A Battle of Wits! (or was it Half-Wits?) by Tommy Sandsmark

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It is a general assumption that bridge journalists are like theatre critics: those who do not know how to act, tend to write about it instead.

Tommy Sandsmark
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Source: http://info.ecatsbridge.com/

6th World Junior Bridge Team Championship

Hamilton, Ontario, Canada Bulletin No. 7, August 11, 1997

Early on our arrival we found out that there were exactly four Norwegian journalists present here in Hamilton, and since all of them were up to a reasonable bridge standard, we decided to challenge the native journalists, as we knew some of them to be very good.

Jon Sveindal & John Carruthers

Jon Sveindal & John Carruthers, two friends

Norway
Jon Sveindal: Aftenposten, one of Norways major newspapers and a former international for Norway with among other things a silver medal from the Bermuda Bowl in Santiago, Chile 1993.

GeO Tislevoll

GeO Tislevoll

Geo Tislevoll: Adresseavisen,Trondheim, one of the most popular Norwegian Columns. Also a former international and Junior NPC for a number of years. A member of the winning Norwegian team in the European Junior Championships of 1980.
Knut E. Ljung: Bridge i Norge, Contributor to the Norwegian Bridge Magazine
Sandsmark: Editor and publisher of Bridge i Norge and bridge editor of the Conservative Press Agency with a daily column in more than 28 papers all over Norway

Eric Kokish

Eric Kokish

Canada

Fred Gitelman

Fred Gitelman

Eric Kokish: World class player, writer and coach.
Fred Gitelman: Bermuda Bowl silver medallist, bridge software expert and journalist.
Ted Horning: syndicated Toronto Star columnist and Bermuda Bowl international player.
John Carruthers: Contributor to a number of English-language bridge magazines and Canadian international player.

It is a general assumption that bridge journalists are like theatre critics: those who do not know how to act, tend to write about it instead.True enough, journalists normally believe they know a lot about bridge and they feel free to criticize anybody as long as they can see all four hands and do not face the players or the defenders problems at the table. Therefore, this could be said to be a battle of wits. However, if our playing skills did not quite match our ambitions, the spectators would certainly regard it as a match between half-wits!

We had a really friendly match on the VuGraph with, among others, Peter Lund and Bobby Wolff as commentators, and there were a number of very interesting and well-played hands. In this deal, lady luck favored the Norwegians at both tables:

Dealer West Game All

  7 6 5
A J 7 6 5
A
10 5 4 2
 
A Q J 9 3
Q 8 3 2
10 6
A 6

K 10 8 2
10 9
K J 9 8 3 2
9

  4
K 4
Q 7 5 4
K Q J 8 7 3
 
     
West North East South
Gitelman Tislevoll Kokish Sveindal
1 Pass 2 3
Pass 3 3 Pass
4 5 Pass Pass
Dbl The End    
       

Sveindals brave bid of 3 catered for this sacrifice which proved not to be so sacrificial at all. The 10 was led to the ace. South played a spade to the king and East played a trump to Wests ace and another trump followed.The fifth heart secured the contract.

At the other table things went in another direction:

West North East South
Sandsmark Horning Ljung Carruthers
1 Pass 2 Pass
2 Pass 4 The End
       

A spade was led to declarer’s ace, and now he played a second round of trumps (if he draws three rounds of trumps, he risks losing control of the hand).Then came the 10 from hand; North took the ace and shifted to the A.

Unfortunately, North-South play standard attitude signals, so South’s 4 seemed unappealing to North.Thus he continued with a club, to West’s ace. Declarer now drew the opponents’ last trump and played a diamond. North was out, and it was easy to claim 11 tricks.The vulnerable double game swing gave 16 wonderful and welcome IMPs to Norway.

Here is another example of journalists bidding fiercely (almost like juniors) at both tables and succeeding in reaching a slam on feeble values:

Dealer North Game All

  3
J 10 8 6 4
10 8
J 9 7 4 3
 
A K 7 5 4 2
K 7 2
7 5 4 2


J 10
5
A K Q J 9 5
A 10 6 5

  Q 9 8 6
A Q 9 3
3
K Q 8 2
 
     
West North East South
Gitelman Tislevoll Kokish Sveindal
  Pass 1 Dbl
1 2 3 3
6 The End    
     

Kokish’’s 3 promised good diamonds, and so did Ljung’s 5 in the other room:

West North East South
Sandsmark Horning Ljung Carruthers
  Pass 1 Dbl
4!! 5 5 Pass
6 The End    
       

Therefore, assuming that the A would be on-side (because of South’s double) and that the spades would probably make a number of tricks, the way to 6 was easy.

It was a most enjoyable match which was finally won by the Norwegians by 45 – 19 IMPs or 21-9 VPs. Perhaps in the future, the Editors of the Bulletin should be more careful when telling people where to place their smart money.

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