Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Glasgow League Division One: Civic vs Rowan

Last night we were at St. Andrews to play a team called Civic. Me and Anna sat down against Bill and Ileen.

Things started badly, when on all of the first three boards we had chances at game, but unfortunately played the partscore hand in game and the two game hands in partscore. Our next chance at game came when we had 25 points but no Heart stop, so wisely stopped in 3♣. However, this was the layout of the Heart suit, with West on lead:

♥ J x x
♥ K Q T x x ♥ A x
♥ x x x

To beat 3NT West needs to lead a low Heart, which never happened, so where it was bid 3NT made.

That turned out to be all the good cards we had in the first half, and our opponents went on to rack up a series of games against us. At the half way point Team Rowan was about 2000 points down. The damage was softened by some nice gingerbread cake.

In the second half the contracts were low, until we got to the 'slam hand' (rotated so Anna is South and I'm North).

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

1. Looking at just North and South, what contract would you like to be in?

Me and Anna ended up in 6♣. It was not a success. This was the full deal and our terrible auction:

No one vul
W deal
♠ A K Q
♥ A Q J 8 5 4
♦ 9
♣ T 9 3
♠ 6 2
♥ 9 6 3
♦ Q 7 5 4 3
♣ K 7 2
♠ T 8 7 5 3
♥ K T 2
♦ A J T 2
♣ J
♠ J 9 4
♥ 7
♦ K 8 6
♣ A Q 8 6 5 4

Surprisingly, all of these were natural bids. I opened 1♥ and Anna replied 2♣. Fine so far. I then went for a three card reverse of 2♠, despite having a perfectly good 3♥ rebid available. My addled thinking was that my hand would be a good dummy for Clubs, and if I rebid 3♥ we can't get to Clubs. Anna bid 3NT. I didn't fancy that with my singleton Diamond and six Hearts so bid 4♥ to play, and now the wheels came off. Anna quite reasonably corrected to 4♠, and since I knew that was a 3-3 fit I escaped to 5♣. Unfortunately it didn't end there; Anna corrected me back to 5♥, and I went for 6♣. This was passed out.

Before the opening lead the opposition asked a flurry of questions about the auction. We couldn't tell them much, as we'd just got into a muddle and don't have agreements for bidding on after 3NT like this. West kept asking me what I guessed my partner's bids meant. I was a bit uncomfortable guessing but said that I thought Anna's bids could be cuebids or could be natural. East asked me at what point we'd agreed Clubs. I said not until the 6♣ bid!

West lead a Spade, then on seeing dummy reserved her rights, presumably because she thought she'd been misinformed. The only thing I can think of that could be misinformation is that during the explanation I was asked about my shape and said that my bidding had shown six Hearts and four Spades

2. Was I wrong to say this?

Perhaps she reasoned that since I also supported Clubs I must have a Diamond void, so she'd been deceived out of leading a Diamond. Anna won the Spade lead and immediately finessed Clubs, losing to the ♣K. West still didn't lead a Diamonds, instead playing another Spade. Anna drew the remaining trumps. She now has a chance to make the contract if she can set up the Hearts, which needs them 3-3 and a good guess as to who has the King. She went for the straight finesse, which lead to two down.

Note that the other way to play 6♣ is to try and ruff Diamonds, which makes whenever you have no Club losers.

The other two tables I talked to afterwards managed to play in 4♥, which is good going as 3NT goes down on a Diamond lead. 5♣ also makes.

Anna and I obviously lost a game swing for our team on this hand, but pulled back some points with good defence later on, then on the very last board Anna bid and made our only game.

In the end Team Rowan lost by about 1600 points, for a 5-11 defeat.

Monday, 24 November 2014

East Swiss Pairs 2014

Last year I played in The East of Scotland Swiss Pairs with Kris Nyugen from Edinburgh and we finished 11th (read my report here). This year I was playing with Anna. One thing stayed the same though. Just like last year I was part of the the last pair in the room, jogging in at a minute past one.

