BBO Vugraph - Rosenblum Cup

BBO Vugraph #171

Vugraph #171

Welcome back to Wroclaw in southwestern Poland. The Rosenblum Cup has now reached the knockout stage, with 32 teams advancing from two days of qualifying. This week, we will check out the best of the action from matches in the Rounds of 32 and 16. Knockout matches are of 56 boards divided into four 14-board stanzas. 

As usual, we start with some problems. Firstly, with only your side vulnerable, you are North holding: 

What do you bid? 

Finally, again with only your side vulnerable, you are sitting South with these cards: 

East’s 1 bid is described as ‘any weak hand’. What action, if any, do you take? 

While you mull those over, we start in the Round of 32. With the start-studded Robinson team (USA/England) having finished fourth in the qualifying stage and Periculo (England) just making it into the knockout rounds in 29th, one could be forgiven for thinking this might be a rather one-sided encounter. However, there were plenty of kibitzers watching this encounter on BBO VuGraph as two occasional partners, both highly-respected members of the BBO expert bidding panel, Andrew Robson and Zia, faced off against each other. 

The opening 14-board set of this match finished with ROBINSON ahead 33-11. However, the English team significantly reduced the 22-IMP deficit on the first deal of the second stanza when both North players faced the first of this week’s bidding problems. 

David Gold

David Gold advanced with a five-level spade cue-bid. Despite good trumps, which he had probably already strongly suggested, Zia decided that he could not commit to a grand slam with only one first-round control. There was nothing to the play: N/S +1390. 

Alexander Allfrey 

After an identical start, Alexander Allfrey chose not to leave it to his partner and simply jumped to the grand slam on the North cards. N/S +2140 and 13 IMPs to PERICULO, reducing the deficit to single figures. 

It was not long before the VuGraph crowd was treated to a second edition of the Alexander Allfrey show, this time ably assisted by ‘the tall declarer’. 

A singleton in partner’s suit is generally not good news, so David Gold’s 2 bid hardly enthused Zia, and Zia’s spade bid did little to improve Gold’s hand. 

Patrick Lawrence led the ♣8, ducked to East’s king, and a second club came back. Declarer drew trumps and advanced the Q and, when West mistakenly covered, Zia was able to ruff diamond and subsequently discard all four of his spades on three diamond winners and the ♣A. N/S +480. 

Daniel Korbel’s featherweight 1 overcall added some impetus to the English auction, allowing Allfrey to agree hearts immediately via a 2 cue-bid. Robson offered no encouragement, simply retreating to hearts at the lowest available level at every opportunity, but Allfrey was undeterred and carried his partner all the way to slam. 

Andrew Robson

Korbel led the ♣8 and now it was up to Robson to justify his partner’s ambitious bidding. He won with the ♣A, crossed to hand with the K, and successfully ran the Q. Returning to dummy with a second round of trumps, Robson disposed of his club loser on the A. A diamond ruff failed to bring down the K, but Robson had a second string to his bow – he knew that West held the ♠A, so he simply exited with a low spade towards dummy’s ten. It mattered not which defender held the ♠J – the defence could win with that card but West’s ♠A would eventually be ruffed out to set up declarer’s remaining spades. Bravo! N/S +980 and another 11 IMPs to PERICULO, reducing the difference in the match to just 6 IMPs, 41-35. 

Alas, simply bidding more than your opponents on every deal is not always the way to gain IMPs. Later in the set, the English EW pair bid a club slam that needed trumps 2-2 when the Americans had stopped in 3NT at the other table: 12 IMPs to ROBINSON. They then bid a grand slam off a cashing ace whilst the Americans were scoring +980: 14 IMPs to ROBINSON. The second set finished 51-46 to PERICULO, leaving ROBINSON ahead 79-62. However, with the Americans bringing in Jeff Meckstroth and David Berkowitz for the final two sets, things were not looking that bright for the underdogs. And, so it proved, the Americans winning both of the remaining stanzas to advance to the Round of 16 with victory by 141-104. 

We also move onto the Round of 16, this time with our first look at the Swiss Bermuda Bowl champions from Salsomaggiore.  After a shaky start that saw them languishing in 52nd place at the midway point of the qualifying stage, the pre-tournament favourites turned on the afterburners on Day 2. Indeed, they had climbed all the way up to seventh by the time the 10-match Swiss came to an end. They then turned back into Mr Hyde in the Round of 32, leading by just 13 IMPs going into the final set against COOREMAN BELGIUM, and losing the last set too. Fortunately, they lost just 10 IMPs and thus scraped through with victory by 108-105. Would the unpredictable old man show up again today? Or, would we see the reliable Dr Jekyll against the dangerous MINITER (Poland/Italy), an opponent with plenty of World Championship titles between them too. 

ZIMMERMANN won the opening stanza of the match 28-21. Many of the large crowd gathering to follow the action on BBO VuGraph were still taking their seat as both South players contemplated the last of his week’s bidding problem on the very first deal of the second segment. 

