18th European Youth Team Championships Page 5 Bulletin 10 - Wednesday, 17 July  2002

Juniors Round 19 - Italy v Estonia

After eighteen rounds the Italian pair Francesco Mazzzadi/Fabio lo Presti were on top of the datums, having gained 341 'datum IMPs' for Italy. Italy's other pair in this match were 1999 World Junior Champions the di Bello brothers.

The Estonian team of four comprises one pair from Estonia and one pair from Latvia, playing under the Estonian banner. Latvian surnames can be identified by the 's' at the end. Contrary to all previous reporting, Estonia did take part in the Junior Teams two years ago, coming 20th out of 26. Their improved showing here, still being in contention to qualify as European representatives for the 2003 World Junior Teams Championship, is no surprise to those who noticed that that Estonian and Latvian pairs finished in creditable 20th and 28th positions out of 220 at Stargard's 2001 World Junior Pairs. Three of those four players are in Torquay.

On Board 2, the di Bello brothers went down two in 4ª with four top losers and ªQ to find. The Estonians Naber/Tihane stopped in 2ª, and from the balancing seat were pushed to 3ª in which Naber found the ªQ, 8 IMPs to Estonia.

Board 3. Dealer South. East/West Vul.
  ª K J 10 9 7
© 4 3
¨ J 10 9
§ J 8 3
ª A 6 4 3
© A J 7 2
¨ Q 7 5
§ Q 4
Bridge deal ª 8 5 2
© Q 9 5
¨ A 8 4 3
§ 9 6 5
  ª Q
© K 10 8 6
¨ K 6 2
§ A K 10 7 2

West North East South
Lo Presti Naber Mazzadi Tihane
Pass 2ª All Pass  

In response to the Precision 2§, Lauri Naber showed his chunky suit, in which the quality of the trumps makes up for having less trumps than the opposition. ©5 was led to the eight and jack, with ¨5 returned to the ace. Declarer correctly judged to rise with ¨K on the ¨3 continuation, as otherwise West could have won ¨Q, cashed ªA and endplayed dummy with a diamond exit.

At trick four Naber played a third diamond from dummy, and when lo Fabio lo Presti won and switched to a low trump, Naber smartly rose with ªK in order to lead a heart to the ten. A heart came back, declarer pitching a club, then cashing §AK and playing another club to claim eight tricks during West's pause for thought. That well played hand took about 50 seconds to play. 1Nt made at the other table; 1 IMP to Estonia.

West North East South
Schaltz J Grenthe Marquardsen G Grenthe
Dble 1ª Pass 2§
Pass Pass 2¨ Pass
Pass 3§ All Pass  

On Vugraph Andreas Marquardsen successfully pushed the French pair to the three level. ¨7 was led to the ace, and although the defence appear to have plenty of tricks, the East hand lacks entries. Marquardsen decided to switch to a trump, which ran to the queen, declarer deciding that it was best to create a certain entry to dummy. Another club came back to the ten. Next was ªQ to dummy's king, correctly ducked by West. When declarer threw a loser on ªJ, the best defence is for West to duck again. Then Martin Schaltz could have won the third round of spades and led a fourth spade, ruffed by East. That would have reduced declarer's trick tally by one. In practice, ªA was taken on the second round and 3§ made, a flat board as 2ª was made by the Danish North/South at the other table.

On Board 6 Estonia gained 10 IMPs by bidding and making a good 6§, whereas Italy played in a beatable 3NT which made. Those IMPs were returned on Board 7 when Naber/Tihane missed a making vulnerable 4ª on a combined 20 count with lots of shape. Small swings were exchanged until Board 14, with the score being 31-28 to Estonia:.

Board 14. Dealer East. None Vul.
  ª K 6 4
© J 8 5 2
¨ K 10 8 7
§ J 10
ª Q 10 9 5
© Q
¨ A J 9 5 4 2
§ A 4
Bridge deal ª A J 8 7 2
© 7 4 3
¨ Q 3
§ K 3 2
  ª 3
© A K 10 9 6
¨ 6
§ Q 9 8 7 6 5

West North East South
Lo Presti Naber Mazzadi Tihane
    Pass 1©
2¨ 2© 2ª 4§
4ª Dble All Pass  

Tihane cashed a top heart and switched to a club. Mazzadi won §K, ran ¨Q, suffered a diamond ruff, won the club return and ran ªQ successfully. At this point, Naber folded up his cards and put them back in the board to concede the rest. 590 to Italy.

Nowadays those South cards are a routine 1© opener for most top youth players. The problem lies in the subsequent bidding. Playing five card majors, devotees of the Law of Total Tricks would claim that North should respond 3© (or even 3¨) instead of 2©, in order to convey the nine card fit to his partner. This would probably not have shut East out of the auction, but it would have helped South find the save.