Since we live in Glasgow now we left quite quickly afterwards to drive home, and in my hurry I picked up two copies of the hand records from the first half. Hence I'm going to focus on the early deals.

In Round One we played in a slow and measured way. We bid conservatively and took no risks, apart from two wild moments (out of six boards).

Non-vulnerable, this was Anna's hand. We play standard Acol.

♠ A K Q J 8
♥ K J T
♦ 8 6
♣ A Q T

1: What do you open?

Anna went for the usual 2NT opening. We're not too strict about this bid and it could even include a singleton. I raised her to 3NT which was passed out, or so I thought. Then Anna pointed out that she hadn't actually passed yet, and still had a bid. After some thought she pulled out 4♠, which surprised everyone. She was worried about the Diamond suit. This was the full deal.


South lead a Heart. Anna now has ten top tricks (five Spades, two Hearts including a ruff and three Clubs). This is one more top trick than in 3NT, so ought to be a good score. However, lots of people made ten tricks in 3NT, getting their extra trick either in Clubs or Diamonds. Anna could have got her eleventh trick here, but guessed to play for Clubs 3-3 rather than the ♦A onside so only made 4♠=. I think this hand demonstrates how tricky Matchpoints is.

After this board I thought we must have been doing badly so pre-empted wildly on the last board of the set. This had no effect as the opponents calmly bid 5♥ over me and made it. In fact we hadn't done as bad as I thought, and we scored 8/20 VPs, and moved just slightly down the field.

In Round 2 came the Deal of the Day, with big decisions for all four players. With nobody vulnerable my left hand opponent dealt and opened 1♥.

♠ 7 2
♥ K 6 4
♦ A
♣ A K J 6 4 3 2

2. What do you overcall with this hand?

I decided I was too good for 2♣ so doubled planning to bid Clubs next round (which for us shows about 16-18 and a good 6+ card suit). It was only when the bidding got back round that I thought of 3NT. This was the full deal and auction at our table:


After my double East was restrained in not bidding her eight card Diamond suit, and in fact was restrained throughout. Anna has the perfect hand to respond 1NT to my double (8-11 points, Heart stop), but curiously chose to introduce her three card Spade suit. This proved to be a tactical masterstroke, as the opponents can actually make 6♠ but were cut out of the auction by her unusual bid. Perhaps out of frustration West jumped to 3♥. I was now all set to bid my Clubs, but remembered about 3NT and bid it with some confidence. I've got seven top Clubs (probably) the ♦A and surely a Heart on the lead.

Unfortunately East thwarted me by leading a Diamond. I played the ♦Q from dummy hoping West would have to play the ♦K. He played low so embarrassingly I had to overtake my winning Queen with the singleton ♦A. With the surprise Club support in dummy I've eight top tricks. I thought about crossing to dummy and leading a Heart through West to try and steal a ninth, which probably would have worked as he wouldn't expect me to have so many cashing Clubs. If however he did rise with the ♥A though he could then lead a Diamond back, and the defence would take seven more Diamonds and the rest in Spades, for a rare 3NT-8.

I decided instead just to run all my Clubs, which would lead to one down at worst or make if someone messed up the discards. I think West presumed I had ♦AK because he threw his remaining Diamond and in the end I was able to safely set up my ninth trick in Hearts, and actually finished on 3NT+1.

We collected 13/20 VPs for this round and moved up the field a bit.

In Round 3 we persisted with our counter-intuitive matchpoint strategy of bidding minor contracts wherever possible. This worked out well, as we missed a few doomed games. I had a little decision when dealer with this hand.

♠ 2
♥ 8 7 4 3
♦ A 7 6 4 3 2
♣ 4 3

It's worth noting that if you were playing reverse bridge (lowest card wins the trick), this would be a 2♣ opener. As we were playing normal bridge I passed. Anna opened 1♥, a natural bid showing a four card major.

