BBO Vugraph - World Mixed Teams

BBO Vugraph #177

Vugraph #177

We return to Wroclaw in southwestern Poland and the World Mixed Teams, where 32 teams have advanced to the knockout stage. We will see a number of the world’s top players in action as the field is quickly whittled down.

As usual, we start with a couple of problems for your consideration. Firstly, with only your side vulnerable, you are East holding:

What action, if any, do you take?

Next, with only your opponents vulnerable, you are sitting East with:

What action, if any, do you take?

We begin with a match from the Round of 32 between REASON (USA/Germany/Australia) and CORIANDRE (France). Halfway through the 28-board match, the French trailed 20-29, and they lost another 13 IMPs when they missed a slam on the first board of the second stanza. We join the action with the French team seeking to mount a comeback.

Ben Thompson’s 2♣ rebid was Gazzilli, showing either clubs or 16+, and Renee Cooper’s sequence via 1NT showed a weak spade raise. With the Australians having stopped at about the limit of what they can make, Pierre Schmidt backed in with 2NT, showing minors, and Joanna Zochowska chose diamonds. There was little to the play: E/W -110.

The French pair took a much rosier view of their values at the other table.

Aurelie Lorenzini

Aurelie Thizy was a member of the French team that won the European Under-26 Girls Teams title in 2013 and a World Championship in the same category a year later.

Now Aurelie Lorenzini, she did not pussyfoot around, simply jumping to game and trusting her husband to make bricks from a bucket of sand and a few pieces of straw. After a heart lead to South’s nine and declarer’s jack, a club to the king won. However, when South took the ♣Q continuation and continued with the ♣10, prospects looked bleak for the young French star.

Cedric Lorenzini won with the ♣J and played a spade, winning with the king when North put in the queen. If only he could steal a diamond trick now! It is said that even Homer nods and, despite holding four winners, Wildavsky sleepily played low when declarer led a diamond from dummy. Back in his hand with the Q, Lorenzini played a spade to the ten. When that held, he had nine tricks: E/W +400 and 11 IMPs to CORIANDRE, trailing now by only 2 IMPs.

If those watching live on BBO VuGraph were now expecting a close match, they were to be disappointed. Having set the water flowing, it was not long before it turned into an absolute deluge. The French gained 5 IMPs for a partscore swing to edge into the lead, and then the floodgates opened. 

The French pair conducted a normal-looking auction to the top spot. Pony Nehmert led a spade to king and ace, and Cedric Lorenzini cashed the top trumps, solving the problem in that suit. When he then led a diamond, North hopped up with the ace and switched to clubs, so the defenders got their three tricks: E/W +620.

It was at the World Championships in Wuhan in 2019, that it became clear that many top American pairs had joined the bandwagon of pre-empting on just about anything that vaguely moved. That left just one major holdout…

Pierre Schmidt

Although not explained in the hand records, I suspect Pierre Schmidt’s 2♠ opening showed spades and a minor, rather than just being a random weak two. It does suggest, though, that perhaps the French are moving vaguely in the direction of 21st-Century bidding, and they certainly reaped the reward for their enterprise on this deal. Ben Thompson was left with the bidding problem posed at the top of this article. Is it unreasonable to expect that his partner’s side-suit values will be in the minors? You could easily be cold for 11 tricks (or more) in hearts, and does 4♠ not rate to be relatively cheap too? Bidding on to 5 would surely be the choice of most, but it was not the winning action on this layout. E/W -100 and another 12 IMPs to CORIANDRE.

Remarkably, after losing a slam swing on the first deal of the second set, Coriandre blanked their opponents 68-0 over the remaining boards. Hmm… a 13-IMP loss and only 13 boards left: it certainly turned out to be just the sign the French needed! 

