The 2016 Reisinger Board-a-Match championship held at the North American Bridge Championships in Orlando late last year was one of the most exciting and low scoring in its history. That my team happened to win was, at least from my perspective, largely a matter of luck.
One piece of luck was that the event happened to end just as we nosed into the lead. Another was that each pair had it’s worst result on the same hand. The most important piece of luck for me though was that my partner and teammates (Richie Coren, Tarek Sadek, Wahlid El-Ahmady, Mike Becker, Aubrey Strul) played some beautiful bridge. That’s really the kind of luck one needs to win these things.
Perhaps luck is overrated in any event. Let’s see if you would have needed it, or if your good judgment would have carried you through.
It’s the first board of the event, so neither side is vulnerable. You open 1♠, next hand doubles, partner passes and RHO bids 2♥. You try 2♠ which is passed around again to righty. Well, you’d love to play it right here, but life is never easy … your right hand opponent keeps the auction alive with 3♦. To recap, the auction has been:
Would you act again or not?
You are vulnerable and the opponents aren’t. With LHO the dealer, the auction proceeds:
3N was a non-serious slam try. The auction has kept you silent to this point. Is it time to get involved?
With neither vulnerable, your left hand opponent opens 1♠, partner passes and RHO bids 3♦ showing a mixed raise (4 trumps, approximately 5-7 high card points). If your double would be takeout of spades here, would you do it? As a corollary, if you pass here and opener continues with 4♠, would you act now?
4) A defensive problem: After the following auction by NS, you as East have to defend….
Partner leads the club 7, which you unsurely choose to win with the ace as declarer follows with the 5. You hopefully return the club deuce and your hopes are answered as partner ruffs with the spade 4. Back comes the diamond 9, ten, ace, king. So far so good … what now?
1) AJT9652 Q7 Q QJ4
Here you had to decide whether to bid a third time. For me it was an easy pass having bid twice with a bunch of queens and jacks on the side. I passed and defeated 3♦ two tricks when partner held a singleton spade, Kxxx of diamonds and an ace. The player in my chair at the other table bid spades one more time, got doubled and was down one.
95 43 AK98 AKT85
Did you double to teach your opponents a lesson? I mean you figure to get a couple of diamonds and a diamond ruff and one club at least (no one cuebid them). Well, beware of tricky opponents!! Here was the whole layout:
Tarek Sadek, playing with Wahlid El-Ahmady, picked a great time to psyche his 2♦ response. Can anyone blame an unsuspecting north for thinking the opponents must go off in 4♠? 3 &
4) Both problems come from the amazing final hand of the Reisinger. It turns out, although I had no idea, that our team needed to tie the board to win the event. A loss would make us second. What a bizarre turn of events at both tables.
At our table, Antonio Sementa, playing with Mustafa Cem Tokay, had to decide whether to enter the auction after I chose a mixed raise opposite Richie Coren’s 1♠ opener. In retrospect I think my 3♦ mixed raise was a poor theoretical bid. In a practical sense however … it couldn’t have worked better.
At the other table, Alfredo Versace, perhaps thinking his team needed to win boards and not simply tie them (his team only ended a couple of boards away from winning), decided to open 1N as South!! This was the startling auction:
East’s first double was one of many hand types, his second was takeout. West’s decision to pass was not a winner. His side can make game in hearts and slam in diamonds. However, my teammates kept their focus and beat the contract to go plus 100.
At our table, my mixed raise stole the pot. Now it was up to the opponents to beat us three. Club to the ace, club ruff, diamond nine to the ace and … well, here East gave another club ruff.
Unfortunately, this was partner’s natural trump trick and the available diamond discard cost the opponents their second heart trick. Plus 100, tied board and the championship luckily to us. Perhaps East should have read the diamond nine as a strong signal to switch, but Tarek as west, really rang the bell for partner by returning the diamond jack.
Come to think of it, who needs luck when your teammates play as tough as that?