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by Beverly Kraft -Eric Kokish


 It was not bridge alone that determined the eighth qualifier to the knockout stage of the Round Robin of the 1999 Canadian National Teams Championship.

 At the end of the Round Robin, Teams FOURCAUDOT and FERGANI (both Montreal-based) were tied in Victory Points. The official tie-breaking rules gave the nod to FOURCAUDOT, but as the team captains were leaving the conclave, Marc-Andre Fourcaudot remembered that his team had been assessed a 1 VP procedural penalty earlier in the event. Had the penalty been included in the posted scores? It had not. By bringing attention to this oversight by the Directors, FOURCAUDOT was eliminated, but his selfless, clear-headed declaration had earned his team a special measure of respect from the bridge community.

Both sides vulnerable; South deals


  A K 5
Q J 9 5
6 5

Q 10 8 4

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

K Q 10 3

A K 6 5 3

A 10 8 6 2
A 9 7 4 2

J 2

West North East South
Pass 1 Pass 1
Pass 2 Dbl 4

 This was the popular start at most tables (boards were duplicated across both fields). East has a classical hand for his double, defined as "sound takeout of hearts," suggesting length in opener's first suit. Over 4
, West has a very close decision; pass, double, and 4 are all reasonable.

 Kokish: I bid 4
, doubled by North, who followed generally sound practice by clearing trumps. I won the third, played three rounds of clubs, ruffing, then the J, ducked, and a diamond to the king and ace. South can put declarer back in dummy with a diamond to ruff out the clubs, with a ruffing entry still in dummy, or play a heart, allowing declarer to score the K for his tenth trick. If North starts a heart instead, declarer can't afford to discard and must use one of dummy's trumps prematurely. If declarer plays three clubs, then two diamonds, South wins and clears trumps, this time to better effect.

 Kraft: I passed 4
and led the 9. Partner had suggested good clubs and declarer, a passed hand, rated to be distributional. To defeat the contract, West must lead a club and East must take both club winners before declarer can use dummy's second high spade. Unfortunately, at my table and several others, East switched to the K at trick two, not knowing that West held so many spades.

 Kokish: The diamond switch was tempting, but East should continue clubs; the lead might have been a singleton, after all, and West would not lead the nine from 972 in this situation.

 Kraft: In retrospect, I think I should have bid 4
, simply because it was too close. It takes perfect defense to defeat 4 or 4 and there's a lot to be said for leaving the critical guess to the opponents.

 This is the deal on which FOURCAUDOT incurred that momentous penalty. The Appeals Committee decided that although an incorrect explanation by FOURCAUDOT's South player was not responsible for a terrible result for East/West, it was essential that pairs employing "complex" methods to explain them properly. FOURCAUDOT was docked 1 VP for the sin of the nineties - Convention Disruption.