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USA2 v. Bulgaria Thoughts and Summary from a Sleepy Beginner

I woke up 45 minutes into the match, so I rushed to review the boards hoping I could catch up. The first call of the day went to the player holding AKxxx AKT xxx xx. Grue decided to open 1NT. I think the Bulgarians play weak NTs, so this wouldn’t have been an option.

Generally, I don’t like opening NT with stoppers in only half the suits, and it seems strange to me with such strong major suit holdings as well, but it also seems normal for Grue/Moss. And they are more equipped than me to find the right place after doing so. What do you open? I guess it didn’t really matter on this hand as both teams found their way to a 3D part-score for a push to get the match started.

After Bulgaria picked up 3 imps on Board 2 for doubling 5D–1, a contract that was not punished by the Americans, the South players at both tables opened 2C on Board 3. The Bulgarian responded with an alerted 2D, which was followed by a 3H call, and from there the contract was placed in 5C responder having only a singleton club. Unfortunately, I am not advanced enough to know what all of those bids showed. All I can tell you is that the American auction of 2C-2S-3C left them in 3C+2 and Bulgaria picked up 6 more imps.

Board 4. Everyone vulnerable. The auction is P-(P)-1S-(P)-1NT-(P)-P- to you. What would you do in the pass out seat? While the Bulgarian player opted to defend Pepsi in 1NT, Moss decided make a balancing bid of 2H holding Jxx KJTxx AT Qxx. With 1NT going –1 and 2H going –2, another 7 imps went to Bulgaria.

The Americans got back in the match on Boards 5 and 6. (The boards disappeared before I wrote this)

On Board 7, Moss, as South, opened a weak 2D. The Bulgarians may not have had this as an option, but I can’t say for certain. The diamonds were pretty bad (Q98xxx?). I wouldn't normally open such an ugly suit, but the 4 clubs to the Q he had to go with the diamonds did give the bid a bit more appeal. Either way, both E/W pairs landed in 4S for a push.

Boards 8 and 10, the Bulgarians picked up 2 imps, one on each board for overtricks, one a part-score spade game, the other 3NT. Separating those two innocuous boards--Board 9.

North opened a weak 2H at both tables on Jxx QJxxx xxx xx. The Bulgarian player raised his partner to 3H holding xx Axx KQxxx ATx. Both tables landed in 3NT, though Rosenberg appeared to consider showing his spades (AQTxxx) before leaving Pepsi to play the NT contract. If I remember correctly, Michael had 3 hearts, so how good could Pepsi's stopper really be on that auction? He probably has spade support, right? (After the hand, I think he and Pepsi were confirming 4D as their method of showing spades). The heart raise may have been just the encouragement North needed to lead the suit he opened. At the other table, without a raise, and bereft of entries, Grue led a spade, perhaps hoping to find partner’s suit. Of course, he found dummy instead. After setting up the clubs, the Bulgarian declarer made 3NT easily. 13 imps to Bulgaria.

On Board 11 with no one vulnerable, Pepsi decided to pass Jx AQx KTxx J9xx in second seat. Looks like something I would do. Third seat preempted with 2S and played there -1. At the other table, the Pepsi’s hand was opened 1D. Grue overcalled 1S. Brad raised over a negative X. With 2S back to him, East chose 2NT and went down 1. 3 imps to USA2.

On Board 14, both teams non-vulnerable, both players opened 1D. Moss decided to overcall 2C on Jxx J QJxx KT9xx. Would you? I wouldn't cause it's not my style, but Moss/Grue can be pretty aggressive. Perhaps it could prove to be a helpful lead direction if opponents wind up in NT. I don't know. All I can tell you is that I wouldn't have overcalled, still wouldn't overcall, and the Bulgarian at the other table didn’t. Of course, none of this really matters. 4S by E/W was played and made at both tables. (I wish I remembered who was on lead or what was led, but I must have missed it while typing.)

The Americans picked up 2 imps on Board 15 with the Bulgarians playing in 5D, while they played 3NT+2.

On the final board of the set, Rosenberg opened 1NT in third position. After a sort of stayman sequence USA2 landed in 3NT with their 26 HCP. The Bulgarians took the first five tricks in hearts. At the other table, West opened 1D with the 11 count Pepsi passed. After South overcalled hearts over the 1S response, the Bulgarians avoided NT. They made 3S+1. I think it always makes 4 thanks to the strength of their spades and length of their diamond suit, but they did well enough to pick up 7 imps on Board 16.

The Bulgarians lead 42-17 after the first segment. So, like me after waking up late, USA2 has some catching up to do.

EDIT: Now that the archive is up I thought I would fill in the blanks on Boards 5 and 6.

Board 5. Rosenberg was allowed to play 2S making an overtrick. At the other table, Moss/Grue performed a rather dangerous balancing act. Rather than penalizing the Americans, Bulgaria bid on and went -1 in 3S. 5 imps to USA2.

Board 6. This board is probably too complex for me. Both east players opened 2D, but I they may have different meanings. Pepsi responded to Rosenberg's 2D opening with 2H, pass or correct, which got X'd by the Bulgarian player holding Axx xxx AKQxx Ax. Michael bid 2S, ending the auction. He went down 1. At the other table, the responder bid 2S. Grue overcalled 2NT. Perhaps this call was too risky without a heart stopper for North at the other table. Anyway, Moss raised to 3NT, the Americans made their game, and put another 7 imps on the scoreboard.

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