Friday, 24 November 2017

Pairs at the Club

Last Monday Phil Moon and I played in the Buchanan. We rather boldly put ourselves into the matchpoint points for Division 1 and 2 players, although neither of us plays for any team at the moment. But we were prompt, completed a half-table, and played reasonably well, finishing on 53%.

We got off to a great start. In fact, my highlight was on Board One. Defending against 1NT I counted that declarer had four winners for the last four tricks, but then realised that if I trapped him in dummy he couldn't get them all. A proud moment.

On the very next deal I picked up this monster hand:

♠ AKQ9654 ♥KJ43 ♦- ♣J2

When partner opened 1♥ I hatched a plan. I began with a 4♦ splinter, then after the expected 4♥ reply I cuebid 4♠. This was met with a cuebid of 5♣ and I was able to bid the slam. This was the full deal:


Phil decided to finesse Hearts for some reason resulting in an overtrick. Of the seven times it was played five times the contract was 6♥, then oddly once each for 3♥ and 3♠.

The hand above was my longest suit, but Phil kept on getting big hands. In general, these distributional hands didn't go well for us. Here's one below:


After North opened 1♠ Phil overcalled 5♦, the bid he was probably going to make anyway. With a good attacking hand South bid on to 5♠. With the West hand I tried 6♦. North pushed on to 6♠, and Phil had a think. To my horror, he pulled out 7♦, which was doubled. I thought I had a bit of defence and we might be able to beat 6♠, but in fact we can't, as long as they finesse Hearts (which they ought to after the 5♦ overcall). 7♦x-4 for -800 was worth 0% of the matchpoints, but in fact was a good sacrifice. Once they bid 6♠, we're stuffed. So maybe it's my 6♦ bid that cost us.

Later Phil had a solid nine-bagger in Hearts, and went for an immediate 5♥ overcall. This was doubled and one off, another bad one when they had no game their way.

I was dummy a lot, and only seemed to play 3NT contracts. That is until this hand, which I present as a play problem:


Phil opened 1♦, I replied 1♥, and he rebid 1NT showing 15-17. Since we don't play Checkback Stayman I jumped to 3♥, which Phil raised to game.

Looking at all four hands you can see that the defence can beat the contract easily with a Spade to the Ace, two Clubs and a Club ruff. You can also see that I have ten top tricks by drawing trumps and running the Diamonds. But of course, it's different for defence and declarer without seeing all the hands.

At the table, North lead the ♥J. My plan was to save the Diamonds until I'd drawn trumps, and try and ruff a Spade along the way. So I lead a Spade up. Things looked very rosy when South took his ♠A, and returned another trump. I won this in dummy, played a Spade to the King and ruffed a Spade. If I can just draw trumps now I'm guaranteed ten tricks even if Diamonds don't split, via 5 Hearts, 2 Spades including the ruff, and 3 Diamonds. But the problem is I'm stuck in dummy. On this layout I can just play three Diamonds, but I didn't know that.

Instead I lead a Club up to the Jack, reasoning that even if it lost worse case would be that I would lose a Spade and two Clubs (and my ten tricks weren't going anywhere - I was thinking of overtricks in fact). Then to my dismay, not only did North produce the ♣AQ she then gave her partner a ruff for one down.

I think I played it right though.

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