18th European Youth Team Championships Page 2 Bulletin 6 - Saturday, 13 July  2002

Juniors Round 10: Austria vs Spain

Warning: Readers whose delicate sensibilities are disturbed by sexist jokes should skip those parts of this report marked by *** asterisks ***.

If the datums can be trusted, the Austrian Junior Team fielded their top foursome, which happens to be all female.

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

West North East South
Kummel Perez Grumm Mansilla
    Pass Pass
1© Dble Pass 1NT
Pass 2ª Pass 3ª
Pass 4ª All Pass  

Monika Kummel, Austria
  Monika Kummel's opening bid guided Iris Grumm to the best lead of a heart. Declarer won and played ª8 to the queen and king (a diamond at trick two, planning to crossruff, is best, *** but what do you expect from a male. ***). Declarer had his trumps shortened by another heart lead, and drifted three off. At the other table, where a diamond was led to the ace. Santiago Nebot Masia for Spain found the excellent switch to §3, keeping his side in with a chance of beating the contract. The only other play with a chance appears to be ª5 to the king, and ª10 continuation (see next paragraph). Declarer naturally rose with §A, and needed to ruff both a diamond and a club in dummy to make 4ª. However one ruff went missing when declarer played trumps too early, so 4ª went down one. *** She was probably a tad disappointed to have outplayed the male in her seat at the other table by only two tricks. *** Three IMPs to Austria.

If declarer crosses to dummy at trick three to lead ªJ to the king, a possible defence is to continue with ª10, as the trump trick apparently given away should come back when dummy's ª98 are used for ruffing. This sort of play used to be found in Par Contests many years ago.

On vugraph, Lauri Naber from Estonia played 3NT from the North seat, after West had opened 1¨, which made the defence's job more complicated. The lead of ¨10 gave the French West a problem, as partner might have ¨K109x. Eventually, West ducked, which is best, and the king won. Naber did the best percentage play in the spade suit by cashing ªA (in case the king is bare) then playing small to the jack. The next trick was ª9 to ª4 and ª10, with West pitching a diamond on this trick. It is surprising that West did not think he could spare a low heart. While West's discard was the end of the defence, North's ª4 is also not best. It's better to play ªQ on ª4, following the general principle that one should play the card one is known to hold. Now, East does not know that North doesn't have ªAQ1032, which makes the defence's task harder. Not that this mattered when the immediately preceding card had been fatal for the defence, especially when East won ª10 and continued diamonds which does not make much sense when his partner is throwing them away; 400, plus 50 for defeating 4ª at the other table was worth 10 IMPs to Estonia.

A seriously old American expert named Al Roth frequently recommends in magazine articles that three suited hands like West's is best passed! The theory is that

1. Your hand is ideally described by a take-out double of spades later. The only way to be able to do this is to pass the first time around.
2. LHO is likely to bid spades, putting partner on lead, so instead of over-emphasising one suit as partner's opening lead, you let him make his own choice when you hold fairly equal holdings in the three suits.
3. The adverse vulnerability, combined with the possibility of the opponents bouncing to the two or three level in spades, might result in a penalty if partner bids too much.

Personally I do not recommend Roth's approach, but it is interesting that old people think like this, because when you play against them, it gives you more insight into what sorts of things go through their minds. Youth players of course do not travel hundreds of kilometres just to pass. Still, Roth is credited with inventing all sorts of things (perhaps even Negative Doubles), so his opinions are worth printing.

Sometimes a simple-looking hand holds hidden treasures:

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

West North East South
Kummel Perez Grumm Mansilla
  Pass 1ª 2©
Dble Pass 2ª Pass
4ª All Pass    

Maria Mansilla cashed the top hearts, and correctly continued with a third heart to nullify the power of ©Q. In other matches, there were only a small number of tables that incorrectly switched to a minor suit at Trick 3, mostly in the Schools event. Iris Grumm noticed that the hand is like those one sees in bridge textbooks (an aside: at the EBL Delegates meeting on Thursday, the Polish report included that the book which describes their Green System i.e. basic system of bidding has been accepted by their Ministry of Sport as an official school textbook, with bridge being taught as a subject just like Maths and English at some schools).

Iris cashed ªA, and before drawing the second trump she carefully cashed §A, played a club to the king and ruffed a club high to prepare the way for a neat coup. She was about to cross to ªQ, ruff another club and play ace and another diamond, forcing South to give her a ruff and discard. This would have been a perfect strip-and-endplay. However on the third round of clubs, the mere male sitting North played §Q, setting up §9 as her tenth trick and simultaneously destroying Iris's nice plans just when the Bulletin Co-Editor happened to be following her match. What a spoilsport.

