Challenge the Champs is a continuing bidding battle. Each month, two 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. Thus, a normal result will usually receive close to 6, average; a gambling grand slam needing two finesses might receive 3 (you get a top, 12, about 25% of the time and a 0 otherwise, which averages to 3). Awards are rounded off to the nearest full matchpoint. An award embraces all lower equivalent contracts in the same strain.
MATS NILSLAND AND ANDERS WIRGREN
EDDIE MANFIELD AND KIT WOOLSEY
Our defending Champs are Mats Nilsland and Anders Wirgren, of Sweden, the Rosenblum Swiss winners. Their sometimes-intricate bidding style features relays and transfers grafted onto a natural method.
The Challengers are one of America's most successful pairs, Eddie Manfield and Kit Woolsey. They played in their first world's championship together in Biarritz, in 1982, where they finished second to the French in the Teams. Then they tried again, improving slightly, to win the world teams title. Woolsey-Manfield play slightly old-fashioned Standard American (occasional four-card majors, with a nonforcing notrump response), with all the modern gadgets and reams of special understandings.
A 5 4 3 2
Q 10 9 5
A K J
8 7 6 5 4 3
Nilsland's skinny opening bid propelled the Champs to game, but they could not analyze the heart situation. Wirgren's two-diamond rebid was a relay; the two-spade reply showed a minimum and denied four hearts. West marked time with a forcing two notrump; East showed strong hearts and weak diamonds. Still, it was hard for West to pick the winning game, with his two diamond stops and potential pushers in clubs.
Manfield felt that the weakness of his long suit overbalanced the two-and-a-half honor tricks, he judged his hand not to be an opening bid. We agree. So does our computer (which counts 11.6, needing 12 to open). On the next round, East misguessed the major in which to show his extra power based on fitting honors. Still, it was an intelligent auction.
2 NT 5
3 NT 3