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JUST BRIDGE...

 

CANADIAN OPEN TEAM CHAMPIONS
HONOUR FALLEN COMRADE

 

by Beverly Kraft -Eric Kokish

 

 July 11-17, 1999: Canada's Bridge Week. The venue: Toronto's Yorkdale Holiday Inn. On the seventh day of the Open Teams Event (the CNTC), all but two of the original 28 teams from the six Canadian zones had been eliminated. The 72-board final featured two of the betting favourites, BARAN (Boris Baran, George Mittelman, Allan Graves, J Markland Molson, Eric Kokish) and LEBI (Robert Lebi-Nader Hanna, John "JC" Carruthers-Drew Cannell). The score was close in the second quarter, when this deal arrived:

Neither side vulnerable; North deals

 

  K 7
Q 7 4 3
9 7 5 3

 A Q 10

J 8 3
K J 10 9 6 2
Q 8 6
7
4
A 8 5
K J 10 2

J 9 6 4 2

  A Q 10 9 6 5 2

A 4

K 8 5 3


 

West North East South
  Cannell   Carr'thrs
      1
2 Dbl(1) 3(2) 4
Pass 4 Pass 6
Pass Pass Pass  



(1) Negative, takeout; (2) Short spades, heart fit


Opening Lead:
J

 BARAN's North/South pair had stopped in 4
, but Carruthers-Cannell were more ambitious. Carruthers knew that 4 was not forcing, but he wanted to show his side length for slam purposes, and his opponents had indicated they would bid again if North could not. Cannell's preference to spades prompted Carruthers to take a shot at slam, and dummy, with four key honours in the black suits, proved quite suitable.

 Declarer ruffed the opening lead, drew three rounds of trumps, ruffing a second heart en route, and led the
4 from hand. East, placing declarer with 7-0-1-5 pattern for his bidding, had discarded a diamond and heart to keep all his clubs, so declarer could win the diamond return with the ace, cross to the Q, and ruff a diamond, establishing dummy's fourth diamond for a club discard; plus 980. 11 IMPs to LEBI, ahead now by 16.

 It might appear that East's diamond discard gave away the contract, but that was not so. If instead he discards a heart or a club, declarer uses a club entry to dummy to ruff the third diamond and run his remaining trumps. East would not be able to keep both a club guard and the high diamond, succumbing to a minor-suit squeeze. It would have been slightly better for declarer to start diamonds by playing ace and another, keeping his communications intact, but on the actual lie it did not matter. It is remarkable that West could have defeated the contract at trick one by leading his singleton club, perhaps the least likely choice on the auction.

 LEBI also gained substantially on the next two deals, and these three boards decided a match that was otherwise virtually even. LEBI won by 35 IMPs. The players dedicated their victory to their longtime friend and teammate, Ted Horning, who died just a few hours after completion of play. Now renamed Team HORNING, the winners will add a third pair and will represent Canada at the World Bridge Teams Olympiad in the Netherlands in autumn, 2000, If they play as well then as they did in the CNTC, we can look forward to reporting their future achievements in this feature.