Round 23 at Tenerife saw the clash of contenders, Bulgaria v Austria. Bulgaria won 21-9, putting probably an end to Austrian hopes for qualification, but the match would have been almost a tie had the Austrians made an ambitious slam they bid.
Board 7, South dealer, Game all
K 9 5 K J 10 5 4 K 8 5 4 3 --- A 3 2 4 Q 6 9 8 3 2 7 6 2 Q J 10 9 A Q J 10 3 K 8 6 5 Q J 10 8 7 6 A 7 A 9 7 4 2The auction was:
West North East South 1S 2C 2H 3C 3S pass 5C pass 5NT pass 6S all passI guess that 5C was exclusion RKCB and 5NT showed two aces plus the queen of spades. So, the 21-point slam was reached; it only remained to make it.
The snag was that the auction prompted Stamatov to make the good lead of a low trump. On a non-trump lead declarer can merrily ruff his clubs in dummy (one is going on the king of diamonds) and concede just the ace of trumps. In fact, several declarers made 6S at other tables after the ace of clubs, or the ace of trumps, was led.
Now Schifko, the declarer, played the nine of trumps from dummy (why squander an entry?) which won, came to the ace of hearts and played another heart, dropping West's queen... and losing his slam. It can no longer be made. He came back to hand with the ace of diamonds, played a trump to dummy, but obviously West hopped up with ace and pumped dummy with ace of clubs, thereby killing dummy. Slam went down two. Schifko's line needs trumps 2-2, I guess.
Perhaps I am influenced by seeing all four cards, but it seems to me that a second round of trumps before tackling hearts wouldn't hurt.
Beginning with tomorrow and up to Friday there are three matches per day, with the last round on Saturday. Greece is so far second placed and tomorrow she is facing three teams outside of the leading pack (but two of them, Turkey and Scotland can do damage). Everywhere else, there are clashes between the leaders: Russia-Norway, Belgium-France, Norway-Italy, Poland-Belgium.
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