The late Gabino Cintra, a World Pairs champion (playing with Marcelo Branco) from Brazil, liked to wax poetical about the everlasting battle between spades and hearts. He was a frequent vugraph commentator from Brazilian and South American events, and he would have enjoyed the following board greatly.
Board 2 from the World Youth Teams Championships finals was yet another skirmish between the two ancient opponents.
Dealer East. N/S Vul
J 9 5 2
A Q 6 2
K Q 8 5
|K Q 9 8
J 8 7 4
10 7 4
|A J 10 6 4 2
9 5 3
A J 9 2
A K Q 10 7 4 3
Let’s take a tour through the tables where these cards were on display and see if there is something to be learned from the auctions.Examining the four hands in the quiet environment of our screens, we can see that NS will make 11 tricks in hearts; and that EW have a profitable sacrifice in 5S, paying only 300 in doubled undertricks. But things are never as clear as that when you are looking at only ¼ of the deck, in an important match.
U-26 Open (Singapore vs. Sweden)
Both tables reached par, through slightly diverging paths. When Singapore held the NS cards, South did not preempt (to the extent that a vulnerable vs. not 4bid can be classed as a “preempt”).
West was able to show the overall character of his hand by a jump raise to 3; armed with that information, East (Mikael Rimstedt) made the right decision to keep on bidding. Bidding five over five is seldom a clear choice, especially when you have two Aces; on the other hand, to compete in high-level auctions with a void in their suit pays off surprisingly often.
When Sweden held the NS cards, South started with the pressure bid of 4. This resulted in a hazy auction for all players.
4by West was much less well defined (ranging from a good hand with 3-card support to a bad hand with lots of trumps). Yu Chen Liu, as East, had a difficult decision when he bid 5at this table; partner could have had a very unsuitable hand (with more stuff in the red suits). He took the opponent’s red vs. white bidding at face value and everything turned out for the best. North had a clear double at both tables.
U-26 Women (China vs. Poland)
Here, as in the Open, the two Souths started with different decisions, but the end result was not the same. When Poland held the NS cards, the auction was on its way to duplicating the result in the Open, but North declined to double, and so EW escaped for down only 100.
When China held the NS cards, West, at her first turn, cuebid rather than jump raise; assuming a standard meaning for this action, this strikes me as overbidding. North’s cuebid, on the other hand, I can understand: she had a very nice hand, too strong for a mere 4. The consequence of West’s optimistic evaluation was that East decided that she had a shot at defeating 5, and so she passed, losing 11 imps (650 vs. 100) in the process.
U-21 Open (Israel vs. Sweden)
When Israel was NS, East started with a (systemically) heavy two-bid, showing 10-13 points. It was a good initial description of his hand; but he did not have any agreement to show a hand that prefers to declare rather than defend (as we call it, a hand with a high offense/defense ratio), and so the partnership ended up stuck with 5.
I have sympathy with East for not sacrificing unilaterally after describing his hand quite well with the opening bid; but it would have been useful to specify that a double over 4NT meant that high offense/defense hand. (Here, West’s hand was also more vaguely defined than at the tables were the bidding started 1– 2– 3; banking on the narrow limits of the 2opening bid, West could have had a variety of hands). At the other table, the preemptive 4 had a great success when West timidly sold out. A tied board, but some important experiences for the youngsters.
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