Friday, 28 December 2012

Cape Verde Crusader

We didn't play any bridge in Cape Verde. Instead I set a 13 point quiz to Anna, on card combinations. Did she get them right, or too many Sangrias? Assume always you are going for the maximum number of tricks, and have entries a plenty.

Try these first four, then I'll give the answers according to Suitplay.exe.

Here's the answers:


Q T x
A x x

A tough one to start! Suitplay says play low to the Ace, then lead up to either the Queen or Ten. But I think that when you lead up to the Queen-Ten if West has the King he might play it, but he'd never volunteer the Jack. Hence you do better in the long run leading up to the Ten.


A J x x
Q x x

It's a guess who might have Kx, but I think it's best to assume that West has it. That way you can win three tricks without losing any. Hence start with low to the Jack, then cash the Ace.


A J 9
x x

A classic. Low to the nine, then if an honour pops up from East you finesse West for the other honour. If West plays an honour on the first round, you have a guess what to do next (too tricky for me).


A T x
Q 9 x

Everything's about the same as long as you finesse twice. Suitplay says low to the ten, then run the Queen or Nine second round.

Here's five more. Try and ignore the crow, he doesn't know what he's talking about.

Answers to those five:


A Q x x x

Very saucy. The best play is low to the Ten on the first round. If the Ten was in the long hand though, you'd just play off the Ace-King-Queen. I got this one wrong. The finesse gains when there is Jx or Jxxx or Jxxxx or Jxxxxx onside, and only loses when there is Jxx offside.


K T 9
x x x

Finesse twice. This gives you an almost 80% chance of a trick.


K x x x
x x x

For one trick, duck twice then lead up to the King. If you need two tricks, then duck once and then lead up to the King (you make two tricks if there is Axx onside).


K J T 9 8 x x x

Low to the King. For one loser you hope to find a singleton Queen. A singleton Ace does you no good, as you then have to lose another trick to the person with Qxx.


Q T 9 8 x x x

This time you are weaker as you have only eight cards. For just one loser either cash the Ace then play the Queen (hoping opponents have Jx;Kxx), or cash the Ace then play the Ten (hoping opponents have Kx;Jxx).

Try these last four problems:


A T x x
K x x

Low to the King then finesse the Ten on the second round. I originally thought it was better to cash the Ace and King then lead up to the Ten, but this loses to QJxx onside. Actually, quite a lot of these I got wrong.


A x x x
Q J 9 x

For all four tricks, run the Queen. If the Queen is covered with the King, then win the Ace then cash the Jack. If it is not covered then run the Jack. In both cases you are hoping for opponents' having (Kxx;Tx) or (KT;xxx). If you only need three tricks then cash the Ace then lead up to your Queen-Jack.

However, the ultimate Matchpoint line (that gives the highest average number of tricks) is different again, and involves two finesses. You run the Queen, then finesse the Nine. That's the line I would normally take I think, as it has a high average number of tricks (finesses protect you against bad breaks), and also has the exciting possibility of giving you all the tricks.


Q x x
K J x x

An easy one. Play low to the hand with two honours in it twice. You have a 44% chance of winning three tricks that way, which admittedly isn't much better than the 36% chance of the suit splitting 3-3 (but playing it this way gives the defence a chance to go wrong too).


Q x x x
K x x x

Last one! First, decide who you think has doubleton Ace. suppose it's East. Lead up to the King, then play low from both hands on the next round, to bring down his Ace. Glorious if it works.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

SBU Peebles Congress - Part 2

Half way through we are in a marvellous 33rd equal, out of 140 pairs. There's now a three hour break, to allow the Hotel to serve dinner in two seatings. Many people in the Congress are staying the whole weekend, full board. Thus most of my banter between rounds is about whether the other couple are staying in the hotel or not, not great stuff. In fact at one point when everyone else is itching to start Anna starts to giggle as my chat's so poor.

We are sadly not booked into the Hydro Hotel, and so walk into Peebles for a pub dinner. John's gang are off to an Indian, but Anna wants somewhere quiet. For the first time we've ever played together, it's Anna who cracks and decides she wants to get out the hand records and have a look at them.

After a couple of hours it's time to go. I'm not allowed to finish my pint as Anna wants to make sure we're fresh for the evening session. This consists of another 24 boards, from 8pm-11pm. Really, there's no way we're ever going to be fresh, and a post-prandial late-night bridge-overload slump is inevitable. With our remaining hour before play starts Anna tries for a power nap on a big leather sofa and I walk up and down in the cold.

