|The Belgian junior team finished finally in a slightly disappointing 14th place. Not so unexpected, however, if you consider that two out of the three pairs started their partnership only ten weeks before the championship. And not so surprisingly, they both finished with a negative score in the Butler.
What will I remember from these 11 days in Jesolo? The staggering heat? The breathtaking comments on the vugraph? The first title of the Netherlands since I was a junior myself which, this means Budapest 1986? Maybe a little bit of all that. But the thing I will certainly remember is the Jefguigui fit.
Technicians who went in their youth to a bridge school (well, I never did) learn first to play suit contracts in a 4-4 fit. After that, they discover the beauties of the Moysian fit (4-3) and its interesting variations, the Mini-Moysian (4-2) and the Micro-Moysian (4-1). Well, in Jesolo the name of the 4-2 fit has changed forever, it has been renamed the Jefguigui fit, a merging of Jef Vanparijs and Benoit Guiot, which nickname Benguigui is now well known in the bridge world.
Their first attempt comes from the trashing of the Belgian team against Norway: 1-25, the poorest result I ever saw from them in very many years. Look at what happened on Board 3:
Over the 1♣ opening bid, Jef Vanparijs found the winning bid of 1NT but, when he was very normally doubled by Berg, he did the normal but uninspired thing that many of us would probably do: run away. As the cards lie, should he have passed he could have emerged with +380 on the completely natural opening lead of a small diamond, as he would find in dummy the two golden cards he needed to take six further clubs tricks and two hearts. Notice that only a spade lead holds declarer to seven tricks by squeezing him early between his winners.
But Benguigui thought Jef had psyched and that 2♣ was a kind of take-out (which is naturally wrong; a redouble would be that). So he bid his diamonds and landed in the 4-2 fit – Berg let it go undoubled, fearing that 3♣ could be a better spot for them. The defence let go one trick but scored +100 for down two.
On the 14th round Belgium was on the way to an excellent result against Germany, leading by 30 IMPS until the 19th board came along:
Benguigui’s 2♣ meant weak with diamonds or a strong hand. Vanparijs made the positive relay of 2♥ and 3♣ showed a fair weak two in diamonds. Alas, Jef (who had never played this convention before) forgot it and thought it promised a strong hand with clubs. He rather agriculturally bid six, when this hand looks me more able to go for the grand, and Smirnov, who finally saw the opportunity of saving some points in this match, had no great difficulty in finding a double. Now Jef could have remembered the convention, and tried to save something by saying 6♥ (which is only down one). But he kept on sleeping. Gotard will have been frightened that his partner could find a double, holding himself three kings and three trumps! But of course he passed and looked at the result of the Jefguigui fit. 6♣ was down six for –1700, which added to 5♥ in the other room for a spectacular 20 IMP swing, holding the German loss to 13-17.
The Belgian team had been promised numerous bottles of champagne from the Netherlands (and both the coach and the NJO) in the case of a win against Italy in Round 19. This super-hero role was finally taken over by Latvia later in the day, as Belgium could not save more than 6 VPs. Once again the Jefguigui fit was responsible:
When East, as a passed hand, proved unable to bid his best suit and left the problem to his partner, Benguigui bid his lowest four-card suit and the result was another Jefguigui fit when Jef kept refusing to bid clubs. Like you know either 7♣ and 7NT are cold, but I must admit it’s rather difficult to bid it after a pre-empt. Notice that 5♦ has a real chance, and could have made with two overtricks, without the killing spade lead, removing dummy’s entry for the clubs. When the hearts broke 4-1, Benguigui had to go down one – precisely like the people who erred in 6♥. As the Italians stopped in 4♥ in the other room, 13 IMPS went to the Azzurri – instead of 13 to Belgium if 6♣ had been discovered.
Even more horrible things happened on the second last game against Greece:
Vanparijs’s opening was a little bit off-shape but nothing that kept East/West away from the right contract, until the Greek North tried his luck with a double, asking for a spade opening lead. Now Jef displayed a certain lack of bidding technique by running on his own – by the way, did you discuss already with your favourite partner which call, pass or redouble, denies a spade stopper? Benguigui could have tried for 4 NT (probably undoubled this time) instead of searching for a possible 4-3 heart fit. Knowing Benguigui did not transfer on the first round, Jef could also have tried 5♦ – but he didn’t and, with the 5-1 trump break and the spade lead to come, there was no play in 4♥: down one for –11 IMPS instead of a resounding 1200 in 3 NT redoubled plus two (and +14 IMPS).
After so many bad experiences in the Jefguigui fit, the pair tried something even more tough in the same match:
First a guess: how can East/West manage to land in One Spade doubled? Sitting in the vugraph, we first thought South had opened 1♦ and that Benguigui overcalled 1♠, doubled by North, but how could this contract stand? This is the answer:
Jef found an ugly opening of 1♣, which was very normally doubled by South and Benguigui bid his spades. Aware that this is a baby-psyche situation, North doubled, showing spades too. Why Jef, who some seconds earlier was so proud about his clubs, did not bring them into the picture is a complete guess for me. Benguigui once again could have escaped from that silly contract by bidding his diamonds, but he trusted his partner. No happy ending, however, since 1♠ doubled was as hopeless as 2♠ is in the other direction. In fact, the Belgians went down one in 2♥ in the other room, and that meant 7 more IMPS to Greece. Our captain, Alon Amsel, calculated that the Jefguigui fits cost 65 IMPS throughout the competition – not so many, I suppose, if you look at the total of 1000 IMPS we scored in the negative column in 21 matches!
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