As it was, the 4§ bid showed a shapely two suiter, and Naber, who is a very fast player usually, took a little while to find the double (perhaps 10 to 20 seconds). Whether his partner was doing the ethical thing by ignoring the short pause from the other side of the screen, or as is more likely South was simply trusting North, with South's hand having been shown by the 4§ bid, the outcome was poor. North's hand looked excellent for defence, but that fourth heart was of 'total tricks' concern.

Italy found the save at the other table, and 590 less 300 provided 7 IMPs to Italy who had taken the lead.

Board 15. Dealer South. North/South Vul.
  ª J 3 2
© A J 8 5 4
¨ K 6 5
§ Q 2
ª Q 9 6
© K Q 9 6 3
¨ -
§ K J 8 7 3
Bridge deal ª K 7
© 10 7 2
¨ J 10 9 7 3
§ 9 5 4
  ª A 10 8 5 4
© -
¨ A Q 8 4 2
§ A 10 6

West North East South
Lo Presti Naber Mazzadi Tihane
2NT Dble 4¨ 4©
Pass 4ª All Pass  

1§ was strong and 2NT showed five hearts and five clubs. The meaning of 4¨ is unknown, 4© was a cue-bid, and it was North who decided that at last someone should make a natural bid, of sorts. He would have preferred to be defending 4© doubled, but the bold jump at favourable vulnerability by East seemed to suggest that East/West had at least nine hearts. One almost wonders whether Mazzadi forgot the meaning of 2NT which is clearly shown on their Convention Card, but I couldn't hear the explanation that he whispered to his screen-mate. Perhaps not, as then he would have saved in 5¨.

The two of hearts was led to the queen and ace, dummy pitching a club. Declarer quickly played ªJ, covered (after a flicker) by Mazzadi, dummy's ace winning, Declarer promptly cashed ¨A, on which Fabio lo Presti discarded a heart almost without needing to think about it, and on the next low diamond lead West pitched a club as the king won. A third diamond to the queen led to the first pause in the entire hand, as West pondered whether pitching one of his suits might help, and whether partner is more likely to hold §Q or ©J. Eventually he ruffed, cashed ªQ and exited with a low heart, hoping his partner had the jack. Naber immediately guessed correctly by rising with ©J, and soon afterwards he claimed 10 tricks.

West North East South
Matisons F di Bello Rubins S di Bello
2ª Dble Pass 3¨
Pass 3ª Pass 4§
Pass 4¨ Pass 4©
Pass 4ª All Pass  

The Italians sensibly looked for slam but stayed low, the 2ª intervention having warned of possible bad breaks. ©K lead was ducked in dummy, declarer retaining the major tenace which is often a good idea. Having ruffed ©K, Stelio di Bello played a spade to the jack and king, and the club switch went to the king. By later ruffing a high diamond and playing another trump the 'Latvian' West was able to restrict declarer to nine tricks. The Italian coach Andrea Pagani tells me that di Bello's line is reasonable because it handles well the hands where West has two spades and one diamond, and that it is only the diamond void that declarer didn't allow for. 12 IMPs to Estonia who were back in front.

Board 18. Dealer East. North/South Vul.
  ª -
© K Q J 9 7 6
¨ 10 6 4
§ 10 8 6 5
ª 9 8 6 4 2
© A 10 8 2
¨ 5
§ Q 9 4
Bridge deal ª A K 5 3
© -
¨ A K Q J 9 8 3 2
§ 3
  ª Q J 10 7
© 5 4 3
¨ 7
§ A K J 7 2

West North East South
Lo Presti Naber Mazzadi Tihane
    1§ Dble
Pass Pass 6¨ Pass
7¨ Dble All Pass  

The Italian pair's rapid fire approach to the bidding did not work this time. When one plays a strong club system, skipping past 26 possible calls in order to guess the contract is not a strong show of faith in the partnership's methods. Aivar Tihane's double was CRASH, showing either the black or the red suits. I think West's pass showed less than 7 points, assuming that their control responses are off after competition. 7¨ seems to have been provoked by the thought that unless partner has twelve tricks, he would have gone slowly. East probably bid 6¨ hoping for a favourable lead, and indeed his jump did cause lead problems for South, and if South has the red suits then 6¨ is a reasonable spot, so perhaps East's 6¨ call was not ill-advised.

The Lightner double for the spade lead gave South an opening lead problem. If partner has a void in spades, the contract will surely go down anyway, as the opponents will have deep spade losers. The worry therefore is if partner has a heart void, or even ©A. Perhaps North has lots of black cards and passed in case South has the red suits. Therefore Tihane led a heart, giving North mild heartburn until many diamonds had been run off and the inevitable 300 had been collected.

West North East South
Matisons F di Bello Rubins S di Bello
    1§ 2§
Pass 2© 3© Pass
3NT Pass 5¨ All Pass

Over Karlis Rubins strong club, Stelio's 2§ was natural, and Marlis Matison's 3NT bid told Rubins that most of West's small point count was in hearts, the pass of 2§ having been negative. 400 plus 300 was 12 IMPs to Estonia.

Thus Estonia had defeated the might of Italy 17-13, with Italy having played their top two pairs.

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