The Brazilian Trials for the selection of the team that will represent Brazil in the next World Championship (Salsomaggiore, Italy, in August 2020) were disputed between January 18th and 25th. The team of Roberto BARBOSA, Adriano Rodrigues, Diego Brenner, Miguel Villas Boas, Marcelo Branco & Gabriel Chagas won the final match against the team of Jeovani SALOMÃO, Henrique Salomão (only 19 years old!), João Paulo Campos, Stefano Tommasini, Roberto Mello & Emilio La Rovere.
Let us follow the hands in the 84-board final (divided in 6 stanzas of 14 boards each). In this first round, JP Campos and S Tommasini were in the Open Room, in North-South, facing D Brenner and M Villas-Boas. In the Closed Room, G Chagas and M Branco, in North-South, tackled H Salomão - J. Salomão.
Board 1 was an interesting push:
In the Open Room, JP opened the North hand. I would have opened it too. After 1 Club - 1 Spade, though, he had an uncomfortable rebid problem, and picked 2 Clubs. Now Stefano had a decision to make, and he decided in favor of aggressiveness, bidding 3 Hearts, showing invitational values and 5-5. It worked out well in the end when North raised to the easy 4 Hearts. Note how it is easy because of the fitting club honors (no doubt this was a major factor behind South's decision to push).
In the Closed Room, Chagas, perhaps foreseeing rebid problems, preferred to pass as opener. Jeovani Salomão opened the East hand with a 12-14 NT. This actually simplified the bidding for N-S when South, Branco, had a bid that depicted a major two-suiter. He bid 2 Clubs, West bid 2 Diamonds, and North ended the auction by jumping to game in hearts. Different roads, same landing spot, no imps exchanged.
In the Open Room, Miguel and Diego went overboard when East opened a 12-14 NT. Especially at this vulnerability, I think this is a very good choice of opening bid, but the hands fitted badly when Diego could not deliver a 2nd club. They landed in 3NT and went down 3 when South hit on a spade lead, attacking declarer's entries to the long clubs. Miguel made the expected misguess in clubs -- if clubs are 3-3, it is a straight guess, but if they are 4-2 with South having the doubleton, playing the Queen picks up the suit if South has Jx, while playing the 10 does not pick up the suit in the symmetrical situation of Kx in South. Without being able to bring the clubs home, the contract was hopeless.
In the closed room, E-W stopped low, after 1 Club by East, 1 Diamond (=Hearts) by West, 2 Clubs by East, and a well-judged pass by West. (Note how the singleton in partner's long suit influenced his choice). SALOMÃO might win 6 imps (-150 in one room, + 90 in the other), but North-South found the best defense of a heart lead and the diamond Queen return. Try as he might (even if he guessed clubs right!), declarer would lose 2 diamonds, 2 hearts, and 2 clubs. Still, it was good enough for 3 imps (-150 vs. -50), tying the match, since BARBOSA started with a 3 imp carryover.
You are in second position, Vul against Not. Do you open this hand? Diego did, Henrique Salomão did not. Score one for light opening bids -- the opponents reached 3NT in both tables, but the diamond lead ended declarer chances. 10 imps to BARBOSA.
The spotlight was on the same players in the next board.
Your right-hand opponent starts with 1NT (15-17). They bid to 4 Hearts, showing a 4-4 fit after a Stayman-like auction. What do you lead? In one table, dummy showed both majors. Does it influence your lead?
Both leaders went with the in-your-face lead of the Ace of Diamonds, but this not only helped declarer establish his 5-card (!) diamond suit, but also helped him guess spades (he had an Ace-Queen guess there, and played you to not have the Ace, once you showed AK of diamonds). A club lead would have made him work harder. The hand can always make, though. It goes to show something. Or perhaps nothing at all.
SALOMÃO gained 4 imps in the next board when they stopped safely in a part-score while Miguel-Diego bid a hopeless (as the cards were) nonvulnerable 3NT, going down one.
Board 6 was another interesting push:
In the Closed Room, West, Henrique, opened a 12-14 NT, which shut North up. They were allowed to play in 3 Hearts after a transfer auction, making an overtrick.
In the Open Room, Diego opened 1 Club. JP overcalled 1 Diamond, with his hefty diamonds. East-West had the right tool for this hand -- East's double of 1 Diamond showed 5+ Hearts. When South jump raised his partner to 3 Diamonds, East could bid 3 Hearts, being assured of 8 cards in the fit.
3 Hearts might go down in some other day, but as the cards were -- and particularly since the possible spade trick for the defense could not be established by direct leads -- 9 tricks were taken here, too.
West in the hot seat again. All vul, 2nd-in-hand. Do you or don't you open? Being consistent with Bd. 3, Diego opened, and Henrique passed. The board was passed out in the Closed Room. The Open Room ended in 1NT, and made only 6 tricks (it might have been 5). 3 imps to SALOMÃO. Score one for sound openings.
West again has the problem, but this is a systemic victory for BARBOSA, rather than a judgment one. Diego had available a 2 Hearts opening showing hearts and a minor suit. Henrique didn't -- so, he passed, heard his partner open a 12-14 1NT, and South doubled. The partnership was no longer in "game searching mode" by then, so they stopped in 3 Hearts (over 2 Spades by the opponents). At Diego-Miguel's table, the hand was quickly bid to 4 Hearts, which was made with a successful (and indicated) trump handling. 6 imps to BARBOSA.
The score was BARBOSA 19 x 10 SALOMÃO at this point. After a push in a well-bid 4 Hearts, the spotlight turned on South, for a change.
Stefano and Marcelo had to lead against 3NT. Stefano heard a Gazzilli auction in which declarer, having opened 1 Heart, showed 15+ hcp and either a balanced hand with 3 spades or a 5431 (unknown suits besides the 5 hearts). Dummy showed long diamonds and 8+ hcp. He led a spade.
Marcelo heard a 1 Heart opening too, but then declarer showed a non-descript game forcing hand (denying 55 or other extreme shapes), and responder broke a relay chain to show long diamonds, upon which opener picked 3NT as the final contract. He led a club. The spade lead gave nothing away (the opponents had AQxx opposite KJ10), but the club lead cost a trick (it ran to declarer's AK109). 12 fat imps to SALOMÃO.
West had to hog all the attention again in the next board.
Both players heard the same bidding: LHO opened, third-in-hand, with 1 Diamond. Partner passed, RHO bid 1 Heart, and they passed again. LHO then bid 3 Spades, a heart raise with shortness in spades, and RHO ended the bidding with 4 Hearts. What is your lead?
Diego tried a club, the unbid suit. Henrique led a diamond. The club lead gave up a trick and a tempo (dummy had AKxx, declarer let it run to his J9x), the diamond lead gave nothing away (partner has AJ9x, dummy had K10xx). 10 imps to SALOMÃO, which had gained 22 imps in consecutive boards after two ineffective leads by BARBOSA. The score was now SALOMÃO 32 x 19 BARBOSA.
The next board was a possible slam (requiring only one loser, combined, in these two suits: AKJxx opposite xxx, and AJ7xx opposite K10xx), but no team got close. Stefano and João Paulo had to face more preemption and landed in 5 Diamonds (the 9-card fit). Gabriel and Marcelo had less obstruction to deal with, and stopped in 4 Hearts, but Marcelo misguessed the play and made 10 tricks, to get a pushed board.
The last 2 boards of the round were not recorded by the Vugraph. BARBOSA gained one imp in them, and so the round ended with SALOMÃO 12 imps ahead, 32x20.