Medellin, June 6, 2016
We all know how cruel the bridge gods can be and we often bemoan our fate at their hands. Every once in awhile, however, they smile down on us in a moment of great peril. Board 7 from the 1st quarter of the Ortega – Chagas Open Semi-final was a classic case of their beneficence.
Dealer South, All Vulnerable
2 Artificial, constructive 2, promising 4 spades
Canape often has the advantage of concealing longer side suits, thus making it far more difficult for the opponents on opening lead and in the defense. On this deal the concealment actually worked against Ekeblad.
Bianchedi led the 2 and Ekeblad was, of course, delighted. After 4, 6 and J, 3 rounds of s were drawn ending in dummy and then a to the K getting the bad news. The prospects are now grim. Ekeblad must ruff out the Q now or the opponents will be able to tap declarer’s hand with Ës even if Ekeblad leads a off dummy and guesses who has the Q and who has the Ace. With a hint of resignation Ekeblad ruffed out the Q with his last trump and was now stuck in his hand. His only hope now was to find either the Q or the Ace singleton.
He guessed to lead the K and was rewarded with the Q from Madala. Nirvana! At the other table, the auction proceeded 1 – 1– 1 – 2 – 4. When the 2 was lead it was far more likely to be a singleton than from Q 3rd. After 8, 9 and J, drawing trump and playing the 10 and riding it produces 10 tricks even if s are mis-guessed later. Ekeblad could have played the 8 at trick one and pursued the same line. However, explaining to your teammates that they led a from Q 3rd and you went down may not have garnered a great deal of sympathy.
For those of you who do not know Russ, he was born and raised in Evanston, Illinois and attended Brown University as an undergraduate and Columbia University as a graduate student. After a 3 year stint as an officer in the US Coast Guard, he returned to Providence [home of Brown University], met his wife Sheila and raised 3 children while operating a jewelry manufacturing business founded by Sheila and Russ. He retired 9 years ago to pursue the far more exalted avocations of bridge, golf, and boating. He splits the year between Rhode Island in the summer months and Florida in the winter months. Their two eldest children now operate the business and he is blessed with one grandson and one granddaughter.
While flying under the radar, his bridge successes have been considerable. His US National Championships include three Spingold Cups, one Grand National Teams, and one Open Pairs. In World competition he has twice represented the US in the Bermuda Bowl, winning the Bronze medal in Estoril in 2005. He also won a Bronze medal in the 1990 Rosenblum teams in Geneva and the Gold medal in the Cara World IMP pairs in Lille in 1998. He also garnered a Silver medal in the Senior Bowl in Beijing in 2008 playing for the US team captained by Reese Milner.
He has thoroughly enjoyed his stay here in Medellin and looks forward to attending another South American Championships in the near future. The hosts and hotel staff have been amazingly gracious and the competition has epitomized sportsmanship. He would like to extend a special thanks to Sonia Prieto for her above-and-beyond help both before his arrival and while here at the Intercontinental.