More weird numbers...

‘his article was published in the excellent British magazine Bridge Plus in 1998 as a sequel to the previous one.
Special thanks to Al Lochli, ACBL District 16 Internet Coordinator, who did the HTML conversion!

In our previous article we saw a couple of unusual scores and how they were achieved. Would you like to have some more exhibits?

Let's move to the 1992 Olympiad disputed in Salsomaggiore, Italy. This is board 37 of the Ladies'semifinal match between GBritain and Germany. With NS vulnerable and South dealer, the West player, the formidable Sabine Zenkel (now Auken) is holding:

S 9 7 6 3
H K 9 8 6 2
D 9
C A 9 2

The bidding goes:
Zenkel HandleyvonArnimLandy
.4NT (1)
pass5C (2)pass5D

(1) Asking for aces!
(2) No ace.

The German superstar seems undecided and gives you her cards. Are you going to pass or bid something? If you pass, what do you lead?

Sabine Zenkel (now Auken), one of the very best current women players, elected to pass the double, a not unreasonable decision. Then, knowing that declarer had a very long suit, she led the ace of clubs, another reasonable but terribly unlucky choice, for the full deal was

                    S 8 4
                    H J 7
                    D Q 6 2
                    C Q J 10 8 4 3

S 9 7 6 3                                      	S A Q J 10 5
H K 9 8 6 2                                          H Q 10 5 4
D 9                                              D ---
C A 9 2                                        	C K 7 6 5

                    S K 2
                    H A 3
                    D A K J 10 8 7 5 4 3
                    C ---

Sandra Landy ruffed the lead and she had the entries to take the ruffing finesse in clubs and make all 13 tricks, registering the unusual score of 1150. At the other table, 5D undoubled made exactly after a spade lead, so it was 11 IMPs to Great Britain who won the match, but bowed to the Austrian squad in the finals. What if Zenkel had bid 5«? This contract is beatable on a club lead -however, it is a near certainty that N-S would have gone to 6D. Then, Zenkel would have to avoid the ace of clubs lead (which would give the still more weird score of 1740!) -or to take insurance at 6H. In any case, full marks to Landy for her opening bid that silenced her opponents. At other tables, the respective players opened with a game forcing 2C or 2D, so E-W were able to get into the bidding cheaply.

Still at another match, Maria Erhart for Austria did one better. She opened the South hand with 6D! The French West also led the ace of clubs, so all 13 tricks were made.

Five of a minor doubled and made with two overtricks is not the only way to score 1150, though.

Earlier in the same tournament an alternative had been demonstrated. It was Board 12 of the Round Robin match between Brazil and Hong Kong.

West dealer, NS vul.

                    S Q 10 8 6
                    H Q 10 5
                    D A J 8 5
                    C 6 2

S 5 4                         S K J 7 3
H K J 8 7 6                   H A 3 2
D 9 7 6 3                     D K 10 4 2
C Q 9                         C J 10

                    S A 9 2
                    H 9 4
                    D Q
                    C A K 8 7 5 4 3

The bidding went:
dblall pass

Against 3NT doubled, defenders led hearts. Declarer won the third round and breathed a silent prayer about the club suit. Mr Chiu is a virtuous man: his prayers were answered and clubs broke evenly. He then proceeded to run an inordinate number of clubs, so East was squeezed in spades and diamonds and 11 tricks were made. As it happens, this also scores 1150.

You may not agree with West's final double, but the real culprit here is the reopening double by East (mind you, both Camacho and Janz are world champions). Janz's club holding makes it improbable that partner has a penalty pass and the contest being teams rather than pairs it would be safer to sell out at 2C, guaranteeing a minimal swing. At the other table Chagas-Branco went one down at 5C, so Hong Kong gained no less than 15 IMPs.

We'll end our perusal of the 1992 Olympiad records with a deal that produced unusual scores at both tables. It comes from the final match in the Ladies series between GBritain and Austria. The British squad had had an explosive start, building a healthy lead. However, Austria managed to gain 43 IMPs in four (!) boards and when this board hit the table they were in front by 10.

Board 58
North dealer, game all

                    S Q 10 8
                    H A Q 8 7 5 2
                    D 8 7 6
                    C 9

S 7 6 5 3                                 S J 4 2
H ---                                     H K 9 4 3
D A 9 3 2                                 D K Q 5 4
C A K 7 4 2                               C J 8

                    S A K 9
                    H J 10 6
                    D J 10
                    C Q 10 6 5 3

The bidding went:
.2D (1)pass3H (2)
dblall pass

(1) Weak two in hearts or weak two-suiter in spades and a minor
(2) Pass or correct

East's call over the (marginal) negative double of 3H would make a good problem for a bidding contest. I would hesitate between 4D and 3NT, but all champions confronted with the same decision (the deal was also played in the Open semifinal matches) elected to pass the double, and they certainly know better. Thus, Handley passed the double. Landy led the ace of clubs and shifted to the S7. Declarer played low from dummy, won the jack with the ace and played the D10. Handley won and played the H3. The H6 won and declarer played the DJ. Now East played the jack of clubs, so declarer was able to concede a trump, draw trumps and claim nine tricks. It would be better for East to persist with spades at trick four. This would tangle declarer's communications, for she would not be able to get to dummy without promoting East's nine of trumps (something that happened at two tables in the Open matches). In any case, Austria scored 730 for 3H doubled and made and Handley-Landy probably scribbled a minus sign on their scorecards.

They did not need to worry. For, if 730 is only mildly unusual, at the other table there was another, rather more infrequent score.

The bidding there was slightly -but crucially- different.
.2D (1)pass2H (2)
dblall pass

(1) Multi: weak two in a major or various strong types
(2) Pass or correct

2D by Davies could possibly (although not probably) be a strong hand, so Smith bid just 2H, leaving more room for the opposition. However, Lindinger elected to pass 2H doubled (a deep position, one would say). Two hearts were never in trouble and things got worse for the defenders in the play. The ace of clubs was again led and the continuation was again the S7. But here it went 10, jack, king. Declarer lost a trump finesse and Lindinger returned another trump. Now Smith drew trumps and West had several discards to make. When she discarded three clubs (plus a diamond), declarer had the spade entries to establish the suit with a ruff and enjoy it. All in all, she made no less than eleven tricks. Two hearts vul. doubled and made with three overtricks gave the exotic score of 1270, not much less than a slam! This was 11 IMPs for the Great Britain, who regained the lead -although they finally bowed to the mighty Austrians.

And that about concludes our survey of weird, unusual, exotic and macabre numbers. But, before we end, do you know the difference between an 'exotic' and a 'macabre' score? Yes, you guessed it: when it is a plus, it is exotic!

Nikos Sarantakos
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