BBO Vugraph - The Second Weekend of the Camrose Trophy - Part 1

Vugraph #419

The Camrose Trophy is an event contested annually by representatives of the home countries, England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland and Northern Ireland. To make the field up to an even number of teams, the host country (England this year) is also allowed a second team. The format is a double round robin of 32-board matches played over two weekends.

After the first weekend, it was looking like a battle between the two English teams. These were the standings at the midway point:

ENGLAND42.96 VPs
E B U42.15
SCOTLAND33.94
IRELAND30.30
WALES18.79
N.IRELAND10.86

As usual, we start with a couple of problems. Firstly, with only your opponents vulnerable, you are East holding:

Do you agree with East’s 1 overcall?

What action, if any, do you take now?

Next, an opening lead problem.  With both sides vulnerable, you are sitting in the North with:

What do you lead?

While you mull those over, we start our coverage of this second weekend in the Friday evening match between the two English teams. Early in the match, one East player had to answer the first of the problems above.

Having done nothing more than deny four spades at his first turn, Peter Crouch (left) offered his partner a choice of minor-suit games with 4NT once the Irish had reach 4. That left Tim Leslie with the decision posed at the top of this article. Whose hand is it? Which side is saving?

As it happens, no one is…. yet. Both sides can make eleven tricks in their long suit, losing just two aces. Leslie chose to Pass and lead a trump against 5♣. Simon Cope was able to establish his diamonds to make all thirteen tricks: N/S +640 but the overtricks were irrelevant.

In the replay, Andrew McIntosh (right) got his side off to a much better start with a 4 overcall on the first round. Ben Norton introduced his suit at the five-level, but Tom Paske effectively won the board for ENGLAND with his 5 bid. Stefano Tommasini continued to 6♣, finding the cheap red save (and undoubled to boot), but he was only limiting the damage at that point.

Paske cashed the ♠A at trick one and quickly switched to a heart. N/S -100 and 12 IMPs to ENGLAND.

Late in the second half of the match, both North players had to solve the lead problem presented above.

In identical auctions, Tom Paske and Ben Norton used a Kokish sequence to show 22-24 balanced, and both East players simply raised to game in no-trumps.

For ENGLAND, David Gold (left) followed a ‘longest and strongest’ strategy and opened with an attitude ♠2. Andrew Black rose with the ace, dropping declarer’s king, and the defence quickly took the first seven tricks. E/W -300.

Sarah Bell had obviously read David Bird’s excellent book on opening leads against no-trump contracts. The theory is that there is often no point in leading six-card suits as partner usually has a singleton, The book doesn’t mention seven-card suits, but there is an unwritten inference perhaps. Following the recommendation to find partner’s long suit by leading from a three-card holding, Bell tried the effect of the 9. Ben Norton chortled all the way to the bank as he cashed the first eleven tricks. E/W +660 and another 14 IMPs to ENGLAND.

ENGLAND won the match 62-35, giving them 14.82 VPs and opening a 10-VP overnight lead over the field. In the Saturday morning match, it was IRELAND who got the chance to slow down the English juggernaut. The English missed tricky chances in the play at both tables on this early deal.

Conor Boland (right) led the suit his partner was most likely to hold, spades, declarer capturing North’s ♠10 with the queen and immediately playing a second round of the suit. Winning with the ♠A, Tom Hanlon must either switch to a trump at trick three, or cash the ♣A and then play a trump to beat the contract legitimately.

He instead played a low club to his partner’s king and, although Boland switched to a trump, declarer was now in with a chance.

Winning with the A in dummy, McIntosh ruffed a diamond. When he then ruffed a spade with dummy’s remaining trump, he was effectively settling for nine tricks. The defenders duly came to the ♣A and the ♠J for one down: E/W -50. With North holding the outstanding club honour but no more trumps, declarer can make the contract by playing a club, setting up dummy’s jack, before taking the spade ruff.

John Carroll (left) did not waste much time with the bidding. Simon Cope doubled Carroll’s 4 opening on the way out and Peter Crouch was thus left with a fairly blind lead.

A trump would have left declarer with no real chance. When Crouch chose to kick off with the ♣7 (3rd/5th leads), the defence was still alive, but Simon Cope had to switch to his trump at trick two. When he instead returned a club, the defence was dead. Crouch won and played a spade, but it no longer mattered what Cope did. In fact, he went up with the ♠A, giving declarer a comfortable ride to ten tricks. E/W +590 and 12 IMPs to IRELAND to get the scoreboard ticking.

That lead did not last long. ENGLAND moved ahead when Paske and McIntosh each made a 4 contract that went down at the other table. Then came a slam on a two-way finesse…

The Irish reached slam after a long auction and Simon Cope led a trump. Mark Moran won in his hand and immediately started clubs, playing the ♣A and another. Cope ruffed the second round of clubs and continued with a second round of trumps, leaving declarer at the crossroads. When he elected to run the ♠Q, Cope won with the king and the contract was one down. E/W -100.

In the replay, Tom Paske (right) reached the same 6 after a similar auction. Tom Hanlon opened the ♣3, covered by the five, eight and ace. Paske divined the club position and decided that, on the principle of vacant spaces, North was most likely to hold the ♠K, so he cashed the ♠A at trick two and ruffed a spade. When Paske continued with a diamond to hand and a third round of spades, North’s ♠K was a welcome sight for English supporters. After ruffing, declarer simply drew trumps and claimed twelve tricks, losing a club at the end. E/W +1430 and another 17 IMPs to ENGLAND.

ENGLAND won the match 76-55, which translated to 13.94 VPs. Meanwhile, the EBU team closed the gap at the top of the table with a 20-0 thumping of NORTHERN IRELAND. With two matches of the second weekend completed, these were the standings:

ENGLAND71.72 VPs
E B U67.33
SCOTLAND48.92
IRELAND48.78
WALES46.36
N.IRELAND15.90

We will be back soon with more highlights from the second weekend of this year’s Camrose Trophy.

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