How We Became National Champions
This year, in the Slovenian Open Teams Championships, I had the pleasure to be part of the winning team, together with Bogdan Rasula, Joze Sadar, Janko Mijoc and Gregor Rus.
After struggling in the qualifiers, we made it into the playoffs by a hairsbredth of 0.14 victory points. The semifinals were highly dramatic. We managed to turn around a huge handicap and win the match by 1 IMP after scoring 46 IMPs in the last four deals.
The finals were extremely tight, but bringing the high morale, solid play, and a bit of luck, we managed to run away with the title defeating the Slovenian dream team who has won so often in the past that nobody keeps count anymore.
If I had to pick one most interesting board that I played, it would be following. With three deals to go, I picked up this hand as North:
East opened a precicion 2♣, my partner doubled, West passed, and I bid 4♠.
On the lead of the ♣K a lot of things were going through my head as I was trying to make a game contract which could well prove to be decisive. It looks like I have to lose one spade, one heart and a club, and should avoid a diamond loser somehow. From the bidding probably East has the ♥A and ♦K, but it won't help me to play a diamond towards the qeen, the thrumps should also be 3-2, and I would rather West have three... but still the pieces of the puzzle were not quite fitting.
Anyway, I decided to take the lead with the A, play two top spades and a heart, hoping for the best. Now my opponent could make a mistake taking his ♥A immediately. Indeed, my opponent fell into a long pause, but eventually he made the correct play of a small heart. Taking in dummy, I saw that things aren't looking good. So I decided to change plans and play a club to my Jack. I figured that I'll be able to ruff the losing club and still survive somehow if the opponents lead into my diamonds from the wrong side. West took the ♣J with the Q and continued clubs, I ruffed, overruffed by East, Jack of diamonds, one down!
Some of the spectators pointed out the slightly better line of continuing with the hearts after West ducking the first; when taking the ♥A West would have to play clubs and East would have to be very careful not to ruff with his Queen.
In retrospect, my only chance to make the game on perfect defence is to play East for the QJx of trumps and run a spade to my ten at trick two. Fortunately, although I missed the correct play, this board did not cost us the victory.