Little did I realise when I wrote Sunday morning’s "On the Precipice", that there would be a sequel. Having just scraped into the semi-finals on the last board of qualifying, the Wilkinson team had a relatively comfortable time in the semi-final against the Travis team. Consistent bridge resulted in wins in all four segments and a final victory margin of 50 IMPs. Sunday would see us playing the formidable Hans team, who had comfortably won both the 9 round qualifying stage and their semi-final against Fischer.
We wiped out most of the opponent’s 14 IMP carry-forward on the first board of the final and had built up a lead of 24 IMPs at the halfway mark. Hans fought back strongly in the third quarter and temporarily regained the lead before a late rally saw us finish the third quarter with a lead of 14 IMPs. The last quarter followed a similar pattern. With 6 boards left we were 10 IMPs clear. With one board to play we were down by 4; Hans was leading 139 – 135.
The final board was no boring part-score!!
At one table just red suits were bid, whilst at the other table it was
just the blacks. Not only that, the side that opened the bidding at
both tables came off worse.
The auction shown occurred in the Open Room. Not playing any 2-suiter opening gadgets, Michael Wilkinson passed as dealer in the Open Room. Ish, North, opened the shapely 10 count with a natural 1♦, Griff overcalled 1♥ and the auction rapidly progressed to the 5-level. Neither side was aware of the huge double fits until dummy came down and the claim a few tricks later. Making 5♥X was worth +650 for Wilkinson. Things were looking good!
The match was being broadcast on BBO Vugraph and the Open Room finished first, so Wilkinson-Ware tuned in to see events unfold at the other table. As is his wont, Michael was busy calculating all the possible scenarios.
1. EW play 4 or 5 of a major. 650 – 450 = 200 = + 5 IMPs = win by 1.
2. EW play 5 of a major doubled. Flat board = 0 IMPs = lose by 4.
3. NS find their fit in a minor and get doubled and go 1 off. 650 – 200 = 450 = 10 IMPs = win by 6.
4. NS find their fit in a minor and get doubled and go 2 off. 650 – 500 = 150 = 4 IMPs = draw. Sudden death playoff? Share the title? Where are the supplementary regs??
Michael admitted later he was hoping for option 1, as he was pretty confident we’d be too wimpy to double them into the option 2 scenario. So what actually happened?
Playing a strong club system, Sartaj routinely opens 10-15 HCP hands. Add lots of shape and 8 counts get opened as well, which explains the 1♠ opening on the West cards. Vulnerable against not, Pauline’s wimpiness came to the fore and she declined the opportunity to bid 2NT for the minors. Michael Whibley had lots of options: show the heart suit; raise to 4♠ opposite the limited opening; or the one he chose - a splinter raise to show 4 trumps and short clubs. This gave me a chance to double to show a good 5+ card club suit. This was enough for Pauline and she came to life. Once again, no one at the table had any idea of the big double fits and under the circumstances, doubling the vulnerable opponents at the 5-level seems like the percentage action. So it now all came down to the opening lead. The ♥Q would be overtaken by the Ace and the switch to the singleton diamond would be scenario 4. Luckily for our team, North tried the ♠K and Pauline was able to win, draw trumps and quickly claim for down 1.
So once again we’d hovered on the precipice before snatching the lead on the last board. I’m terrified of heights. I wonder if this explains why.