2003 World Bridge Championships by Martin Johnson

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  Bridgebase vugraph hand records

After 13 days of play and over 500 hands, the final segment was about to conclude between Italy and the United States. These traditional rivals had not played for a number of years, and the match was to be hotly contested. The final of 128 boards had started with the USA carrying over 13 imps from the round-robin stage (1/3 of their margin of 40 imps, rounded to a whole number). In one of the segments Versace had revoked but this did not affect the play in any way so Soloway and Hamman had tried to waive the revoke penalty. Somehow a director got wind of this and ruled that they did not have that right, and awarded them an additional trick, which converted to 1 imp on this board. As we shall see, this was to become very significant.

Italy had been trailing by 64 imps but in the next to last segment they scored 36 unanswered points to make things interesting. Here is the last board of that set. Versace 3 club bid was a limit raise or better in diamonds, and Lauria gambled 3NT on the basis of his spade stopper, and quickly gathered nine tricks by finessing Mecksroth for the spade queen. In a similar situation at the other table Hamman settled for 3 diamonds and paid dearly when Bocchi reopened with a double and the cold 4 hearts was reached at the other table.


Board 16
Dealer West
Vul: EW
NORTH
A J 10
7 5
A K J 10 2
8 5 3
WEST
7 4
Q 10 6 3 2
7 6 5
K J 2
EAST
Q 9 8 5 3 2
K 9 8 4

A Q 10
 SOUTH
K 6
A J
Q 9 8 4 3
9 7 6 4

 
Open Room :
WEST NORTH EAST SOUTH
RodwellLauriaMeckstrothVersace
Pass113
Pass3NTPassPass
Pass

1 E
2 S
3 N
4 N
5 S
6 N
4
3
K
2
8
J
A
5
2
10
7
Q
2
A
4
Q
J

5
5
6
7
3


3NT by N, making 3, NS 400

Closed Room :
WEST NORTH EAST SOUTH
DuboinHammanBocchiSoloway
Pass113
PassPassDblPass
4PassPassPass

1 N
2 E
3 N
4 E
5 W
6 E
7 S
8 S
9 W
K
2
A
10
7
K
K
Q
Q
4
6
8
7
2
A
4
10
7
9
7
3
J
9
2
J
10
8
5
10
6
3
4
5
3
5
J

4 by W, making 4, NS -620

14 imps to ITALY
 
ITALY 243 - USA 1 271


The final segment started well for Italy when Hamman and Soloway bid a hopeless slam on board 18. Without knowing the details of their style after a two over one response it is hard to know what went wrong, but it does appear the 3 club bid on a singleton was strange.


Board 18
Dealer East
Vul: NS
NORTH
K 9 4
K 9 4
J 9 8
J 9 4 3
WEST
Q
A 3
K 10 7 5
A 10 8 7 6 5
EAST
A J 10 8 7 6
10 8 7
A Q 6
K
  SOUTH
5 3 2
Q J 6 5 2
4 3 2
Q 2

 
Open Room :
WEST NORTH EAST SOUTH
Hamman Lauria Soloway Versace
1 Pass
2 Pass 2 Pass
2NT Pass 3 Pass
3 Pass 3NT Pass
4 Pass 4 Pass
4NT Pass 5 Dbl
6 Pass Pass Pass

1 N
2 W
3 W
4 E
5 E
6 W
7 W
4
Q
5
A
8
A
7
7
4
3
3
5
4

Q
6
K
3
6
7

A
2
2
9
9
Q


6 by W, down 1, NS 50

Closed Room :
WEST NORTH EAST SOUTH
Duboin Rodwell Bocchi Meckstroth
1 Pass
2 Pass 2 Pass
2 Pass 2NT Pass
3 Pass 4 Pass
4 Pass 4 Pass
Pass Pass

1 S
2 N
3 W
4 E
5 W
6 W
7 W
8 E
9 E
Q
9
5
6
A
Q
5
A
J
3
7
4
2
3
4
9
3

K
2
K
K
10
6
A
6

8
A
2
8
Q
2
3
9


4 by E, making 5, NS -450

11 imps to ITALY
 
ITALY 255 - USA 1 271

Board 21 saw Bocchi-Duboin bid to an excellent 6 hearts where the artificial heart raise of the natural opening identified the key club singleton. Hamman-Soloway could not duplicate that in there big club system.


