Bob Hamman recommends that the best way for a partnership to improve is "after each session, review what happened, dispassionately and without emotion". Therefore, at the end of our game I called up Anna to debrief. "I've got to go!" said Anna after a minute. She wasn't interested in Bob Hamman's advice. Maybe I wasn't dispassionate enough. This was the hand I'm interested in, and since Anna ignored me on the phone I'm going to write it up in full here!
It's a good one. We bodged it but came out well.
Anna with the South cards had an easy 2♠ opener. No multi for us. West overcalled 3♦. Overcalling here in the direct seat should be a better than minimum opening hand with a good suit. Overcalling in the passout seat could be a much weaker hand. West certainly has his 3♦ bid here. I had the North cards. With pretty much any hand with three Spades I'd raise to 3♠, but with this weak distributional hand with a singleton Diamond I'd be happy in 4♠ too. But rather than immediately raising Spades I decided to show my suit along the way. Me and Anna play that a new suit after partner has pre-empted is forcing, and with a minimum opener just rebids their suit. So I thought it was quite safe to bid 3♥, as I can always correct to Spades later. This shows either a very strong hand with Hearts, or a raise in Spades with a Heart suit too.
East has a great hand to play in Diamonds. He could have made some sort of confusing bid to investigate slam here, perhaps 4♣, but instead bid a direct 5♦. Anna doubled this, believing I had a strong hand and thinking she had 9 points. In fact she's got a minimum, distributional, Weak Two, with a Heart fit, so I reckon at this vulnerability her bid is a cheery 5♥. The only type of hand where she could be doubling 5♥ is with short Hearts and two Aces (you need Aces to double high level contracts).
When 5♦x came round to me I knew that something had gone wrong - I've got a rubbish hand and Anna does too as she opened 2♠. I was almost certain we were going to end up in 5♠, but to try and give myself two chances to play undoubled I bid 5♥ first, then when that got doubled 5♠, which was also doubled.
So Anna had to play 5♠x. West led the ♦A, ♣A, then another Club, which Anna ruffed. Declarer is now in control, and has a choice. Either you can ruff your Diamond losers in dummy, or try and establish Hearts. In situations like this where you have precarious trump control it's normally best to set up your second suit early on. It might not seem like your trump control is precarious, as you have a 6-3 fit, but Spades are likely to split 3-1, and you're going to be forced to ruff Clubs in your own hand a lot.
If you play Hearts early you might suffer a ruff, but not if they are 2-2 and not if someone has Ace singleton (like here). I think it's best to play one round of trumps, then start on Hearts (then whoever might ruff Hearts could be doing so with the ♠A). Anna did play one round of trumps, ducked, then had to decide what to do. Sabine's second husband Jens would have called this the Kill Point. She ruffed one Diamond, then changed her mind and drew trumps, finally losing a second Diamond along with three other Aces for 5♠x-3.
At favourable vulnerability, three off was still a good result, giving up -500 instead of at least -600 for 5♦. In fact, there are always twelve tricks in Diamonds or Clubs, and thirteen if you finesse the ♦Q.
This ought to have been a great result then, only losing -500 against an opposing slam. Unfortunately we actually lost 0.1 IMPs on the deal, cross IMP'd against several other tables. I'm not sure why we lost out, just the vagaries of Bridge Base. I suppose lots of East-Wests stopped short of game.