North American Swiss '96 2nd Final

Welcome back.

It has been a very eventful week at the nationals. You have made the finals of every national event except one and also made the finals of the morning knockouts. (What fool reason did you have for doing that, I might ask?) Thursday, you caught a cold and it knocked you out for the second final session of the Blues. You tried to play through it, but it showed you that you were in bad shape. Friday morning, you showed up sick as a dog and begged your North American Swiss team to add a fifth so that you could go back to sleep. You are so sick that you can't even eat lunch. After a little search, they succeed, so you get to sleep in. You are going to play every other session, so it'd better be enough.

Your team consists of you, Mike Shuster, Billy Miller, Ed Alcoff, and Marc Renson. Ed is sitting out this session, so the pair at the other table is Billy and Marc. You can expect some good results coming from the other table, but you can't hope for (too many) miracles.

After you wake up and eat a nice dinner on Friday, your cold is a bit better, but your team has only 27 VPs. Your team tells you that there is some "good news," that the scores are very flat, so it probably will take only 85 VPs or so to qualify. You don't say anything, but if the scores are very flat, it means you are near last place.

Luckily, things go your way and you blitz three of the four matches in the evening and end with 87. Are teammates right? No, of course not. Four of the five teams with 87 are in. You are lucky and win on tiebreak. Time for a good night's sleep.

Saturday, you qualify with ease, sitting 7th going into the final. That gives you a carryover of 9.9 VPs. Interestingly, the maximum carryover is larger than the actual maximum score difference in the semifinals, so VPs in the semis are more important than VPs in the finals. Odd. The maximum is 30 VPs, so you are about a whole match behind starting the day.

The afternoon session has fits and starts. The first team you play fails to show up until 20 minutes after the round starts. The directors take away two boards and award you six imps. You still lose the match, because there's only one swing board and it goes against you. The rest of the afternoon goes better; you end up one VP over average (41), which, combined with your carryover, leaves you in seventh place. Two teams, however, are far in the lead, over two full matches ahead of you. Luckily, you haven't played them, yet. You'll probably have a chance to beat them in the evening session.

Now it is time to take your seats for the final. Your opponents are "The King" (Harry Tudor) and Barbara Wallace. They are in the middle of the pack with you.

Caveats: (1) Some of the possible lines/eventualities discussed didn't happen. I'm guessing (or choosing as I feel like it) what will happen some of the time, often by using results that occurred at other tables in the event. (2) You will shift around from seat to seat from time to time. I will sometimes rotate the diagram so that dummy is North (particularly on defense) and sometimes not. In addition, in one match, you'll sit North/South; in the other three, you'll sit East/West. Please be careful about that, and complain if it is too distracting. Thanks. (3) These are real hands, not a quiz. As a result, sometimes virtue will be punished or sins rewarded. If you play well, however, you'll probably have a chance to win.


Your general approach is 2/1 promises a rebid but isn't game forcing. A rebid of the 2/1 suit or 2NT is not forcing (unless opener showed strength) but other sequences are as in 2 over 1. 1NT response to one of a major is semi-forcing; jump shifts are artificial. You open 10-12 notrumps in 1st and 2nd seat non-vulnerable, and 15-17 the rest of the time. You play the Overcall Structure in defense to their natural 1-bids. Your opening 2D: is Flannery. You have many gadgets and conventional agreements; I'll try to cover them when they might come up, but very few will.

Your leads and signals: standard honor leads, but Ace from AK. Spots vs. suits are low from odd, highest you think you can afford from even. Against notrump, you lead 4th best, but an honest 4th best promises at least the 10-spot in the suit and some desire for the suit to be continued. Discards and carding are all standard, except against notrump you play Smith Echo by third hand, Reverse Smith by opening leader.

© Jeff Goldsmith,, December 19, 1996