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Upset in Salt Lake City:
Canadians Beat Polish Team
By: Alan Truscott

Originally Published in The New York Times, February 9, 2002

A team of Canadians won the fourth I.O.C. Grand Prix in Salt Lake City Wednesday night, completing a string of upset victories by defeating Poland in the final.

The winners were Keith Balcombe, Gordon Campbell, Nicholas Gartaganis and Peter Jones, all newcomers at this level of competition, together with Fred Gitelman and Joseph Silver. They began the week by defeating a United States team that included three world champions, continued with a semifinal victory over a favored Italian team, and won the final by 11.5 imps.

With one deal remaining against the highly ranked Poles, the Canadians led by just 1.5 imps, but held on, making a game that failed in the replay. Italy defeated Norway to take third place.

The women's title went to France. Véronique Bessis, Bénédicte Cronier, Catherine d'Ovidio and Sylvie Willard, who lost the world title by a whisker in Paris in November, sailed through the qualifying and semifinal stages. In the final, they won by 93 imps against a United States team consisting of Mildred Breed, Amalya Kearse, Rose Meltzer, Jill Meyers, Sharon Osberg, Shawn Quinn and Kerri Sanborn. Netherlands beat Germany in the playoff for third place.

A subsidiary event for junior teams, age 25 and under, resulted in an unlikely tie. A Western Hemisphere team consisting of John Hurd, Joel Wooldridge, Augustin Madala and Carlos Pelligrini tied with a northern Europe foursome, Sjoert Brink, Bas Drijver, Andreas Marquardsen and Martin Schaltz.

Opening lead: 4

Canada's victory was the first for that country in a major international event. Gitelman celebrated his 37th birthday by bringing home four spades on the diagramed deal from the final. His partner, Silver, followed his negative double of an eccentric weak jump overcall with an aggressive raise to three spades, and the result was a borderline game contract.

West led a diamond, and South captured East's jack with the ace. The declarer then cashed the heart ace and ruffed a heart. When he played a spade to his king, West won with the ace and returned the ten. South correctly inferred from this that West did not have a doubleton diamond, which would have represented an obvious second lead.

South could afford to lose two minor-suit tricks, but not three. After winning the trump lead, he ruffed his remaining heart with dummy's last trump and had several options. As it happens, most of them were due to work.

Gitelman's choice was to lead a low diamond, and East was helpless after winning with the queen. He led his last heart, and South ruffed. The last trump was drawn with the spade jack, and the contract was safe. Dummy was reduced to two diamond winners and the king-queen of clubs. West had no entry, so the club ace was the third and last trick for the defense.

In the replay, the Canadian West played in three hearts doubled. With the clubs lying favorably, he escaped for down one and his team gained 11 imps.

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