Congrats to Team Diamond for their sensational victory at the New Orleans Spingold. From the ACBL’s Daily Bulletin
With two boards to go in a tight Spingold Knockout Teams match, the Rose Meltzer squad had a 12-IMP lead over the John Diamond team and looked good for the win. A disaster on the next-to-last deal turned the match around, however, and Diamond emerged with a 118-115 victory – the first win in the event for the captain and his partner, Brian Platnick. The other members of the team are Fred Gitelman, Brad Moss, Geoff Hampson and Eric Greco. Meltzer’s team was Kyle Larsen, David Berkowitz, Alan Sontag, Fulvio Fantoni and Claudio Nunes.
Meltzer’s lead was forged mostly on a vulnerable slam bid by Fantoni and Nunes about midway through the final quarter. The Italians bid 6♥ missing five trumps to the K-10 and an ace, but on the lie of the cards the slam could not be defeated and Meltzer gained 13 IMPs. The match was relatively even from there, and Meltzer had a seemingly comfortable lead with two boards to play. On the penultimate board, Greco and Hampson got to 2♠ on a 5-2 fit and managed to bring it home for plus 110. At the other table, Sontag made an aggressive bid after Berkowitz had passed his 1♠ opener and Gitelman balanced with 1NT. Sontag ended up playing 3♠ doubled, going down three for minus 800. That cost 14 IMPs and put Diamond into the lead. Diamond gained 1 IMP on the last board to win by 3 IMPs. The same team won the Jacoby Open Swiss Teams in Reno in March, giving Diamond and Platnick their first North American championship. The other members of the team now have 41 major titles among them, including two wins each in the Spingold.
Diamond started the final strong, winning the opening set 34-11 and taking a 70-43 lead at the halfway point. Meltzer won the third set 53-8, however, and led 96-78 with a quarter to go. Diamond regained the lead early in the fourth set but fell behind after the slam swing before collecting 800 to surge ahead for good.
S W N E
Sontag Moss Berkowitz Gitelman
1S P P 1NT
3H P 3S P
P Dble All pass
The great thing about this hand was it involved so many key decisions. All players had critical options which in the end would determine the fate of the match. Remember this is the penultimate hand, team Diamond down by 12 IMPS at this point.
Firstly Sontag had to decide whether or not to open a forcing club. (Greco did in the other room.) The commentators noted how he could get both suits in economically, and not fear club preempts by opening one spade. I like that decision though it is close, it is a hell of a nice hand.
Moss had an easy pass and Berkowitz elected to pass too, remember he is facing a limited opener. Now Gitelman shone under the spotlight with his hair-raising 1NT balance. This gave Sontag a chance to get his second suit in and (as commentator Kit Woolsey suggested he might stretch given his failure to open one club) and he elected to try 3H. Moss in atypical restraint chose to pass and the focus turned to Berkowitz. Some commentators suggested he might pass, before it got ugly. There is some merit to that, but it seems easier seeing the bad spade split to mention that. Berkowitz took his false preference to 3S. No doubt if he had passed, Gitelman would be hard pressed to find another call.
When 3S came around to Moss, there was much commentary on whether he would or should double. Larry Cohen mentioned that Zia said it would be nice to be allowed to know the score at this point, as that would certainly aid in decision making for all involved. Moss applied the axe, led a diamond, got in the his KH, switched to the JC and tapped the south hand. Now South had to lose control and eventually finished three down for -800. This combined with 2S (+110) making in the other room, gave Diamond a much needed 14 IMPs, and they eked out a victory by a measly 3 IMPS. Note every participant played a critical role, if Sontag had not jumped, if Moss had not doubled, if Berkowitz had not taken false preference, if Gitelman had not balanced; all of these decisions combined for a perfect storm.
And of course, it may not be fair to single out one hand, but the Daily Bulletin did that, I thought we deserved to see the whole hand and the story therein. It is a pleasure to bear witness to bridge at the top, and these teams provided one of the more spectacular matches in recent history. This was an incredible battle, skin-tight and a credit to all.
Congratulations to Fred and his team mates.
Sweet emotion indeed.