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Lose the Trials Semifinal with Me, IV
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In the semifinals of the 2019 Open Trials,KRIEGEL (John Diamond, Brian Platnick; Oren Kriegel, Ron Smith) had come off much the worse of two segments and trailedFLEISHER (Marty Fleisher, Chip Martel; Eric Greco, Geoff Hampson; Joe Grue, Brad Moss) by 45 IMPs, 116-71.

Fourth Eighth

We had the seed for the final set of the first day, and we chose the same lineup we used in the first segment: JD and Brian played against Brad and Joe, while Ron and I took on Geoff and Eric.

I thought we might have picked up a swing on Board 16:

Kriegel
J63
Q92
Q93
9754
Hampson
10
AK86
K852
A1032
Smith
AKQ875
104
A107
K6
Greco
942
J753
J64
QJ8
W
N
E
S
P
1
X
P
1NT
P
3NT
P
P
P
D
3NT West
NS: 0 EW: 0

The diamond lead went to the J and Q, so I finessed in diamonds and cashed out for +600.

Brad and Joe reached 3NT at the other table too, but they played from the East side. The Q was led and ducked to the K, and the defense couldn't cope with the run of the spades. It turns out 3NT is cold from either side on any lead, and declarer wound up with an overtrick, soFLEISHERwon an IMP.

The next three boards were flattish games. We went +50, +420, and +650, for two pushes and a lose 1. Our deficit got bigger on Board 20:

Kriegel
KJ543
9854
10
Q74
Hampson
1087
A3
KQJ4
J1086
Smith
AQ962
KJ
A75
K53
Greco
Q10762
98632
A92
W
N
E
S
P
1
1NT
2
2
3
3
4
4
5
P
P
P
D
5 North
NS: 0 EW: 0

Geoff and Eric did well to find the down-one save. Ron's pass was not forcing. Either of us might have doubled, but that would not have helped the cause much.

At the other table, East chose to overcall 1. South passed, West raised to 4, and that was that. South led a heart, so there was no issue: -620 and 11 IMPs toFLEISHER.

I like Ron's 1NT overcall, but the 1 call worked better. Even if South had chosen to double or bid 2 over 1, North would not have acted, and it is likely the result would have been the same.

We went plus on two more flat boards, then came Board 23:

Kriegel
Q6
A932
Q1064
1064
Hampson
95
Q10
93
KQJ8732
Smith
742
J764
AK87
A5
Greco
AKJ1083
K85
J52
9
W
N
E
S
1
P
1NT
X
2
2NT
3
P
3
P
P
P
D
3 South
NS: 0 EW: 0

I led a diamond to the king, and Ron shifted to a heart. I won the A and returned a heart. Declarer led the K to Ron's ace, and he cashed the A and played a heart. Eric ruffed his diamond loser and finessed in spades: down one, +100.

At the other table, Brian invited with 3 over 1 and played it there. The defense led three rounds of diamonds, won the A, and played another diamond. With the Q dropping, the heart loser went away, so Brian made an overtrick: +130 and 6 IMPs toKRIEGEL.

We scored again on Board 24:

Kriegel
K
K875
A
AQJ6432
Smith
10974
Q32
107532
5
W
N
E
S
1
P
1
P
2
P
2NT
P
3
P
P
P

North led a club, which gave me seven easy winners in the suit, because South held Kx. I drew trumps and led a heart to the Q, which held, then ducked a heart, flopping North's A, so I made four: +130. The lead didn't cost, as I could have reached dummy with the Q and finessed in clubs.

The other table stumbled after a strong club opening and reached 3, down three: +150 and 7 IMPs our way.

FLEISHER won an overtrick IMP on Board 25, and not much was at stake on Board 26, or so I thought. This was the auction at our table:

Kriegel
J8765
10753
K6
54
Hampson
K109
AQJ62
3
8762
Smith
A432
K84
AJ105
AQ
Greco
Q
9
Q98742
KJ1093
W
N
E
S
1
P
1
2
3
P
P
P
D
3 West
NS: 0 EW: 0

Ron did well to bid only 3. Geoff led his singleton, which was not a success. I won with dummy's J, cashed the A, and played a diamond, unblocking the suit so I could discard my club loser. I lost two tricks in each major: +140.

