Five Queens for Ostenda’s throne – Sabine Auken

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Ostenda European Women Championship. Neapolitan Club has interviewed five women: Catherine D’Ovidio  (France), Sabine Auken (Germany), Montserrat Mestres Rodriguez  (Spain), Gabriella Olivieri  (Italy), Elena Mihova  (Bulgaria). One question per one player, five questions. All the players had to answer their own question; four of five have answered the others’ too. We’ll publish the individual questions in five days, each dedicated to one player. In the sixth day, the five champions shall answer a collective question.

Sabine Auken nee Zenkel, princess of Franconia, became empress twice: in 1995 and 2001 she has won the world women title, the Venice Cup. But she’s far from the European throne since 1989 Turku (Finland). She plays strong club and 4CM with Daniela von Arnim.

We ask: Sabine, you have superbly opened 1♣, saying “Any 16+ High Card Points (HCP)”; West passes, Daniela responses 1 (negative), or 1 (positive). In either cases, what call do you expect East does?

The duke Mark Horton is journalist, editor of Bridge Magazine, author, bridge champion and chess international master (a drawback in the heraldry are these tedious lists of titles). In his “Defences to a strong club” (1982), the duke Horton says that after North’s 1 response, East must be cautious because the opening side hasn’t yet the game visual, then entering the auction could drive to an useless sacrifice. On the contrary the Duke says after 1 it is advisable to enter, at least for disturbing.

His Majesty, the king Ely Culbertson, denied this. In his Blue Book (1934), he said that after the North’s 1 response, East can enter the auction because N-S haven’t enough knowledge of the strength in their line, then they aren’t yet ready for a business double. After North’s 1 they can double, then East must be more prudent.

Which one are you according to?

Sabine Auken replies:

I don’t agree with either one. East’s action depends mainly on what hand he/she holds. Even though I agree it could be fun to practice some blind bidding once in a while.

About this, the others say:

Catherine D’Ovidio: I prefer Mark version

Montserrat Mestres Rodriguez: The opening strong club allows the overcall to a level of one, easily and without risk, I’m in favor of auction, agree with the old school, the law of the early auction is vital in this game.

Gabriella Olivieri: I think that, not vuln against vul, East has good reasons when he dare, but we must remember that any interference gives clues on shape, then it must be carefully valued.

Elena Mihova: I would agree with Ely Culbertson. Direct overcall after strong 1♣ opening is much more effective in disturbing opponents’ bidding. For example, 1♣ (South) – 1M – double (GF ot not) – 3M could make South’s live difficult. Interfering with opponents game forcing bidding should be done with a sound suit or when holding good distribution.

The German Team: Sabine Auken, Daniela von Arnim, Beathe Nemhert (called “Pony”), Cristina Giampietro, Annaig Della Monta, Barbara Hackett.

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