Spring NABC 2024 Louisville – The Last Round Up (Updated 8 April 2024)


Gateway to the South

Vanderbilt: The Seven Year Itch

Spring NABC 2024 Louisville – The Last Round Up

Gateway to the South

This year’s Spring NABC takes place from March 14-24 in Louisville, Kentucky.

Named after Louis XVI (in a year where elections will play a big part in the United States, did you know that the French King was condemned to death by a one vote majority?), Louisville is perhaps most famously associated with the Kentucky Derby, the first leg of the Triple Crown. In 1973 Secretariat set the still standing record time for the race, going on to win the other two legs, the Preakness and Belmont Stakes in similar style, his times still the fastest recorded.

A street beneath the Clark Memorial Bridge leads through this arch to access downtown Louisville, Kentucky.

Everyone has heard of Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) founded by Colonel Harland Sanders during the depression, which has its headquarters in Louisville.
If you are flying to the tournament, you will arrive at Muhammad Ali International Airport, named in honour of the most famous boxer in history.

The North American Bridge Championships present an unrivalled opportunity for players at every level to enjoy the atmosphere that prevails when thousands of bridge aficionados gather in the same place.

There are events for everyone, from champions to absolute beginners.

The Louisville Metro Hall is the center of Louisville, Kentucky’s government.

The first major event is the three-day Kay Platinum Pairs, comprising two qualifying sessions, two semifinal sessions and a two-session final.

Those not attracted to matchpointed events can contest the Lebhar IMP Pairs or the suitably qualified can compete in the Senior Mixed Pairs. Like the Leventritt Silver Ribbon Pairs it is for players born before the 1st of January 1960.

On Monday March 18 the Vanderbilt Trophy Knockout Teams gets under way, the final taking place on the second Sunday. Those not engaged in or eliminated from the Vanderbilt have lots of other opportunities to look for a National title, in the Rockwell Mixed Pairs, the Silodor Open Pairs, the Smith Women’s Pairs, the Jacoby Open Swiss Teams and the Women’s Open Swiss Teams.

The entry lists include a veritable who’s who of bridge, with more World Champions, both past and present, than you can imagine. You will be able to rub shoulders with legendary figures such as Bob Hamman, Zia Mahmood, Jeff Meckstroth, Michael Rosenberg, Geir Helgemo, Boye Brogeland, Jill Meyers, Kerri Sanborn and Janice Seamon-Molson along with stars of the future such as Anam Tebha, Olivia Schireson, Justyna Zmuda & Patryk Patreuha.

Bridgerama’s Patty Tucker will be on site, delivering her inspirational Learn Bridge in a Day accreditation course as will several of the magazines featured authors.

If you can’t make it to the Championships, do not despair! You will be able to follow the action from the Vanderbilt on BBO, and the online Daily Bulletins will feature coverage by Mark Horton.

Jefferson Monument (Louisville, Kentucky)

Frédéric Volcker in Louisville

Source : Karine Meyer Naudan

Spring NABC 2024 Louisville – Vanderbilt: The Seven Year Itch

More than 60 teams, packed to the rafters with World, European and National Champions travelled to Louisville from the four corners of the globe to contest the 2024 Vanderbilt Trophy, which was donated in 1928 by Harold S. Vanderbilt, the inventor of modern bridge scoring.

The teams play daily knockout matches of 60 deals to determine the winners. Naturally the standard of play is high, although even these great players can occasionally put a foot wrong!

Let’s start with a tough problem from the round of 32. Try this lead problem:

2♣ Drury

A trump might allow you to reduce any ruffing potential in dummy but is passive.
A heart could start to set up one or more tricks in the suit.
A diamond is very passive.
A club might put you on course for a club ruff.

Would it make any difference if North had opened 1?

I would love to know what David Bird and Taf Anthias’ computer makes of this! Have you made your decision?

At both tables South went with the ♦10 (hard to criticize when partner has bid the suit, but you are not going to collect many tricks there) only to find this was the layout:

Board 48. Dealer West. All Vul.

As you can see, only a heart is good enough.

This blockbuster is from the round of 16:

Board 16. Dealer West. E/W Vul.