Board 21
Dealer North
Vul: NS
NORTH
J 10 8 7
5 4
5 3
J 8 4 3 2
WEST
9 6
K Q 10 9 6
K Q 9 7
10 6
EAST
A K 5 2
A J 8 7 3
A J 6
K
  SOUTH
Q 4 3
2
10 8 4 2
A Q 9 7 5

 
Open Room :
WEST NORTH EAST SOUTH
Hamman Lauria Soloway Versace
Pass 1 Pass
1 Pass 2 Pass
3 Pass 3 Pass
4 Pass 4 Pass
Pass Pass

1 N
2
K
A
6

4 by W, making 6, NS -480

Closed Room :
WEST NORTH EAST SOUTH
Duboin Rodwell Bocchi Meckstroth
Pass 1 Pass
2N!T Pass 3 Pass
3NT Pass 4 Pass
4 Pass 4NT Pass
5 Pass 5 Pass
6 Pass 6 Pass
Pass Pass

1 S
4
K
3


6 by E, making 7, NS -1010

11 imps to ITALY
 
ITALY 266 - USA 1 272

Board 24 saw Italy take the lead for the first time since the early stages of the match. Dummy was   K 7 4   J 8 7 4   A J 9 6 5   Q and Soloway held   A 6   K Q 3 2   Q 3 2   K 10 6 5 . The bidding was


Open Room :
WEST NORTH EAST SOUTH
Hamman Lauria Soloway Versace
Pass Pass 1NT 2
3NT 4 Dbl 4
Pass Pass Dbl Pass
Pass Pass

Partner leads the trump 5 to your ace. 2 diamonds showed a one suiter in a major I believe, and Lauria's 4 hearts was pass or correct. Partners 3NT is clearly based on a good club suit, but he must have another card, either the heart ace or the diamond king. What do you return before reading on?

Soloway returned a trump rather quickly, this looks wrong with the diamond suit threatening for discards, and was fatal in practise as declarer took a backwards finesse in diamonds to make the hand, an excellent play though clearly marked on the bidding.


Board 24
Dealer West
Vul: None
NORTH
K 7 4
J 8 7 4
A J 9 6 5
Q
WEST
10 5
A 9 6
10 7
A J 9 7 3 2
EAST
A 6
K Q 3 2
Q 3 2
K 10 6 5
  SOUTH
Q J 9 8 3 2
10 5
K 8 4
8 4

 
Open Room :
WEST NORTH EAST SOUTH
Hamman Lauria Soloway Versace
Pass Pass 1NT 2
3NT 4 Dbl 4
Pass Pass Dbl Pass
Pass Pass

1 W
2 E
3 N
4 N
5
6
J
5
4
9
2

A
10
4

2
K
7


4X by S, making 5, NS 690

Closed Room :
WEST NORTH EAST SOUTH
Duboin Rodwell Bocchi Meckstroth
Pass 1 Pass 1
2 Dbl R 2
Dbl Pass 3NT Pass
Pass Pass

1 S
2 E
3 W
4 E
5 E
6 W
7 W
8 W
9 W
10 E
J
5
2
10
6
9
7
A
6
Q
5
4
5
4
10
J
K
4
7
9
4
A
K
3
J
6
2
2
K
9
A
Q
8
9
6
2
3
5
8
8

3NT by E, making 4, NS -430

15 imps to ITALY
 
ITALY 281 - USA 1 278

By the time that board 28 rolled around Hamman must have been nervous that the lead was gone when he picked up   A 7 3   2   7 4 2   A K Q J 10 7. Playing a strong club system he opened 2 clubs showing 11-16 HCP with long clubs. The bidding continued as below. Whether Hamman's 3 spade bid showed a spade stopper or asked for one is not clear. However since Soloway raised without a club card he is marked with some good cards. Decide if you pass or bid at this point with Hammans hand (view the hand record to see what actually happened).


Open Room :
WEST NORTH EAST SOUTH
Hamman Lauria Soloway Versace
2 2 3 Dbl
3 Pass 3NT Dbl
?      

Board 28
Dealer West
Vul: NS
NORTH
J 10 9 4 2
6 5 3
A Q J 8
5
WEST
A 7 3
2
7 4 2
A K Q J 10 7
EAST
K 8 5
Q 10 9 8 7
K 10 9
8 2
  SOUTH
Q 6
A K J 4
6 5 3
9 6 4 3

 
Open Room :
WEST NORTH EAST SOUTH
Hamman Lauria Soloway Versace
2 2 3 Dbl
3 Pass 3NT Dbl
4 Pass Pass Pass

1 N
2 W
3 W
4 W
5 W
6 W
7 S
8 E
9 E
10 W
J
A
K
Q
J
2
Q
Q
9
2
5
5
2
4
6
3
3
4
K
J
6
2
8
8
7
10
9
7
7
K
A
3
4
6
9
J
K
5
8
3