3. What do you respond?

I think that you'd be mad to pass as you have an excellent hand in support of Hearts. I bid 2♥, and felt quite comfortable when Anna raised to 4♥. Then, having passed throughout, one of the opponents went into a long think about sacrificing over 4♥. I'm glad he didn't, as it was a double fit hand:


Against 4♥ North lead the ♠A then switched to a Diamond. Anna won the ♦A while also unblocking her ♦K, and went on to make the obvious eleven tricks. I think if South did bid 5♣ I might well have bid again.

We won this round with 17/20 VPs, and moved up to Table 5.

For lunch I had a scone:

In the second half we continued to bid calmly, declare averagely and defend generously. I have no records or memory of the hands so can only say we finished in joint 9th place, good enough for the 1st Bronze Prize:

Well done to Yvonne and David Wiseman on an emphatic win. Full results here and photos of the winners here (though this SBU News page might have changed by now).

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Glasgow League Division One: Rowan vs Phoenix

Last week Team Rowan suffered a 15-1 loss to Team Phoenix from Hamilton.

On our table we played against Alan and Martin. It was an exciting set of boards, and I think we gave as good as we got.

Board 2
NS vul
East deal
♠ A Q J x x x x
♥ x
♦ Q J x
♣ A x
♠ x
♥ A Q T x x x x
♦ A x
♣ J x x
♠ x
♥ J x x
♦ x x x x
♣ K Q T x x
♠ K x x
♥ K x
♦ K T x x
♣ 9 x x x

After two passes it came round to me sitting West. I would normally open this hand 1♥, but being third-in-hand I decided to mix things up with an immediate 4♥ bid. North bid a prompt 4♠, which I thought would probably end the auction. However, Anna chipped in with a 5♥ sacrifice, South weighed in with 5♠ and it was back round to me. I remember reading somewhere that if you choose to pre-empt with a good hand you should be prepared to double later on. I didn't really want to double 5♠ but with my two Aces felt I ought to give it a go.

Against 5♠x Anna led a Heart, and I was surprised when my ♥Q held the trick - Anna must have supported with only three Hearts. I was slightly worried about dummy's Diamonds so switched to a Club. Declarer took the ♣A, drew trumps in just one round then played on Diamonds. I snapped up the ♦A and we got our Club trick, for one down. "Great defence partner!" Anna said, with her eyes, while actually writing the score down silently.

That ought to have been a good board for us as 5♥ goes down as long as the defence find a Diamond switch. However, when Christine was declarer in 5♥ it went down when she gambled on North having a singleton ♥K so lost a trump trick, and when Heather & David were sitting North-South declarer managed to squeeze home in 5♥. Overall a bad one for Team Rowan then.

On to the next, where I rolled the dice again.

Board 7
All vul
South deal
♠ x x
♥ x x
♦ J T x x x
♣ A K Q x
♠ Q J T x x x x
♥ J x
♦ x x
♣ x x
♠ 9
♥ K Q x x
♦ A Q x x
♣ x x x
♠ A K x
♥ A x x x x
♦ K x
♣ J x x

South opened a weak 1NT (even though it's got 15 points if I've remembered the hand correctly). I had the seven card Spade suit and was planning on opening a weak 2♠, reasoning that the seventh trump made up for the weak hand. Over the 1NT I thought I should still bid, so overcalled 2♦ showing a six card major. North doubled and Anna bid 2♥. This would normally be pass or correct, but after the double I don't know it means. South doubled this and I now got to bid my 2♠, passed out.

There's a certain five losers of the top, so to make it I've just got to get rid of the Diamond loser. I tried to do this by setting up the Hearts but once I realised they were 5-2 it became tricky, so I banked on the certain Diamond finesse. This was a 'marked finesse', as by the time I came to finesse South had already shown 12 points, and in the auction North had doubled 2♦ to show Diamonds. I was shocked when the finesse lost. Maybe I miscounted South's points.

I hoped it would still be a good score for us, as the opponents have 25 points between them. North-South can make 3NT if they manage to force a couple of Diamond winners, to go with the other six top tricks, before the defence get into Hearts. 3NT made on Trish & Christine's table (where Team Rowan were defending) and went down on Heather & David's table (where Team Rowan were declaring). So another bad one for the team.