Iris Grumm, Austria
  Later, Iris was disappointed to discover that the diamond position was perfect for her planned endplay; if it is North who has a doubleton honour, then dumping the honour under the ace would thwart her plans. South too should dump ¨K under the ace, in case partner has the queen and jack. *** I interviewed Iris about this hand. She began: "It's was so frustrating," but I walked away before she could say anything about what it's like for three females to have to tolerate having a male as the fourth for bridge. ***

Austria collected 10 IMPs when *** the male pair for Spain stopped in 3ª at the other table. As there are only nine tricks if diamonds break 4-3, this might seem unlucky, but most females would say that any wimps who stop out of a possible vulnerable game at Teams deserve a poor score. ***

What happened at the tables where the superstars were present? In Denmark v Hungary Juniors, Denmark's Andreas Marquardsen opened 3¨ on the North cards (aggressive bidding at favourable vulnerability is not uncommon in Junior events). Against 4ª, Martin Schaltz took the top hearts and correctly played a third heart at Trick 3. Declarer Mate Mraz overruffed, played the top two clubs, ruffed a club high, and played a top spade and a spade to the queen. He figured that North had a 2-2-6-3 shape with ¨KQ, so he exited with a low diamond, but when South won the king and exited a diamond, he realised too late that Danish Juniors bid like Norwegian Juniors.

Perhaps Boje didn't study the club situation adequately. When South drops §J on the third round of clubs, either South has §QJ32 or North has §Q865. With §QJ32, wouldn't South cover §10? Most South players would, but as declarer can then draw trumps ending in dummy and lead §9 to pin the eight to do the loser-on-loser play of discarding a diamond, it's possible that an expert card player like Martin Schaltz would have ducked §10, realising that declarer surely plans to rise with §A anyway. This duck is not easy to find in smooth tempo at the table however, so there is a case for playing North for four clubs, as long as declarer is aware of Danish enterprise.

At the other table, Hungary's Peter Marjai opened a more conservative 2¨, even though their Convention Card describes their style as aggressive. 3¨ on their card says "0-8 points not vul" but perhaps the lack of a sixth diamond deterred him from opening at the three level. The third heart was overruffed once again. Boje Henriksen played ªA, §A, §K and there the match records fizzle out, protecting declarer from any further scrutiny. Perhaps it went card for card as at the other table. Whatever happened, the board was flat, 4ª failing at both tables. Yet another example of wild pre-empts paying dividends. Perhaps declarers should not assume too much from pre-empts at favourable vulnerability in this Junior field?

It's worth mentioning that Andreas Marquardsen correctly ruffed the third heart with ª10, which might promote a trump trick if his partner held something like ªJ9x or ªQJ, whereas the Hungarian ruffed with ª6. Also worth mentioning is the lack of fear that Peter Marjai displays when playing against one of the top pairs in the event: he doesn't reserve such 3¨ pre-empts just for matches against the weaker pairs.

A few pairs in other matches did very well to reach the cold 3NT on Board 9.

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

West North East South
Kummel Perez Grumm Mansilla
1ª Pass 2NT Pass
4¨ Pass 4© Pass
5§ Pass 6ª All Pass

This hand also features in a separate article of its own. For comparison purposes, Kummel's 1ª showed four or more spades, could be canapé, 10-16 HCP, playing a Blue Club style of system. The forcing 2NT raise, 4¨ to show four spades with longer diamonds, a couple of cue-bids and the deduction by Iris Grumm that 7ª is too much, completed a good auction. Grand slams in 4-4 fits are fraught with danger; there is always the worry of a 4-1 or even 5-0 trump break. It is much more comfortable to have nine or more trumps for your grand slams (see Board 20 of this match).

Iris Grumm won the heart lead, drew trumps, set up the diamonds and took the successful ruffing finesse in clubs to make all the tricks; plus 1010, and 15 IMPs to Austria when *** a typical male auction in the other room led to 6NT, which failed by 2 tricks. ***

Board 16. Dealer West. East/West Vul.
  ª A Q 10 8 7 5
© J 7
¨ 9 2
§ 9 4 3
ª K J 9 2
© 8 4
¨ A K 4
§ A Q 6 5
Bridge deal ª 6 4
© 10 9 6 2
¨ Q 10 8 6
§ K 8 7
  ª 3
© A K Q 5 3
¨ J 7 5 3
§ J 10 2

West North East South
Kummel Perez Grumm Mansilla
1NT 2¨ Dble Pass
Pass 2ª Pass Pass
Dble Pass 2NT All Pass

Over the 15-17 1NT, Perez's 2¨ showed either a one-suited hand in either hearts or spades. Iris Grumm stuck in a pushy double. So often in this event we have seen boldness in the bidding turn out profitably. Passing the penalty double would have yielded plus 300, but *** even the least experienced Junior player knows that dubious doubles of part scores at Teams are heart attack material for one's male NPC, who was kibitzing inches away from her. *** For example, retain the same East/West cards, give North a 6-4-2-1 shape including ©AKQx, and the dreaded 'minus 470' would be the outcome.  

