ACBL Bridge Beat #73: Trials Finals 1968 Day 1

Hamman-Kantar started the finals with a 29 point lead over second-place Rapée-Lazard. The spread between first and 10th was a match and a half – 126 VPs.

Rubin-Westheimer beat Hamman-Kantar 43-41 in the first match as Rapée-Lazard closed the gap beating Kaplan-Kay 55-29. The big win of the day went to Roth-Root who blitzed Caravelli-Rosenberg and closed in on the top three.

In the evening, Kaplan-Kay lost again – this time 48-36 to Hamman-Kantar. Hamman-Kantar’s grip on first place tightened as Rapée-Lazard lost to Becker-Hayden in a match that swung on this deal:

Dlr: East ♠ A Q 6
Vul: None 10 7 6
6 5
♣ K Q 10 8 3
♠ J 10 9 8 7 2 ♠ 3
J 4 K 5 3
K 8 3 J 9 7 4 2
♣ 7 6 ♣ J 9 5 2
♠ K 5 4
A Q 9 8 2
A Q 10
♣ A 4
West North East South
(Hayden) (Lazard) (Becker) (Rapée)
Pass 1
Pass 2♣ Pass 2
Pass 2NT Pass 4NT
Pass 5 Pass 5♠
Pass 6 All Pass

Opening lead: ♠J

Rapée’s jump to 4NT was quantitative and Lazard’s response showed middling heart support. Thus Rapée knew he was probably off the king of trumps, but felt his hand was good enough to try for slam. Five spades gave his partner a choice of final contracts – six hearts or five or six NT. The slam was entirely reasonable, but to Rapée the out come was unpleasantly reminiscent of other years when bad luck on slams was tremendously costly to his chances.

Declarer won the opening lead with dummy’s Queen and led a low heart to the eight and Jack. West’s spade return allowed East to ruff for a one trick set.

As the cards lie, declarer can make the slam by finessing the Q at trick two, but it is not clear that this is the right play. Even after the Queen wins, Rapée must overcome the temptation to guard against a 4-1 trump division by continuing with a low heart to the 10. As it was, he had no reason to suspect a 6 -1 spade division, so the line he chose was probably best.

Making six hearts would have meant a gain of 18VPs for Rapée-Lazard, giving them a 50-34 win instead of a 32-52 loss.

Standings after the first day: Hamman-Kantar 215; Rapée-Lazard 184; Eisenberg-Goldman 147; Becker-Hayden 139; Rubin-Westheimer 138.

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