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Junior Collegiate Team Championships (4/28/02)


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Junior Collegiate Team Championships
The Junior Collegiate Bridge Team Championships have been hosted by OKBridge and the Fifth Chair foundation for four years now. It is an ACBL-sanctioned event and is played online between juniors representing colleges and universities across the world. I had never played in this event before, but I chose to do so this year for a few reasons.
First, I had been in Tufts for four years now and haven't really done much with or for the school, even though I have played so much bridge the last two years. I thought this would be a good chance to do something for my school. Second, the tournament did not collide with the big EMBA sectional in Topsfield as it did last year. Third, the current EMBA vice president, my friend Bruce Greenspan, is trying to promote interest in bridge at universities by offering courses this fall at many universities in the Boston area. I wanted to help give him a little publicity if I could.
There were ten total teams that participated and we had to first play an IMP pairs event to qualify the top four teams into direct knockouts. The field was pretty random, including my partner, who did not have much concept of bridge and had no experience playing competitive bridge. Results were all over the place as I looked at the comparisons. Among the scores I saw was someone going for -2200 which really skewed the IMPs on that deal. Another random result was on the very last hand I played in the qualifier, where the opponents decided to play in a cuebid of the suit I opened at the 4 level. I had psyched on the previous board, so maybe my opponent thought I psyched again.
There weren't many interesting hands in the semi-final and final. Our teammates were very very good and it was often a matter of us bringing back a -30IMP card and them getting a +40IMP card. Even in the final some of the results were pretty random. On one hand both sides played a combined 30 HCPs in a partial for a push.
Here is one hand from the final that has a very good instructive point: Never give up.
Board 5
NS Vul
Dealer N

H  T6
D  K75
C  JT762

S  K853
H  AJ2
D  T3
C  9843

S  Q9642
H  KQ4
D  Q94

S  7
H  98753
D  AJ862
C  Q5

I held the East hand and opened 1NT after North passed. We were playing 1NT as 16-18HCP and this hand looked like it would play well in notrump with its tenaces and stoppers, even though I had a 5 card spade suit. I did not really open 1NT to hog the hand, since we weren't playing any sort of transfers.

My partner bid stayman and then bid 4S when I said I had four cards in that suit. The opening lead was the H9 and I won the opening lead in hand with the HK. The contract was a good one, as I would make it whenever the spades were guessable (2-2, or 3-1 with a singleton A, J, or T) and I guessed correctly.

Considering the H9 lead might have been from shortness, the proper play might have been to win in dummy and play a low spade towards hand, to protect against North having the singleton SA. But since the H9 could also have been top of a sequence, I didn't consider there to be enough information to choose one way to play spades over the other. So I led a low spade to the king which lost to the ace, and a small club came back. I won in hand and played the SQ and got the bad news. At this point I wanted to claim down 1, since we were already a few boards behind the other table and there seemed no way to get rid of the two diamond losers.

But I continued to play out the hand anyway, cashing the other club and leading a low heart to the jack. I ruffed another club and led a heart to the ace which was ruffed by North. North returned another club for me to ruff, and I now exited the DQ to South's ace in this position:

D  K7
C  6

S  85
D  T

S  4
D  94

H  7
D  J8

South now had a lapse and exited with a heart, allowing me to make my unmakeable contract. South might have played the H7 for a different number of (flawed) reasons. He might have thought that I had the DK for me to lead the DQ like I did, although that would give me 19 HCPs. I also did conceal the S4 and opened 1NT with the 5 card spade suit, so he might have thought that I had no more spades left when I ruffed with the S9. In that case it wouldn't matter what he did. He could also have thought that both the DK was with me and that I had 4 spades, in which case he needed to give his partner an uppercut if he didn't notice what spade his partner ruffed the third heart with (although if I did have 4-3-4-2 distribution I would end up self-uppercutting at trick 12 if he exited the DJ).

Three times during the hand I wanted to claim for down 1 and I rejected that feeling all three times in the hope that something good might happen. And this was on okbridge where there were no revokes! But something good did happen, and the lesson here is that bridge is game of mistakes, and you can't capitalize on the opponents' mistakes if you don't give them a chance to make one.