«Por una Cabeza» is an Argentine tango with music and lyrics written in 1935 by Carlos Gardel and Alfredo Le Pera respectively, the first verses are:
To lose just by a head of a noble
And this was exactly what happened in the match played by the team Zagorin seed 7, against the team Bridge 24 seed 39, a top Poland players team: Jacek Kalita, Michal Nowosadzki, Rafal Jagniewski, Wojciech Gawel.
The Zagorin team players were: Dan Zagorin (USA), Ricco Van Prooijen, (NETH), Bas Drijver (NETH) ; Sjoert Brink (NETH); Louk Verhees, Jr. (NETH); Kevin Bathurst (USA), all world champions and runners. They entered the last 16 boards set with a lead of 19 IMPs (115 to 96), and sat on the tables all the world champions to leave no doubt of their intentions to stay playing the Spingold..
The first 5 boards of the set were tied, but since board 22 to 31, Bridge 24 added IMPs and leave the match tied: 119-119.
When Drijver-Brink got to board 32, undoubtedly knew that the match was dangerously close because they had failed to declare a slam on board 24 and they had paid 300 in a 4 heart streched game in board 25.
Lets see what happened…
After the initial West Pass Drijver opened his hand with a 1 bid, Kalita named his spade suit: 1 and Brink said 2, alerted as club suit. Drijver continued showing his spade stopper: 2NT and Brink closed the game in 3NT.
The only lead with no play (of course with good defense) is a diamond, but North received a heart lead: Q.
The Q lead for the polish partnership meant: Q for attitude, K would have been «unblock or give count». And when declarer find out this explanation (the VG operator told this to all kibitzers), he played the A, West played a little heart, and Drijver his 4 to continue with another heart, won by Nowosadzki with his J.
West played his Q, Drijver covered with the K and Kalita watching dummy’s 10 played a little one, to mantain spade communication with his partner. Declarer continued with Q, J (East pitched a heart), and club (East pitched a diamond), K (declarer played a spade and East another diamond) and over the last club, West played a diamond and Drijver & Kalita a spade.
At this point playing a heart or a spade was the same as giving opps 5 tricks so Drijver played the 9, West played his 5….long thought…had to guess… the chosen card meant a ticket to The Netherlands or a ticket the Spingold Round of 16 … but as the tango said … this thoroughbred…who in the final lap comes faltering down the stretch, declarer played his A …and saw the horse next to him stretch his neck to won the race by almost anything…Kalita played his J…and the Dutch illusions were shattered while in Poland all were singing the Polonaise…
In the other room the Poland players were less ambitious, and only played 2 made 3…4 IMPs for Bridge 24 and their ticket for the Spingold Round of 16…