Each year the American Contract Bridge League (ACBL) holds a "grass roots" competition for a national team event. While this competition has had numerous names over the years, it is commonly known as the "Grand National Teams". Each unit holds qualifying rounds with leaders moving to a district final. The winner of each of three flights at the district level wins a subsidized trip to the summer North American Bridge Championships (NABC) to compete with teams from the other 25 districts. The winning flight A team is included among the teams invited to compete for the right to represent the United States in the World Championships. While the flight B & C event winners do not qualify for further competition, they are considered national champions in their respective event.
Richard VanBergen of Solon, Don Rop of Chagrin Falls, Neil DiGeronimo of Broadview Heights, and Joe Harbert of Euclid made up the team that represented District 5 of the ACBL at the 1993 NABC in Washington D. C. last July. They advanced through the first round but were defeated in the second round. The hand diagrammed was one of the big swings that helped them achieve a first round victory. It is not easy to bid grand slams with a combined total of 26 high card points. It was fortunate that they had the right bidding tools to handle this situation. The opposition stopped in a small slam. The difference of 750 points produced thirteen international match points (IMPs) for the district 5 team.
Congratulations are due the VanBergen team for earning the right to represent our district at the national tournament, and for their fine effort at that event.
Lil Siegel of Beachwood gave me the double dummy problem shown below. In case you do not recall, a double dummy problem is solved by finding a line of play that fulfills the given contract against any possible defense. In this case, the contract is seven hearts and the opening lead is the king of clubs. Figure out your plan before reading the solution provided below.
The problem here is to figure out a way to unblock the diamonds and end up in the South hand after all the trumps are drawn. This is really a trick one problem. You must win the ace of clubs in the North hand and discard a diamond from the South hand. You need the little spades so that you can shorten the trump length in the North hand. This allows you to pitch a high diamond on the ace of spades and on the last high trump.
Win the ace of clubs pitching a diamond. Play a trump to the ace, ruff a spade in dummy. Play another trump to the king, ruff a spade in dummy. Play the last North trump to the queen. Cash the jack of hearts, drawing the last trump and pitching a diamond from dummy. Cash the ace of spades pitching the last diamond from dummy. Now play diamonds from the top making your grand slam.