BBO Vugraph - the Vanderbilt KO Teams Round of 16

Vugraph #243

Welcome back to New Orleans, Louisiana, and the prestigious Vanderbilt Knockout Teams at the 2023 North American Spring Nationals. The devastation of the field began early, with four of the top eight seeds going out in the Round of 32 yesterday. The remaining top seeds going into today’s Round of 16 are #1 ROSENTHAL, #2 ZIMMERMANN, #6 WOLFSON and #7 FLEISHER.

We’ll see highlights from a number of the Round of 16 matches. Just one problem for you today: with only your opponents vulnerable, you are North holding:

What do you open?

We start in the opening stanza of #6 WOLFSON vs #22 CAYNE, with both North players having to decide what to open on the problem above.

Dano de Falco (left) began a long and distinguished international career as a member of the famed Italian Blue team that won the 1973 European Championship and the Bermuda Bowl a year later. He won further European titles in 1979, 1999 and 2001, the Transnational Teams at the 1997 World Championships, and the World Team Olympiad in 2000. Not only is he a fine player, but he is also one of the nicest guys in the game.

On this deal, he really stuck it to his opponents with his 5 opening bid. Joe Grue doubled on his balanced 15-count, and Brad Moss was left with something of a guess. He went for all the marbles and, whilst slam was not completely without play, missing K-10-x-x-x clubs meant that it wasn’t even as good as the club finesse. With the king offside, there was no chance at all: E/W -100.

Steve Garner’s 4 opening gave the Dutch pair some wiggle room. Bob Drijver also started with a double on the East cards, but Bart Nab had a toy to play with. He advanced with 4NT, alerted as showing any single-suited slam try. Drijver’s hand could hardly have been weaker for his original double. He responded 5♣, showing a hand that would not have accepted a slam try in clubs, and then passed when Nab revealed his long suit. E/W +650 and 13 IMPs to CAYNE.

After the first quarter, WOLFSON led by 12 IMPs, 42-30. Elsewhere, in the other matches involving the original top seeds, #2 ZIMMERMANN trailed #18 GOODMAN by 9 IMPs, whilst #7 FLEISHER led #40 BAILEY by 23 IMPs and #1 ROSENTHAL had opened an 18-IMP lead over #46 KNOTTENBELT.

The opening lead was crucial at both tables, on this deal, as CAYNE attempted to keep the match close:

Weaker major-suit single-suited hands start with a Multi, so David Gold had no problem raising Zia’s 2 opening to game. With the spade position marked, game was not a bad proposition until Dano de Falco fished out the 6 as his opening lead. Declarer played low from dummy and Patricia Cayne put in the J. Zia won with the K and successfully played his low spade to dummy’s ten. Three round of trumps followed, and then a spade to the queen, but De Falco won with the ♠A, cashed the ♣A, and then reverted to diamonds, leading the ten to ensure two tricks in that suit. Close, but no cigar: E/W -50.

Tim Verbeek (right) made his international debut as a 15-year old in the Dutch Schools team at the 2000 European Youth Championships and was a regular member of various Dutch junior teams for more than a decade. He became a European champion with victory in the Open Teams at the 2015 European Transnational Championships.

After the same start to the auction, Verbeek advanced with a 2NT inquiry on the East hand. When Danny Molenaar showed a maximum, semi-balanced hand with 3NT, Verbeek saw no reason to move. Jeffrey Wolfson might have given the defence a chance to stay in the game with a club lead, but why should be? He led his partner’s suit, and declarer then had an easy nine tricks: E/W +400 and 10 IMPs to CAYNE.

CAYNE won the set 29-27 and thus trailed by 10 IMPs (59-69) at the midway point. Elsewhere, ROSENTHAL extend their lead to 25 IMPs and FLEISHER led by 24 IMPs. ZIMMERMANN won the second set 31-15 to take the lead by 7 IMPs against GOODMAN, so the remaining four original Top 8 seeds all led at the halfway point of their Round of 16 matches.

Into the third quarter, let’s pay our first visit to the ZIMMERMANN-v-GOODMAN match. In a match with some of the world’s best players on view, it was the young Italian pair who found the winning play on this deal…

A Tarzan Club auction propelled the Dutch to 4, and Michal Klukowski kept the defensive hopes alive by leading a low heart. Declarer has five losers, one heart and two in each black suit. A spade can be thrown on dummy’s K but declarer also needs to ruff a club.

