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Lose the Trials Semifinal with Me, III
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During the second segment of our semifinalmatch in the 2019 Open Trials,FLEISHER(Martin Fleisher, Chip Martel; Eric Greco, Geoff Hampson; Joe Grue, Brad Moss) had taken the lead fromKRIEGEL (John Diamond, Brian Platnick; Oren Kriegel, Ron Smith) and was ahead 74-59.

Third Eighth

FLEISHERhad the seeding rights. Marty and Chip played back against Ron and me, while Eric and Geoff tagged in for Brad and Joe.

Board 1 was flat. We lost 7 IMPs on Board 2 when Geoff and Ron held:

East
AJ973
J8
8643
A8

as dealer at favorable vulnerability. Geoff opened in a Precision context, and Ron passed. At our table, Chip opened 2NT in fourth seat, which ended the auction and went down one (it could have been two). At the other table, Eric raised to 2, the strong hand doubled, and our teammates reached 3 in an inelegant 4-3 fit and went down four.

We struck back with 7 IMPs on Board 3:

Kriegel
K96
QJ
AJ3
AJ1075
Martel
A8
AK853
107
8643
Smith
107542
10964
Q965
Fleisher
QJ3
72
K842
KQ92
W
N
E
S
 
1
1N
X
2
P
2
P
P
X
P
P
2
P
P
P
D
2 East
NS: 0 EW: 0

Ron did well to run from 2-X, and Chip and Marty did well to sell out. 2 made (an overtrick was possible double-dummy) for +110. At the other table, East bid 2 over the double showing diamonds and a major, passed around to North, who doubled for takeout. South converted, and 2-X failed by a trick: +200.

Over the next five deals, there were four pushes and 3 IMPs toFLEISHER for overtricks. One of the flat boards was the 4 contract I wrote up in a separate article.

On another deal, we were touch-and-go for 3, but we let the opponents play in 2. That contract could have made, but declarer misguessed and went down one. At the other table, JD and Brian competed to 3 over 3, and the board was pushed at -50.

25 IMPs were at stake on Board 9. This was the auction at the other table:

Greco
8754
3
K98
AKQJ5
Platnick
AKQ9
852
53
10973
Hampson
J
AK10974
AJ62
42
Diamond
10632
QJ6
Q1074
86
W
N
E
S
 
P
1
P
2
2
3
P
3
P
4
P
4
P
4N
P
5
P
5N
P
6
P
P
P
D
6 West
NS: 0 EW: 0

Geoff and Eric bid a pushy slam—just how pushy is a question for the bridge arithmeticians. I haven't inquired exactly what their auction meant, but the contract they reached had the most important thing going for it: it made. Ron and I scored +650 in 4 at the other table, so -1370 sent 12 IMPs toFLEISHER. If slam had failed, we would have won 13 IMPs instead (or maybe 12 if changing the layout held us to 10 tricks in 4). 6 making somewhat balanced out the grand slam on a finesse JD and Brian made in the first segment.

I didn't cover myself in glory on Board 10:

Kriegel
AK10
J1083
AQ93
86
Martel
983
97
874
AK542
Smith
QJ76
A65
J106
Q103
Marty
542
KQ42
K52
J97
W
N
E
S
P
P
1
P
1
P
1NT
P
P
P
D
1NT West
NS: 0 EW: 0

Chip led the 4. I made the normal misguess, and the defense rattled off five rounds of clubs. Marty threw the 2 (upside-down), then the 5. Chip shifted to the 9, which I ducked to Marty's king, and Marty returned a diamond. I should have finessed, which was indicated if everything was as it seemed.

However, I managed to convince myself that Marty's tempo—his first discard was on the slow side—suggested he was unsure about a heart shift, so I placed him with the K without the Q. I thought Chip might lead the 9 from Q9-doubleton (if that was his holding, he had to lead the 9 to give me a a guess), so I rose with the A and tried to drop his Q. Nope: down one, -100. I should have just realized that Marty is a rather deliberate player who was taking his normal time to think about the deal, and I shouldn't have placed so much weight on the tempo.

