BBO Vugraph - The Final of the Gold Coast Teams

Vugraph #237

We continue our visit to Queensland, Australia, for the final of the teams at the famed Gold Coast Congress, staged in Broadbeach, just south of Brisbane. The last two teams standing are an Australian/New Zealander/Irish quintet, THOMSON (Matthew Thomson, Michael Ware, Hugh McGann, Tom Jacob and Brian Mace) and an all-Aussie foursome, DALLEY (Paul Dalley, Tony Nunn, Tony Leibowitz and Paul Gosney).

THOMSON won the first two stanzas of the final and, at the midway point, led by 17 IMPs (55-38). An advantage, to be sure but, with 24 boards still to play, hardly decisive.

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

What action, if any, do you take?

Next, with both sides vulnerable, you are sitting in the East seat with:

What action, if any, do you take?

The third stanza began quietly. DALLEY began to eat into the deficit, but it was slow going. Over the first nine boards of the third set, they outscored their opponents 9-0, reducing the margin to single figures. Then came the first explosion of the stanza…

Tony Nunn (left) scored a galactic-sized goal for his team on this deal. His opening 1 bid may have helped North avoid the potential trouble playing in that suit would have led to, but N/S could still make game in either clubs or no-trumps.

Tom Jacob started by showing a constructive or better club raise and then jumped to 3NT when his partner bid spades. However, Nunn’s confident double persuaded North to rethink. Jacob ran to the safety of 4♣ and, when Brian Mace could not find a raise, the New Zealanders were left to play peacefully in a partscore. Eleven tricks made: N/S +150.

As an aside, it is worth mentioning that many pairs play a redouble (rather than North’s 4♣) as a way of expressing doubt in this type of situation. That way, partner is involved in the decision of whether to run or not. Whether South would  have stuck the redouble or jumped to 5♣ on this hand is unclear, but perhaps it would have given N/S more chance of doing the right thing. Something worthwhile discussing with your regular partner?

Matthew Thomson showed the three-suited nature of his hand via a 3♣ cue-bid here so, having learned about support for his seven-card suit, Tony Leibowitz simply jumped to game as a two-way shot. N/S +600 and 10 IMPs to DALLEY.

On the final deal of the set, both North players had to decide whether to overcall at ‘red’ on the first of this week’s problem hands. Tom Jacob chose to pass…

Again, it was Tony Nunn who paved the way for his side to gain a significant swing. His 1 response on sub-minimal values showed spades, and Paul Dalley’s jump to 2♠ showed a spade fit without significant extra values. Having passed at his first opportunity, there was no way Jacob could come in now, with his LHO still unlimited. When 2♠ was passed around to Brain Mace, what could be do? Nunn’s featherweight response had effectively pre-empted the opponents out of the auction.

Jacob led a trump. A red-suit lead might have enabled the defence to beat the contract by two, but additional undertricks at 50 apiece were not likely to be a factor on this deal. N/S +50.

Paul Gosney (right) was prepared to overcall on the North hand, and Leibowitz’s jump cue-bid showed some sort of mixed raise. Although Gosney showed a minimum, Leibowitz was never going to bid less than game. With trumps 2-2, the defenders could make no more than one trump and a trick in each minor. N/S +620 and 12 IMPs to DALLEY, who won the set 33-1 to turn the match on its head.

DALLEY led by 14 IMPs (71-57) going into the final 12-board set of the match. One pair missed a chance to take a substantial penalty on our next deal, but they still gained on the board.

Michael Ware (left) decided that the North hand was a 4♠ opening, which certainly makes it difficult for E/W to get to their potential minor-suit game.

I am a bit surprised that Tony Nunn went quietly on the East hand. The expected range that partner would expect for a double of a 4♠ opening presumably includes any strong balanced hand. After all, add one or two kings and East would surely have no choice but to double with this shape. Although this East hand would be about a minimum, I confess I would have been unable to resist the temptation. The defence had to make four aces and the ♠10: N/S -200.

Paul Gosney settled for a 1♠ opening, and Brian Mace overcalled 1NT. He then found himself left with the second of this week’s bidding problems. The first question, and one that readers should check to see what their regular partner thinks, is whether 3♣ is forcing or just competitive. It seems clear that West needs to be able to bid a competitive 3♣ in this auction. Indeed, if he cannot bid a non-forcing 3♣ on this deal, it seems that he would be forced to concede -110 defending 2♠ when his side can perhaps make as many as eleven tricks in clubs.

This raises the interesting question of what would West bid with, say, x/KQxxx/xx/KQxxx if 3♣ is non-forcing?  If you have to start with a double, for example, getting to 5♣/6♣ when that is where you want to play, is likely to be more difficult.

3NT had only eight tricks and, indeed, at the table declarer only managed to take seven of them: N/S +200 and 9 IMPs to DALLEY to open the last set.

Approaching the midway point of the set, the match score stood at 86-58. The final nail in the THOMSON coffin came down to an opening lead, made much more difficult in one room by which suit happened to be trumps.

Whether N/S play game in hearts or spades, with the ♠K offside, the defenders can always defeat the contract as long as they get their diamond tricks established on the go.

Michael Ware started with an artificial 2♣ game-force and Hugh McGann’s 2 bid simply denied a singleton or void. Opposite what was very likely to be a weak no-trump with five spades, Ware wasted no time getting to the most likely contract. Hugh had obviously forgotten to pack the ‘Luck of the Irish’ for this trip, as Paul Dalley had been dealt a fairly obvious diamond lead.

When the spade finesse failed, the defenders quickly cashed their three minor-suit winners to put the contract one down: N/S -100.

Here, too, South opened 1♠, but Paul Gosney forced to game via a natural 2 response. Tony Leibowitz (right) duly raised his partner’s suit, and thus hearts became trumps in this room. Whilst that makes little difference in theory, the reality was that East was left with a blind lead.

As it happens, starting with either minor would beat the contract. (West can win an opening club lead and switch to diamonds whilst he still holds the ♠K). When Brian Mace opted for a ‘safe’ trump lead rather than leading from either of his minor-suit jacks, declarer was in control. He drew trumps and took the losing spade finesse. With the diamond tricks not yet set up, declarer won the diamond switch and pitched his losers on dummy’s long spades. N/S +650 and 13 IMPs to DALLEY, now 41 IMPs ahead with just six deals to play.

DALLEY won the final stanza 33-21 and the match 104-77. Congratulations to the DALLEY team on their victory: Paul Dalley, Tony Nunn, Tony Leibowitz and Paul Gosney.

We have another long flight ahead of us now, as we will be in London next week in order to bring you the best of the action from the prestigious Lederer Trophy.

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