European Pairs
Number 1 Sunday 16 March 1997
Editors: Mark Horton, Brian Senior, Patrick Jourdain Web Editor: Panos Pavlides

Welcome to the Hague!

This historic city, which combines both ancient and modern, provides the perfect setting for the 9th European Open Pairs and 4th Seniors Pairs Championships.

In the Open event, all the medal winners from 1995 are competing here, but they will face exceptional opposition, not least from our hosts, the Netherlands. The pairs to watch out for will surely include van Cleef & Jansma, van der Neut & Maas, Gielkens & van Zwol and van der Pas & Vriend.

A formidable French contingent includes the winners in 1991 and 1993, Quantin & Abecassis, and an array of World Champions – Chemla & Perron, Mouiel & Multon, Levy & Mari. Poland have a poweful contingent which, apart from the holders, Gawrys & Lasocki, includes Romanski & Kowalski. Great Britain's challenge will be spearheaded by Hackett & Waterlow, who will be hoping to continue where they left off two years ago. Italy will be hoping for another good performance from Pattacini & Sementa but they have several other pairs who can be expected to do well, particularly their women, de Lucchi & Rosetta, Gianardi & Rovera and Golin & Olivieri. Germany's main hopes rest with two of their Venice Cup winners, von Arnim & Auken. Other pairs to keep an eye on are Norway's Helgemo & Tislevoll, Denmark's Madsen brothers and the Israeli combination of Birman & Zeligman.

In the Seniors event, Poland's Nowak & Stobieki are defending their title, whilst the runners-up, Bahnik & Picmaus will be hoping to go one better and take the gold medals home to the Czech Republic. Great Britain's Garthwaite & Hobson will be hoping it's third time lucky – in the last two Seniors Championships they have finished fourth! Watch out for Israel's Rand & Katz and be sure to check out the form of the pair that includes one of France's Olympic Champions, Szwarc & Bridi.

Return to Rome

According to legend, if you wish to return to Rome you must throw a coin over your shoulder into the Trevi Fountain. However, as you can see, there are alternative methods of achieving that objective.

The 1995 European Pairs Championships were dominated by Poland. Polish pairs won the Seniors Championship, the Open Consolation and the Open Pairs Championship. The main event was won by Piotr Gawrys and Krzyzstof Lasocki by a huge margin. Along the way, they won each of the three sessions of the semi-final stage – a remarkable achievement. Here are a few of their boards from that championship.

Board 2. N/S Game. Dealer East.
A K 2
A Q 2
K 2
A Q 7 6 3
10 4 3 Q J 9 5
K 10 7 5 4 3 J 8 6
Q 10 8 3 A J 6 5 4
- 10
8 7 6
9 7
K J 9 8 5 4 2

West North East South
Lasocki Perron Gawrys Chemla

Pass Pass
2 3NT 4 5
Pass 6 Dble All Pass

The second semi-final session saw the Poles earn a big board against the 1976 and 1985 champions, Paul Chemla and Michel Perron of France.

Lasocki opened a third seat multi, catching Perron with a big hand. He made the practical bid of 3NT but the auction was only beginning. Gawrys bid 4, for correction if his partner held spades, and Chemla tried 5. Though he was facing a passed hand, the French play a reasonably sound opening style and it was hard for Perron, with his fine fit and controls, not to raise to six.

6 down one would have been a terrible score for the French but Gawrys added insult to injury by doubling. Lasocki did not find the diamond lead but Chemla had nowhere to go and eventually had to try the diamond himself; -200.

Of course, if you are going to dominate an event to the extent that the Poles did in 1995 it helps to have a little luck as well as good play.

Board 23. Game All. Dealer South.

K 5 2
K Q 10 7 5 4 3
8 6
J 4 A 8 7 3
- 9 8 6
J 8 7 6 5 2 A 10 9 4
A K 10 5 3 Q J

Q 10 9 6
A J 2
Q 3
9 7 4 2

West North East South
Lasocki Gawrys

2NT Pass 4 Pass
4 Pass 6 All Pass

2NT was Polish, showing both minors and 4 was natural and non-forcing. But when Lasocki cuebid what was obviously a void, Gawrys reassessed his hand and took a reasonable shot at the slam.

When South led a spade, however, chances did not look good. Gawrys won, ruffed a heart and led J, covered by king and ace. As the queen was still out, Gawrys released the QJ, ruffed a second heart to reach dummy and continued clubs. As South had to follow to four rounds of clubs, all three spades disappeared from the East hand before he could ruff. Declarer's twelfth trick was a spade ruff in hand.

Board 3. E/W Game. Dealer South.

Q 7 5
A 9 4
Q 10 8 5 2
10 9
K 10 6 3 A J 9
J 8 7 3 K Q 6
A 6 7 4 3
J 3 2 7 6 5 4

8 4 2
10 5 2
K J 9
A K Q 8

West North East South
Lasocki Salama Gawrys Cronier

Pass 1NT Pass Pass
Dble Pass 2 All Pass

This early board from the final was another huge result for the Poles. Lasocki made a balancing double of 1NT and Gawrys guessed to bid hearts. In fact, a pass would have been the winning action but that was tough to find.

Cronier led four rounds of clubs against 2 and Gawrys pitched dummy's diamond loser on the fourth round. Now came a diamond to the ace. Gawrys played the jack of hearts next, ducked, and a second heart. Salama won and played a third trump and Gawrys had to guess the spades. He chose low to the king then a finesse of the jack, making eight tricks for +110 and a joint top. Had the Q been offside Gawrys would have been two down for a zero.

Board 4. Game All. Dealer West.

J 5
J 10 9
A 10 6 5 3
Q 4 2
A 10 K Q 9 6 3 2
Q 8 6 5 7 4
J 9 7 K
A K 9 3 J 10 8 7

8 7 4
A K 3 2
Q 8 4 2
6 5

Lasocki opened a Polish club as West and rebid 1NT, showing a weak no trump. Gawrys enquired with 2 and Lasocki bid 2NT, maximum but normally less than three spades. Gawrys jumped to 4. With the Q offside, a cursory glance suggests that 4 is doomed to fail but look closely at the heart position. The contract was cold after Cronier's normal lead of a top heart, declarer being able to throw two clubs on the queen and eight of hearts. Indeed, it looks as though the contract is unbeatable double dummy on any lead.

Board 15. N/S Game. Dealer South.

A Q J 8 4
9 5 4
A K 5
9 7 3 2 K 10 6
A 10 7 3 J 8
8 J 9 7 6 2
10 8 6 3 Q J 4

K Q 6 2
Q 10 4 3
9 7 5 2

West North East South
Kubak Gawrys Fucik Lasocki

Pass 1 Pass 1
Pass 2 Pass 2NT
Pass 3NT All Pass

It was Polish, natural, weak no trump or strong and artificial, and 2 showed the strong version and so was game-forcing.

Fritz Kubak of Austria led 6 and Jan Fucik signalled with the queen. Lasocki played a heart to the queen and ace and Kubak continued with 3. Fucik unblocked the jack, the continuation of a lower card asking for an unblock where a higher spot card would have said don't unblock. Lasocki led J from dummy and Fucik won the king and played his last club through declarer's nine. Kubak cashed the fourth club but that was the end for the defense.

It looks as though there are only nine tricks available but the good defense was worth a 75% score for the Austrians.

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