France met Italy tiday for the 30th round at Tenerife. In this deal, a brave bid met with disaster.
Board 5, North dealer, NS vul Q K Q J 9 7 4 6 2 J 10 5 4 A 9 8 7 6 4 3 2 10 8 6 2 K 9 8 J 7 5 4 3 A K 8 7 3 2 K J 10 5 A 5 3 A Q 10 Q 8 6In the Closed Room, Lauria opened 2H and Versace jumped to 4H. Now Palau, the French West, felt compelled to bid 4S, doubled by South. Many people say that in the long run it pays to bid 4S in such auctions.
But today it was the short run. A bloodbath ensued. After two hearts, defenders switched to clubs, then "drew trumps", and declarer made just three trump tricks plus his A-K for five down or 1100!
It is easy to blame Palau: his suit is threadbare and he has too much defense against 4H. But I would also praise Versace for his practical 4H bid.
In the other room, you see, Quantin, the French South made a 2NT query. This allowed Duboin, the Italian West, to get his hand off his chest with a 3S bid -which went unpunished, because North confirmed a maximum by going to 4H.
It could be worse for the French: after a spade lead 4H made 620 (so they lost 10 IMPs) but a diamond lead beats the game. Obviously, 3NT by South is unbeatable and perhaps this is what Quantin had in mind -but he was, in my opinion, cutting it too fine.
France lost 8-22 but Greece could not take full advantage of this -they bowed 14-16 to lowly-placed Portugal and now they are in 5th place, with 6-7 points more than France. France still has a difficult program but Greece seems out of form. Moreover, another candidate has emerged: Israel, some 3-4 VPs behind France and with a rather easy program.
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© 2001 Nikos Sarantakos
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