Page 0029

AUG_EB_p29 Byrne 12/7/07 4:50 pm Page 29

Even the experts

can botch the bidding


of freak hands

THE Bonn Nations Cup has always been a With the spade finesse right for North-

top level competition, an invitation event South, 5♦ is an easy make, simply losing

for many of the top teams around Europe, one heart and one cub trick. What is less

and this year the field was especially strong. obvious is that East-West have a paying

Teams from Romania, Hungary, Poland, save in 5♠: even doubled, it’s only 100

the Netherlands, along with the German points away (assuming declarer doesn’t Michael Byrne

team that had won the Champions Cup lose a trick in clubs) – much cheaper than

last October, and Austria, Sweden and 600 for a vulnerable game. It was not easy

Turkey. Three of those countries had to find, though, especially since both East he had only a good five-card heart suit,

qualified last year in Warsaw for the and West have a six-card suit, neither of backed up with club support for his

Bermuda Bowl, so it wasn’t going to be an which is spades . . . partner. When South continued to 3NT,

easy ride! At the table where Poland were East- Townsend chimed in with 4♠, happy to

The format was to split the twenty West, they showed how to get spades into play at the five level if his partner could

teams into two groups of ten, and have the bidding by overcalling 1 ♦ with 1 ♠ . only support clubs. When North-South

them play a complete round robin of nine The full auction was: finally got round to bidding 5♦, East had

ten-board matches. At the end of the a comfortable 5♠ bid. This was doubled,

round robin, the winners of each group West North East South and again West picked up the clubs to

would face each other in a head-to-head Cichocki Byrne Pikus Woodcock escape for one off, 100 to North-South

match. This meant that the competition Pass 1♦ and a flat board. Well judged all round!

was fierce, since only the winners could 1♠ 2♠* 4♠ Pass In case you think it seems easy to reach a

qualify. Pass 5♦ Pass Pass spade contract, at those tables where East

England started well with a solid 20-10 5♠ Dble All Pass opened a Weak 2♥ the spade fit was lost

VP win over Bulgaria, but faded badly in * Unassuming Cue-bid forever, East-West eventually conceding 600

the next two matches, a 9-21 VP loss to when North-South bid and made 5♦.

Denmark, and then a heavy defeat (4-25 West’s 1♠ overcall is quite a distortion of

VP) against the strongest of the three the hand and not to be recommended. ‘The most hilarious incident

German teams. Match four of nine was However, here it worked well in that it not ensued at another table’

England vs Poland, the group leaders, and it only got West’s side to 5♠ very quickly, but

was hard to see at the time that these two also it left the club suit totally concealed, so The most hilarious incident ensued at

teams would be finishing respectively first that North led his singleton and exposed his another table where South opened 1♦ and

and second in the group. partner’s queen straight away. the next player overcalled 2♦ as part of the

The deal below, taken from that With England East-West, the auction was: ghastly Ghestem convention, showing the

encounter, saw a rarity even in today’s two ‘extreme’ unbid suits. The East player,

world of computer-dealt hands: the West North East South looking at his diamond void, convinced

thirteen-card fit. Townsend Gierulski Gold Skrypczak himself that 2♦ was natural and passed it

Pass 1♦ out – six off for 300 to North-South!

2♣ 3♣* 3♥ 3NT The rest of the match was mostly flat and

N/S Game. Dealer East. 4♠ 4NT 5♣ Dble the eventual score-line was 18-12 VP to

♠AQ Pass 5♦ 5♠ Pass Poland. At this stage England were second

♥ J74 Pass Dble All Pass from bottom in the group, but five straight

♦KJ98763 * Unassuming Cue-bid wins resulted in a second-place finish. This

♣5 was not enough to get us through to the

♠ K 10 9 8 5 ♠J763 Tom Townsend held the West cards and knock-out stages but we continued in the

♥ 63 N ♥KQ9852 sensibly overcalled 1 ♦ with 2 ♣ . The Swiss event, and ended up winners of the


♦ — S ♦ — auction continued with 3♣ (once again Swiss and third-placed overall, behind

♣ A K J 10 9 8 ♣763 the opponent’s suit being used to show a Hungary and runners-up Poland. It was

♠42 good raise in partner’s suit, the so-called England’s best result for seven years.

♥ A 10 ‘Unassuming Cue-bid’) and David Gold bid

♦ A Q 10 5 4 2 3♥ as East. Since he had passed as dealer England: Tom Townsend and David Gold

♣Q42 (not opening a Weak Two) there was an (London), Andrew Woodcock and Michael

inference that he either had four spades, or Byrne (Manchester). August 2007 English Bridge 29


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