(1) Game forcing
(2) RKCB
(3) 2 keycards +Q
(4) Kings
(5) K

That was a routine +1460 when the hearts divided.

(1) Game forcing
(2) RKCB
(3) 2 keycards +Q

The system card says ‘5NT usually choice of slam, grand slam force when obvious.‘
West’s 7NT catered for the possibility that East held a six-card club suit which would be important if the hearts were not running. Note that 7NT would make if the opening leader was 2-4-4-3 as he is squeezed in reds on black suit winners. Not a great extra chance, but every little bit helps. +2220 meant a not unlucky 13 IMPs to Fleisher.

Going into the third session of their match Hans led Team Switzerland 54-44. Over the next fifteen deals both teams produced some fantastic bridge.

Board 31. Dealer North. None Vul.

(1) 2+♣, 12-14 balanced or 18-20 balanced or 4+♣, 12+ unbalanced
(2) 4+, 4+ possible
(3) Spade support
(4) Heart support

Tremendous bidding!

Once spades have been supported North’s hand improves (think of the fifth trump as an extra king) and there is clearly a double fit, but jumping to game is the bid of someone with a deep understanding of the game, which is generally the case when world champions are at the table.
East led the ♣7 and declarer won with the ♣9, ran the ♠9, played a second spade collecting East’s king, cashed the clubs disposing of a diamond and played a diamond, claiming 10 tricks when the king lost to the ace, +420.

Although North did not know about the double fit, it was natural to take out insurance when West bid 4. The policy proved to be a good investment.
East led the ♣3 (low from a doubleton) and the play was identical, +590 and 5 IMPs.

The first session of the quarterfinal between Rombaut and Goodman was a commentators dream as the teams amassed 98 IMPs between them.

Board 5. Dealer North. N/S Vul.

(1) Weak in diamonds or any game force
(2) Stayman
(3) No major
(4) Control, club fit
(5) Control
4NT was RKCB and 5♣ showed 1 keycard

East led the Q and declarer won with the K, cashed the ♣A and claimed, +1390.

(1) 22+ balanced or any game force
(2) Spades or clubs
(3) Pass or correct
(4) Puppet Stayman
3 must have denied a four-card major.

Here too East led the Q and declarer won and cashed the ♣A, +720 but a 12 IMP loss.

The final was between the evergreen team captained by Nick Nickell and Bathurst, the latter having trounced Team Switzerland in the semifinal.

Image courtesy of the ACBL’s Daily Bulletin

Robert Levin is all smiles

Many people find part scores dull, but getting a couple right while your opponents don’t can be worth about the same as a game swing.

Board 27. Dealer South. None Vul.

South opened 3 in both rooms and played there, West leading a diamond to South’s queen, taking the ♠A at trick two and returning the J, which was a subtle mistake. One declarer covered with the K and East won, and instead of playing a heart returned the ♠Q. Declarer could win with dummy’s king, play two rounds of clubs, win the heart return, ruff a club, ruff a diamond and cash a top heart for +140.

In the Closed Room declarer found the right answer to the J by ducking! Another diamond now would allow declarer to ruff and play two rounds of clubs, so West took his only chance and continued with the 2 for the ten and ace. Declarer ducked a club to East’s jack, and he was forced to play a heart. Do you blame declarer for playing low? West could win and the defenders scored a club at the end for one down and 5 IMPs.

To be 100% sure of defeating 3 West must return the 4 at trick three. That way East gains the lead and can safely play a heart.

Nickell went into the last session trailing 91-98, but they put on a dazzling display. After dropping 6 IMPs on the opening deal, they ran off 59 IMPs without reply over the next 13. It was the fifth time a Nickell led team had lifted the trophy, the first coming in 2000, the one before this in 2017.

Image courtesy of the ACBL’s Daily Bulletin

Winners of the Vanderbilt Knockout Teams: ACBL Executive Director Bronia Jenkins (center right) presents the Vanderbilt trophy to npc Jill Levin and team (from left): Nick Nickell, Steve Weinstein, Geoff Hampson, Robert Levin, Ralph Katz and Eric Greco

Spring NABC 2024 Louisville – The Last Round Up

On the final day of the tournament the winners of the Jacoby Open Swiss Teams were Andy Goodman, Simon De Wijs, Giacomo Percario, Giovanni Donati, Bauke Muller and Mike Passell who had gone so deep in the Vanderbilt.

