Bridge World Extra! Newsletter

CHALLENGE THE CHAMPS

Challenge the Champs is a continuing bidding battle in which leading pairs compete, bidding deals from actual play (taken from old tournament reports or submitted by readers). Awards assigned to final contracts are estimates of the matchpoint expectancy on a 12 top in a strong pairs contest. An award encompasses all unscored lower contracts in the same strain (e.g., the award for three spades also applies to two spades if that is not separately marked).

TONY SOWTER and HENRY BETHE
vs.
JEFF MECKSTROTH and ERIC RODWELL

East dealer
North-south vulnerable
WEST
S A K J 10
H A Q 10 9 7
D 10 5
C J 2
EAST
S Q 7 5 4 3 2
H K
D K 8 3
C A Q 5
Sowter
--
2 NT
3 D
3 S
4 S
Bethe
1 S
3 C
3 H
4 D
Pass
Meckstroth
--
2 NT
3 H
4 H
5 C
Pass
Rodwell
1 S
3 D
3 NT
4 NT
6 S

This slam proved tough to reach in the 1985 Epson Pairs.

Both pairs started with a natural opening and an artificial raise. For the Champs, Bethe, East, showed some singleton (with three clubs), then which it was (with three hearts), then minimum controls and point-count (with four diamonds). This was not what West needed to know.

For the Challengers, Rodwell's three diamonds denied any short suit(!). After partner's control-bid, his three notrump was encouraging (remember, his hand was limited by failure to open one club). Finally, when Meckstroth, West, showed slam interest but no minor-suit control, Rodwell took over with Key-Card Blackwood.

Awards:
6 S (East) 10
6 S (West) 6
5 S 5
5 NT 5
6 NT 4
5 H 2
6 H 1


South dealer
East-West vulnerable
WEST
S A K 4
H A J 10 9 8 5 4
D 7 2
C 10
EAST
S 9 8 7 3 2
H 7
D K 4
C A K Q 4 3
Sowter
1 H
4 H

Bethe
1 S
Pass

Meckstroth
1 H
2 H
4 H
Rodwell
1 S
2 NT
Pass

This is the most frustrating deal of the match. In the final of the 1976 South American championship, one team reached four hearts and happened to go down. The other team reached the superior four spades, but, with spades four-one and clubs five-two, also went down. We ask you, is that not frustrating?

The Champs reached an annoying position. Sowter's jump to four hearts was old-fashioned Acol, suggesting spade length (since West had not opened with an Acol two-bid). However, from East's point of view, West's spades figured to be worse and his hearts better. Hoping to pitch spades on clubs, East sensibly opted to play in hearts. Frustrating!

We were surprised when Meckstroth rebid only two hearts with the West cards. In a big-club context, this is a possible three-heart rebid, especially in view of the very light openings used by the Challengers. To rebid only two hearts seems to give that rebid an uncomfortably wide range, and the spade response did not hurt West's hand.

Awards:
4 S 10
4 H 7
Partials 4
3 NT 2








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