When declarer played low from dummy, Piotr Gawrys won with the K and then needed to switch to spades to ensure beating the contract. When instead he tabled the ♣Q, Bauke Muller was in control. He won, cashed the A, and then played two more rounds of clubs. Gawrys won and returned a second trump, but declarer won in his hand, ruffed his last club with the A, and threw his spade loser on the diamond winner. Ten tricks: N/S +620.

Giacomo Percario (left) was only 17 when he made his international debut at the 2011 World Youth Championships. He was a member of the victorious Italian team in the 2015 World Junior Teams and he made his debut in the Italian Open team at the 2022 European Championships in Madeira.

A straightforward, natural auction got the Dutch at this table to same contract in double-quick time. Percario got the defence off to a good start when he opened the ♠K. Declarer ducked, and Percario continued with the ♠Q.

After taking the ♠A, declarer now needed to get to dummy to take his discard before relinquishing the lead. Brink cashed the A and both of his high clubs, then crossed to dummy with the A. The K took care of declarer’s spade loser, and then Brink exited with a heart to East’s king. Giovanni Donati cashed the ♣Q and then played the ♣J, enabling Percario to ruff in front of dummy with the 9. That was four tricks for the defence: N/S -100 and 12 IMPs to GOODMAN.

GOODMAN won the third set 20-12 to edge their noses back in front. They led 67-66 going into the final stanza. Elsewhere, WOLFSON won the third set 57-29 against CAYNE, so they led by 38 IMPs with a set to play. In the other two matches, both underdog teams enjoyed big third sets. BAILEY won the stanza by a whopping 64-23 to take a 17-IMP lead over FLEISHER. KNOTTENBELT won the set 44-22, so they trailed ROSENTHAL by only 3 IMPs, 90-93, with 15 boards left.

ZIMMERMANN scored an IMP to tie the match on the opening board of the stanza. Then came twelve boards of which ten were pushes, ZIMMERMANN gaining 12-5 on the other two to lead by 7 IMPs with two boards to play. Then came the decisive deal:

Piotr Gawrys opened 1NT and Michal Klukowski investigated both majors before settling for a quantitative raise to 4NT. Gawrys had a bare minimum, so he passed the invite. Well judged, as there were only eleven tricks, even with the J coming down. E/W +660.

Giovanni Donati (right) made his international debut in the Italian Youngsters team at the 2011 European Youth Championships. Along with Giacomo Percario, he won the 2015 World Junior Teams and made his first appearance in Italy's Open team in Madeira last year.

On this deal, Donati also opened a 15-17 1NT on the East cards. Percario started with Stayman and then jumped to 4♣ after his partner’s 2 response, presumably showing a game-forcing hand with four spades and at least five clubs. Donati showed a lack of interest with 4NT, but Percario decided he was worth more, and forced his partner to pick a slam with 5NT. Donati accurately chose spades, the only strain in which 12 tricks were possible.

Donati won the opening diamond lead and ducked a club around to North. He won the heart switch in hand, cashed the ♠Q, then played a club to the ace and ruffed the third round of clubs with his low trump. When clubs behaved, declarer was able to cash the ♠J, cross to dummy with the A, draw trumps, and claim his 12 tricks. A spectacular E/W +1430 and 13 IMPs to GOODMAN.

GOODMAN won the match 85-79, knocking out the Bermuda Bowl winners. Elsewhere, #6 WOLFSON won the final set 23-15 to win by 46 IMPs, and #7 FLEISHER came storming back to overturn a 17-IMP deficit and win 142-109. The other top seed, #1 ROSENTHAL, went into the final set of their match with a 3-IMP advantage over #46 KNOTTENBELT,  but the underdogs won the final stanza 23-20 to leave the match tied after 60 boards. In the eight-board playoff, ROSENTHAL scored 18 unanswered IMPs on the first four boards and looked to be coasting home. However, the underdogs won the final four boards 20-0 to oust the top seeds by a final score of 133-131.

With just two of the original top eight seeds remaining, these are the quarter-final match-ups.

#6 WOLFSON v #30 McALLISTER, who have beaten #3 LEBOWITZ and #14 ONSTOTT to reach this stage.

#7 FLEISHER v #18 GOODMAN, vanquishers of #2 ZIMMERMANN.

#9 BERNAL v #46 KNOTTENBELT, who have beaten #1 ROSENTHAL.

#35 DINKIN, a multinational team who have beaten #5 LEVINE and #12 MILNER to get to the quarter-finals v #34 ZHAO, a Chinese team who have already defeated #4 NCIKELL and #13 BRAMLEY.

We will be back soon with the best of the action from those quarter-final matches.

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