Source: IBPA Bulletin Aug 2019

Jerry Li
Jerry Li

The 2019 Premier League Tournament’s Second Leg was held at Jiangshan, Zhejiang Province, China, from July 5th to July 11th. After the first leg had been played at Ningbo, Team Zhejiang Qiantang was the leader, followed by PD Times (Marc Chen, Jerry Li, Xu Hou, Fredrik Nyström, Johan Upmark) and Pioneers (which included Patrick Huang, Sjoert Brink, Bas Drijver). This leg was a round robin with 16 teams, after which the top six teams of the combined First and Second Legs will compete in the Final Leg (12th–19th December in Taicang).

This leg was very fierce. However, the leading teams from the First Leg did just so-so, while other teams such as Beijing Capital, Pudong (including the Rimstedt brothers), and Sunchime Fund (including Manno/Di Franco), did very well.

Here are three brilliant deals from the tournament:

Round 13. Board 15. Dealer South. NS Vul.

What’s your lead?

Hou led the nine of hearts. East won with dummy’s ace, led a trump to his hand and played a low club. Although Hou knew this to be a singleton, so he played low not to give declarer two club tricks. Declarer cross-ruffed two clubs and two hearts, drew Partner’s last trump, ending in the dummy and played a low spade. Partner plays the ten, declarer covers with the queen, and you win with your king. What do you do now?

If partner has the nine of spades, you should play a spade, but if partner does not, you will give declarer his extra trick with the nine. After reviewing the count, Hou knew declarer had eight trump tricks, one club, one heart, and one spade, so he played a club to give declarer a ruff-sluff. Declarer had just 11 tricks after this great defence.

The full deal was:

Only one route can bring declarer home. Win the heart lead, lead a trump to hand, and play your club. South must play low, whereupon you win, lead another trump to hand, ruff a heart in dummy, and play a low spade to the nine (or queen if North plays the ten). South is endplayed.

Round 10. Board 1. Dealer North. Neither Vul.

Manno led the ten of clubs. Li played the jack from dummy (South), Franco covered with the queen, and Li won with the king. Li played the six of spades, Manno won with the ace, and Franco followed with the five. What do you do now?

If partner has the ace of hearts, the contract is going down for sure: the defence has three aces and a club ruff. But if partner doesn’t have the ace of hearts, can the contract be beaten? You’d need partner to have started with queen-nine-third of clubs to make a club trick, and the king of diamonds so that Partner can shift to a heart before the clubs are set up.

Which key card partner does Partner have? The ace of hearts or the king of diamonds (with the nine of clubs)?

You need help from Partner’s signal. Declarer played the jack of clubs and Partner covered; Partner also played the five of spades, trump suit preference perhaps. Since you are missing the queen, jack, four, three, two of spades, perhaps Partner’s five is a signal, welcoming hearts? Maybe yes, maybe no.

You need to think further. Why did declarer play the six of spades? If declarer held the ace of diamonds and no ace of hearts, he would have hidden his high spades and played a lower one than the six. Partner covered the jack of clubs with the queen, an inference that he holds the nine. If you trust declarer’s play, he was trying break your signal system, and you should shift to a low diamond.

A low diamond has a extra chance: if Partner has the ace of hearts but no king of diamonds, and he has the nine of clubs to stop declarer running the clubs, you can still get two heart tricks, one club and one spade.

This was the full deal:

The young Italian star, Andrea Manno, thought for about five minutes, then played a low diamond to Di Franco’s king! Franco shifted to a heart to defeat the contract. Wonderful!

This last board was the most-beautiful deal of the tournament:

Round 6. Board 7. Dealer South. Both Vul.

South led the queen of clubs (standard leads). You win with the ace, cash the ace of hearts, upon which South drops the king. What do you do now?

From declarer’s point of view, with trumps 4-1, he has two heart tricks, one diamond trick and one club trick to lose, so the only hope is for North to have three or more spades for a club pitch. (That would leave North with 3=4=0=6 and South with 2=1=8=2, clearly impossible. – Ed.) When Yang played spades, Bessis trumped the second spade,. Was Yang unlucky? No!

This was the full deal:

When declarer played the ace of hearts, Brad Moss dropped his king! What a beautiful, imaginative play! Can we assure him candidacy for the IBPA’s best defence of the year?

Don’t forget – you can still enter for the 6th World Youth Open Bridge Championships being held in Croatia from 20 – 29 August.

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