17th European Youth Bridge Team Championships
Friday, 14 July 2000

Israel vs Croatia - Juniors Round 15

Croatia had a very good day on Tuesday and moved up to sixth place overall, well in touch with the qualifying places. On Wednesday morning they met the leaders, Israel. Could Croatia continue their good form?


Board 1. Dealer North. None Vul.
  ª J 3
© Q 6
¨ A 7 6 4
§ A Q J 10 7
ª K 5
© A 10 8 7 5 4 2
¨ 3
§ 8 3 2
Bridge deal ª 9 7 6 4 2
© K J 9
¨ K Q 10 9 8
§ -
  ª A Q 10 8
© 3
¨ J 5 2
§ K 9 6 5 4


Closed Room
West North East South
Amit Pilipovic Vax Sasek
1§ 1¨ 1ª
2© Pass 3© Pass
4© Pass Pass Dble
All Pass      


Open Room
West North East South
Zoric Roll Grahek Schnieder
1§ Pass 1ª
3© Pass 4© 5§
All Pass


The match started very well for the leaders. In the Closed Room, Asaf Amitís simple 2© overcall caught a raise and he went on to game. I donít really understand Tomislav Sasekís combination of calls on the South hand; his partner had opened 1§, which admittedly might not have been a long suit, yet he never supported clubs and then doubled the final contract for penalty. That was not a success. Marina Pilipovic led two rounds of spades and Amit ruffed and led a diamond up. Pilipovic took her ace but that was the end of the defence; +690.

Had Pilipovic ducked the diamond, declarer would have had no diamond loser but would then have needed to ruff three clubs in the dummy so the defence would have come to a heart trick instead for the same score.

At the other table, Vedran Zoric made a jump overcall and Vanja Grahek raised him to game. Ran Schnieder bid 5§ over that, ending the auction. After Grahek had led the king of hearts and Zoric overtaken it, establishing declarerís queen for a diamond discard, the contract depended on the spade finesse. When it failed Yossi roll had to go one down, but -50 was a small price to pay with game cold the other way; 12 IMPs to Israel.



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


Closed Room
West North East South
Amit Pilipovic Vax Sasek
Pass 1ª
Pass 2© Pass 3¨
Pass 4NT Pass 5¨
Pass 6NT All Pass


Open Room
West North East South
Zoric Roll Grahek Schnieder
Pass 1ª
Pass 2© Pass 3¨
Pass 3NT All Pass


Rollís 2© was game-forcing and Schniederís 3¨ showed either extra high-card strength or serious distribution. Roll had a bit to spare for his two-over-one response but no great fit and after a little consideration settled for 3NT. After a club lead to the queen, ducked, he continued with the club jack, also ducked, and made 12 tricks for +690.

Sasekís 3¨ bid would always deliver extra values and Pilipovic jumped to 4NT. That really ought to be natural in this sequence as North can set any suit as trumps below game and then use Blackwood on the next round. I cannot be certain, but the subsequent auction suggests that Pilipovic agrees with me while Sasek does not. Five Diamonds looks like a Blackwood reponse, as otherwise it seems odd to rebid the four-card diamond suit, but then Northís jump to 6NT doesnít make a lot of sense.

Anyway, whoever was doing what in the auction, the bottom line was that the Croatian pair were in a slam off two aces and there was no problem in taking them; one down for -100 and 13 IMPs to Israel.



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


Closed Room
West North East South
Amit Pilipovic Vax Sasek
Pass 1© Pass 1NT
2© Dble Pass 4©
All Pass


Open Room
West North East South
Zoric Roll Grahek Schnieder
2ª Dble All Pass


In the Open Room, Schnieder opened a mini no trump and Zoric came in with a 2ª overcall. At this vulnerability, it was clear for Roll to double rather than look for a game his way. Roll led a top heart then switched to a trump to cut down possible diamond ruffs in the dummy. Zoric thought for some time before playing low from dummy and this might have tipped Schnieder off to the fact that he should also be playing low to prevent dummyís ten from becoming an entry. Indeed, the spade pips were such that the defence would also come to a trump trick by force this way. Schnieder actually played the ªK and Zoric won the ace and played a heart up. Roll won, cashed the ace of diamonds, then played two rounds of clubs. Zoric ruffed and could cross to dummy and cash both red queens. Though he had an eighth trick in the king of diamonds, he couldnít get back to hand to cash it without shortening his trumps and he had to go one down; -200.

In the Closed Room , Sasek did not have an opening bid and Amit also chose to pass his 5-5 ten-count. Amit showed his two-suiter on the next round but soon found himself defending against 4©. Yaniv Vax found the best lead of the queen of diamonds to declarerís ace. There was nothing declarer could do after that lead and she was one down for another 100 to Israel and 7 IMPs.



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


Closed Room
West North East South
Amit Pilipovic Vax Sasek
1¨ 1ª Dble Pass
2§ 2ª 3ª Pass
4¨ Pass 5§ All Pass


Open Room
West North East South
Zoric Roll Grahek Schnieder
1¨ 1ª 2© Pass
3§ 3ª 5§ Pass
6§ All Pass


Croatia were lucky on this board. It might not appear so when they went three down in a freely bid slam, but consider that if the defensive clubs had broken more evenly 6§ would still have failed while 5§ would have been making, so that the adverse swing would have been 12 IMPs.

Five Clubs went just one down on three rounds of spades, declarer ruffing with dummyís queen on the third round; one down but 5 IMPs to Israel.