Image courtesy of the ACBL’s Daily Bulletin
Winners of the Jacoby Open Swiss Teams Simon De Wijs, Giacomo Percario, Giovanni Donati and Bauke Muller (inset: Mike Passell and team captain Andy Goodman)

The runners up were the team they had defeated in the Vanderbilt quarterfinal: Jérôme and Léo Rombaut, Roy Welland and Sabine Auken, along with Jovana Zoranovic and Selena Pepic. Jérôme told us about a couple of their deals.

Image courtesy of the ACBL’s Daily Bulletin
Jovana Zoranovic and Selena Pepic, Roy Welland and Sabine Auken, and Jérôme and Léo Rombaut who told us about a couple of their deals.

In final 1, Jérôme was faced with the decision what to bid after a weak-two opening at his left. What would you do with his hand?

Jérôme bid a gambling 3NT, and that turned out to be quite effective as East believed him to hold the Spade stopper he promised and decided not to lead a spade:

After a diamond lead to the Queen, he could go to dummy twice in hearts to take the successful Club finesse. West believing he was squeezed discarded the Space Ace on the last Club. That meant plus two, +660 and 11 Imps because in the other room North-South played in 4 Clubs when North was more cautious and did not want to bid 3NT:

Would you have led a Spade with the East hand?

In the second deal, it was all about East-West finding or not the making 3NT game.

Jovana Zoranovic and Selena Pepic, sitting North-South, made enough noise for their opponents to stop in 3 Diamonds when on most tables East-West bid and made 3NT.

The Women’s Open Swiss Teams went to the team captained by Susan Zhang, Irene Baroni, Janice Seamon Molson, and Sylvia Shi. They were followed by Claire Alpert’s squad comprising Claire, Justyna Zmuda, Katarzyna Dufrat, and Danuta Kazmucha.

Image courtesy of the ACBL’s Daily Bulletin
The winners of the Women’s Open Swiss Teams:
Irene Baroni, Janice Seamon-Molson, team captain Susan Zhang and Sylvia Shi

The Mott-Smith Trophy for the player who wins the most master points at the Spring NABC went to Bobby Levin and Steve Weinstein. Winning the Vanderbilt and finishing seventh in the Kay Platinum Pairs gave them 325 points leaving them just 0.48 in front of Joel Wooldridge, who won the Platinum Pairs, finished seventh in the Silodor Open Pairs and twelfth in the Jacoby Open Swiss Teams.

It has become a tradition for the Daily Bulletin to organise a limerick contest for St. Patrick’s Day. This year’s winning entry was submitted by Brian Weikle, the ACBL’s manager of bridge operations:

My partner was wearing a frown
Every contract she played would go down
I said, “Don’t be sad
Your play isn’t bad
But our bidding’s a Kentucky Hot Brown”

Some of the players dressed up for St Patricks day:

Images courtesy of the ACBL’s Daily Bulletin

During the tournament all sorts of activities are organised by the ACBL. This year they included a Junior night hosted by the Educational Foundation enabling young players to meet, play cards and socialize. Around 40 teachers attended the teacher breakfast sponsored by the American Bridge Teachers Association, featuring presentations from Betty Starzec, former ABTA president, teacher extraordinaire Patty Tucker, ACBL Educational Foundation president Robert Todd, ACBL manager of marketing and education Stephanie Threlkeld, and ACBL education program coordinator Blakely Meyers.

Image courtesy of the ACBL’s Daily Bulletin
Members of the Amherst College Bridge Club

During the tournament the ACBL announced that it has named the NABC+ Fast Open Pairs in honor of Grand Life Master Richard Oshlag, a two-time winner of the event and a 50-year employee of the League.

If you want to become a Grand Life Master, you must win an NABC title. Randy and Kay Joyce won the Senior Mixed Pairs to reach the milestone.

Louisville attracted 6,757 tables, just a little down on the numbers from the 2023 Spring Nationals. Now the focus moves across the border into Canada as Toronto plays host to the 2024 Summer Nationals.

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