4 by W, making 4, NS -130

Closed Room :
WEST NORTH EAST SOUTH
Duboin Rodwell Bocchi Meckstroth
1 1 Dbl R
3 Pass 3NT Pass
Pass Pass

1 S
2 S
A
6
2
2
3

9


3NT by E, making 3, NS -400

7 imps to ITALY
 
ITALY 290 - USA 1 282

The closed room had been playing very quickly and was nearly 6 boards ahead, so they actually played the following board long before Hammans unfortunate pull of 3NT on board 28. We present this hand from Rodwell's point of view first. He held   Q J 10 7 5 4   K J 9 4   A K 6   -. The bidding proceeded

Closed Room :
WEST NORTH EAST SOUTH
Duboin Rodwell Bocchi Meckstroth
Pass Pass
1 Pass Pass Dbl
RD ?    

This hand is hard to categorize, and several possibilities come to mind. Do you pass, bid 2 spades or some number of hearts, anything else looks exotic. Generally speaking a cue bid of 2 spades here is not natural, it is the only way to show a power hand, likely with support for several contracts. The other question, one worth discussing in a regular partnership is whether a pass in this situation is penalty oriented, if so this hand surely qualifies.

Rodwell actually bid 2 spades at this point, and ended in an inelegant 5 diamonds doubled down three. By this time there were over 6000 spectators watching the vugraph show presented by BridgeBase. When Rodwell put the dummy down the vugraph operator reported he apologized to his partner. Since 5 clubs was cold, the north south par is to play in 5 hearts, which is down at least one, perhaps more after repeated club leads.

Hamman and Soloway also had their problems with this hand. It would appear Soloway should have doubled 5 hearts with his five trumps. I doubt that his actual pass was forcing but it did lead to Hamman bidding a hopeless 6 clubs (seems he should double also, but this is less clear, he may have hoped to make 6 clubs, with Soloway producing a diamond card).


Board 30
Dealer East
Vul: None
NORTH
Q J 10 7 5 4
K J 9 4
A K 6
WEST
A K 9 8 3

Q 8 4
A K Q 10 3
EAST

10 7 5 3 2
9 7 3
9 6 5 4 2
  SOUTH
6 2
A Q 8 6
J 10 5 2
J 8 7

 
Open Room :
WEST NORTH EAST SOUTH
Hamman Lauria Soloway Versace
Pass Pass
1 1 Pass Pass
2 Dbl 5 Dbl
Pass 5 Pass Pass
6 Dbl Pass Pass
Pass

1 N
2 N
3 N
4 W
5 W
6 E
7 W
8 E
9 W
A
K
6
A
3
5
8
2
9
3
7
9
4
5
8
10
A
J
2
5
10
2
4
10
6
3
9
4
8
Q
7
2
9
6
4
J

6X by W, down 2, NS 300

Closed Room :
WEST NORTH EAST SOUTH
Duboin Rodwell Bocchi Meckstroth
Pass Pass
1 Pass Pass Dbl
RD 2 Pass 3
4 4 5 Pass
Pass 5 Pass Pass
Dbl Pass Pass Pass

1 W
2 N
3 N
4 N
5 W
6 W
7 W
8 W
K
K
A
4
A
Q
A
K
6
3
7
7
4
5
7
10
6
2
5
A
5
9
2
3
8
4
8
Q
7
J
2
6

5X by S, down 3, NS -500

13 imps to ITALY
 
ITALY 303 - USA 1 282

Italy now lead by 21 imps with two boards left, and it looked over. However the vugraph spectators knew that on board 31 Duboin and Bocchi had relayed their way to 5 hearts down one. West opened 1 spade and east bid 2 diamonds, showing a heart suit. This type of bid which is called a transfer advance is becoming increasingly popular. The basic idea is that like other transfer sequences it allows responder to bid on both weak and strong hands. West accepted the transfer by rebidding 2 hearts as a relay, east rebid 2 spades, west 3 clubs, east 3 diamonds. Now the bidding reverted to natural with west bidding 3NT and east 5 hearts, which was passed out. Acceptance of the transfer with a void is a questionable decision (if you relay, you should be balanced is a good general rule) but perhaps other bids would have shown more distribution than Duboin had.