Round Five - 11/20 VPs

The event is now divided into three rooms. Me and Anna are flying high and are in the top room, albeit the second bottom table. Our opponents this round have come up from England, and straight away she is muttering about the cold draught from the window, and he is getting upset when the person sitting behind him (who, like him, is rather fat), bumps his chair when sitting down. They spend the next few minutes muttering to each other. Then I casually mention that we're not S.B.U. members, and she gets very uppity, saying that if this was the E.B.U. we'd never be allowed to compete without membership.

In the bridge we get a flying start with a textbook Crowhurst auction (Board 1) leading to Anna making 2♠+1. Then the opponents miss an easy slam (Board 6), despite their Modified Hackett convention ("Paul denies all knowledge of it").

Vul EW
E deal
♠ Q
♥ K Q J T 8 3
♦ A T 7 6 4
♣ T 4 2
♠ J 9 6 2
♥ 9 4 2
♦ 8 2
♣ 9 7 6 5
♠ A T 8 7 5 4
♥ -
♦ J 5 3
♣ Q T 8 4
♠ K 3
♥ A 7 6 5
♦ K Q 9
♣ A K J 3
3♠4♥ - -

Anna sitting East deals and opens a standard weak two. South's double shows 16+ and 4 Hearts (the other bids of 2NT, 3♣ and 3♦ show the other combinations of weak and strong hands with and without four Hearts). Sitting West I have a one count with four Spades, vulnerable. I go for a conservative 3♠, which perhaps does the trick as when North bids 4♥ South lets this go. Declarer makes all 13 tricks on a Club lead, but defending 4♥+3 is still a good one for us.

On John's table the opposition played 4♠x minus loads.

Things briefly go a bit haywire as we end up over-competing to a doomed 4♥ (Board 2), but overall it's a fairly good round. Beryl is getting so sullen I start to have a bit of fun, by being as polite as possible. At the end of the round I practically shout "Well played, thanks for the game." to each miserable opponent in turn. They don't reply. It's nice at least that they weren't rude to each other, just to us.

Round Six - 12/20 VPs

Our narrow win from the last round is just enough to keep us in the top room. Next we play a lovely couple, and there's no malice even though the Director is called to our table at lest three times. On one board I've got 11 cards, another board 15 cards, then there's an enquiry as to whether we've benefited from unauthorised information on the hand below (Board 10). Specifically, has Anna's pause before passing 3♠ helped me decide to double it?

Vul both
E deal
♠ A J T 7 4 3
♥ T 8
♦ Q 5 3
♣ Q 2
♠ 2
♥ K 7 4
♦ A 8 7
♣ A K J 6 5 4
♠ 9 5
♥ A Q J 6 3
♦ J 9 4 2
♣ T 3
♠ K Q 8 6
♥ 9 5 2
♦ K T 6
♣ 9 8 7
- -
1♣1♠x 2♠
3♣3♠- -
x - - -

Sitting West I open a club, North overcalls 1♠ and Anna doubles. The double shows 6+ points and at least four Hearts. When it comes back round to me I bid 3♣, and North overcalls 3♠. Anna apparently now hesitated for a bit before passing, though I don't think she hesitated for very long. When it's back to me, I realised that we have at least 21 points between us, and I can play in any suit except Spades, so make a final takeout double. Anna passes this (should have bid 4♥).

3♠x-1 goes one off, but the Director has been called and it might be ruled back to just 3♠-1. It doesn't really matter whether we get +100 or +200, as we can make 12 tricks in Hearts. Once they find this out, the opponents aren't too bothered any more (but the Director does rule in our favour, and the result stands at 3♠x-1).

Then it's bad to worse as I make a blunder in defence to 3NT, setting up declarer's ninth trick (Board 9). I seem to do that quite often, set up declarer's tricks. But it's difficult, as sometimes in matchpoints it's essential to cash your winners to prevent overtricks. We are partially reprieved next deal (Board 11) when opponents have a bad auction to 4♠+1, missing a slam (why do people transfer into a Major then bid game in it, when they've only got five cards and it could be a 5-2 fit?). Then comes my crowning glory, a dubious bid that paid off handsomely (Board 12).

