After a six month break last night I was back at the Buchanan club, playing with Phil Moon. His hiatus was longer than mine, at ten years or so. In the build up to playing together I had printed out the comprehensive Acol System that Anna and I play, and Phil had gamely agreed to accept it wholesale. However, in the bar beforehand we made a few drastic cuts, and I vowed to bid pragmatically at all times.
On the very first hand Phil invited me to 6NT and I declined then made 12 tricks, which set the tone for the evening. At aggregate scoring this proved expensive. However, overall our bidding system held up well and our declarer play and defence was good too. Here's one where the worst hand at the table ended up being declarer:
After two passes North opened 1NT. I'm pretty sure they were playing "Weak NT and Reverse [Benji]" like nearly everyone else at the Club but North opened 1NT anyway. I had a big hand so doubled. South redoubled, I think as part of Helvic showing a five card suit. I'm not sure which five card suit she planned to show. When North duly bid 2♣ in response and I doubled again Phil described this as "I think he wants me to bid" so bid 2♥. I was braced for him to bid 2♠ (I would have passed) but when he hit my good Heart suit I risked a raise to 3♥, which was swiftly passed.
3♥ is tricky with no immediate entries to hand, but only has three top losers, two in Diamonds, one in Hearts. After a Club lead from North declarer won the ♣AK then shrewdly lead the ♣J, and when South failed to cover he discarded a Diamond. North trumped it, took one Diamond and then tried for a second Diamond which Phil was able to ruff. Ruffing Diamonds is a much better way to get to hand than ruffing Clubs. He then played a Heart up to dummy, losing to the ♥A, and was later able to draw trumps and lose no more tricks for 3♥+1. This was a fine score, as other declarers in Hearts made between 7 and 9 tricks.and North-South make 3♠. It was not quite a top though, as one North-South pair overbid to 5♦, doubled and off three.
This hand was the peak of our defence:
Phil lead the ♣J which declarer won, then curiously lead a small Club from table. I won this with the ♣8, and considered immediately leading another Club for partner to overruff declarer. However, we needed six tricks in defence so I went for a more ambitious Diamond, which hit the jackpot when partner won the ♦Q, ♦A then gave me a ruff. I now played a top Club ruffed by declarer and overruffed by West. That was five tricks for the defence already. Phil now made the winning play of another Diamond, giving declarer a ruff and discard. I ruffed this high which promoted another trump trick for him, and along with his ♠K that was 2♥-2. Declarer ended up losing three trump tricks overall (a Diamond ruff, Club ruff and the ♥T), but if she draws trumps immediately she loses only one.
Our score of +100 beat those who passed out the hand, but lost to the East-West pair who managed to make 3♣x.
Now here's three hands where we were too meek and missed out on 3NT. Would you have got to game?
I took the low road and passed 2♣. If I bid 2♦ we maybe get to 4♥ or 3NT. Three of Eleven pairs got to game (4♥).
Not sure who could bid more here. 2♦ made ten tricks. The one East-West pair in 3NT went down four (but it makes if you guess Diamonds).
With a good 9 points opposite 15+ I would have bid 3NT as West on the second round, but when I showed the hand to Anna she agreed with West's 2NT bid. Seven out of Eleven pairs made 3NT (and one made 2♣xx).
We finished a respectable 5th out of 11, a great comeback for Phil and I look forward to playing again. Next time we'll be more aggressive.