The board occurred during a quarterfinal of the Rosenblum Open Teams at last year’s world championships in Sanya, China.
Dealer South All Vul
|J 10 9 2
10 8 7 6
K 6 5 4 3
K J 9 8 6 2
J 10 8 2
|K 5 3
A Q 3
A K Q J
9 5 2
|A Q 8 7 6
10 7 5 4
A Q 9 7
Opening lead 9
Gunnar Hallberg (West), a Swede who has lived in England for many years, opened two diamonds, showing a weak two-bid in either major. Peter Bertheau (East) from Sweden inquired with two no-trump, learning that his partner had a poor hand with hearts. Then East jumped to six hearts. Note that this was unbeatable. But if six hearts were declared by West, an initial diamond lead would have defeated the contract. South would have ruffed and cashed the spade ace.
Other players, when presented with the problem, decided that they should not double and wondered what to lead. Helgemo thought differently.
He reasoned that East had a good heart fit (he had not used Roman Key Card Blackwood) and a long, solid diamond suit. He would also be void in one black suit (again, no Blackwood) and have the king in the other black suit (so as not to have two immediate losers). Ergo, Tor Helness (North) had to be void in hearts and have length and some strength in the black suits.
Helgemo overcalled six spades!
After two passes, East doubled. West led the heart nine (third-highest from six). Helgemo ruffed in the dummy and played a club to his queen, East discarding a diamond. Declarer ruffed another heart and led a second club. When East discarded his last heart, South put in his nine, which was an error when looking at all 52 cards.
West took the trick and would have done best to return a club, leading to down two. But he led a diamond. South ruffed and trumped another heart. East overruffed, yet a moment later declarer drew trumps and discarded his last heart on dummy’s fifth club to escape for down one.
Note that this result was unlucky! If dummy had the club ten, six spades would have been unbeatable.
At the other table, Fulvio Fantoni (West) could not open with a weak two-bid. After he passed, a lengthy auction saw East get to six diamonds, a contract that would have failed if South had led a heart. But Phil King from England (South) sacrificed in six spades, which was doubled and went down two.
Minus 200 and plus 500 gave Team Monaco 7 international match points on the board. And Helgemo became the bookies’ favorite for the best bid of the year award from the International Bridge Press Association.