Vul NS
W deal
♠ 6 3
♥ J 9 8 4 3
♦ A T 5 3
♣ 6 3
♠ Q J 9 8 5
♥ A 5 2
♦ -
♣ A K 8 5 2
♠ A K 7
♥ K 6
♦ 9 6 4 2
♣ Q J 9 7
♠ T 4 2
♥ Q T 7
♦ K Q J 8 7
♣ T 4
4♣- 4♠-
6♠ - - -

I have the juicy West hand and open 1♠. When I see Anna pulling out a card to reply I'm almost certain it's going to be 2♦, but then I see 2♣ and we're in business. I think of splintering in Diamonds, but want to keep the possiblity of a major game so bid 4♣. This is clearly forcing (3♣ is invitational), but I'm still a bit afraid Anna will pass. When she bids 4♠ I'm cheered by the double fit and start thinking about how to investigate slam. I think for a bit then decide to just bid 6♠.

When dummy comes down I've hit the jackpot, it couldn't be any more suitable. Anna's got all the missing honours in spades and clubs, nothing wasted in diamonds, and a handy King doubleton in hearts. It's such a good dummy in fact, that I easily make all 13 tricks. Of course, if Anna's Ace-King of spades were in diamonds instead I'd look rather foolish.

On John Faben's table he was also sitting West. After opening 1♠ like me, he rebid 4♦ over partner's 2&clubs. This was a splinter, which suits Easts hand very well with four small Diamonds. Something went wrong after that though as they finished in 6♣ (not 7♣ and not 6♠).

Anyway it was a glorious sight to see that perfect dummy, and we end up narrowly winning this match too.

Round Seven - 3/20 VPs

We've now played 6 rounds, and won 4 of them, lost 1 and drawn 1. We're up to Table 14 out of 70. As it turns out, this is a high-water mark, and we bomb dramatically in Round 7.

It's fairly poor from our opponents too, and the whole round is a bit shambolic. We play half of the first hand (Board 15) against Ed Jones and Alex, before the Director informs them that they are sitting on the wrong table. The Board is played again against the new opponents. The first time round on the board our opponents were heading for 5♦ (just making, good for us), the second time 3NT (making +2, bad for us). Since the auctions differ the hand is annulled.

It restarts well - we win the next one when they go off in 4♥ (Board 14). Declarer is poised to make it with two tricks to go, but plays the last two the wrong way round. I realised what was going on in defence and was tremendously relieved when declarer bodged it. Then I make a very saucy 2♦ on a 5-1 fit (Board 16, with a super endplay), and I wonder if we might do alright. What was I thinking?

We've done well to hold it off for so long, but now it's time to bomb. Nothing spectacularly bad happens, just a bit of vulnerable overbidding (Board 13, Anna) and sloppy defence (Board 18, me), but it's enough to see us losing the round 3 VPs to 17.

Round Eight - 12/20 VPs

After the big loss we're out of the top room and into the middle room, where we'll play the final round. It's the nicest room so far. The bridge from this point on is a bit crazy, and there's a constant risk of something stupid happening.

We started the round late as I'd nipped off to the toilet, then when I got back we had one of the slowest auctions ever. It's painful for me and I'm bidding it, not sure how the opponents coped (Board 23).

Both Vul
S deal
♠ 7 4
♥Q J 6 5 3
♦ 9 8 3
♣ K 6 2
♠ K Q J 3
♥ A K
♦ A J 6 5
♣ Q 8 3
♠ A 8 6 2
♥ T 9 8 7
♦ K 7 2
♣ A 5
♠ T 9 5
♥ 4 2
♦ Q T 4
♣ J T 9 7 4
2NT- 3♣ x
3♠-4NT -
5♦ - 6♠ -
- - -

Anna's sitting West. She counts her point five times then opens a 20-21 point 2NT. I'm straight away thinking that my hand falls into the danger zone of maybe-slam with 11 points. There's going to be a decision to make later, but for now I just bid Stayman. Anna shows 4 Spades and we've got a trump suit. One of the things we have discussed system-wise is that after Stayman 4NT is Blackwood, which I now bid. Slam might not be good, but if we've got enough aces I'm bidding it anyway. Anna thinks for an age and finally comes up with 5♦, showing 3 keycards. Then I think for two ages and in the end decide that since I've asked for keycards, and we've got all five, I can't really back down now. So I bid 6♠.

North leads a Club, which Anna runs round to her Queen. North is furious, and is banging her remaining cards on the table, rather unethically making it quite obvious to her partner she's just blown a trick by leading away from the King. The rest of the play goes smoothly, apart from Anna accidentally ruffing her winning 4th diamond, but we still make 6♠= for a good score. That's our third Spade slam of the day.

