|The Semi-finals - Second Half||by Brian Senior|
Team Bessis led by 8 IMPs at half-time in their semi-final match with Team Serf. For the second half the vugraph show started with Board 31 and there was a major swing to set the ball rolling.
In the Closed Room, Serf/Stoppa bid to 4 on the East/West cards. Paul Chemla doubled that and, thanks to the terrible trump split, the contract had to go one down for +100 to Bessis.
Ms Renoux passed the complex South hand and Michel Bessis opened 1. When Stretz made the thin 1 overcall on the North cards, there was no longer any danger of East/West playing in spades. When Veronique Bessis chose to ignore the club fit another doomed game was also avoided (5 goes down on ace a spade lead). But 3NT is also far from secure. Ms Renoux decided not to lead a diamond - the jack would destroy the contract while the spectacular play of the king to pin a stiff queen lets it through. Instead she led her top heart. The heart position is now clear to North and the indicated play appears to be to rise with the ace and switch to a diamond. But Stretz put in the nine and now Bessis was home. By leading spades through North twice she took two spade tricks and could then establish a second heart, making ten in all for +430 and a great start to the set; 11 IMPs to Bessis, ahead by 19. Two boards later Serf struck back when Chemla/Saul played 5 down one, a contract requiring one of two finesses, while Stretz/Renoux did well to play in an unbeatable 3NT. And there was more to come for Serf.
There was nothing to the play, of course, and Stoppa was soon scoring up +1660. Could his team-mates avoid doubling 6 in the other room?
The auction was the same as far as 6, but Ms Renoux made a big decision for her team when she saved in 6. The best East/West could do now was to double, but that netted only 300 as declarer was able to endplay East to hold his club losers to one. That meant a massive 16 IMPs to Serf, who were in the lead.
There was a similar swing in the other semi-final when Ivancic of Croatia found the 6 save while Wanner of the Netherlands doubled 6. The swing was only 15 IMPs to the Croatians because their declarer missed the endplay and went down 500.
The two auctions were identical: 1 - 2 - 4. Both Norths led the 4 to the king, ace and eight. We had seen that in the other match Croatia had defeated the game while the Dutch had let it through. Would either of the French Souths find the diamond return. North ruffs and must underlead his A to get a second ruff.
Given the strength of dummy and her own hand, perhaps South should bank everything on the diamond ruff defence but it is far from clear - after all, it only works when partner's limited values include the ace of hearts. Both Souths switched to the nine of clubs and the contract was duly made for a flat board. On vugraph, we saw Michel Bessis carefully win the club and play a heart to cut the defensive communications before taking his first club ruff. We do not have the play record from the Closed Room.
At this point, Croatia had closed from 37 down at the half to only 5 IMPs behind. That was to be as good as it got, however, and the Dutch gradually pulled away again to win by 77-47 IMPs.
We know that 3NT was a balanced game raise in hearts and we guess, but cannot be sure, that 4 showed the shortage. When Stoppa was willing to go past game to cuebid 5, Ms Serf jumped to the poor slam. Poor perhaps, but cold as the cards lie. After conceding 980 on this one Chemla/Saul must have been getting very concerned - their previous two results had been -1660 and -620, remember.
In the other room Stretz made what looks to me to be a completely normal 3 pre-empt. When East overcalled, Renoux psyched 3NT and West just bid a quiet 4. That made twelve tricks, of course, but +480 meant 11 IMPs away. Serf led by 13.
Stoppa under-competed with the West cards, allowing Saul to play a peaceful 2, making ten tricks; +170.
Here Bessis bid a second time with the West cards but Ms Renoux had the bit between her teeth and bid a third time with the South hand. Suddenly, having passed twice, Stretz sprang to life, jumping to 4. With hearts 3-3 and the club finesse working it seemed that the Serf charge was about to continue.
Bessis led the K to the ace. After some thought Ms Bessis switched to a low diamond for the king and ace. Renoux played a club to the king and ace and back came a diamond. East won the queen and returned another diamond and suddenly the contract could not be made.
Declarer had to ruff high but now West threw his remaining club and declarer could no longer take the club finesse to good effect. She was one down for 6 IMPs to Bessis when it could have been 6 IMPs to Serf. Declarer must take the club finesse on the first round to succeed, and surely she knows that West holds the ace after seeing East' ace of spades.
Serf still led but over the next few boards Bessis gradually crept closer with a series of small swings and finally moved into the lead. That lead stood at just 2 IMPs when the last board hit the table.
What a deal! In the Closed Room, Chemla/Saul stopped in 5, scoring up twelve tricks when the clubs came in; +480.
A dangerous board and when, in the Open Room, Michel Bessis started thinking over 5, his supporters in the vugraph room were praying that he would pass. But, though he knew he was only facing a five card spade suit because there had been no weak two opening, he also knew that his partner must have a diamond fit to risk 4, and in that case the double fit could produce a lot of tricks. When he bid 5 there were groans and cheers, all depending on the audience's allegiances. Stretz doubled 5 and Renoux made a disciplined pass.
The lead was a heart to the bare ace. Veronique Bessis led a spade to the queen and ace. It looks to us as though South must give a ruff and discard now and the hand will just become too much for declarer to manage, probably going for 800. Had Renoux found this defence, she would have been looking forward to playing in the final this morning. But unfortunately her actual choice was to play ace and another club. Making the K was all the help declarer needed. She established the diamonds and got out for just two down; -300 but 5 IMPs to Bessis.
After a breathless finish, Bessis won the match by 8 IMPs and would have the chance to defend the title they won two years ago in Monte Carlo.
Teams, Round 14
Teams, Round 15
Teams, Final, Playoff
Auf Wiedesehen, Aahen!
Semifinal, 2nd half, by Brian Senior
Presidents Farewell Speech
|Return to Top of page||To Front Page|