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Poland Wins Bridge Olympiad

The World Bridge Olympiad, held in Seattle, was completed November 11 with some unexpected results. The U.S. team suffered a narrow loss to Austria in the quarterfinals, marking the first time since 1969 that the U.S. did not make the finals. When the smoke cleared, it was France versus Poland for the championship, with Poland emerging victorious.

Today’s deal occurred in the semifinal match between Poland and Austria. The Polish bidding is shown. South’s rebid of two notrump seems questionable, but he chose not to repeat his spades because of the poor suit quality. When North raised to three notrump, South invited slam with a natural four-notrump bid. North accepted and offered a choice of slam contracts by raising South’s spade suit. The contract was excellent.

6 S S J 10 5
H 7 5 2
D A Q 10
C K Q 6 2
N-S Vul

West

Pass
Pass
Pass


North

2 C
3 NT
6 S


East
Pass
Pass
Pass
All Pass


South
1 S
2 NT
4 NT
S K 9
H K Q 8 4
D J 7 6 3 2
C J 4
Table S 7 3
H 9 6 3
D 9 5 4
C 10 8 7 5 3
Lead: H K S A Q 8 6 4 2
H A J 10
D K 8
C A 9

Six spades was also reached by the Austrian team and the declarer was defeated: After winning the heart-king lead, South played three rounds of clubs for an immediate discard — oops!

The Polish declarer did better: After the same lead, South cashed three rounds of diamonds, shedding a heart, and then led a spade to the ace. Three rounds of clubs followed and West ruffed with the spade king just as declarer discarded his last heart — making six spades.

Who played it right? On balance it appears that justice was served. Although the Austrian declarer had slightly better prospects if the third round of clubs were ruffed on his right (he could overruff and still try the spade finesse), this was more than offset by the two chances he abandoned: (1) the actual lie of the cards, or (2) a singleton spade king.

The Polish declarer played it right.

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© 11-18-1984 Richard Pavlicek