Turkish Delight

by Peter Burrows

In 1991, when the Bermuda Bowl took place in Japan, I was in Tokyo on business. One of my Japanese colleagues lived in Yokohama, just ten minutes from the venue, and he offered me his flat for the duration so that I could spend some time kibitzing. However, my schedule did not allow me to get away at any appropriate time, and I did not see a single deal. In 1994, when the bridge Olympiad took place in Rhodes, I was on holiday in Turkey, just an hour away by boat. My pre-arranged meetings with friends in the area did not gel with the timing of the ferries, and yet again I was unable to get to see any play. In late 2004, I was in Istanbul to coincide with the Olympiad. It was third time lucky, and I have some intriguing deals to report.

In the early stages it looked as if the "Delight" in my title might be justified in more senses than one. The English Open team was outstanding in the round-robin but unfortunately, they lost in the first knock-out round. Meanwhile, the English ladies also qualified for the second phase, and eventually took the bronze medal after losing to the eventual winners in the semi-final.

Istanbul may have seen the start of a sea change in the power-structure of international bridge. Both the Russians (winners of the Ladies' championships and bronze medallists in the Open) and the Chinese (semi-finalists in both events) achieved significantly better results overall than anyone could reasonably have forecast. The Turkish hosts also did well, reaching the knock-out of both main events, and beating USA in the Open round-robin by 33 IMPs to 9.

I was particularly impressed by Russia's Victoria Gromova who scarcely put a foot wrong on the boards I watched. Possibly she felt she had to put one over her husband who had been one of the bronze medallists in the Open. The penultimate board of the first half of the final showed the Russians in a more belligerent mood than their opponents.

Dealer S
S 3
H AKJ765
D K2
C A643
N/S vul
S KJ10964
H 4
D A873
C 87
W         E
S A852
H 10
D Q4
C QJ10952
S Q7
H Q9832
D J10965
   South       West       North       East   
P 2d* 4h PPP

2d was a Multi and North backed her judgement that West's suit was spades. East might have bid 4s, which could have back-fired badly had the Multi been in hearts, but at the vulnerability strikes me as the lesser risk.

At the other table, West again opened a Multi, and East backed her judgement that partner had spades, not once, but twice:

   South       West       North       East   
P 2d* 2h X*
3h P 4h 4s
P P 5h 5s

The double of 2h was negative.

[The usual way to play the double is to show a desire to compete in spades. If partner's suit is hearts, she will pass. That principle could also have been applied on the first auction, the double instructing partner to pass or bid on, according to which major she held. If you play that way, however, you will miss out on some large penalties. (ed)]

The defence took their four obvious tricks and that was 11 IMPs to Russia (maybe someone should have doubled).

Japan missed a neat inference on a deal from their quarter-final against China in the Open:-

Dealer East
S KJ9862
H 4
D 83
C A872
Love All
S 1043
H K10965
D J42
C K5
W         E
S Q85
H AQ73
D AK1096
C 6
H J82
D Q75
C QJ10943
   East       South       West       North   
1NT P 2d* 2s
3h P 4h PPP

In the closed room, East opened a rather offbeat 1NT, declaring 4h after a transfer. South cashed sA and switched to cQ. Declarer played small from dummy, and North missed his chance when he too played small (perhaps South would have made things easier for partner if he had switched to a smaller club, but neither was expecting the 1NT opener to have a singleton). Declarer won the next trick, drew trumps, and gave up a diamond to score 420. At the other table:-

   East       South       West       North   
1d P 1h 2s
3h P 4h PPP

North led d8, declarer won and took three rounds of trumps, ending in hand. Next he led dJ and ran it to South's Queen. South cashed sA and led cQ for the King and Ace. North cashed sK for one off. The commentators were critical of declarer's line. They argued that the opening lead revealed that North did not hold both top spades, so that South almost certainly had a singleton honour. In that case, West can get home by playing a club after drawing trumps to sever the enemy communications. Then he gives up a diamond, and loses just one trick in each side suit. Essentially this line was found by Jenny Ryman, playing with her mother for Sweden against China in the Ladies' quarter-final.

Now for some light relief from Canada-Japan in the Seniors' event.

S KJ432
H A84
C -
W         E
S Q86
H 1075
D Q109864

The unopposed auction proceeded 1s-1NT; 3d-5c; P! East found himself playing in his splinter, partner obviously assuming that he was showing a fistful of clubs.

While dealing with the Seniors' event, I must mention that it was won by a team from the USA including Marshall Miles. Having greatly enjoyed his writings over many decades, I was slightly surprised to learn that this was his first World title at the age of 77.

During the final of the Ladies' event, as the tension on Vugraph mounted and the Russian team clung tenaciously to their slim lead, I suddenly realised that I was sitting in the middle of a large group of Russian supporters, including members of their Open team. When they realised I was listening to their comments with my skeletal Russian, they switched into fluent English for my benefit. As a result I soon had a number of new friends, with whom I stayed until the presentation of the trophy. This was filmed for TV, and although I have not seen the programme myself, I have been told that it features me in the midst of the Russians, clapping enthusiastically, shouting like a Banshee, and jumping up and down like a man half my age (or even less!). I have no recollection at all of doing any of that. It shows how easy it was to be caught up in the heat of the moment.

Back to the serious stuff. Board 1 of the Ladies' semi-final between China and the USA featured an interesting miss by both sides:-

Dealer N
S -
H K97532
D J107
C 10764
Love All
S 72
H Q106
W         E
D 973
C 53
S Q108654
H 4
D 84
C Q982
   North       East       South       West   
2d* 2s P 3h

A Multi was opened at both tables, and I suppose that the 2s overcall was routine. After that, West's decision was not easy. Her h10 is gold dust in the actual case, but there seems no way that she can know that. At least the Chinese West made an effort. At the other table, West bid 3NT immediately over 2s, which I find extremely strange given her insecure heart guard.

Finally, I really enjoyed this sacrifice from the Pakistan-Italy quarter-final in the Open:

Dealer S
S J843
D J106532
C -
Game All
S -
H A10752
D 7
C AKQ10652
W         E
S 75
H 86
D KQ984
C J943
S AKQ10962
H J93
C 87
   South       West       North       East   
1s 2s* 3c* 4c
4s 5c 5s P
6s P P P

2s showed c and h, while 3c showed diamonds. 1430 to Pakistan. In the other room, the 5c bid came a round earlier:-

   South       West       North       East   
1s 5c 5s P
P 6c P* P

Here South had a much more difficult decision, I think, over his partner's forcing pass of 6c. His double yielded only 200, and that was worth 15IMPs to Pakistan.