It is always exciting when a strong new team’s tournament enters the calendar, and the inaugural Balaton Invitational, held outside Budapest at Lake Balaton, looks set to become an annual event.
Two members of my team, Thor-Erik Hoftaniska (Hoffa) and Thomas Charlsen (Charley), played for the Norwegian Open Team (and won the event) and I took as a third pair the brilliant Bulgarian duo Ivan Nanev and Rosen Gunev. Ten teams competed in the round robin and four made it to the semi-finals. Two good things happened to us: we made the play-offs and we beat the Norwegians! Unfortunately, we lost the semi-final to a top-weight Dutch/Norwegian team and finally had to settle for third place and a bronze medal.
In today’s climate of hyperactive bidding, you have to be alert to any gifts that may come your way. Hoffa and Charley took no prisoners on this hand from the semi- final:
3♦ showed a four-card raise with 7–9 points. Thor-Erik, sitting West, judged that if the opponents didn’t want to try for game, then 3♥ was very likely to go down, and Charley co-operated beautifully with a smooth pass.
With trumps under full control, Hoffa led the King of Spades which Declarer won and ran a Heart to the Queen. Now came the Club shift to the Ace. When West won the second Heart and put his partner in with a Diamond for a Club through, South mis-guessed by putting his King up, but this only meant he was -800 instead of -500. The result at the other table was 3♥ undoubled, down two. Thor-Erik had brought in 12 IMPs from nowhere, going a long way to securing a place in the final.