The 2013 event was hosted in Edinburgh, so Scotland were allowed two teams. We've met several of them: Sheila MacDonald and Maida Grant play at St. Andrews in Glasgow; Sam Punch played against us at the SBU Congress; Liz McGowan taught at Edinburgh University (and has a bridge column in the Scotsman); Cathy Ferguson and Michele Gladstone were our opponents at a tournament last weekend.
And for extra excitement the Vugraph operators were Scottish Juniors, including Jake Corry.
Here's a hand between England and the SBU (the Scottish second team). I remember once reading an analysis of the results of lots of expert Team Matches, trying to work out where IMPs were won and lost. Apparently 50% are won and lost in the auction (one table reaching a better contract), and 50% in the play (one table declaring or defending better). This hand was definitely won by England in the auction. Dealer has a weak two in Hearts - on one table they opened a Multi 2♦ (showing a Weak Two in either Major), and on the other hand a direct 2♥, and from there things diverged.
First, here's what happened when the Scottish West opened 2♦ and the English North-South reached a good 3NT.
I've starred the conventional bids. West opens a Multi 2♦. If East has a very strong hand she can reply with 2NT, but the normal responses are 2♥ meant as pass-or-correct. Unless responder has both Majors she can't immediately make a pre-emptive raise, as she doesn't know what partner's Major is. However, if responder has several Spades she can bid 2♥, and if partner does correct to 2♠ (showing a Weak Two in Spades), responder can then raise Spades. Similarly, if responder has a few Hearts they can start with 2♠, and if partner has Hearts they'll bid 3♥. Taken together, this means that responder bids 2♥ if she has Spades, and 2♠ if she has Hearts! These are known as paradox responses.
On this deal East must respond 2♥, virtually certain that partner will pass this. South still doesn't know which Major West has, but has stops in both and a solid 18 points so bid 2NT anyway. North has 8 points, and knows partner has between 15-19. There's no room to invite so North just decided to go for game, starting with Stayman to see if there's a 4-4 Heart fit (North also doesn't know which six card Major West has). 3♦ denies a four card Major, so North just bids 3NT.
As for the play, there's 6 top tricks, and three more in the Heart suit once you knock out the ♥A. On a Spade lead you have to duck the first round, but then you're fine as there's no entries to the East hand. West actually led a fourth highest Heart, and nine tricks were easy. +600 to England.
Here's the auction on the other table:
West opened a straight up 2♥. The advantage of playing specific Weak Twos is that it makes it much easier for partner to pre-empt, as they know your suit. It ought to make life easier for the opponents too, but here North-South had a tough time as there was some further bold bidding from East. She replied to the 2♥ opening with 2♠. Me and Anna play a new suit after a Weak Two as forcing, some pairs play it as invitational only, looking for a better contract. Not sure what this East-West do. South at this table, perhaps believing the opponent's were stronger, went for a cautious double rather than a more aggressive 2NT. West then found an excellent raise to 3♠, as with two Aces her hand is pretty good in a Spade contract (assuming partner has good trumps). By now I think East-West have already won the board, and would probably have been left to play in 3♠, as I'm not sure North or South can bid again over 3♠. But East pushed her luck, and went on with 4♠.
Against 4♠ by East, South lead a top Club. Declarer has an easy eight tricks - six trumps (assuming you finesse the Jack), and two Aces. There's a possibility of two more if you can ruff a couple of Diamonds. Declarer therefore tried Ace and another Diamond, but South won the ♦K and shrewdly played Ace and another Spade. Declarer did still get one extra trick though, when the ♦Q dropped on the third round declarer's ♦T was high. 4♠-1 was only +100 to Scotland. From making 3NT on one table and going one off in 4♠ on the other England gained 11 IMPs, and went on to win the match.
Paul Gipson, in his BeerCard Blog, said afterwards that the standard of the tournament was very variable. Some very good play followed by some bizarre mistakes.
In the end the strong England team won, followed by Scotland and then SBU.