Board 31
Dealer South
Vul: NS
 
WEST
Q 8 4 3 2

K Q 10 3
A Q 10 4
EAST
A J
A K J 10 9 6 5 2
J 8
7

The result was the board was played from the abnormal side and Rodwell lead the diamond ace and continued with the deuce. He may have been hoping to give his partner a ruff, in that case the second lead spot could have suit preference implications. Mecksroth apparently play reverse Lavinthal (high card for low suit). Declarer won the diamond jack in dummy and played three rounds of hearts. Mecksroth countered with a club return and now declarer could make the hand only by finessing clubs. It would be most interesting to interview the combatants about their thoughts on this board, but it was not to be.


Board 31
Dealer South
Vul: NS
NORTH
7 6 5
7
A 9 6 5 2
8 6 3 2
WEST
Q 8 4 3 2

K Q 10 3
A Q 10 4
EAST
A J
A K J 10 9 6 5 2
J 8
7
  SOUTH
K 10 9
Q 8 4 3
7 4
K J 9 5

 
Open Room :
WEST NORTH EAST SOUTH
Hamman Lauria Soloway Versace
Pass
1 Pass 3 Pass
3NT Pass 4 Pass
Pass Pass

1 S
2 N
3 E
4 E
5 E
6 W
7
6
A
K
J
Q
3
A
3
4
4
5
A
9
3
4
K
J
8
2
7
7
2
8

4 by E, making 4, NS -420

Closed Room :
WEST NORTH EAST SOUTH
Duboin Rodwell Bocchi Meckstroth
Pass
1 Pass 2 Pass
2 Pass 2 Pass
3 Pass 3 Pass
3NT Pass 5 Pass
Pass Pass

1 N
2 N
3 E
4 E
5 E
6 S
A
2
A
K
J
5
8
J
3
4
Q
A
7
4
2
3
4
3
3
10
7
6
5
7

5 by W, down 1, NS 50

10 imps to USA 1
 
ITALY 303 - USA 1 292

The last board was perhaps the most dramatic hand in the history of bridge, not for the cards but for the events it precipitated. The north hand was   2   A J 9 3   K Q 10 9 8 6 5   5 held by Lauria and Rodwell. The initial auction went in similar fashion at both tables.

Open Room : Closed Room:
WEST NORTH EAST SOUTH WEST NORTH EAST SOUTH
Hamman Lauria Soloway Versace Duboin Rodwell Bocchi Mecksroth
Pass 1 2 Dbl Pass 1 2 Pass
2 3 Pass Pass 2 3 Pass Pass
3 ?     3 ?    

Decide what you bid on the two auctions before reading on. Keep in mind that the combatants dont know the match standing. At Rodwells table he could feel confident, their one bad result being matched by an equally bad result by the table mates on the previous board. At Laurias table Hamman and Soloway had several soft results so Lauria must have known the match was close.

Rodwell passed and passed again when Bocchi bid 4.

Board 32
Dealer West
Vul: EW
NORTH
2
A J 9 3
K Q 10 9 8 6 5
5
                    EAST
A 6 5 4 3
K Q 10 8 6
4 2
A

The play proceeded

1 N
2 W
3 E
4 E
5 S

 

Q
2
A
3
J

4
3
9
Q
7

3
K
2
10
?

A
7
5
2

How do you defend now (dont peek)?

 

Rodwell overtook with the diamond king and returned the heart nine. The result was down four, a good result for the USA but apparently not enough.

Lauria, now front and center in our drama, bid 5 at the same point in the auction. To me this seems to be a case of temporary insanity, since he had previously been passed out at 3. We dont know the meaning of his partners double of the Michaels 2 bid but the normal meaning is cards and defense against at least one of the majors. If that was the case the opponents had at most a part score, but perhaps Lauria thought his partner had more diamonds along with the marked shortness in hearts. Soloway doubled 5 and lead the club ace followed by the heart queen, Rusinow. Versace, perhaps stressed by Laurias unusual bidding, left the table at this point I would lay ten to one he went for a cigarette :). Plan your play from this point.
 
Board 32
Dealer West
Vul: EW
NORTH
2
A J 9 3
K Q 10 9 8 6 5
5
 
5D North SOUTH
K Q 9 8 7
7
J 3
Q J 9 8 3

Had Lauria lead a spade at this point he would have escaped for down one, losing just the three aces. However the play had been slow to this point and perhaps concerned about possible time penalties he quickly played the ace of hearts, ruffed a heart and ruffed a club with the diamond 8 and lead the heart Jack covered by the king and ruffed in dummy. Then he lead the spade king from dummy , Hamman following with the jack and Soloway won the ace and returned. What do you play from dummy? Here are the remaining cards.  

