We return to Brazil and the final stage of the trials to select the Brazilian open team for the upcoming South American Zonal Championships, which will be staged in Cali, Colombia in April. The final is being contested by ADRIANO (Adriano Rodrigues, Joao-Paulo Campos, Miguel Villas-Boas, Marco Toma and Mauricio Figueiredo) and CHAGAS (Gabriel Chagas, Diego Brenner, Jose Roberto Brum and Pablo Ravenna). The format is a 96-board match divided into six 16-board stanzas.
On our last visit, we saw the highlights of a first half that left ADRIANO leading by a significant 71 IMPs, 150-79. Can CHAGAS bounce back from a disastrous third set, which they lost 3-88?
As usual, we start with a couple of problems. First, a lead problem. With only your opponents vulnerable, you are East holding:
What do you lead?
By the way, would you have opened this East hand in first seat?
Next, with only your side vulnerable, you are sitting in the South seat with:
What action do you take?
While you mull those over, we begin our coverage early in the fourth stanza.
Miguel Villas-Boas (left) was charged with solving the lead problem posed above. Do you open a spade or a diamond? With opener known to hold at least seven cards in the minors, Villas-Boas chose to attack in the major. Gabriel Chagas captured the ♠Q with the ace, crossed to dummy with the ♠K, and called for the ♣Q. He was soon claiming ten tricks: N/S +630. A diamond lead would have established four winners in the suit for the defence before declarer had set up his clubs.
Diego Brenner (right) found an effective way to sidestep the lead problem, by opening 3♦ in first seat on the East cards. Jose Roberto Brum’s raise to 4♦ made life even tougher for Joao-Paulo Campos, who gambled on bidding game in his long suit. Indeed, a favourable heart position would have allowed Campos to survive, but it was not to be.
Brenner led a diamond to the jack and ace, and Brum switched to a heart. Declarer had little choice but to finesse, so the defenders had two tricks and still a trump winner to come. Campos won the spade switch, crossed to the ♦K and led the ♣Q to limit his losses, but that was still one down. N/S -100 and 12 IMPs to CHAGAS to start the long road to recovery.
Those watching live on BBO did not have to wait long for the next big decision. Both South players had to answer the second of this week’s problems.
N/S bid quickly to their game, but Villas-Boas was not done. He backed in with 4♠ having initially passed, leaving Pablo Ravenna (left) with a tricky ‘play or defend’ decision. Ravenna chose to double and opened the ♥A. Dummy was no doubt a disappointing sight for the defending side. They had four top tricks, so they at least managed to go plus: N/S +100.
After an identical start to the auction, Adriano Rodrigues (right) chose to bid a fifth heart on the South cards. With North declarer, there is no legitimate defence to 5♥ but, of course, declarer cannot see the defenders’ cards.
Joao-Paulo Campos won the opening spade lead and could have made eleven tricks by simply playing two rounds of trumps and then later picking up the ♦J. At the table, he crossed to his hand with the ♣K at trick two, and ran the ♥Q. Winning with the ♥K, Jose Roberto Brum now has a chance to defeat the contract by giving his partner a diamond ruff.
That was not an easy defence to find, and Brum exited passively with a second round of trumps, thus sparing declarer’s blushes. Campos duly got the diamonds right and claimed his game: N/S +650 and an exciting 11 IMPs to ADRIANO.
Villas-Boas stretched to a 1NT opening and Marco Toma (left) transferred to spades at the four-level before rolling out RKCB. Finding two key cards opposite, Toma jumped to the excellent slam. With the trumps coming in for no loser, declarer was soon claiming 13 tricks. E/W +1460.
After an identical start, Jose Roberto Brum (right) was not willing to settle for a small slam, and he made one more try with 5NT, confirming possession of all five key cards. That was all the encouragement Diego Brenner needed. He figured that whatever his partner was looking for, whether it was the ♦Q, the ♣K or his potential long tricks in clubs, he had it, so he jumped to the grand slam.
The Great Dealer was smiling on the chasing team on this deal. The trumps came in for no loser: E/W +2210 and 13 IMPs to CHAGAS.
This was the final deal of a high-scoring stanza.
Villas-Boas showed some kind of limit raise in hearts with his jump to 3♦. Marco Toma showed some slam interest with a 3♠ cue-bid and Villas-Boas suggested a willingness to co-operate with his 3NT waiting bid. When Toma decided that his hand was worth only one try, Villas-Boas had nothing more to add, so they stopped safely in what looks like it should be a flat game. There was a trick in each minor to be lost: E/W +650.
You can only push the envelope so far, and Diego Brenner had four chances on this board to rein things in. He began by describing his flat 10-count as a game-forcing raise. When Brum then showed what was described as ‘mild slam interest’, Brenner might then have jumped to 4♥ to show his minimum, but he co-operated by bidding just 3♥. When Brum showed a spade control, Brenner waited with 3NT and, when Brum then cue-bid clubs, he rolled out Blackwood.
Perhaps we should not be surprised that there was no play for slam. E/W -100 and 13 IMP to back to ADRIANO, who won the high-octane stanza 60-50 to extend their advantage to 81 IMPs.
CHAGAS made some inroads into the deficit by winning the penultimate stanza 28-11, but they still trailed by 64 IMPs (221-157) with just 16 boards remaining. The final stanza was the best set of the match for CHAGAS, as they outscored their opponents 50-7, but the early damage proved to be just too great. The final margin of just 21 IMPs (228-207) perhaps made the match seem closer than it really was.
Congratulations to the ADRIANO team, Adriano Rodrigues, Joao-Paulo Campos, Miguel Villas-Boas, Marco Toma and Mauricio Figueiredo, who will represent Brazil in Columbia in April.
We are hot-tailing it back to Europe now, to bring you the highlights from the final of another trial. This time, at stake is the selection of the Open team to represent Turkey at this summer’s European Championships.