The final match of this year’s CNTC was an exciting ebb and flow as the lead and momentum changed hands several times over the final day’s play. Team Gartaganis was up by 6 imps after 64 boards; then up by 11 imps after 80 boards; and then the tide turned significantly in Team Korbel’s favour in the sixth (of eight) segments and Korbel was up by 23 imps going into the final 32 boards.
This momentum shift started with an innocent part score hand. Keith opened the bidding one club, and I responded 1 spade. Campbell on my left bid 1NT. Keith passed, and Klimowicz bid 2D, intending this as a transfer to hearts. I passed, and after much thought Campbell passed also, remarking to me (his screenmate) that he hoped that wasn’t a transfer.
I was looking at J97 of diamonds and two baby hearts. I was pretty sure it WAS a transfer – so in this kind of situation a trump lead works best. Envisioning diamond honours in dummy, I debated between the nine and the jack, settling on the diamond nine as my opening salvo.
The layout was fairly predictable.
Klimo flew with dummy’s diamond ace, and played a heart to his hand immediately, Keith ducking with the ace. Next came the spade ten from Klimo’s hand. I covered, he won and tried to cash three rounds of spades, Keith ruffing the third. Keith cashed the club king, receiving a come on from me, and underled his club ace to my queen. The jack of diamonds now put declarer and dummy out of their misery, and we beat the contract four tricks for a three imp pick up.
Tension filled the air as Klimo and Campbell exchanged a few “polite” words about what this sequence would mean in the future. As is often the case, the payoff from a result like this invariably comes in the following boards.
Sure enough, Campbell immediately picked up a monster (especially opposite a one spade opener from his partner) K9752 AQ987 A72 void. He went into a brown study and emerged a couple of minutes later with a bid of six spades ! Science be damned. One can argue he was facing a limited opening bid, but I don’t think that has much merit here. Perhaps Gordon was on tilt a bit after the last hand.
I doubt there are many hands one’s partner can continue bidding on with opposite a six spade response, and Klimo’s mitt of AQJ64 K4 KQ85 Q8 surely did not qualify.
Klimo threw down his claim at trick one, and I could feel the steam rising from the other side of my screen as he gently put his cards back into the board.
Dan and Darren bid the grand of course, and now we had our first real return on the transfer mishap. Eleven imps.
The very next hand, a vulnerable game bonus was available in four spades, requiring some racing luck in terms of two finesses working and a favorable trump split. The Energizer Bunnies at the other table were bidding everything that had a pulse by this point, so Korbel and Wolpert had already chalked up +620 on the deal.
Vul: north south
Facing a passing partner, Balcombe chose an opportune time NOT to bid Michaels over Campbell’s one spade opener. (A) We don’t play Michael’s, and (B) even if we did, Keith would never do so on this hand. Instead he bid a creative and subtle two clubs!
Klimo bid a heavy two spades over Balcombe’s two clubs, and the world passed. Notice how a different action by Balcombe would likely have propelled his opponents to the makeable game. This is exactly what happened in the other room – so credit Keith with the ten imps we won on this board. That made 24 unanswered imps and an overall lead of thirteen imps to Team Korbel after four boards into this set.
The fifth board of the set produced more of the same. Dan Korbel was our team hero this time. He held 62 976 A1083 AJ94, and heard his partner open one spade, both vul, in first position. His RHO bid double, and Dan said redouble – upgrading his hand based on the quality and power of his aces.
His LHO now bid three hearts, and Darren Wolpert now jumped to three spades holding AQJ543 KQ5 74 K8. Dan bid the fourth and final spade, and with the spade king onside third, yet another vulnerable game rolled home.
Vul: not sure
Strike one was when Klimo bid 1NT over west’s double. I wisely kept my mouth shut, resisting the urge to bid 2H. Strike two was when Campbell simply rebid two spades. I suppose he could have rebid three spades, especially within a strong club system framework, as his hand has a clearly defined upper limit of 16 HCP for such action. Strike three was Klimo passing two spades, but really, who can blame him?
Ten imps more for Team Korbel and an overall lead of twenty three imps after only five boards of the set. The tide had turned in our favour.