At the other table, Eric evaluated my hand as a 15-17 notrump and was raised to 3NT. The defense started in the same manner by cashing the clubs and shifting to a heart. Eric grabbed the ace and the diamond finesse gave him eight tricks: down one, no swing.

We won 2 IMPs on Board 11 when JD and Brian made 3, while Ron declared 3, doing well to get out for down one, -50.

Board 12 was another miss by me:

Kriegel
K83
K10
Q53
AJ1098
Martel
Q1062
952
AK109
K5
Smith
A95
Q87
J76
Q762
Fleisher
J74
AJ643
842
43
W
N
E
S
1
X
1NT
2
3
P
P
P
D
3 West
NS: 0 EW: 0

Vugraph has me passing over 2, Ron doubling, and me taking out to 3, but I'm pretty sure I bid 3 directly. I knew the opponents had at least eight hearts and Ron had at least three clubs, so I took the push. I'm not much of a Law of Total Tricks devotee, but if the Law was on target, at least one of the contracts should have been making.

Chip led the K and found the killing spade shift: down one, -50. I probably would have led a diamond against 2, making it easy to score two tricks in each major and one in each minor. I still think 3 was the right call, but it didn't work on this layout.

At the other table, Eric again opened 1NT—this time a 14-16 1NT—and played it there. 1NT was cold, and Eric made an overtrick. -120 meant 5 IMPs toFLEISHER.

We scored our last IMPs of the set on Board 13 when Geoff opened 1 with a 5-3-3-2 11-count in second seat, vulnerable, which was normal in their Precision style. Eric drove to game with a chunky 12-count, and 3NT went down two. Ron passed at the other table, and we stopped a level lower: +200, -100 and 3 IMPs toKRIEGEL.

This was Board 14:

Kriegel
A843
7
K9765
872
Martel
J972
AJ1098
A4
63
Smith
K10
32
J102
AKQ1094
Fleisher
Q65
KQ654
Q83
J5
W
N
E
S
1
1
X
4
P
P
P
D
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0

5 is decent, but it was tough to bid. We started with two rounds of clubs, then shifted to diamonds: down two, +100. If we had shifted to spades, we could have achieved down three.

The other table started with a Precision 2 by East, South passed, and West responded 2, an artificial inquiry. North overcalled 2, East doubled, and South bid 3, showing some sort of heart raise. North forgot that this treatment applied universally, so he passed, and 3 went down six: -300; 5 IMPs toFLEISHER. Playing in 3 may actually have gained IMPs for us, because otherwise East-West might have ended up in 5 or defending 4-X.

The segment closed with my worst board of the match:

Kriegel
Q10752
AK87632
K
Martel
KJ
1094
92
A98764
Smith
94
QJ
AKQJ7
J532
Fleisher
A863
5
1086543
Q10
W
N
E
S
P
2
P
2NT
P
4
P
P
P
D
4 West
NS: 0 EW: 0

At double-dummy, North-South can beat 4 by cashing the A, then shifting to trumps. Chip expected me to hold a void, but he thought it was more likely in his six-card suit than in his doubleton. He led the 9, Rusinow. I won in dummy and threw the K. Cashing one trump then running diamonds would have been a near-claim, but I carelesslyplayed a second round of trumps. Oops.

I cashed another diamond. South had played the 10 at trick three or four (I can't remember which one), so I realized the danger in playing a third diamond. I got the spades wrong too, leading the 4 to the 10, so that was down one.

At the other table, declarer made 4 (imagine that), so my brain-dead play cost us 10 IMPs. This was an embarrassing loss of concentration, which I attribute to my not feeling 100%, it being the last board of the segment, and the fact that we weren't having a good set. I was playing like I had one foot out the door already, and I made our team's bad situation that much worse.

FLEISHER won the segment 42-12, upping its lead to 45 IMPs, 116-71. There was still plenty of time to get back in the match, but we needed to stop the bleeding.

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