We had been drafted in as Subs. Our opponents, from GBC Bridge Club, were also a bit short of people, and in the pair we played against there were a lot of Beechams being eaten. "The daily limit is 12 in 24 hours", said our beleaguered opponent, "but I've been having Strepsils too."
Since it was my first league match I was a bit nervous, and kept checking what type of scoring it was (aggregate), and which way North was. On the very first Board I went for a wild unblocking play, throwing away my winning ♠Q as I was convinced Anna had the ♠J and ♠T. If in doubt, unblock, that's what I've heard. But in this case it was actually declarer who had the other Spades, and embarrassingly won them all to make the contract exactly. If I hadn't been so keen to unblock we could have beaten it by two tricks.
In the first twelve boards there were mostly part scores, which have little effect in aggregate scoring. There were two big hands though - once when an opponent was dealt 26 points. On our table they ended up playing 4♠ in a 4-2 fit, and made it exactly. On another table David had the same hand for our team. After he opened 2♣ and partner showed a non-minimum (by bidding 2♦ in reply) he bid a simple 6NT, and made it exactly.
On the other big hand I pushed the boat out and overcalled 1♠. Anna took me seriously and raised me to 3♠, then later came in again with 4♠, which was doubled. The play didn't go well, and after going three off I noticed one of the middle buttons on my shirt was undone. Still, at equal vulnerability three off doubled was about equal with their making 4♥ game.
At the half way stage team Rowan were about 1500 points up, a decent margin, but of course could be wiped out in a single board.
In the second half the bridge got a bit wilder, and we missed a couple of games, and so did our opponents. At one point I chivalrously went to get another glass of water for our coughing opponent, and rushed back up the stairs and into a routine 2♦ contract. It all went horribly wrong though. Half way through the play I found an extra Club in my hand, and noticed another shirt button that was undone - what did I look like when I came in? 2♦-1, vulnerable, meant -100 points instead of +90.
After that it got a bit more relaxed. I enjoyed it when I ducked declarer's singleton heart with my Ace, and afterwards Anna grinned at me knowing I'd done it again, ducked a singleton. It didn't cost a trick though, I'm sure it didn't.
On the penultimate board of the day Me and Anna bid a big 6NT, after a very dodgy auction. Once Anna bid 3NT I raised directly to 6NT, and prayed we weren't off two aces. It made exactly, and I knew that was a good score. So on the final board my blood was up, and I decided to go looking for a slam. I didn't find it though. Despite all the good things we did in the evening, this is the hand that sticks in my mind.
Anna sitting North opened 1♣. I was sitting South, and had a big hand. Once Anna opened I was dreaming big, even though I've a singleton in her suit. I replied 1♦, and Anna rebid 2♣. I now bid 2♥. This is natural, and also this shows a responder's reverse which we play as game forcing. Anna then bid 3♦, which describes her hand perfectly. She's got exactly three card Diamond support, as with four Diamonds she's have raised before.
At this point I should bid a calm 3NT. I've got a big Spade stop, and at most we've got about 30 points.
But, on the other hand, I've got five losers, Anna opened, and we've a Diamond fit. I'm gunning for another slam.
I wanted to bid 4♦, which is forcing, but I was slightly worried Anna would pass. I shouldn't really worry about this, but afterwards Anna admitted there was just a chance she might have passed it. So instead I went for an immediate 1430 Keycard , after I worked out that I could probably handle any reply from partner. Anna only showed just one keycard, so with a sense of dread I settled for 5♦.
West lead a Spade. When I saw dummy I knew that 3NT was making. In 5♦ we were missing two Aces, so I had to hope for no losers in trumps. To go down in 5♦ when 3NT was making would be a very bad result.
East won the Spade lead with the Ace and returned a Heart. I knew I had to guess trumps. But I decided that, before doing that, it was worth trying to steal a trick in Clubs by leading up to dummy. I hoped that West would duck (maybe like me she ducks too much). But, she took her ♣A, and now I couldn't afford to lose any more tricks. But I did. West returned a Heart and East ruffed that. And worse than that, East returned a Club and West ruffed that. And worse than that, they then got another Heart ruff. Anna was not amused. I was now three off. And the really embarrassing thing is I could actually have made 5♦, if I start with trumps and choose to finesse West.
Overall, the team finished about 3,000 points ahead, which translated to a 14-2 Victory Points win.