|Match of the Day||Greece v. Iceland|
Juniors Round 4
The two countries which give computers restricted by space the worst problem with names, met on Vugraph in Round 3. Here is our short hand notation for the eight players:
Dimitris Konstantopoulos Top
Greece had a couple of minor gains on the first two boards, but then Iceland began a remarkable run:
2NT was Jacoby, Game with heart support
3ª was a splinter
Against South's Six Hearts, West led a spade. Declarer won, drew trumps, and led a club to the ace to finish his chances. The swing was 11 IMPs to Iceland.
Both Easts opened One Club third in hand. (Note how four card majors would solve the problem of finding the spade fit at once.) When South overcalled 1¨ West had a choice between bidding his spades and doubling to show both majors. With five spades and four hearts, and a passed hand, we think it is right to bid 1ª, planning to bid hearts later, even at the three level. If we had four spades and five hearts then we would prefer the double. However, both Wests preferred double.
Then came the key difference, Bjorn's raise to 3¨ ended matters, whereas the raise to 2¨ allowed East-West to find their spade fit. Three Diamonds went two off. Against Snorri's 4ª South led a top diamond and then switched to the heart queen. Declarer guessed correctly to put on the ace. He then ran the jack of trumps. A second heart cleared up that position and later, after drawing trumps, declarer guessed the clubs to make 11 tricks. 10 IMPs to Iceland.
On VuGraph Iceland reached Four Spades on an unopposed auction. The lead was ¨Q. Declarer won and played a spade to the king and a second spade. The defence cashed the third spade, and declarer had ample time to set up his diamond trick for a club discard.
In the Closed Room South's bid of Three Notrumps over his partner's Three Spades looks undisciplined, but there is something to be said for it. His Kx of spades suggested the suit might be running. If North had realised South was likely to have such as a holding, he might have removed to Four Spades because, paradoxically, his suit was so weak, and therefore difficult to establish in time. Clearly Three Notrumps is going to fail without the spades.
Against Three Notrumps West led a heart. Declarer won, led a club to the queen and then a club to the ten and jack. Another heart cleared the suit. Declarer misguessed the diamonds, losing a finesse to West, and had trouble with his discards when the defence cashed their hearts. Five off! A massive15 IMPs to Iceland who had picked up 36 IMPs in three boards to lead 36-8.
This was a very difficult hand for East to play in Four Hearts:
On VuGraph the Five Club sacrifice against Four Spades was sensible enough and it only went two light for 300 to Greece. In the Closed Room the emaciated Two Heart opening by Snorri kept the opponents out, but led to the more difficuly spot of Four Hearts on a top club lead from South. There is a danger that declarer will be unable to cope with the second club, he must lose a trump, and if South gets the lead, a low diamond could put him to a guess. Snorri found easily the best solution when he ruffed the lead and at once played the QUEEN of trumps from dummy. This works well with any 2-2 trump break, as you can afford to take a second club ruff with the ace, retunr with the ace of spades to draw trumps with the jack, and then run the spades. It also works when the ten of hearts is singleton. In practice North won the king of trumps and had nothing dagerous to play. So declarer made 11 tricks and Iceland gained a further 8 IMPs to lead. Board 7 was 1ª-1 at both tables. The next board was also flat but of interest in the play:
Both tables reached Four Hearts by East. On VuGraph South led a club. If North either switches to a diamond at once, or cashes a couple of clubs and then plays through a diamond, the contract stands no chance. However, after winning the queen of clubs at trick one, North played a low to South and a third club was ruffed by declarer. Now there is a winning line for declarer who started perfectly by eliminating the spades. If he had then drawn trumps ending in dummy and ran the nine of diamonds, South would have been endplayed. However, declarer erred by cashing the ace of diamonds first, and he had to lose two diamonds.
In the Closed Room there was a spade lead taken by the king. Declarer cleverly played a club from the dummy, and when North put up the ace, he dropped the ten, no doubt with the aim of deception. North played another spade, to declarer's ace, but on the next club declarer had reason to regret dropping the ten. North won the second club with the nine and even a trump lead beat sit, as declarer needs two entries to ruff his black cards, and cannot get back to run the diamond. But just suppose East had kept his apparently worthless ten of clubs. Then on the second club North has to win with the queen and unless he plays a diamond, declaer is home, he uses one trump entry to ruff the spade, and the other to lead a third club. As North cannot beat the jack, East can discard a diamond and endplay South.
Greece had a chance to recover some of the deficit on this fascinating slam from the second half of the match:
Iceland stopped in a safe Four Spades but made 12 tricks. At the Closed Tables Erik was in Six on a heart lead. How do you think he should play the slam?
There are basically two different lines worth considering, namely ruffing diamonds in the dummy, or ruffing hearts in the North hand. Consider ruffing hearts first. You need two entries to the South hand to obtain the ruffs, and a third to get back to draw the last trump. One of the entries will be by crossing with a trump, but where are the other two? Suppose you lead §K at trick two, and that is taken by the defence. Then dummy has two more club entries and your problem is solved. But if the club king is allowed to hold, as any good defender sitting West should, then life is much more difficult. Firsat you may run into a club ruff when you play the suit again, and secondly your extra entry now has to come from ruffing the third diamond, which is also a source of danger.
We have no idea whether Erik went through all this logic, but after considerable thought he decided to try the other line, namely ruffing diamonds. Life will be easy if the suit is 3-3, but what if it is 4-2? Then you need two ruffs. You can either hope to over-ruff if East ruffs in, or draw two rounds of trumps and hope the defender with a doubleton diamond has a doubleton trump as well. This is a much more straightforward chance, so, though disagreed with Erik's start, I thought it was sensible.
He won the heart lead, drew two trumps with the ace and queen, and then switched to diamonds. He was able to ruff the third diamond, and East clearly had not got the third trump. The happiness declarer felt at this turn meant he took his eye off the ball. He played a club next. That would have been alright if East held the ace of clubs, or a sleepy West. But not against the wideawake West. Aron popped up with the ace, and removed dummy's last trump, defeating the slam. Declarer had had a blind spot. After ruffing the third diamond he should have ruffed a low heart and ruffed a fourth diamond. Now it is safe to play a club. You have a sure club entry back to hand to draw the last trump, and the ace of hearts still stands guard against any heart force.
This was the final bitter blow for Greece. Instead of gaining 11 IMPs they had lost the same amount. The match was out of reach. Iceland won by 88-16, or 25-2 in Victory Points.
|Juniors Round 4, Round 5||
Match of the Day Iceland v Greece
Russia Steppes on Hungary
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