Home News March 31, 2024 – The Mercury News

March 31, 2024 – The Mercury News

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In the Soloway Teams at the Fall NABC, the seeding method saw two favored teams –- Nick NICKELL and Marty FLEISHER –- opposed in a first-round match. In today’s deal, both Souths played at 6NT. When NICKELL’s pair sat North-South, North’s bid of one club just showed a good hand; South’s 2NT showed 14+ points. North’s next two bids invited slam. South accepted.

West led the ten of clubs. Declarer won with the queen and led a spade to dummy’s king and a club to his jack. West won and led a heart. South ran his winners — and East smoothly threw the eight of diamonds. At the end, East had been squeezed in spades and diamonds, but declarer didn’t know that; he took the diamond finesse and went down. The outcome at the other table was similar.

When West takes the ace of clubs, he beats the slam for sure by leading a diamond, ruining the communication for the squeeze. Maybe both declarers thought West had the king to explain his failure to shift to a diamond.

FLEISHER won that match but lost in the semifinals.

While I often report deals from the final of a major event, here I don’t have the heart. Both finalist teams had a “sponsor” and paid pros. The winning team had a player who admitted to a cheating episode in 2020 but is back playing -– and being hired. The losers were captained by a player who, in this same event last year, acquiesced to calling an inconsequential cell-phone penalty on an opponent, flipping the result of a match his team lost at the table.

This is what top-flight bridge has become: a relentless pursuit of the illusion of success at any cost. And with the best teams money can buy.

West dealer

N-S vulnerable

NORTH

S K

H K Q 4

D A Q J 7

C K 7 6 5 4

WEST

S 7 6 3 2

H 5 3

D 10 9 5 4

C A 10 9

EAST

S J 10 5 4

H 9 8 7 6 2

D K 8

C 3 2

SOUTH

S A Q 9 8

H A J 10

D 6 3 2

C Q J 8

West North East South
Pass 1 C Pass 2 NT
Pass 3 S Pass 3 NT
Pass 5 NT Pass 6 NT
All Pass
Opening lead –- C 10(!)

©2024 Tribune Content Agency, LLC.



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