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by Beverly Kraft -Eric Kokish


 Among the morning line favourites in the 1999 Canadian National Teams Championship was the Toronto squad of Jim Green-John Guoba, Arno Hobert-Marty Kirr, John Gowdy. Two well-oiled partnerships, playing sophisticated forcing club systems, one versatile but realistic Gowdy, who insisted on playing a simple standard system when paired with one of the other four.

 This type of arrangement has been known to work, but it's tricky changing systems in mid-stream. The GREEN team struggled to qualify sixth in the round robin, but lost its first knockout match, exiting the CNTC disappointingly early.

 Post mortems can be particularly fruitless when a team is playing below its capabilities. One such discussion took place after a session in which Messrs Guoba and Gowdy went down in an unlikely 6
with the North/South cards on today's deal while their counterparts bid and made 6NT at the other table.

Both sides vulnerable South deals

  7 6 3 2
K Q 10
K 10 6 4

Q 4

9 4
J 8 7 5 4 3
8 3
9 5 2
K J 10 5

J 9 7 5 2

J 10 7 6

  A Q 8
A 9 6 2

A K 8 3


West North East South
  Guoba   Gowdy
Pass 2(2) Pass 2NT
Pass 3 Pass 3
Pass 5NT Pass 6


(1) Strong, artificial; (2) Waiting, artificial;
(3) Stayman
Opening Lead:

 North intended his 5NT as "pick a slam," a treatment that has gained strong expert support in the nineties. Alas, this was one of 17,003 auctions that had not yet been discussed by our heroes. South thought 5NT might have been the Grand Slam Force in hearts, checking on trump quality for seven. With weak hearts, he signed off at 6
, and North, believing his partner held a fifth heart to rebid them, passed. Voila. At least 6 was playable.

 Gowdy: "Sorry, guys. Lousy auction, lousy result, but not such a bad contract. Besides, I should have made it with the lucky trump break."

 Green's men in unison: "What's so lucky about a 6-0 trump break?"

 Gowdy: Well, I got a club lead, won the queen, crossed to the
A, cashed ace-queen of diamonds, and the K. When I led my last club, West discarded a spade, so I couldn't make it any more, even with the spade finesse right. Had I cashed the K at trick two, I would have found out about the trumps and would have known that I needed West to hold specifically 2-6-2-3 shape to make 6. I would have played this way: spade to the queen, A, ace-queen of diamonds, A, K, club. West has only trumps. I over-ruff with dummy's ten, cash the Q, and play the K, discarding my spade loser. West ruffs and has to lead from the guarded jack of trumps around to my ace-nine. Piece of cake. So, I'm sorry about the play too.

Kraft: What a guy, that Gowdy.

Kokish: An original.