18th European Youth Team Championships Page 5 Bulletin 5 - Friday, 12 July  2002

More Coaching Headaches

In the Wednesday bulletin a concerned and disappointed coach wept a little about the troublesome start of the Netherlands. But maybe the players would cheer him up in the important matches against Norway and France. Little did the guy know what the juniors had in store.

Over the years, the instructions given by Frans Borm, trainer of the Dutch U-20 team, to his young players are well known: "Don't double partscores, draw all the trumps if possible and do not claim doubled game-contracts". The juniors of course are much wiser players and have long outgrown this not so stupid advice for the hard real life. And they assure you daily that the danger of doubled partscores making has long been gone. With, of course, a smart remark: " You are too old and let pass all those 300 and 500 snacks".

In Round 6, against Norway, the axe was yielded against too ambitious opponents.

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

West North East South
  1§ 1ª Pass
2§ Pass 2© 3¨
Dble All Pass    

What is the meaning of the double of 3¨? West was honest: "I am trying to make a game try". The reply: "Are you not afraid that partner will take this as a penalty double?" A second honest answer: "If partner believes I double for penalty, then I own ¨KJ52 and everything will be all right".

Not all went right in the defence. West lead was a small heart for the ©J from South. Declarer crossed to ¨A, played a heart to the ace then ¨Q for ¨K. After this start East/West did not succeed in executing the club ruff so the Norwegians scored +470, leaving me behind with the wise words of the U-20 coach spinning through my head. It was not all bad news about this double. The good news about the board was that in the other room the Dutch North/South pair managed to make only three tricks against 4ª, so beating 3¨ by one trick would only have saved 3 IMPs!

Against France the Dutch team started poorly with a club lead against a 6© contract after which §K as the setting trick disappeared and poor defence against an impossible 3NT let the contract through, going three down at the other table. The Dutch pairs showed good fighting spirit and came back little by little so that with two boards to play the deficit was down to 7 IMPs. Two rather dull 4ª contracts, I thought, and we had to be satisfied with a small loss.

It was not to be. On Board 19 the Dutch pair missed a simple 4ª and on the next board, again the dreadful Board 20, they were storming forward in a fearless attempt to get back all these lost IMPs.

Board 20. Dealer West. All Vul.
  ª Q 8 4 3
© J 10 9 2
¨ 7
§ A J 6 4
ª K 10 7 5 2
© 7 5
¨ J 10 9 5 3
§ 2
Bridge deal ª A J 6
© A K Q 4
¨ A K 2
§ Q 8 7
  ª 9
© 8 6 3
¨ Q 8 6 4
§ K 10 9 5 3

West North East South
2ª Pass 2NT Pass
3¨ Pass 3© Pass
4© Pass 6ª Pass
Pass Dble All Pass  

Even the most pessimistic bidder would make some sort of slam try as East, with the powerful hand, including a fit in both 'suits' of West, and carry on when the singleton club becomes clear. With ªKQ and ¨Q, twelve tricks seemed sure, and with one of these cards missing the slam merely was on a finesse. What does an old-fashioned coach understand about bidding? The French North doubled and a severely disturbed declarer lost a trick too much for three down, the 11 and 16 IMP losses on the last two boards resulting in a severe defeat (8-22) against the now superior leading young French team.

In a situation like this you long for home, want to order a train or, even better, an airplane ticket. Duty calls, however, and it is the task of the coach to instruct the players about the system of the next opponents, the surprisingly well playing Estonians.

When the match has finished, Niels de Groot (indeed, the red one) storms outside loudly yelling: "I protect (bidding in fourth position when you also can pass out the hand) one time against a partscore and one second later they are in game, easily making. At first glance they seemed lucky I refrained from doubling".

Board 17. Dealer North. None Vul.
  ª Q 7 3
© K 4
¨ Q J 10 8 6 5
§ 9 2
ª 6
© Q J 9 7 5 3
¨ K 9 7 4
§ 8 7
Bridge deal ª A K 8
© 10 8 6 2
¨ 3 2
§ A J 10 3
  ª J 10 9 5 4 2
© A
¨ A
§ K 10 4 2

West North East South
  2§ Dble Pass
2© Pass Pass 2ª
3© Pass 4© All Pass

The 3 IMPs lost on the hand (4ª doubled down two at the outer table), however, was one of the few losing boards and the Netherlands won by a big margin (24-6), keeping the coach in Torquay and hoping (but will that be sufficient?) for better times.

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