Maria Mansilla, Spain

Not wanting to ruin the NPC's health, Iris Grumm's desperate removal to 2NT was thus almost enforced, and was understandably raised to game by Monika Kummel who had an excellent maximum. Would double by Maria Mansilla have asked for a heart lead? Only a very well established partnership (*** perhaps two females***) might have such an agreement. *** The standard meaning with a male is probably that double asks partner to lead his own spade suit, because one has to keep things simple. *** The lead of ª8 went to the nine, and Monika Kummel cashed four clubs and three diamonds on which *** the only male at the table tragically pitched ©7 ***. The defenders could no longer disentangle their tricks in the end-game, 600 to Austria. This was a great example of the advantage of landing in 3NT when you're not sure what to bid - if the vulnerable game makes, the reward is huge. At the other table, East did not enter the auction, and would never thought that his plus 100 from defending 2ª was inadequate. 11 IMPs to Austria.

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

West North East South
Kummel Perez Grumm Mansilla
  Pass 1§ Pass
1ª Pass 2© Pass
3§ Pass 3© Pass
3ª Pass 4¨ Pass
4© Pass 6© All Pass

In the Juniors, only three of the twenty pairs stopped in 4©, one reached 5¨, one stopped in 4¨ (East must have felt sick about that for a while) and the rest, not surprisingly, went minus. Half of the fourteen Schools pairs bid and made game. This does not mean that the Schools pairs bid better, as there probably is no group of bridge players in the world who bid more aggressively than the Juniors field here. The highest were in 7¨ (Juniors) and 7©X
(Schools). On a good day 7© might make.

Monika Kummel's 1§ was strong, 1ª showed three controls (ace = two, king = 1) and the rest was natural. *** These control showing responses are rarely played by male pairs as it is too difficult for them to count their controls accurately. ***

The Spanish North/South pair use Rusinow leads, i.e. one leads the second highest from touching honours. Hence Maria Mansilla led ªJ, on which ª2 was played from dummy and North played the ace in case the missing spades were distributed 2-1. This was ruffed, which would have been an unpleasant feeling for North. *** No doubt almost any woman in the South seat, looking at the setting tricks in her own hand, would have been unable to resist the temptation to stick her neck under the screen and yell at her male partner:

"You blithering idiot, can't you tell that declarer would have used Blackwood if she didn't have a spade void?" Maria is made of sterner stuff and spared the male at the table. ***
After all, she was playing against two women, so this was a really tough match, and she couldn't afford to disturb his concentration with another three boards to go. ***

Iris Grumm ruffed ªA, and correctly decided that the only entry to dummy was best used to take the diamond finesse. Thus she cashed ©A and ©K, received the bad news, and went down by the inevitable two tricks. 6© is not that bad a contract, making if ©Q drops doubleton or if both ©Q is trebleton and the diamonds are friendly.

Your Co-Editor had filled in playing dummy's cards while Monika went to the toilet. At the end of the hand, Iris mistook me for Monika and poked her head under the screen to say said something to partner in Austrian. Before I could reply: "Ich spreche kein Osterreich," or whatever, Monika returned. My right hand which played dummy's cards is available to any movie director who needs a stunt double for a woman's hand.

Iris was suggesting that raising 4¨ to 5¨ would have led to 6¨ which is a better contract. Not that much better, as a 4-1 diamond break on repeated spade leads could trouble 6¨ on some layouts.

At the other table, where East/West subsided in only 5© (*** males, they refuse to bid 'em up ***). Anna Gogoman found an aggressive double to flatten the board.

On Board 18, the North/South cards are:

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

West North East South
Masia Ad Gogoman Merino An Gogoman
    Pass 1§
Pass 3NT Pass 4©
Pass 4NT Pass 5§
Pass 5© Pass 7©
All Pass      

Two Gogoman slam auctions for Austria in these Daily Bulletins have demonsrated that the early establishment of the strength of the hands seems to be a strength of their Polish Club system. In this case, 4© was forcing, showing a hand which is too strong to open 1©, i.e. 17+ points with five or more hearts. 5§ showed 0 or 3 key cards, the meaning of 5© is unknown, and it appears that Anna knew that the grand slam was likely to be cold so she simply saved time and bid it.

West North East South
Kummel Perez Grumm Mansilla
    Pass 1©
Pass 2¨ Pass 2©
Pass 3© Pass 3ª
Pass 3NT Pass 4§
Pass 4¨ Pass 4ª
Pass 4NT Pass 6©
All Pass      

The Spaniards appeared to be cue-bidding their way to the grand slam but stopped short; 13 IMPs to Austria. In the Juniors field, seventeen of the twenty pairs reached the grand, a very good strike rate indeed, but in the Schools only six of fourteen bid the grand, while six were in the small slam and two pairs stopped in game. 13 IMPs to Austria.

Austria won 25-4, the second maximum win that the formidable female foursome has collected so far in the event.

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