Bridge players from around the world converged on the alpine ski resort of Tignes to compete in the 4th European Winter Games. Even at the end of April conditions are near perfect for outdoor winter sports and the state-of-the-art conference centre Tignespace made sure that the situation was identical for the contestants.
In the week-long Les Etincelles Cup the teams contested a two-day qualification playing ten matches under the Swiss system, after which the leading 16 advanced to the knockout phase. They were chasing the Gold, Silver and Bronze medals, along with the magnificent trophy. There was also an impressive prize-list for the top 16 teams, the winners receiving €24,000. Eliminated teams contested the GKC Trophy, repeating the formula of a two-day qualification contest, followed by a knock-out phase.
A tournament containing so many World, European and National champions inevitably produces many memorable deals.
This deal from the match between Les Allumettes and AZS Wratislavia is of a type that does not usually attract attention. However, it contained an instructive point that is easy to miss.
Board 15. Dealer South. NS Vul.
North led the ♦10 and declarer played low from dummy, won with the Ace and cashed the ♥A disclosing the 5-0 split. His next move was to play a low Heart towards dummy’s 10, but North went in with the Jack and now the defenders could cash their minor suit winners and organise a trump promotion for North, the ♥8 being promoted to glory.
Here too North led the ♦10 and the first two tricks were identical. Seeing South discard on the first round of Hearts declarer had the wit to play three rounds of Spades, securing a trick for the ♥7. Then he could safely play a low Heart towards the 10, as there was no longer a trump promotion.
This dramatic deal from the final of the Les Etincelles Cup shows how difficult things get when the bidding escalates to a high level – singularly appropriate when you are playing in the Alps!
Board 9. Dealer North. EW Vul.
North led the ♣3 and when declarer called for dummy’s 10, South put up the Ace, reducing the penalty to two down, -500.
West led the ♥K and declarer won, ruffed a Spade and played the ♦J, West ruffing declarer’s King and exiting with the ♠Q. Declarer ruffed in dummy and East overruffed and after considerable thought continued with two rounds of Hearts, declarer ruffing in dummy as West pitched a Spade. The ♦10 was taken by East’s Queen and the ♥J forced dummy to ruff again. The ♣A collected the missing trumps, but that was still five down, -1100 and 17 IMPs to Orca.
Would you have run with North’s hand?
The principal prize winners were:
Les Etincelles Cup
Orca (Peter Crouch, Erik Berg, Espen Erichsen, Richard Plackett, Ola Rimstedt & Mikael Rimstedt).
Multon (Franck Multon, Kiki Ward-Platt, Giovanni Donati, Giacomo Percario, Nikos Delimpaltadakis & Vassilis Vroustis).
Vinciguerra (Hervé Vinciguerra, Philippe Soulet, Cédric Lorenzini & Thomas Bessis) and Zimmermann Silver (Jacek Kalita, Fernando Piedra, Michal Kwiecien & Wlodzimierz Starkowski).
- Wigoder (Charles Wigoder, Boye Brogeland, Zia Mahmood & Geir Helgemo).
- Zimmermann Gold (Pierre Zimmermann, Sjoert Brink, Bas Drijver, Piotr Gawrys, Michal Klukowski & Michal Nowosadzki).
- Bernal (Francisco Bernal, Augustin Madala, Antonio Sementa & Alfredo Versace).
The winners of Final B were Sigma (Doris Fischer, Bernd Saurer, Peter Jokisch & Udo Kasimir).
The provisional dates for the 2024 Winter Games in Tignes are April 15-21!
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Photos and videos by permission of Arianna Testa and the EBL.