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Vanderbilt 2016 – Final Part 1 by Maurizio di Sacco

Reno, March 20, 2016

Maurizio di Sacco
Maurizio di Sacco

The six players who were crowned World Champions in Bali (2013 Bermuda Bowl) were playing the match, although evenly divided in the two teams: Bocchi, Duboin and Madala playing for LAVAZZA, and Lauria, Sementa and Versace playing for CAYNE.

The first quarter set the tone of the match: a fierce battle which ended with a quite high scoring.

Bianchedi-Madala and Brenner-Bocchi were playing the highly artificial (after a mostly natural start) homemade system BIG BANG, based on transfer responses over 1, an always unbalanced 1 opening, and several artificial features.

Duboin-Zia on one side, and Cayne-Seamon on the other, played a SAYC based system, with a few special arrangements. Finally, Lauria-Versace and Tokay-Sementa were playing the same system, based on a five card major-four card diamond approach, but then using many artificial features.

Italia Campeon del Mundo 2013
Italia Campeon del Mundo 2013

Specifically, Lauria-Versace’s own system, refined in more than twenty years of partnership. Bianchedi, Brenner and Tokay were making their first appearance at this level, whilst all the others had already many NABC titles under their belt.

CAYNE drew the first blood thank to a difference in the system (a theme that we’ll see often).

Board 1. Dealer North. None.

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

Open Room:

West North    East     South
Versace Madala   Lauria     Bianchedi
 11   Pass     12
 Pass  13   End

1 2+

2 4+

3 3

Closed Room:

West North    East     South
Brenner Cayne   Bocchi     Seamon
 1   Pass     1
 Pass  1   Pass      2

Facing a limited hand, Bianchedi took the reasonable view of passing 1, while the natural action of Cayne-Seamon reached the best spot. 1 just made and 2+1 gave 2 IMP to CAYNE.

After a flat board (though not dull), LAVAZZA registered the first big gain, thank to a fascinating board which contained a few interesting point. To start with, put yourself in third position, not vulnerable versus vulnerable, holding:

A4 1062 102 AKQ1043.

After two passes, Cayne chose aggression and opened 3, while Madala picked 1. Here’s the first part of the story:

Open Room:

West North    East     South
Versace Madala   Lauria     Bianchedi
 11   Pass     1
 Pass  12   Pass     3NT

1 2+

2 Solid suit in a limited hand, systemically

Closed Room:

West North    East     South
Brenner Cayne   Bocchi     Seamon
 3   End

Now put yourself in Versace’ shoes, and pick your lead against Bianchedi’s 3NT, holding: 10 5 3 J 7 3 A Q 9 8 7 5 2.

Versace just made the natural lead of the 7, but he regretted it, because any of the three other suits would have led to declarer’s defeat.

Board 3. Dealer South. E/W.

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

After the K lead, it was easy for the defense to work out how to defeat 3 by one trick, whereas 3NT made just, for 10 IMP to LAVAZZA.

In the next board LAVAZZA struck another big blow, thank in principle to a very good view of Norberto Bocchi, and an unlucky lead (with some systemic difference in the background too). However, the result could have been reversed, since the hand presented a few, and very fascinating playing alternatives.

Board 4. Dealer West. All Vul.

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

Open Room:

West North    East     South
Versace Madala   Lauria     Bianchedi
 1  Pass   2     Pass
 31  Pass   4     End

1 very strong game try

Closed Room:

West North    East     South
Brenner Cayne   Bocchi     Seamon
 2NT  Pass   31      Pass
 3NT2  Pass   43      Pass
 44  Pass   45      Pass
 4  End

1 spades

2 not three spades

3 shortage

4/5 unclear

Lauria-Verscae’s style does not include opening 2NT with West’s cards, and ending in four hearts was inevitable. Bocchi-Brenner had some misunderstanding, and landed in a worse spot.

Jimmy Cayne talked himself into the diamond lead, and that was all for the defense, since declarer could now set up the suit, but any other lead (with the exception of the A) would have eventually doomed the contract (with minimum care required).

Double dummy, four hearts are unbeatable, but Versace couldn’t peek at his opponent’s cards. He got the lead of a trump, which won in hand to advance the Q. North won and persisted with a further trump, and Versace simply won, cashed KQ, ruffed a club and tried his luck in spades. Once Madala ruffed the A the contract was down one, for 13 IMP to LAVAZZA.

However, South’s club holding would have allowed West to produce a winning ending, if he had decided to play for it. Once he won the second trump, he should have ruffed a small club, then just run the trump suit, reaching:


 K 7 5 3
 4 3 2
 A 10
 10 9
 A 5

 J 9 6 2
   J 9

 Q 8
 K J

When West tables the last trump, throwing a diamond from dummy, South’s goose is cooked: a spade would allow declarer to run two tricks in the suit, while a club or a diamond would allow West to set up an extra trick in the same suit.

More interesting is the situation if North ducks the Q at trick two, because to reach the (basically) same ending, West should have now played with divine inspiration. Let’s have a look at the situation after South wins with the K and plays back a trump:

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

 Q 8  4
 J  8 7

To succeed, West must transfer to South the club menace, thus has to play the 10 and let it run if North doesn’t cover. Then he wins the return (diamond, for example), and tables the 9!

To be continue.


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