In the post mortem East-West are arguing and it occurs to me that I'd totally missed South's double of 3♣. That ought to have been a wake up call, but in fact the next hand (Board 19) I commit an even worse error, not noticing that my own partner had doubled. To be fair, and I said this afterwards, the double cards and the tables are both red.

EW Vul
S deal
♠ 4 3
♥ K 6
♦ J T 9 8 3
♣ J 8 7 2
♠ 8 2
♥ A Q J 3
♦ K Q 5 4
♣ K T 4
♠ A T 9
♥ T 9 5 3
♦ A 7 2
♣ A 9 6
♠ K Q J 7 6 5
♥ 8 7 4
♦ 6
♣ Q 5 3
-2♥ - 2♠
x-- -

South opens a Multi 2♦, North relays 2♥, now South shows her suit with 2♠. As far as I'm concerned, sitting East, this is now passed round to me. I really ought to double, as partner could have an opening hand, but I decide to pass and defend. When I see how weak dummy is I realise we're getting a bad score, and wish I'd doubled. It goes two off, but that's no consolation. When scoring up, it turns out that Anna had already doubled 2♠. North didn't realize this either and we have to call over the Director to fix the BridgeMate.

It doesn't help us much getting +300 instead of +100, as really we should be in 4♥. The one advantage of our +300 though is that it means we get a better score than John on the board, who also doubled 2♠ but his partner with three aces only bid 3♥ for +170 (note that even if NS find the Diamond ruff 4♥ makes).

Then it's the opponents turn to play and fail, as we benefit by passing out a big 4♣ overcall and taking it two off (Board 20). Both me and Anna nearly had another bid and could easily have gotten overboard ourselves. There's an air of madness about every board. On the penultimate hand we have the following bizarre auction (Board 21).

3♦3♠ 4♣ -
5♣-- -

Opponents open yet another Multi 2♦ and I again double to show Diamonds. Anna raises this, but when I later bid 4♣ to show my two suiter (it's a competitive auction) she decides that actually I don't really have Diamonds and must instead have a monster hand with Clubs. She raises me to 5♣ and I play there, going one off, though briefly I think I'm going to make it as I forget I can only afford to lose two tricks.

Anna had the honour of playing the final one (Board 22). Who wouldn't want to be in 4♠ here?

♠ Q J 8 6
♥ 7
♦ A K 9 6 4
♣ K J 6
♠ A K 9 7
♥ Q 9 8 5
♦ J 7
♣ 7 3 2

It went one off with the Ace and Queen of clubs both offide, for a poor finish.

It was now after 11pm, I was far too warm and me and Anna were both repeatedly complaining of being frazzled. Time to go. Anna manned up and drove the whole way back, to watch a recording of the evening's Strictly Come Dancing quarter-final.

What a day.

SBU Peebles Congress - Part 1

Me and Anna are in the big time! We've entered the S.B.U. Winter Congress in Peebles near Edinburgh (even though we're not S.B.U. members, more of that later). The event lasts all weekend, but we're just playing in the Saturday Swiss Pairs.

We share the driving there, an hour and a half each way. My bit is extremely stressful, as the roads are windy and when Anna tells me to "keep to the inside" I think she means hug the hedge, but actually she means stay closer to the middle of the road. It all feels incredibly dangerous. John Faben is in the back, and when we get there he compliments Anna on how calm she is when I'm driving, which I think might be a subtle way of saying he was terrified when I was at the wheel.

There are 140 pairs in the Peebles Hydro Hotel. It's quite a grand setting, and I'm glad that I've dressed for the occasion. I'm wearing my navy suit with a black tie and black shirt. Beige jumper too. I saunter into the Residents Only section of hotel and pick up some complimentary tea for the pair of us. At the time I attribute my success at fitting in to being smartly dressed and looking the part, but later when I look in the mirror I realise I actually look a bit ridiculous.

To make the day more attractive to Anna ("I feel as if I've been duped into going") I've prepared a bumper packed lunch. We find a quiet table and have some bagels, satsumas and Mint Matchsticks along with the illicit tea.

The event is Swiss Pairs. Each round you play six boards against one other pair. For each board your score is compared with every other table, and you get a matchpoint percentage. At the end of the six rounds your average matchpoint score determines how many Victory Points you get out of 20. So for an average round you get 10 VPs, a massive win gets you all 20 VPs. The excitement of a Swiss event is that after each round you move to a new table, based on your overall position in the tournament. If you've had a good round you move up towards the hallowed Table 1, a bad round and you disappear further down the Hotel Ballroom.

