Anna's not officially a member of Buchanan bridge club yet, despite attending Norman's class for two years running and playing League Matches with Tony. She's a bit bitter about this and takes it out on me by saying I'm not allowed to come to the club with her. But tonight we're both going. Of course I can't actually play in a pair with Anna, she's training with Tony for the next match, but I can enter the standby pool. I ended up playing with Horst, a middle aged German who turns out to be quite good (League 1 Player).
Me and Horst agreed to play standard Benji, weak NT, checkback, Michaels, 1430 and not much else. We also chivalrously agreed to sit East-West (which means we have to move tables, which the less mobile members of the club don't like doing), the same direction as Anna and Tony. This means we won't get to play against them directly which is a shame, but at least we can compare scores at the end.
A bit of excitement on the first table, against Norman.
Norman opens and Horst overcalls 2♣, which is followed by a takeout double which Norman passes out. Norman had ♠x ♥A ♦KJTxxx ♣KJT93 and wanted to defend. Unfortunately, his partner had nothing and Holst was able to skilfully endplay Norman to make his 2♣. On Anna's table the same North-South hands bid the misfit up to 5♦, which went off one.
Now a deal where me and Anna, both sitting West on different tables, took different views:
On my table South opened the bidding with a distributional 1♥. For me sitting West this was an easy 1NT overcall. Then North made the cheeky decision to raise hearts. Horst sitting East wasn't messing around and bid a direct 3NT, knowing I had 15-17 and a good heart stop. Then, after a considerable pause, South bid a speculative 4♥. Maybe he hadn't noticed the vulnerability, but I did and gleefully doubled.
I led a low Heart. In the end declarer won two high Hearts, two Club ruffs in hand, the ♦A and two spades. West I had to pto not ruff in until I knew declarer was leading his last spade, to prevent dummy's Spades being established, which required some slow (but accurate) counting. 4♥x-3 gave us +800.
How would our 3NT have done? We have seven top tricks, and can establish two more in Diamonds. But if the defence leads spades (unlikely on the auction) or switch to Spades (also I think unlikely) we go down. Otherwise you can get to nine tricks easily by knocking out the ♦A.
On Anna's table South also opened 1♥. But Anna sitting West she eschewed 1NT and went for a 2♣ overcall, raised to 4♣ by Tony and topped up to game. 5♣ is a much better game than 3NT, and made nicely.
Now here's a zinger of a hand that tested me and Horst's fragile agreements.
East opened 1♥ and sitting West I was immediately uncomfortable with the heart void. I replied 1♠ and predictably Horst rebid 3♥. I thought about raising him to 4♥ just to end the auction, or maybe bidding 3♠ (and hoping he wouldn't pass), or chancing my arm with a unilateral 4♠. I also considered 3NT, but thought my diamonds were too weak. In the end I kept things open with 4♣. Horst thought this was a cuebid agreeing hearts (and maybe it should be), but bid only 4♥, then was nice enough to pass when I bid 4♠.
I was pleased when dummy came down. His spade support is certainly better than my heart support. I got a trump lead, so could throw away all my diamond losers on dummy's hearts and made 4♠+2.
On Anna's table the auction started the same, but over 3♥ she went for a direct 3NT bid to end the auction. The defence found the diamond lead but they split 4-4, so 3NT made too (but scored worse).
During the evening there were no disasters from my table, and the only memorable mistakes I made were not doubling the opponents once or twice. Once they got to 3NT and I had ♥AKQxxx in defence. The 3NT bidder had began with a takeout double of my 1♥ opener, so was probably short in hearts, but I was too meek to double.
At the end of the night it was announced that the top East-West pair were Anna-Tony. But wait! After a recount they were demoted to second, and actually me and Horst won.