At the half way mark I expect we were quite far down. Tom & Raymond went to chat with their pals from Hamilton, while Anna lingered by the tea and coffee, waiting for me to make here a cup of tea.

Here's one I bodged:

Board 15
NS vul
South deal
♠ Q 6 x
♥ J x
♦ K x
♣ J T x x x x
♠ A K T 9 8 4
♥ x x
♦ x
♣ A Q x x
♠ J 7 x
♥ x x x
♦ A J T x x x
♣ x
♠ x
♥ A K Q x x x
♦ Q x x x
♣ K x

After South opened 1♥ I overcalled 1♠, and North made a very light 2♣ bid. This makes my hand slightly worse with the Club finesse likely to fail, but I felt was strong enough that when Anna supported me with 2♠ I could bid 3♠. When South bid 4♥ I bid 4♠ without really thinking - it was one of those nights where both sides just seemed to keep bidding.

When dummy came down I was glad Anna was full value for her 2♠, and game looked decent. I planned to get five trump tricks, four Clubs (with three ruffs in dummy) and the ♦A. The only danger was that when the defence got their ♠Q they could play another trump to cut down my ruffs, in which case I'd have to rely on setting up Diamonds. I didn't consider the lucky Club position making the ♣Q a winner.

North lead a Heart and South took the first two tricks and played a third Heart. I ruffed with the ♠T, and North shrewdly threw a Diamond. I started my cross-ruff, and got two Club ruffs in dummy before North took his ♠Q. He played a Club through and I had to ruff high in dummy to stop South over-ruffing. All this ruffing high had weakened my trumps and I ended up with my ♠4 in hand losing to North's ♠6. In fact on this layout once the ♣Q becomes high I don't need so many ruffs so can draw one round of trumps and make it.

I should say I played this hand painfully slowly, and apologised to everyone afterwards. And on the other tables? Christine managed to make 4♠ for Team Rowan in the West seat, and it was also made by the opposition East-West pairs. So due to my bodge another bad one for Team Rowan.

My final board is a big one, where me and Anna got very carried away:

Board 18
NS vul
East deal
♠ Q J T x x
♥ x
♦ Q x x
♣ A x x x
♠ K x
♥ Q x x x x
♦ A K x x x
♣ x
♠ x
♥ A K J x x x
♦ J T x x x
♣ x
♠ A x x x x
♥ x
♦ -
♣ K Q J x x x x

Anna dealt and chose to pass the East cards. I think this was perhaps a mistake, as it caused her to bid like mad later on to 'catch up'. South opened his freak hand 1♣ and I overcalled 1♥. Although I could have bid 2NT to show a two-suiter we only do this for weak or strong hands, so with my middling hand I have to bid twice (if possible). North bid 1♠, Anna came in with 4♥, and South bid 4♠. I could have passed this, but was determined to show my second suit and maybe direct the lead so bid a natural 5♦.

Things took off now, and we bid the double fit all the way up to 7♥. No one knew who was sacrificing and who was bidding to make. I wanted to double 6♠ to stop Anna bidding on as I thought we could beat it, but was worried if I doubled my ♠K would get finessed. Anna did go on and pull out 7♥, and it was up to North to end the madness by doubling.

Once the defence took their two tricks against 7♥x my main concern was whether or not they could have made 6♠. Unfortunately, when I drew trumps the Hearts were 1-1, meaning in defence of 6♠ we would have got one Spade and one Heart (but no Diamonds).

7♥x-3 cost us 500 points, which was bad considering they were going down in 6♠, but a good sacrifice against their 4♠ game.

On the other tables Trish & Christine sitting East-West defended 6♠x-1 for +100 and David & Heather sitting North-South judged very well to defend 6♥-2 and also collect +100, so overall I think the other pairs saved us. There was of course also a fourth table for Team Rowan featuring Tom & Raymond, but they remain tight lipped about their adventures.

Overall it was regrettably a big loss for Team Rowan, and I fear we are still without a win in Division One.