There's four rounds in the afternoon session, and four in the evening session.

Round One - 13/20 VPs

Our first round opponents are very friendly, and we get off to a good start. Anna is clearly not intimidated by the occasion. On the first hand (Board 3) she opens a weak two in Spades with ♠AKQ732 ♥T9 ♦82 ♣873. I raise this to 4♠, then when an opponent comes in with 5♦ Anna comes in over the top with 5♠. Although this goes two off the opponents diamond game was making, so it ought to be a good score, but for some reason isn't.

On the next one (Board 4)I play a 3NT with only 8 tricks, but make it on a squeeze. Much later, on the drive home, John points out that I can actually make it easily anyway without the squeeze. But at the time I didn't know that, and was feeling good.

But shortly after, comes the first bodge of the day (Board 2). We settle in 5♠ (fortunately, as one of my bids was mistaken for Exclusion Keycard Blackwood and Anna duly responded with one ace. I thought we were cuebidding). In the play my only possible losers are in this trump suit:

T 7 4
A 9 2 Q 5
K J 8 6 3

I stupidly lead the Ten (what would Victor Mollo say?), covered by the Queen, King and Ace. Then I lose a second trump trick to West's nine. I have a suspicion that if I'd bid it up to 6♠, which I nearly did, I might have just lead up to the Jack and made 12 tricks. As it is 5♠= is a bad one for us.

When the scores come in we've a narrow victory. We're heading up the room! Best of all, we weren't outrageously slow, and didn't have any directorial wranglings for dodgy slow pauses (that comes later).

Round Two - 10/20 VPs

Bad start - Anna got unlucky leading a low spade from ♠KQ92 ♥K92 ♦A63 ♣643 against a weak NT (Board 9). Declarer had ♠AJ in hand and gratefully took two spade tricks, and that was enough to give us a bad score on the board.

Me and Anna are having a poor round, playing in a dodgy 4-3 heart fit (Board 7, should have been in NT) and need a boost. Although it's matchpoints everyone loves bidding a slam. I think about it on the hand below, but luckily managed to stay low. I'm East and Anna is West (Board 10).

Both Vul
E deal
♠ -
♥ 7 6 4 3
♦ 8 6 4 2
♣ K Q 9 6 5
♠ A J
♥ 8 5
♦ Q J T 9 3
♣ A 7 4 2
♠ K Q T 9 8 5 4
♥ K Q T
♦ K 7
♣ 8
♠ 7 6 3 2
♥ A J 9 2
♦ A 5
♣ J T 3
2♦- 4♠ -

I open the East hand 1♠ then rebid 4♠, which shows a hand like this but probably a bit weaker. Since we play Reverse Benji I think I should actually open 2♦. In the play I got a club lead then immediately started on diamonds. South paused for ages, then took her Ace. She then wisely took her ace of hearts to hold me to 11 tricks. If she'd have won the ace of diamonds then returned a diamond not sure what I've done.

Another feature of the hand is that after drawing three rounds of trumps I thought they were all out. I was about to claim, then just to make sure I drew one more round. Was very surprised to see South following again. I had moment of panic as I wonder what horrible punishment we might have got if I did claim once there was still a trump out. As it was, 4♠+1 scored fairly well.

Now here's a massive slam we did bid (Board 11).

None Vul
S deal
♠ 6 3 2
♥ Q J T 8 7 5
♦ 6
♣ T 4 2
♠ A K T 9 8
♥ K 4 3
♦ A 8 3 2
♣ J
♠ Q J 7 4
♥ -
♦ J T 9 7
♣ A K 9 8 6
♠ 5
♥ A 9 6 2
♦ K Q 5 4
♣ Q 7 5 3
1♠3♥ 4♥ 5♥
5♠-6♠ -
- -

Anna opens 1♠ and North overcalls a very weak 3♥. I'm now getting very excited as East and bid 4♥, which I meant as showing Heart shortage but actually just means a good raise of Spades. South bids 5♥ completing the run of 3♥-4♥-5♥. I've decided already I'm going to bid 5♠ when it comes round to me, but when Anna bids 5♠ herself (based on working out I've got no Hearts), I decided to top it up to 6♠

Anna gets a nice Diamond lead. She ruffs a couple of Hearts, draws trumps then gives up a Diamond and claims. Bingo! This good result is enough to mean we draw the match, a good result against top opponents Paul Gipson and Sam Punch.