Board 32
Dealer West
Vul: EW
NORTH

3
K Q 10 9 6 5
 
5D North SOUTH
Q 9 8 7


Q J 9 8

At this point Lauria played, touched or indicated the spade seven (remember Versace is not at the table and neither is a director, they get paid enough, should not one of them have been turning the cards). But what suit you ask did Soloway lead? Of course he should have cashed the heart king but in fact he had returned a spade, allowing Lauria to discard on the spade queen his heart loser. Lauria changed his mind and called for the spade queen but Hamman had already followed with the spade jack. Now (finally !) the director was summoned to the table and after a long discussion ruled that the spade seven was in fact a played card. What really happened, did Lauria think Soloway had returned a heart and so was just discarding from dummy, and realized his error a second too late. This seems the most likely explanation, but matters were complicated by Laurias poor English. Had he been allowed to play the spade queen the result of down one would have left the match dead tied, with an eight board playoff. Italy appealed the director ruling, I dont know if this occured before or after the comparison. In any case a ruling was made almost immediately on the appeal that the directors ruling was upheld and the USA had won by one imp!

Aftermath

Soloway discussing his return of a spade indicated that the play in the hearts by Hamman had shown four hearts and also that his play of the club seven at trick one indicated a spade lead. That would have meant Hamman started with a singleton spade and the spade return would have been correct. The bidding of 2 hearts followed by 3 hearts however suggested that Hamman had only three hearts. Perhaps more telling, had Lauria had two spades he would surely have ruffed a club to start drawing trumps rather than play a spade from dummy. So Soloway was wrong, but not terribly so.

My views

There were many comments made amongst the spectators on the internet about the events. Some felt that Versace should not have left the table, particularly on the last board. There is no specific rule against that and I dont think there ever should be, but it may have contributed to Italys woes on this hand.

In 1984 I was a volunteer monitor at the Bridge Olympiad in Seattle. We were two monitors and the four players at a table in a private room in one match, when I was asked to find a director. This took me a long time and left me permanently wondering what directors do while team events are on. It is incomprehensible to me that there was not a director present at the table during the final hand, and that he could not have sat and played the cards. I think the rules in major events should be changed so that there is always a director at both tables, at least for the final segment. There have been a long history of accusations of cheating by Italy in the world championships dating back to the 1960's. Although the present players are mostly of another era, Lauria was in fact on the last Blue team to win a world championship. Most of those accusations could have been verified unmistakenly had directors always been present. They could have observed and watched for signs of cheating and since there presence would have been routine and cheaters would have not been tipped off. Can you imagine the super bowl played without officials, baseball without umpires, tennis without lines people, or the World cup of soccer without a referee. If bridge is ever to become an olympic sport or even a generally recognized sport, directors must be at the table ALL the time. This would also serve the function of solving many of the ludicrous rulings about hesitations and time penalties. They might even carry a stop watch and be trained to keep track of time usage.

There seems absolutely no reason for Lauria to call for the spade seven unless he mistook the lead. In that case his change of designation (after realizing his mistake) was not quite kosher, and the Italian appeal was suspect from the sportsmanship point of view.

There is also an irony in the 1 imp penalty for the revoke at the beginning of this story. Had the participants been allowed to rule on this themselves (that time the director some how got involved without asking) the match would have ended in a tie.

Congratulations to USA I, although the play was shaky at the end they were the most deserving team.



 
Board 32
Dealer West
Vul: EW
NORTH
2
A J 9 3
K Q 10 9 8 6 5
5
WEST
J 10
5 4 2
A 7
K 10 7 6 4 2
EAST
A 6 5 4 3
K Q 10 8 6
4 2
A
  SOUTH
K Q 9 8 7
7
J 3
Q J 9 8 3

 
Open Room :
WEST NORTH EAST SOUTH
Hamman Lauria Soloway Versace
Pass 1 2 Dbl
2 3 Pass Pass
3 5 Dbl Pass
Pass Pass

1 E
2 E
3 N
4 S
5 N
6 S
7 E
8 N
A
Q
J
8
3
K
4
K
3
7
K
6
6
J
7

2
2
3
8
J
2
10

5
A
4
6
5
A
5


5X by N, down 2, NS -300

Closed Room :
WEST NORTH EAST SOUTH
Duboin Rodwell Bocchi Meckstroth
Pass 1 2 Pass
2 3 Pass Pass
3 Pass 4 Pass
Pass Pass

1 N
2 W
3 E
4 E
5 S
6 N
7 E
8 N
Q
2
A
3
J
9
A
A
4
3
9
Q
7
Q
7
6
3
K
2
10
K
3
J
8
A
7
5
2
2
4
J
5

4 by W, down 4, NS 400

12 imps to USA 1
 
ITALY 303 - USA 1 304