BBO Vugraph - Vanderbilt KO Teams Quarter-Finals

Vugraph #244

Welcome back to New Orleans, Louisiana, and the prestigious Vanderbilt Knockout Teams at the 2023 North American Spring Nationals. The devastation continued yesterday. Four of the top eight seeds went out in the Round of 32, and the top two seeds joined them on the side-lines in yesterday’s Round of 16. That leaves just #6 WOLFSON and #7 FLEISHER standing from the original top eight seeds. These are the match-ups for the quarter-finals:

#6 WOLFSON (Jeffrey Wolfson, Steve Garner, Zia Mahmood, David Gold, Brad Moss, Joe Grue) v #30 McALLISTER (John McAllister, Nick Jacob, Peter Fredin, Simon Ekenberg), who have beaten #3 LEBOWITZ and #14 ONSTOTT to reach this stage.

#7 FLEISHER (Marty Fleisher, Chip Martel, Leslie Amoils, Tom Hanlon, Cedric Lorenzini, Thomas Bessis) v #18 GOODMAN (Andy Goodman, Mike Passell, Simon de Wijs, Bauke Muller, Giovanni Donati, Giacomo Percario), vanquishers of #2 ZIMMERMANN.

#9 BERNAL (Francisco Bernal, Mike Kamil, Giorgio Duboin, Antonio Sementa, Alfredo Versace, Leonardo Cima) v #46 KNOTTENBELT (Maggie Knottenbelt, Ollie Burgess, Tom Townsend, Ben Handley-Pritchard, Michael Byrne, Kieran Dyke), who have beaten #1 ROSENTHAL.

#35 DINKIN (Sam Dinkin, Jacob Freeman, Patryk Patreuha, Krzysztof Jassem, Asaf Yekuteili, Christian Lahrmann), who have beaten #5 LEVINE and #12 MILNER to get to the quarter-finals v #34 ZHAO (Chen Zhao, Jing Liu, Yinghao Liu, Linlin Hu, Hongji Wei), who have already defeated #4 NICKELL and #13 BRAMLEY.

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

What action, if any, do you take?

Next, with neither side vulnerable, you are sitting in the West seat with:

What action do you take?

Finally, with only your side vulnerable, you hold as South:

What action, if any, do you take?

While you consider those, we start in the opening stanza of FLEISHER v GOODMAN, with one player faced with the first of the problems above.

At adverse vulnerability, Andy Goodman (left) opted for a heavy 3♣ pre-empt in first seat. Leslie Amoils’ jump to 4 then left Irish star Ton Hanlon with the first of this week’s bidding problems. Hanlon’s pass is perhaps conservative, and the hands fit well enough that there were 12 top tricks. N/S +480.

In the replay, Cedric Lorenzini started with 1♣ on the East cards, which left plenty of room for the young Italians to assess their combined strength. After showing game-going values with his first-round cue-bid, Giovanni Donati admitted to a heart suit at the three-level. That was music to Giacomo Percario’s ears and, after forcing a diamond cue-bid from his partner, he Blackwooded to the excellent slam. N/S +980 and 11 IMPs to GOODMAN.

GOODMAN won the opening stanza 45-10 to immediately put the seeded team in a significant hole from which they were never to emerge. Elsewhere, the other top seed, WOLFSON, also trailed, but only by 6 IMPs, 31-37 against McALLISTER. Another underdog, KNOTTENBELT, also had their noses in front early, 29-20 over BERNAL. In the battle between the two lowly-seeded teams, the Chinese led by 15 IMPs, 43-28.

The second stanza began in similar vein, with both West players facing a variation on the second of this week’s problems.

Playing a natural system, I have never understood why players open 1 with 4-4 in the minors when they have no intention of bidding their clubs later. On this deal, the result was that the French did not find their eight-card fit. However, this was always something of a trap hand for the E/W pairs. Even if you find your best fit, you are destined to be punished with a 5-0 trump break (and probably a double too).

Thomas Bessis had to deal with the bidding problem presented earlier. Perhaps a negative double would have led to playing 4 in the Moysian fit, which might have been the only winning move on this layout. When Bessis stretched to a 3♠ cue-bid, Cedric Lorenzini was faced with an awkward decision. Should he bid 3NT on this singleton ace? With his partner certainly not holding four hearts (no negative double), Lorenzini aimed for a minor-suit game. Bessis chose diamonds, so they ended in a seven-card fit anyway, but a level higher.

Declarer won the spade lead and immediately took a heart finesse. Mike Passell won with the K and returned a spade, declarer ruffing. When declarer then led a club towards dummy, Goodman ruffed in, costing his side a trick. But it was only the second undertrick. N/S +50.

Marty Fleisher chose a pre-emptive 3♠ overcall, which left Simon de Wijs with no sensible option other than a negative double. Chip Martel raised to game and Bauke Muller (right) jumped all over that with a sharp double.

The defence was deadly accurate. De Wijs led a spade to his partner’s ace, and Muller switched to a low heart, West’s eight forcing the king from dummy. Declarer cashed the ♣A for a heart discard, ruffed a club, and exited with a diamond. De Wijs won to play a second trump, then won the next diamond to play a third spade, removing dummy’s last trump.

Goodman made just his five trump winners plus one heart and one club in dummy. Three down: N/S +500 and 11 IMPs to GOODMAN to start the set.