Note - two rounds in and I'm getting rather warm. Walking along the corridor to get more water I wished I'd brought two more shirts; one for the evening session and one for the drive home.

Round Three - 5/20 VPs

Not really sure what happened here. Don't think we were yet on the tilt, just a series of bad boards. Opposite my 2NT opening (Board 13), Anna had ♠97654 ♥QJT ♦642 ♣85. The winning action here is to transfer to Spades then pass, letting me make 3♠. We were not unreasonably in 4♠ though. To make it I need to pick up this Diamond suit for no losers:

A K T 9 3
6 4 2

I got it wrong - one off for another poor score.

All of our opponents seemed to play Multi 2♦ (or Tartan Twos). Luckily we have a cunning defence to the Multi - double shows diamonds. Unluckily, Anna doesn't like this defence and generally chooses to ignore it. On the next hand (Board 16) we are at favourable vulnerability and after opponents open 2♦ I double with nothing more than ♠5 ♥J943 ♦QT953 ♣973. Anna pays no attention to my double (no alert) and we end up defending 3NT. I'm ethically a bit confused what to do (should declarer be told I've got diamonds?). In the end we get a poor score anyway for only taking 3NT down by one trick.

A dud round, just 5/20 Victory points and we're back in the bottom half of the field.

Round Four - 20/20 VPs

Last session before the break. Finally, we are blessed with a few gifts from the opponents. On one hand they were bidding in Spades and investigating slam (Board 23). I was sitting with ♠KJT6 ♥T54 ♦875 ♣K75 over the main Spade bidder, and decided if they got to 6♠ I'd definitely double. They stopped in 5♠, which I passed. I got three trump tricks and my club King for two off, a bumper board for us.

This round was a stonking win - now it's time for Tea!

Part Two here.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Danny the Champion

Me and Anna came top at Buchanan matchpoints! Our final score was 60%, but it was a game of two halves. After much analysis I calculated that we averaged 74% in the first half, and 47% in the second half. Also there were a couple of hands that were accidentally rotated, that we benefited from, including a bad hand where both opponents and partner pointed out to me that I should have taken my Ace of Clubs.

Here's a hand from the second half, where I transformed a good board into a bottom. The opponents looked like resting in 4♥, but I kept the bidding open, forced them into 6♥, then found the lead to let them make it.

Love all
N deal
♠ J 8 3
♥ A Q T 6
♦ K Q 7 4
♣ K T
♠ K Q 9
♥ 8 7 5
♦ J T 5
♣ J 8 6 2
♠ T 6 5 2
♥ -
♦ 9 2
♣ A Q 9 7 5 4 3
♠ A 7 4
♥ K J 9 4 3 2
♦ A 8 6 3
♣ -
4♣4♥ - -
5♣5♥- 6♥
-- -

North opens the bidding 1♦. Then Anna sitting East weighs in with 3♣, which shows either a six or seven card suit. Ideally without a four card major, but I think she definitely has to bid here. South has an easy 3♥ bid, and I have my first quandary as East. I went for a pitiful 4♣. "Automatic 5♣" I can hear Ben Paske saying.

North bids 4♥, and South, with a monster hand including a diamond fit, thinks for ages, picks up a bid, puts it back down, then passes. She's obviously thinking about bidding on. This is Unauthorised Information for her partner North, but is authorised for me. So I decide to take advantage of it, and bid 5♣. This is because I now know that South will bid 5♥ over it, and I'd rather defend 5♥ than 4♥. But to my surprise, it's North who bids 5♥. This is not really allowed, as bidding on has been so strongly suggested by South's long think on the previous round. South duly tops up to 6♥, and I'm in trouble. Now I've helped them get to slam I really need to take it down. This needs a killer lead.

I find the disastrous lead of ♠K. My thinking is that we've hopefully got one ace (probably Clubs), and so the ♠Q will be the setting trick. But declarer just takes my King with her Ace, draws trumps, and finally leads up to the ♠J in dummy for the twelfth trick.

The score of -980 gets us a joint bottom (two other pairs conceded 6♥). In fact, the slam can be made by South on any lead. Declarer has to eliminate the other three suits then lead a Spade to West, who is then endplayed, so declarer can always get two Spade tricks.

See this deal (Board 17), and the full results from The Buchanan here.