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Experience outweighs invention of youth

With the summer now truly well upon us things slow down a lot at the Club — in fact, based on a couple of e-mails sent by the Club to the members, the Monday evening game is struggling to find enough participants for the Monday night game.

A number of local pairs, mainly from the Intermediate group. have taken the opportunity to attend the ACBL Summer Nationals in Washington DC. This will be great experience for them and I will bring you reports on how they are doing.

Over the past few weeks I have been focusing on the Bermuda Youth Team that is going to the World Youth Bridge Championship in Salsomaggiore, Italy, and it is now almost time for them to leave. The event takes place between August 3 and 16 and I will bring you updates as they come in. On the team are Ruskin Cave, Liam Peniston, Tyler Irby and Gianluca Cacace with Mike Viotti as npc, John Burville as team manager and Roman Smolski as coach.

The World Youth Bridge Championship is held every two years and was last held in Istanbul in 2014, where the winners in the Open section were Norway, Sweden took the Youngsters title and France took the Girls title.

Our team will be playing in the Youngsters division, which is restricted to players who were born after January 1, 1996, so the event will have players who are not older than 20.

Bridge is a game where experience in the game usually outweighs the invention and quick-thinking of youth, and what the team will find when they get there is that a lot of their opponents are, in relative terms, “veterans” at the game and will be in much-practised partnerships.

As such, we need to temper any performance expectations and, while hoping that the team gives a good account of itself, treat this first event as very much a learning experience, not only in terms of the game itself but also as to what it takes to get to the top strata of this group.

Our team has the significant benefit of having Roman, who has performed at the highest levels of the game, as their coach and his guidance, together with the support of John and Mike, will be invaluable — but the team have not been together long and will need a few events to get into their stride.

What they also have going for them, I hear, is a great camaraderie and team spirit which is so essential in these events. They are going as a two-pair team, whereas most other teams will have three pairs and will be able to rotate.

Playing three 18 board matches per day for five days and knowing that one lapse of concentration can cost you dearly is no easy task. Based on what I hear about their diligence in attending the practice games and bidding discussions, practising online and also playing down at the Club they will put their best foot forward and represent us well.

This game of ours is a tough one and all those involved here are just starting off on a journey to truly understand the depth of the game.

So, Mike, Gianluca, Tyler, Ruskin, Liam, safe travels and best wishes for the event. May all your bad bids be made to look good by the opponents and may all the finesses you desperately need always be right.

And what you should know is that everyone here will be behind you in this pretty significant first step in your bridge life.

Last week’s hand was somehow attacked by the computer gremlins and a few extra cards in the North hand rendered all of the narrative a bit redundant — so here it is again!

The hand is in essence quite simple, but is a classic in terms of good declarer play.

Dealer South, Both Vul





















South opened 2NT and North had an easy raise to 3NT. West led the heart king and both West and South noted East’s 8 which looked like the start of an echo (downwards play) showing a doubleton.

Declarer ducked another heart just to play safe and won the third heart, dummy throwing a club and East a spade.

Declarer soon saw that if West had the club ace there was no chance of success, but clubs had to be played and at trick four Declarer led a low club to the queen and East’s ace.

East switched to a spade and after a lot of thought Declarer played the queen — two down, as West won the king and cashed two more hearts.

“That was unlucky, taking the finesse was the right play,” moaned Declarer. “The spade finesse is a 50 per cent chance and diamonds breaking 3-3 is only about 33 per cent, so I did the right thing and got penalised.”

Partner was having none of this though! “You weren’t unlucky, in fact you were lucky in more ways than one, but you just didn’t see it. Firstly, you were lucky that East had the club ace and secondly you were lucky that diamonds broke 3-3, even though you chose not to investigate that.”

The correct play is to first try the diamonds and when they break 3-3 that is your ninth trick. Now when East shifts to a spade after winning the club, you don’t have to risk the finesse and just go up with your ace and chalk up your contract.

“If diamonds had broken 4-2 then the spade finesse becomes necessary and you would be right to try it — but not on this hand!”

Don’t you just love partners who tell it like it is?