GOODMAN won the second stanza 34-24, so they led by 45 IMPs at the midway point. Elsewhere, WOLFSON still trailed McALLISTER, but the margin was now just 2 IMPs, 52-54. KNOTTENBELT also retained the lead against BERNAL. The margin was 6 IMPs there, 41-35. In the other match, more than 100 IMPs changed hands in the second stanza, but without much effect on the scoreboard: DINKIN won the stanza 51-50 and thus trailed by 14 IMPs at the halfway point.

It is rarely good news when your side declares in both rooms with the same suit as trumps, as the English discovered to their cost in BERNAL -v- KNOTTENBELT. You would think these players were experienced enough to know that throwing IMPs around is not how you gain the respect of your peers… passing around a bag of sweeties is sufficient.

Tom Townsend opened 1NT for the English. This was passed around to Antonio Sementa, who reopened with a double. Perhaps because he had upgraded his hand for the original 1NT opening, Townsend decided to take refuge in his five-card suit. Little did he know! Alfredo Versace had the world’s most obvious takeout double, and Sementa an equally obvious pass.

Townsend won the club lead with the ace, and exited with a second club to Sementa’s king. When declarer then won the diamond switch in dummy and took a club ruff, Sementa was able to discard his remaining diamond, and now declarer was at least three down. Sementa ruffed the K, played a spade to his partner’s king, and received a second diamond ruff. Declarer had to make two trump tricks at the end, but that was all. Three down: E/W +800.

Leonardo Cima (left) played his first international event in 1995, the European Pairs. A regular at major events, he had accumulated a wealth of experience before making his debut in the Italian Open team at the 2014 European Championships. He won the Open Teams at the 2019 European Transnational Championships and collected a brace of bronze medals at World Championships last year, finishing third in the Mixed Teams in both Salsomaggiore and Wrocklaw.

After the same start to the auction, Cima did not feel the need to bid over East’s double, so it was Kieran Dyke who rode to the rescue, removing to 2♣ on the West cards. Giorgio Duboin briefly put the Italians back into the firing line by competing in diamonds, but Michael Byrne was never going to not mention his hearts. Dyke could have preserved his side’s plus score by passing 2, but his decision to press on to 2♠ is understandable. When Byrne rebid his hearts, Cima put the icing on the Italian cake with a penalty double. No doubt he was disappointed to find that they could only beat the contract by one trick. It was enough: E/W -200 and 14 IMPs to BERNAL.

BERNAL enjoyed a big third set, winning 55-13 to obliterate the English team’s halftime advantage. BERNAL led by 37 IMP, 91-54. WOLFSON also turned the screws, winning the stanza 52-24 to lead by 26 IMPs, 104-78, with a set to play. DINKIN won 27-15 and now trailed ZHAO by only 2 IMPs, 106-108. In the fourth match, GOODMAN stormed away, winning the third set 59-13, and FLEISHER conceded, trailing by 89. That left WOLFSON as the only original top 8 seed still standing.

The Multi reared it’s ugly head on this key deal from the final stanza. The match score stood at DINKIN 138 ZHAO 129 with three boards to play. This was the anti-penultimate deal.

Linlin Hu (right) made his international debut in the Chinese Junior team at the 2001 World Youth Championships. He was a member of the Chinese Open team that reached the quarter-finals of the Bermuda Bowl in both 2015 and 2019.

The Multi got things started, but it was the 2♠ bid by Hu that gave the Poles virtually no chance of reaching their game. 2♠ denied game interest if his partner’s suit was spades, but showed a game invitation facing a natural weak 2 opening.

Krzysztof Jassem did well to get in with a natural 2NT, but there was no reason at all for Patryk Patreuha to move over that. Declarer in 2NT had exactly eight tricks on any defence: N/S +120.

It’s unclear whether Christian Lahrmann’s three-level pre-empt made things easier or harder for the Chinese N/S, for whom Jing Liu had to deal with the last of this week’s problems. I will leave you choose your own adjective to describe his double (brave, reckless, bonkers, obvious). The options, presumably, include Pass and 3NT with, for me, double a distant third. For many pairs, double would be even less of an option as to double and then bid 4 over a 4 response would show a hand too good for a natural 4 overcall, rather than a flawed takeout double that doesn’t have diamonds.

Liu certainly landed on his feet. Although Hongji Wei produced only a five-count in dummy, what a five-count it was. Even the ♠Q, which may look worthless, meant that it would not help the defenders to start with two rounds of trumps. Due to the presence of the ♠Q in dummy, only West could gain the lead when declarer gave up a spade, and he didn’t have a third trump to play, so declarer cannot be prevented from ruffing a spade. The spade ruff and the K provide dummy with two entries, which, combined with the presence of the ♣10 in dummy, means that declarer can even pick up four clubs to the king on his right. Declarer had to lose just one spade an two trumps: N/S +620 and 13 IMPs to ZHAO, edging them into a 4-IMP lead with two boards remaining.

As it happened, ZHAO picked up further 6-IMP swings on both of the last two deals, so they emerged with victory by a 16-IMP margin, 154-138.

Elsewhere, BERNAL won the final stanza 34-32 to win 119-86 and WOLFSON also edged the final set to win by 28 IMPs.

The semi-final line-up would be #6 WOLFSON vs #18 GOODMAN and #9 BERNAL vs #34 ZHAO. We will be back soon with the best of the action from those semi-finals.

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