Bali Bermuda Bowl

In 3 weeks, the Bermuda Bowl, Venice Cup (women) and Seniors Bowl will be played in Indonesia. The format is the same as in 2011: 20 teams play a round robin, with the top 8 qualifying for the play-offs. Last year, I tried to predict the winners of the Europeans, below is my attempt for this year. In 5th place are the teams losing in the quarterfinals. I haven’t seen any fantasy leagues for this event, when I run across one, I’ll post it. I do take bets for a beer or glass of wine if you think you can do better though. Just mail me.

While you are considering your list, here are 2 bidding problems from 20 years ago, you are south, vulnerable against not, 2 showed a random preempt. At this vulnerability, that isn’t much more than 0-5 points and a 5 card suit somewhere, partner bids a suit and it is your turn. It is a great hand for spades, your turn to bid something.



You are on lead against 3NT. The lead is not at all obvious, but the actual choice of the A, trying to catch a singleton honor with a couple of entries left in hand, looks like a decent plan. Dummy appears, partner plays the 4 and declarer the 5. While the lead wasn’t such a bad idea, it failed, now what?

For the lack of anything better, you continue a heart, 5, 2, Q. Declarer plays a diamond to the K and runs the 8, 7, 3 and K. Decision number 3.

Solutions below, time for my predictions.


Open

  1. The Netherlands
  2. USA 1
  3. Italy
  4. Monaco
  5. China, Poland, Indonesia, USA 2

Obviously, I want my fellow countrymen to repeat their performance from 2011. The line-up is the same as for the previous events and all 3 pairs have spent the last years playing lots and lots of high level bridge all over the globe. This must be enough for a re-run. In 2011, a young US team made it to the finals, this year they are sending another group of young and strong players. As this team qualified 4-handed, they added a pair with lots of experience under its belt, Levin-Weinstein. Levin won the event back in 1981 and thus has some 30 years of experience at this level. Italy and Monaco are the next best thing from Europe, though the Zimmermann squad seems a bit rusty at the moment, failing to qualify for anything serious in the Europeans and Spingold this summer. Indonesia has a decent team with lots of experience and obviously the home field advantage.

Women

  1. UK
  2. France
  3. The Netherlands
  4. USA 2
  5. Sweden, China, Poland, Indonesia

France and the UK have been ruling women's bridge for the last decades and they are back with those teams here. The Dutch have lost their strongest player to the seniors team while another pair split up. The replacements are quite competent, let’s hope the atmosphere in the team remains good for the entire event. Probably the player who had the hardest time getting to the tournament is Migry Zur-Campanile from the USA2. Having gone through all these troubles, I’m sure she wants to play the entire event. Indonesia was a surprising team last time, with 2 more years of practice, I’m sure they’ll do fine here as well.

Seniors

  1. USA1
  2. Poland
  3. France
  4. USA2
  5. Indonesia, Germany, Denmark, The Netherlands

I thought Bob Hamman said he’d never play seniors events but apparently he changed his mind. With a strong team, well experienced in long KO matches, they must be amongst the favorites. In 2 and 3 the top teams from Veldhoven. And, for the wife, no dear, I don’t think that the Belgium seniors will make it to the quarterfinals.

The bridge problems. If partner has spades, you have a great hand, AKxxx and out is already enough to give 7 a reasonable shot, and partner figures to have more for a vulnerable overcall. You vaguely remember something about a special defense against the 2 opener, and the rules allow you to check your notes about this opening, but you don’t bother to look and try 5NT, grand slam try. Partner responds 7♣, showing 2 top honors in spades and you bid 7.

You expect this to be a claimer but the opponents start doubling. Indeed, a wheel has come off as this is the full hand.

What happened? 2 showed, by agreement, clubs, not spades. North took 5NT as a grand slam try in clubs and duly showed his AQ. Against 7NT, west duly led a spade and declarer ended up down 3, losing 16 imp’s against 4, making in the other room. The alternative bid for south that I’ve seen would be 5, exclusion Blackwood. North would pass that (opposite a club overcall, it is natural), giving south a heart attack for second or two. South would probably still be thinking how to handle the trumps.

The next board. A spade lead would set the contract right away, as does a spade switch at trick. Both are kind of hard to find, even though declarer figures to have KQ in a balanced minimum making it a bit unlikely that he has 2 aces. Anyway, a heart is not unreasonable at this point.

Declarer crosses to dummy, takes a losing club finesse. You can now take 3 more tricks on defense. With partner showing out on the second heart, more is known about declarer’s high cards: KQJ, AJ. That is already 11 points, the A would give him enough for a 15-17 NT. Time to switch a spade? No, south continued another heart. Won with the J, diamond back, taken with the A.

Your final chance to beat the contract. No, south still couldn’t figure out the right defense. 10 tricks made, 10 imp’s for the opponents. Look again at the play: south had 4 opportunities to beat the contract but managed to miss all 4 of them. What was he thinking? Nobody ever asked, but it figures that he was still upset about the previous board.

The score in the match before those boards was 178-171 in your favor, with 5 boards to play. After these 2 boards, that suddenly turned into 178-197. The remaining hands were flat. South was Bobby Levin, 20 years later a player of the USA1 team for Bali. Consensus was that he singlehandedly managed to lose this match.

So, here is my movie scenario for the final of this year’s Bermuda Bowl. On board 127, Levin mixes up the defenses against Ultimate Club and Tarzan Relay, tying a close match. On board 128, Muller has to find the right switch to beat a contract. After the film crew has run out of tape, the audience is on the plane back and the victory banquet has gone cold, he finally finds it.


Henk Uijterwaal 2019