Team finds the going tough in Guatemala
The Bermuda Team (Sheena Rayner — Magda Farag/Gertie Barker — Jane Smith/Charles Hall/ Judy Bussell — Jack Rhind npc) competed at the CACBF National in Guatemala but the results were not what was hoped for at the outset. The team played a double Round Robin against the five other participants. They won two by narrow margins and lost 8, finishing in sixth place.
Barbados 11.5-8.5 and 3-17
Guadeloupe 6-14 and 11-9
Martinique 4-16 and 2-18
Costa Rica 2-18 and 5-15
Lily 9.7-10.3 and 6-14
Costa Rica 119
Guadeloupe went on to win the event quite comfortably in the final against Puerto Rico. The match was close after three of the five sessions until Guadeloupe drew away to win by some 45 Imps.
The final table does not make pretty reading and the players will be asking themselves the same question — why did we not do better?
Not being involved with the team, I don't know the answer — but I do know a few of the questions that might need answering!
Did we get intensive coaching on the approach to the event?
Did we practice enough against good opponents in the weeks ahead of the event?
Did we have a rigorous post-mortem on our bad boards?
Did we practice, practice, practice our system in competitive situations? Quite often players practice against silent opponents, but opponents at the table are rarely silent.
Did we play enough Teams Bridge? I think the answer to this last one will be no, and that can be a killer — players who switch from mainly Pairs Bridge to Teams Bridge make the same errors — they bid too much, they don't treasure their plus scores, they don't fully appreciate the change in scoring and the risk reward, and in the declarer play they often miss a safety play, which is crucial at Teams but not so crucial at Pairs where overtricks are heavily rewarded.
These things all need to be addressed as these are sponsored teams and we have to get the preparation right for future teams that travel abroad. However, despite the result, as long as the pairs that travelled learn from the competition, the journey is worthwhile. The friendly atmosphere that usually exists at the CACBF events, can leave one feeling positive and ready for the next battle!
Funnily enough, I started thinking about this column at lunchtime and then this hand came up on Bridge Base Online before I started writing the column. It exemplifies the difference between declarer play at Teams and at Pairs.
Dealer North, Both Vulnerable — Teams
I was playing Precision with Jean Johnson, who opened the North hand 1 Club showing any hand with 16 or more HCP, I bid 1NT showing a balanced 8-10, partner bid 2C Stayman and when I bid 2 Hearts she bid 5NT. This asked me to bid 7 Hearts if I had two of the top three Heart honours. I didn't, so I bid six Hearts.
West led a Diamond and I could count 11 top tricks and the Heart suit would produce the 12th … if I was careful.
The danger with making the normal “Pairs” play of Ace of Hearts and a Heart to the Jack is that West could hold Q10xx. So to provide for this one makes a classic safety play in Hearts … low Heart to the King and a low Heart back and if West plays low put in the 7. If East wins the trick, Hearts are 3-2 and the hand is cold.
Here is the full hand:
The 7 actually holds the trick and you are home. Notice that it would be wrong for West to play the ten on the second round of Hearts as that guarantees you three tricks in the suit without you having to work for it.
What if East had the Q10xx? Simple, when West shows out on the second round win the Ace and now lead towards the Jack. Three tricks again in Hearts and a making contract.
Not easy at all if one hasn't been here before and that is why Teams practice, both in bidding and play are essential before a big teams event. Most locals spend 90 per cent of their bridge lives playing pairs and they are really two very different games.