
Platnick
QJ94
83
KJ1064
62
Harris
A63
2
85
QJ98543
W
N
E
S
2
2
2
P
3
P
4
P
P
P
D
19
4 North
NS: 0 EW: 0
8
2
5
A
1
1
0
K
3
5
6
1
2
0
4
2
3
7
3
3
0
8
A
3
4
0
3
1
K
A
6
3
1
4
1
2
4
A
8
3
5
1
6
Q
K
9
1
6
1
7
J
4
9
2
6
2
K
9 tricks claimed
N/S -50
9

One table in each match played in 4. In one room that happened quickly: 3 by Bathurst, 4 by Barron, all pass. You can argue about whether that was a violation of the old rule not to preempt over a preempt, but it appeared to work well here. 4 went down one while the opponents can make 5 (and maybe 3NT or 4, depending on the lead). In the other match, it took six rounds of bidding to reach the same contract with the same result. The swing would depend on what the other tables did.

In DWYER vs. FLEISHER, after Lee's 3, Fleisher overcalled 3, and Kamil tried 3NT. Martel led a diamond for down one and 4 IMPs to FLEISHER. In the other match (click NEXT to follow the play above), Morgan reached 4, which could be beaten with a diamond lead. Platnick led a heart, however, and Morgan could have succeeded as the cards lay, but he went down one, sending 4 IMPs to DIAMOND.

After that, Barron-Liu got too high and went for 800, then Diamond made a good lead against a game to win 10 IMPs when declarer went down three, vulnerable, while Bathurst-Lall played a partscore. After HARRIS went minus in both rooms, DIAMOND was ahead by 53 IMPs. Meanwhile, Cohen-Cohler had a suit-preference accident, letting through a doubled game, losing DWYER 12 IMPs instead of winning 8.

Later, three Souths had to contend with a 3 preempt when they held a strong 0=6=4=3 hand facing what turned out to be a very useful 8-count. Only Rosenberg-Pepsi reached the excellent 6. Harris and Morgan were on their way to winning a swing for getting to slam, but they reached 7, off four trumps to the K-10. Kxx was offside, so they went -50 instead of +980: 11 IMPs to DIAMOND.

There was one bright spot for HARRIS, when they bid and made a vul game not bid at the other table, but the rest of the set was a rout, and DIAMOND led by 89 IMPs after 30 boards. On the other side of the bracket, FLEISHER won the set by 19 to extend its lead to 40.

Most of those 40 IMPs had gone away by the second board of the third segment, as FLEISHER contracted for 16 nonvulnerable tricks in notrump and fell four tricks short, and a choice of slams worked especially poorly: 

Cohen
103
Q4
QJ9843
963
Grue
J762
K6
107
AK1087
Cohler
Q84
98732
6
J542
Moss
AK95
AJ105
AK52
Q
W
N
E
S
 
P
2N
P
3
P
3
P
4
P
5N
P
6N
P
P
P
D
2
6NT South
NS: 0 EW: 0
Q
7
6
A
3
1
0
K
3
2
4
3
2
0
A
10
6
8
3
3
0
5
3
7
Q
2
3
1
8
5
4
K
1
4
1
10
3
K
4
3
5
1
Q
3
7
2
3
6
1
9
8
J
2
1
7
1
A
4
2
6
1
8
1
K
5
5
9
1
9
1
6
9
10
Q
0
9
2
9 tricks claimed
N/S -300
11

The other three tables played 6, making. When declarer finessed in hearts in the ending, the defense claimed: 17 IMPs to DWYER. Then Cohler won 11 for DWYER with a 4-card 1 overcall on a bad hand, preempting responder's 1 response, which would pick of Cohen-Cohler's 4-4 fit. He reached game and made it while his teammates made 110 in diamonds. An extra vulnerable undertrick gave DWYER 3 more IMPs and a run of 36 unanswered IMPs, shaving the zero off its 40-IMP deficit.

FLEISHER struck back with 25 IMPs in quick succession, pushing the lead back up to 29. One more swing to DWYER cut the lead to 18 after 45.

The fourth segment started with a 12-IMP game swing to FLEISHER. A little later, Grue declared an unusual contract for an unusual score:

Moss
42
AKQ6542
J765
Cohler
Q1097
K9
10983
K98
Grue
AK8
QJ105
J7
Q432
Cohen
J65432
A8763
A10
W
N
E
S
1
2
3
3NT
4
4NT
X
P
P
P
D
19
4NTX East
NS: 0 EW: 0
A
2
9
J
3
1
0
3
4
K
10
1
2
0
Q
10 tricks claimed
E/W +810
3

The defense set up a winner for Grue and then failed to take their four top tricks: +810. In the other room, North-South reached 5from North, after a 2 opening showing both majors. Three rounds of trumps left declarer unable to ruff good the hearts, so he was down one, but that still meant 12 IMPs to FLEISHER. The rest of the set went FLEISHER's way until a slam swing on the last board to DWYER. FLEISHER took the fourth segment 42-12 to lead by 48 at the half.

HARRIS withdrew to DIAMOND down 140.

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