Monaco 2016: Montecarlo III by Maurizio di Sacco

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Very few players, if any, have seated at the same bridge table as many times as Lauria-Versace and the Italian members of the Lavazza Bridge Team. Thus, we’ll be commenting a match between very old friends.

Team Lavazza
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Monaco 2016

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

1st European Winter Games: Results and Bulletins

Maurizio di Sacco

Maurizio di Sacco

Very few players, if any, have seated at the same bridge table as many times as Lauria-Versace and the Italian members of the Lavazza Bridge Team. Thus, we’ll be commenting a match between very old friends.

Lavazza started the first segment with a middle size swing: Bilde made a bit too many tricks in his three clubs contract – twelve, he could have been hold to ten – while Vainikonis lost control in his two spades contract to go down one. A net of 6 IMP.

Then came something more significant, thank to a Bianchedi’s brave action.

Board: 2, Dlr: East – Vul: N/S

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

Open Room:

West North
East South
Pass 1
2 Double Pass 2
Pass 3NT End

Closed Room:

West North
East South
Pass 1
4 Double Pass 4
Pass 4NT Pass 5
Pass 6NT End

Note Versace’s overcall, not at all normal among the community of bridge experts around the world, but totally in correspondence with Lauria-Versace’s agreements.

Lorenzo Lauria & Alfredo Versace

Lorenzo Lauria & Alfredo Versace

However, it did not disturb Bilde-Bocchi at all, and they ended up in the top spot, where Bocchi collected twelve tricks. Bianchedi’s overcall proved to be much more effective.
Vainikonis was left with a awkward choice: either to double, with the risk of  propelling his side too high, or to pass, praying for a reopening double. He chose the former, and the diamond situation punished it. 14 IMP for Lavazza.

Versace LauriaThree more went the same way when Bilde-Bocchi found a good save over the opponents three spades, bid and made in the other room: 3NT (it had eight top tricks)! Then, Vainikonis got on the scoreboard.

Board 5, Dlr North – Vul: N/S

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

It is rare to see two world champions play a hand quite differently, but this what happened here to Agustin Madala and Alfreado Versace, both members of the winning team of the Bermuda Bowl 2013 (Bali). Both were playing 4, and both got the lead of a top club, ruffed.

Agustin Madala

Agustin Madala

Madala cashed the two top hearts before finessing the 10, and was doomed by the diamond split. Versace played diamonds immediately, putting up the queen. There was no defense against this move. Declarer won in hand the heart continuation, cashed AK and reached dummy with the trump ace to cash the Q and run the 10. Didn’t matter whether North covered or not, and even with the J offside East had already secured ten tricks, and 10 IMP.

From that point onward, however, it was a Lavazza show all the way. All the gains, with just one exception, were basically caused by the same reason: a more aggressive action pushed a decision at a higher level, and the opponents always got it wrong. Here is the start:

Board 6, Dealer East – EW

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

Open Room:

West North
East South
1 Pass
1 1 Double Pass
2 2 End

Closed Room:

West North
East South
21 Pass
22 Pass 23 Pass
4 4 Double End

1 18/19 BAL

2 Puppet to two hearts, various options

3 Generally deny four hearts.

Madala’s choice – Versace had the same option available, though he had to open two diamonds instead – combined with Vainikonis decision not to overcall immediately. When the tray got back he already had to make a guess, and went wrong. 9 IMP to Lavazza.

Dennis Bilde

Dennis Bilde

After two small gains for Vainikonis due to some trick more, Lavazza struck two more blows in identical fashion: 13 and 11 IMP playing in four spades making, opposite five spades down one. In the second one, it was the Vainikonis pair that went too high by its own steam, but in the first one the difference was caused by a weak two opening bid by Bilde on one side, opposite an initial pass on the other. Bilde’s action immediately located the suit were to profitably save, thus bidding on in reality caused Vainikonis an extra loss of just two IMP.

The next 11 IMP scored by Lavazza came under the same lines: where Madala decided to open one club, was easy for his partner to bid up to six clubs, lay-down, whereas was much more awkward for Lauria after Versace’s initial pass and the pair stopped in five.

Same for the last swing in favour of Lavazza: the different level of openings: two hearts Bianchedi and one heart Lauria. The two level one silenced the opponents (but North still had the chance to get in), whilst the one level one allowed them once more to locate the best suit where to profitably save. 11 further IMP.

Even though the segment ended with a positive note for Vainikonis – a badly needed swing of 7 IMP thank to some overbidding by Bianchedi-Madala – the favourite team looked pretty much in control, ahead 80-26.


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