With two knockout matches played in just one day, the field was rapidly reduced to eight contenders. With members of both teams from the recent Bermuda Bowl final in the FERM team (USA, Netherlands, Switzerland, Denmark, Germany), they surely merited a watch, and the large crowd that had gathered to follow the action live on BBO VuGraph seemed to agree. The two teams had exchanged more than 100 IMPs in the first of the four 14-board segments. With BRIDGE24 (Poland) leading by 15 IMPs, let’s see what happened in the next set…

Once West had overcalled in spades, 3NT was always doomed. I understand the logic behind responding 1, and if the suits were KQ10x/Kxxxx I’d be more in favour, but it does seem that you are rather asking for this type of auction. Perhaps North should pass 2 if this is the type of hand partner is likely to have…? If you assume partner knows what he is doing, I certainly see no reason for South to bid over 3♣.

Daniela von Arnim’s ♠Q lead held at trick one and declarer took his king on the second round. Simon de Wijs won trick three with the A and the contract was quickly down. N/S -50.

Christina Lund Madsen

I suppose I should now extol the virtues of that wonderful 1 bid! Christina Lund Madsen clearly thought her hand much better than did her Polish counterpart. All I can say is that as long as those rose-tinted spectacles are effective in the play, she should keep using them.

West led the ♣Q, and Lund Madsen won to play the J. West won with the ace and continued clubs, so declarer won and played the A and a heart to the king. Leaving two trumps out, Lund Madsen now switched back to diamonds, discarding two spades from dummy. When West also pitched a spade on the fourth round of diamonds (it doesn’t benefit him to ruff either), away went dummy’s last spade. Lund Madsen now ruffed a spade in dummy and cashed the ♣10, on which she pitched the last spade from her hand. West could ruff, but the defenders made only two trump tricks to go with the A. Nicely played: N/S +420 and 10 IMPs to FERM.

On our next deal, both East players found themselves with some variation of this week’s final problem:

Having opened her six-card suit, Lund Madsen got her second suit into play with 4NT. This deal seems to beg the question of whether East has something extra or, having jumped to 4, she has already bid her hand. Ewa Sobolewska decided that she should bid a fifth heart and Bas Drijver ended the explosive auction with a double. Declarer had two spades, two hearts and a diamond to lose: N/S +500.

Daniela von Arnim

Joanna Zalewska started with 1 and Grzegorz Narkiewicz’s 1♠ was like a negative double, but denying as many as four spades. It was easier for Zalewska to show her second suit, and thus Von Arnim was effectively in the same position as her counterpart at the other table. She decided that she had exactly what she had already shown and trusted that her partner knew what he was doing. And right she was too, as De Wijs made the ♠A and two trump tricks to nip 5♣-X by a trick: N/S +200 and 12 IMPs to FERM.

Do you prefer to get to the final contract quickly, without giving any information away, or would you rather risk giving the opponent’s information and space in the hope of reaching a better contract? Let’s see which approach worked best on this week’s final deal:

The Polish pair conspired to blast away and keep their opponents in the dark. Narkiewicz set the ball rolling with his off-shape 1NT opening, and Zalewska refused to assist East with her opening lead. Von Armin somehow worked out that hearts was the best suit for the defenders, but declarer had just enough tricks before he had to surrender the lead. N/S+400.

Drijver started with 1♣, and Lund Madsen’s jump to 2 was at least a limit raise in clubs. Drijver then jumped to 3, showing a shortage, setting clubs as trumps, and establishing a game force. Lund Madsen marked time with 4♣ so that Drijver could show controls in both pointed suits. Blackwood then established that there was only one missing key-card. The defence led a diamond to West’s ace, and Drijver was soon claiming 12 tricks. N/S +920 and justice, I feel, was duly done with another 11 IMPs to FERM.

FERM won the stanza 38-22 and forged into a halftime lead, albeit only 89-88. In my Bulletin report written after this set, I commented that I hate to put the mockers on a team with friends in it, but my 50p was firmly on the FERM to go all the way, so I guess that means you can expect to see the Poles in tomorrow’s semi-final draw. My 50p remained alive, though, FERM winning the match 140-121 to advance to the semi-finals, where they will meet CORIANDRE. The other semi-final will be largely a Scandinavian affair, with MINITER (USA, Sweden, Norway) taking on DONNER (USA, Canada, Sweden).

We will be back very soon to see the best of the action from those semi-final matches.

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