First World Transnational Mixed Teams Championships - Rhodes 1996

Articles by Athanassios Nonymous for the Daily News

(reprinted with the permission of the author).
                 1996 World Bridge Olympiad
                     Rodos Palace Hotel
                       Rhodes, Greece

          Editors: Henry Francis and Brian Senior

By A. Nonymous

Tables 40 to 43 of the Mixed Teams, reserved for the lowest of the lowly , are in the Nafsika Room, near the vugraph theater. This morning I told some of my Irish friends I was going to be playing there.
"Don't worry," one said, "there's another room upstairs."
"I know -- we just came down from there."

After seven consecutive losses, we finally made it to the ultimate -- Table 43.
Have you ever seen a bidding sequence of 2S -- Pass -- 4S?
Of course you have, but perhaps not on hands like the following:

Board 21. North/South Game. Dealer North.
                       S  7
                       H  T 9 3
                       D  A J 7 5
                       C  K 9 8 4 2
        S  8 4 3                         S  6 2
        H  Q 8 6                         H  J 5 4 2
        D  K 9 2                         D  Q T 8 4
        C  A T 6 3                       C  9 7 5
                       S  A K Q J T 9 5
                       H  A K 7
                       D  6 3
                       C  J

That 2S by North showed 5-10 HCP and 5-5 in the minors -- with the H3 among the diamonds, of course. 4S was natural.
After a diamond lead, declarer played the HA-K and ruffed a heart. At least he thought he did. Oops -- that diamond was a heart.The declarer caught himself just in time, to our great chagrin. There went our last chance to win a match.

After eight straight losses we will still be in the Nafsika Room -- and it looks as if we're permanent residents of Table 43.

By Athanasios Nonymous

After eight losses we still weren't in last place, but we were playing at Table 43 nevertheless. A truly transnational team composed of players from Hong Kong, Singapore, Montreal, Toronto and Istanbul handed us defeat No. 9. One mistake against a team from across the water, from Izmir, made it ten in a row.

We were now last, but we had a chance of catching a dropout who of course would remain at 136 VPs. The dropout also meant we were playing in a three-way match for the final two rounds of the day. In Germany this is known as a Sandcastle because it resembles three groups of four children playing on the beach and scooping IMPs in their sandbuckets. In the Sandcastle we met a Pakistani foursome and a French team that included Dutch international Jaap van der Neut. This proved very droll indeed. It actually proved to be a great advantage to be playing in the Nafsika Room -- that meant we could follow the exciting finish of the Open semifinals. I do believe that Isabelle played far more contracts than usual -- and Jaap probably saw every board in the Denmark-Indonesia playoff. By now desperate for a victory, we finally managed it against Pakistan.

         Board 15. North/South Game. Dealer South.

                         S  7 3
                         H  A J 9 6 5 2
                         D  A 7
                         C  T 7 5
        S  J 8 6                        S  A K 9 5 4 2
        H  K Q T 3                      H  8
        D  --                           D  Q T 8 5 2
        C  K 9 8 6 3 2                  C  J
                         S  Q T
                         H  7 4
                         D  K J 9 6 4 3
                         C  A Q 4

          West       North       East       South
          A.N.        -         Partner      -
           -          -           -         1D
          Dbl        Pass        4S         Pass
          Pass       Dbl         All Pass

As I was putting down my cards, my partner asked me what my double meant, but she proceeded to make her contract. After the heart lead and return, she ruffed six times and only then threw her next-to-last diamond on the HQ.

Our first win was in the bag, and by now we were hoping that not too many more teams will decide to drop out. We want to stay in our familiar Nafsika.

By Herman De Wael (also known as A. Nonymous)

After Friday's first match in the Mixed Teams, we were only 2 Victory Points behind the drop-out team, so things were looking rosy. However, we now needed to bribe the TD to let us keep Table 40, as more and more teams tried, by unfair means, to move us up to the Athena Room.
After two more losses, however, we were back where we belonged, the Nafsika Room -- and we needed only 12 more VPs to catch the second drop-out team.
When Pony Nehmert of Germany heard of our disastrous performance in the Mixed (she was not playing because of a severe cold), she offered to play with me if we managed to get two wins under our belt. She must have really meant it because even though we hadn't scored that second victory, she repeated her offer -- she was willing to play the last match. That match featured Beate, sister to Jeannine Jeunen.
But not even a world champion could rescue us now. The biggest swing in our favor came after this bidding mistake.

           Board 38. East/West Game. Dealer East.
                         S  A 4 2
                         H  Q J T 6 4 2
                         D  4 3
                         C  3 2
        S  K Q 7                         S  8 6 5 3
        H  A 9                           H  K 5
        D  Q J 6 2                       D  A K T 8
        C  K 7 6 4                       C  Q J 9
                         S  J T 9
                         H  8 7 3
                         D  9 7 5
                         C  A T 8 5
         West        North        East        South
     Athanassios     Ertan        Beate       Nelten
          -           -           1D          Pass
         2C          2H           2NT         Pass
         3D          All Pass

Thinking we were on our way to slam, I bid what I thought was a forcing 3D. It wasn't, but as the cards lie, this is the optimum contract.

On the last board at our table, Pony showed remarkable confidence :

           Board 35. East/West Game. Dealer South.
                         S  7 5 4 2
                         H  K 8
                         D  8 4
                         C  A Q J 9 2
        S  A J 9 3                       S  Q T 8 6
        H  A 6                           H  Q 9 5 3
        D  K 3                           D  A Q 2
        C  T 8 6 4 3                     C  K 7
                         S  K
                         H  J T 7 4 2
                         D  J T 9 7 6 5
                         C  5
         West        North        East        South
     Athanassios     Ertan        Beate       Nelten
          -           -            -          Pass
         1C          Pass         1H          Pass
         1S          Pass         4S          All Pass

In a mixed championship, 3NT would normally be the preferred option with the stronger partner in the east seat. 4S was obviously the better choice, but was it 'Herman-Proof' ?
I did not betray her trust in me : I took the diamond lead in hand and played two more rounds of the suit, discarding the losing heart. North ruffed and played Ace and another Club, which south ruffed. But now it was my turn. I took the heart return and was able to draw one round of trumps and claim the rest in cross-ruff. Have you often seen both defensive and then offensive cross-ruffing on the same board ?

It was another 14-16 loss, our 14th defeat -- but it lifted us up to 84th place in the 86-team field.

Danke Vielmals, Pony.

By the way, when Pony first suggested the idea, we discussed its legality. My partner, Jeannine Jeunen, three times a member of the Belgian Women's team and mother to two other Belgian national team players, did not mind stepping down, but we feared the opponents might object. "I will simply introduce myself as Mrs. Jeunen," Pony suggested. "That won't work," replied Jeannine. "Everybody knows me."