Croatia trailed by 37 IMPs after just four boards and desperately needed to halt the slide. They created a golden opportunity on Board 5, only to waste it and fall even further behind.



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


Closed Room
West North East South
Amit Pilipovic Vax Sasek
1§ Pass 1©
Dble Rdbl Pass Pass
1ª 2ª Pass 2NT
Pass 3NT All Pass


Open Room
West North East South
Zoric Roll Grahek Schnieder
1§ Pass 1©
Dble Rdbl 2¨ Pass
Pass 2NT All Pass


After identical starts to the two auctions, Grahek bid his three-card diamond suit while Vax preferred to leave the decision round to his partner. After the 2¨ bid, Roll was willing to stay out of game and bid only 2NT, where he played. Sasek led a diamond and the suit was cleared. Roll cashed a top heart then led the jack of spades to the king and ace. He played a second spade towards his nine and Zoric erred slightly by winning the queen, leaving two spade winners in the dummy. The 13th diamond was cashed and roll threw a club from dummy. When Zoric switched to a club he rose with the ace and cashed his winners; +120.

In the Closed Room, Pilipovic cuebid 2ª then raised the 2NT response to game. Again diamonds were led and cleared. With the clubs breaking 3-3 with an honour onside, there is a simple line to make nine tricks, but Sasek played ace, king and a third heart to get to hand and now East had hearts to cash when he got in with a club. The contract was one down for -100 and 6 IMPs to Israel when it might have been 10 IMPs the other way. Israel led 43-0. the bleeding paused for a while but then came another big swing to Israel.



Board 12. Dealer West. N/S Vul.
  ª A J 10 9
© Q 7
¨ J 7 6 4
§ 9 8 2
ª K 7 6 3
© A 10 8 6
¨ A
§ K J 6 4
  ª 5 2
© K 9 4
¨ K 9 2
§ A 10 7 5 3
  ª Q 8 4Bridge deal
© J 5 3 2
¨ Q 10 8 5 3
§ Q


Closed Room
West North East South
Amit Pilipovic Vax Sasek
1§ Pass 2§ Pass
3¨ Pass 5§ All Pass


Open Room
West North East South
Zoric Roll Grahek Schnieder
1§ Pass 1© Pass
4¨ Pass 6§ All Pass


In the Closed Room, Vax made an inverted raise of his partnerís 1§ opening and Amit splintered. That was not good news for Vax, who held a minimum 2§ bid including a probably wasted ¨K, and signed-off in 5§. Amit won the trump lead in hand and played a second trump to dummy. Next he played a low heart to the eight and Pilipovicís queen. Amit won the trump return and got the hearts right for a spade pitch from dummy. He could ruff dummyís last diamond in hand and just concede a spade for +400.

For reasons best known to himself, Grahek responded 1© at the other table - surely 1¨ is safer if no number of clubs appeals? Zoric overbid now with a 4¨ splinter. The West hand is only worth a raise to three and a splinter in bare ace is hardly ideal anyway if there is any alternative option available. Now Grahek seems to have become afraid of the monster of his own creation. Not wishing to play a 4-3 heart fit, and fearing that a return to 5§ would be taken as a cuebid for hearts, which could get him even deeper in the mire, he leaped to 6§, though with the ¨K likely to be wasted, that is a serious overbid. At least Zoric got the message about the trump suit, but once Roll had resisted the temptation to lead the ace of spades (he did finger it a couple of times before choosing to lead a trump instead), there was no way to avoid two losers. The slam was actually two down as declarer had to try for the ªA onside to have a chance of success and so lost two spades and a heart; 11 IMPs to Israel/



Board 19. Dealer South. E/W Vul.
  ª 10 3
© A K Q 4
¨ A J
§ A J 10 8 3
ª A 9 5 2
© J 10 9 8 6 2
¨ 6 4 2
§ -
  ª K J 8 4
© 7 5
¨ Q 10 9 5 3
§ K 6
  ª Q 7 6Bridge deal
© 3
¨ K 8 7
§ Q 9 7 5 4 2


Closed Room
West North East South
Amit Pilipovic Vax Sasek
Pass 1§ 1¨ 2§
2© Dble Pass 3§
3¨ 3NT All Pass


Open Room
West North East South
Zoric Roll Grahek Schnieder
2¨ * Dble Pass 3§ **
Pass 3¨ *** Pass 3NT
Pass 4§ Pass 4©
Pass 5§ All Pass

* Multi
** Natural but showing values
*** Cuebid


Israel completed a resounding victory with another game swing when they reached the game that could be let through on the opening lead rather than the one in which the defence would have two chances to attack the correct suit. Note also that 5§ really is better as if the clubs play for no losers it will be cold (short of three rounds of spades promoting a bare king of clubs offside) while 3NT could still lose five spade tricks on a different lay-out.

Sure enough, the lead against 5§ was a diamond and now Schnieder could win, cash the ace of trumps and play winning hearts to get rid of two spade losers before East could ruff and lead spades; +400.

In the other room, Vax also led a diamond against 3NT. Pilipovic won and played ace another club, Amit pitching the ten of hearts. Vax switched accurately to the jack of spades, picking up four spade tricks for one down; -50 and 10 IMPs to Israel.


Croatia did not show the form that had brought them into contention. They lost by 4-74 IMPs, 2-25 VPs, and would have to do all the hard work all over again to get back in touch with the leading group. Meanwhile, Israel had extended their lead while getting a dangerous opponent out of the way, and were looking good.


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