I thought we might gain a little if East-West got too high or if our teammates got off to a more effective lead, but I could not have predicted:

Grue
J8765
10753
K6
54
Platnick
K109
AQJ62
3
8762
Moss
A432
K84
AJ105
AQ
Diamond
Q
9
Q98742
KJ1093
W
N
E
S
1
P
2
P
4
P
P
X
XX
P
P
P
D
4XX East
NS: 0 EW: 0

Brian chose the right time to double. JD led his heart: 10, A, 4, and Brian returned the Q. JD ruffed the K but he was endplayed. Brian still had two trump tricks and a heart to come for down two and +1000: 15 IMPs toKRIEGEL. We were going to win 12 IMPs after the double, so the redouble only cost 3 IMPs.

Board 27 was also more exciting at the other table:

Kriegel
86
Q
K10853
AK1043
Hampson
A95
A97542
A
J92
Smith
KQJ4
1063
97
Q765
Greco
10732
KJ8
QJ642
8
W
N
E
S
P
1
1
X
2
3
3
P
3
P
P
P
D
3 North
NS: 0 EW: 0

Ron led the 9, which went to declarer's ace. Geoff led the J, which Ron grabbed to shift to the 6. Geoff put up dummy's J and won the Q with the A, then ruffed a club and led the Q, covered and ruffed. He ruffed his last club and led the J, throwing a spade. Ron ruffed with the 3 and later took the master 10 and a spade trick: -140.

JD and Brian reached game:

Grue
86
Q
K10853
AK1043
Platnick
A95
A97542
A
J92
Moss
KQJ4
1063
97
Q765
Diamond
10732
KJ8
QJ642
8
W
N
E
S
P
1
1
X
2
3
4
P
P
P
D
4 North
NS: 0 EW: 0

The double-dummy fate of the contract went back and forth a few times. East led the Q, which got the defense off to a winning start (a trump or the Q were other winning options). Brian won the A and led the J to East's Q. It was now necessary to cash the spades before playing a trump, but East played a heart first.

Declarer was now in command, as long as he rose with dummy's K, which... he did. A low diamond to the A was a mandatory move, but now the winning line was to ruff a club and take a ruffing finesse in diamonds. Instead, he played the 9, which would have been necessary if West had the J. There were clues in both directions: East might not have led a spade without the J, but he might have cashed his winners with it.

East won the spade, andthe defense had the upper hand again. Unlike before, it was necessarynot to cash the other spade winner, but to play the 6 or the 9. He actually chose to play two more rounds of spades, so Brian won with dummy's 10 and led the Q. If West covered, Brian could have drawn trumps ending in dummy. When West actually played low, Brian threw his last loser: making four, +420 and 7 IMPs toKRIEGEL.

We had outscoredFLEISHERby 26 IMPs so far this segment, butFLEISHERgot a few back on Board 28:

Kriegel
KQ87
1042
106
K864
Hampson
103
9853
AQ74
J72
Smith
AJ964
76
KJ3
Q109
Greco
52
AKQJ
9852
A53
W
N
E
S
P
P
1
X
2NT
P
3
P
P
P
D
3 East
NS: 0 EW: 0

At our table, Ron ruffed the third round of hearts, drew trumps, and played the takeout doubler for the J: down one, -50. The play record at the other table cuts off prematurely, but declarer played on diamonds before clubs and wound up taking nine tricks: -140, 5 IMPs toFLEISHER.

I had been playing pretty well so far this set, but I did poorly on Board 29:

Kriegel
AJ10853
10
A87
A63
Hampson
642
A43
KJ5432
9
Smith
Q9
852
96
KQ10872
Greco
K7
KQJ976
Q10
J54
W
N
E
S
P
P
2
2
4
P
4
P
P
P
D
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0

I should have doubled 4. My thinking at the time was that partner could have acted over 4 with sufficient values for us to be back in the auction, but that was poor reasoning. On the actual layout, Ron had a perfect hand for me but no good way to enter the auction. We would have taken all the tricks in 4 after the likely club lead, and on the lead of the A, which looks normal enough to me, 4 makes. The fact that the layout essentially produced a double game swing suggests that doubling 4 would have been better than passing on many less extreme layouts.

Happily, though, the auction and lead were identical in the other room (there was a misunderstanding about whether West's pass over 4 was forcing), so the board was pushed.

The last board of the segment was flat at 3NT down two, so the score wasKRIEGEL 36,FLEISHER19. With 60 boards done and 60 left to play,FLEISHERled by 29 IMPs: 135-106.

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