Tenerife hands (17) - Valerie's choice

Round 19 was not good for the leading teams in Tenerife. Except for Russia who unperturbed beat Czechia 24-6, no leader was able to score 20 or more, far less in fact. Italy bowed 8-22 to Wales and Poland was defeated 11-19 by Sweden. Norway lost heavily 7-23 to Belgium, a team of the chasing pack. All this was good news to Greece who consolidated their 3rd place when they narrowly beat Finland, 17-13 in a very low-scoring match (29-17 IMPs in 20 boards; actually Greece is also holding the record for the lowest-scoring match of the event, 20-8 IMPs, is this an indication of solidity?)

However, the five leading teams conserve their places because, with the exception of Belgium, no team of the chasing pack did any better -they also lost all of them!

Belgium is one of the few teams to field a woman in the open series, Valerie Carcassonne, married with her partner and expecting a child. She had a choice to make in this board against Norway:

At game all, Carcassonne was North and held:

A 7 4 2
5 3
9 4 3
A Q 7 3

The bidding goes:
West    North    East     South
                       1C        1H
3C*      pass     pass     dbl
pass    ?
3C by West was weak. What is your choice?
Pass, 3H, 3S or 3NT?
(Make your choice...)

Actually Valerie bid 3NT. This was passed out to West who doubled. Do you stand your ground or retreat to the safer haven of 4H? Or 4S? (Make your choice and proceed to the full deal)

This was the full deal:
Board 10, East dealer, Game all

                                 A 7 4 2
                                 5 3
                                 9 4 3
                                 A Q 7 3

K 9 8                                   J 10
6                                         Q J 8 7
Q 10 8 7 6                           K 5
10 9 4 2                               K J 8 6 5

                               Q 6 5 3
                               A K 10 9 4 2
                                A J 2
Against 3NT doubled, Saelensmide, East led... a club to the nine and queen. Now declarer played a heart to the 10 and in the fulness of time made her nine tricks for 750. I don't know whether the double of 3NT by Brogeland had leading overtones (probably) but if its message was "lead a diamond" it didn't come through. Actually, only a diamond lead beats 3NT!

In the other room East did not open so Helgemo-Helness bid uncontested to 4S by North. Double-dummy, this seems to make but in practice it went two down. I don't have the play record (the Vugraph transmission of the Open Room is garbled) but I strongly suspect a brilliant opening lead of the Diamond King! If so, declarer has to play low from dummy to make it!

So, in a perfect world, 3S would be the best choice in the quiz because it leads to 4S and 620. Pass would be a second choice (good defence will beat 3C) and 3NT the worst choice. In the real, practical world, Valerie's choice was clearly best: 3NT made for 14 IMPs while 4S went down -and 3C doubled may well make if the defence takes their eye off the ball.

Nikos Sarantakos

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2001 Nikos Sarantakos
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