Alfredo Versace chose to defend, and opened the ♣Q against 2-X. Piotr Gawrys won in dummy and played a heart to the jack and ace. This was Versace’s last chance to save the overtrick, by switching to spades. When he continued with a second club, Gawrys won, led the Q and ruffed away North’s king, then drew three rounds of trumps with the aid of the finesse. One of declarer’s spade losers now disappeared on dummy’s 10. The defence had only two spades and the K to come: N/S -280. 

Sjoert Brink 

After an identical start to the auction, Sjoert Brink essayed 2. Everyone passed and the defence began with three rounds of clubs, declarer ruffing. Brink then crossed to dummy in spades and played the last club, ruffing with the 6. Jacek Kalita discarded a spade rather than overruffing with his natural trump trick, saving an overtrick. Brink now played the A and continued with the last trump from his hand. Kalita split his honours and dummy won with the K. The 9 went to West’s queen and Kalita exited with his last spade. Declarer could not now take advantage of dummy’s long spade winner, as he had to win the second round in dummy in order to draw West’s last trump, but that was still a plus score. N/S +110 and 9 IMPs to ZIMMERMANN. 

Board 17 may have looked like a dull 3NT deal, and it was in one room… 

Michal Nowosadzki opened 1, Jacek Kalita forced to game with a potentially short 2♣, and the 2019 Bermuda Bowl winners were quickly installed in game. Kalita won the diamond lead in dummy and tried a heart to the king for his ninth trick. Bas Drijver won and switched to spades but, when that suit broke 3-3, declarer had nine tricks. Cashing the ♣K exposed the position in that suit, and thus the marked club finesse then provided the tenth: E/W +430. 

When Piotr Gawrys did not open the East hand, a whole different scenario unfolded: 

Alfredo Versace 

Non-vulnerable after two passes, wouldn’t we all open with a club pre-empt on that South hand? Versace duly did so, and although the auction turned sour very quickly, all was not lost for the Italian maestro. 

Michal Klukowski led a top diamond against 3♣-X and, looking at all four hands, it seems like declarer can get out for just two down, losing a spade, a diamond and four trumps. When Klukowski switched to a low heart at trick two, though, Versace played low from dummy and Gawrys won with the 10. Now declarer is potentially in all kinds of pain.  

If Gawrys plays a second round of diamonds at this point, he will subsequently be able to score the K by ruffing a third round of diamonds, and his partner will still have four natural trump tricks. Instead, Gawrys returned a second heart, to king and ace, but that is still okay for the defence, as declarer still has to find a way to reach his hand to play trumps. East can still win the first round of spades and play his second diamond to collect 800. When declarer led a low spade from dummy, though, he was allowed to win with the Q and play a round of trumps, breaking the defensive communications. That was still E/W +500, though. 2 IMPs to ZIMMERMANN and a chance for something more substantial missed by both sides. 

Watching this match, it seemed that the Zimmermann team were the proverbial unstoppable force, applying pressure at both tables on every deal. It seemed that they always bid when doing so made things difficult for their opponents but they also managed to keep silent when that was the right thing to do. It was relentless, 2 IMPs, 5 IMPs, 2 IMPs, 1 IMP, 2 IMPs, slowly building and building their lead. Not that every swing was a small one… 

Michal Klukowski 

Klukowski opened a three-way Polish Club (12-14 balanced, 15+ natural or any 18+) and Gawrys showed 8+ points and 5+ spades with his 1♠ response. Examination of the pair’s convention card did not explain the jump to 3♣, but it would seem to show a good hand, presumably with both minors. Gawrys set clubs as trumps and 5 was Exclusion KCB. The response showed two key cards without the ♣Q, which is exactly what Klukowski needed to know. Declarer won the opening trump lead, drew a second round, and claimed: E/W +2140.  

You didn’t think the opponents would be allowed to bid the hand uncontested at the other table, did you? 

Kalita started with a natural 1 opening, which one would think should make things easier, even with Brink overcalling at the two-level. Kalita cue-bid to show a good hand but, by the time the auction came back to him, the opponents were already at the five-level. With no space to investigate and so much he still needed to know, Kalita was never going to be able to bid more than a small slam from here. E/W +1390 and 13 IMPs to ZIMMERMANN. 

Although there had been only that one double-digit swing, Zimmermann had outscored their opponents 36-8 over the first 12 boards of the set. They conceded a late swing but still won the set 36-18 to open up a 25-IMP lead (64-39) at the midway point of the match. The third set was a virtual mirror of the second, 36-13 to lead by 48 IMPs with 14 boards left. It seems that the eminently sensible Henry Jekyll has shown up today, so the Bermuda Bowl champions march on into the quarter-finals. Who, though, might show up tomorrow?  

We will be back next week with the best of the action from the quarter-final stage of the Rosenblum Cup. 

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