Ron Tacchi reports from the Fall 2023 NABC Atlanta.
Photos source: ACBL
The World Championship winning team led by Pierre Zimmermann (Michal Klukowski, Michal Nowosadzki, Jacek Kalita, Sebastiaan Drijver and Sjoert Brink) annexed another ACBL title when they won the Soloway Knockout Teams, defeating Street 108–83 in the final.
Last year Zimmermann had defeated Street in a thrilling Spingold final, maintaining a 1 IMP lead by flattening the last 6 deals of the match.
It was yet another major title for the dominant force in world bridge. In 2022, apart from winning the Bermuda Bowl, a title they retained in Marrakech earlier this year, the team won the Spingold and the Reisinger.
All bridge deals are tough, but some are tougher than others. Although Double-Dummy solvers such as Deep Finesse can make almost anything given half a chance, the limitations of the human mind mean that things are frequently not so simple.
Her are a couple of tough deals from the second session of the Soloway final:
There is nothing wrong with bidding 4♠, but a lot of players would prefer to be able to make some sort of fit jump, as getting Hearts into the picture might help partner to judge what is happening if the auction continues.
Chess grandmaster Savielly Tartakower used to say of a move, ‘obvious, therefore dubious’ (corresponding with ‘dubious, therefore obvious’) and I wonder which he would apply to West’s double.
Declarer had to lose a Diamond and a Heart, but that was +550.
Having shown his Hearts, doubling had more going for it. East’s decision to let matters rest is well, choose your own adjective.
No swing, one of the eight in the set.
South led the ♦K and when North followed with the ♦10 he switched to the ♠Q, declarer winning with dummy’s ace, pitching a Spade on the ♣A, ruffing a Club and playing a Heart to the ten. North won, cashed the ♦A and the ♠K and played another Spade for South to ruff, -100.
After the Diamond lead, one way to make 4 Hearts is to play three rounds of Clubs to dispose of the losing Spades. North is welcome to score the ♥8 and as long as declarer ruffs the Spade exit and plays a Heart to the King, he should emerge with ten tricks.
North led the ♠3 and when South put in the ♠9 declarer won with the Ace and played three rounds of Clubs, North ruffing with the ♥8. Declarer pitched dummy’s remaining Spade, ruffed the Spade return and played the ♦Q, South winning with the King and returning the ♦8. North won and played the ♠10, South overruffing dummy and playing the ♣J, ruffed by the ♥Q and overruffed by dummy, declarer claiming the rest, -50 and 2 IMPs for Zimmermann.
4 Hearts can be made, but is not easy. If declarer draws the inference that the Spade lead suggests that North does not have the ♦AK then he might find a winning line. Having cashed two Clubs, declarer must tackle the trump suit. If he plays North for the ♥Q he can draw trumps ending in hand and pitch dummy’s last Spade on the ♣Q. He then ruffs a Spade and can play any Diamond from dummy. He still has a Heart to come and must score either a Diamond or a Club.
The critical point of the match came towards the end of the third quarter, when only 2 IMPs separated the teams.
South led the ♠K and declarer ruffed and played a Heart for the eight, Queen and King, ruffed the Spade return and played three rounds of Clubs, South ruffing and exiting with the ♠7. There was nothing declarer could do to avoid two down, -100.
North led the ♦4 and declarer won with dummy’s Ace and played a Heart for the Queen and King. Dummy took the Diamond return, declarer drew trumps then claimed, +920 and 14 IMPs for Zimmermann.
That looked easy enough, +1430.
Without the double, 4♣ would be asking North to transfer to his suit.
East led the ♥3 and that was -200 and a whopping 17 IMPs for Zimmermann who ended the set leading 80-53.