On our table we played against Alan and Martin. It was an exciting set of boards, and I think we gave as good as we got.
After two passes it came round to me sitting West. I would normally open this hand 1♥, but being third-in-hand I decided to mix things up with an immediate 4♥ bid. North bid a prompt 4♠, which I thought would probably end the auction. However, Anna chipped in with a 5♥ sacrifice, South weighed in with 5♠ and it was back round to me. I remember reading somewhere that if you choose to pre-empt with a good hand you should be prepared to double later on. I didn't really want to double 5♠ but with my two Aces felt I ought to give it a go.
Against 5♠x Anna led a Heart, and I was surprised when my ♥Q held the trick - Anna must have supported with only three Hearts. I was slightly worried about dummy's Diamonds so switched to a Club. Declarer took the ♣A, drew trumps in just one round then played on Diamonds. I snapped up the ♦A and we got our Club trick, for one down. "Great defence partner!" Anna said, with her eyes, while actually writing the score down silently.
That ought to have been a good board for us as 5♥ goes down as long as the defence find a Diamond switch. However, when Christine was declarer in 5♥ it went down when she gambled on North having a singleton ♥K so lost a trump trick, and when Heather & David were sitting North-South declarer managed to squeeze home in 5♥. Overall a bad one for Team Rowan then.
On to the next, where I rolled the dice again.
South opened a weak 1NT (even though it's got 15 points if I've remembered the hand correctly). I had the seven card Spade suit and was planning on opening a weak 2♠, reasoning that the seventh trump made up for the weak hand. Over the 1NT I thought I should still bid, so overcalled 2♦ showing a six card major. North doubled and Anna bid 2♥. This would normally be pass or correct, but after the double I don't know it means. South doubled this and I now got to bid my 2♠, passed out.
There's a certain five losers of the top, so to make it I've just got to get rid of the Diamond loser. I tried to do this by setting up the Hearts but once I realised they were 5-2 it became tricky, so I banked on the certain Diamond finesse. This was a 'marked finesse', as by the time I came to finesse South had already shown 12 points, and in the auction North had doubled 2♦ to show Diamonds. I was shocked when the finesse lost. Maybe I miscounted South's points.
I hoped it would still be a good score for us, as the opponents have 25 points between them. North-South can make 3NT if they manage to force a couple of Diamond winners, to go with the other six top tricks, before the defence get into Hearts. 3NT made on Trish & Christine's table (where Team Rowan were defending) and went down on Heather & David's table (where Team Rowan were declaring). So another bad one for the team.
At the half way mark I expect we were quite far down. Tom & Raymond went to chat with their pals from Hamilton, while Anna lingered by the tea and coffee, waiting for me to make here a cup of tea.
Here's one I bodged:
After South opened 1♥ I overcalled 1♠, and North made a very light 2♣ bid. This makes my hand slightly worse with the Club finesse likely to fail, but I felt was strong enough that when Anna supported me with 2♠ I could bid 3♠. When South bid 4♥ I bid 4♠ without really thinking - it was one of those nights where both sides just seemed to keep bidding.
When dummy came down I was glad Anna was full value for her 2♠, and game looked decent. I planned to get five trump tricks, four Clubs (with three ruffs in dummy) and the ♦A. The only danger was that when the defence got their ♠Q they could play another trump to cut down my ruffs, in which case I'd have to rely on setting up Diamonds. I didn't consider the lucky Club position making the ♣Q a winner.
North lead a Heart and South took the first two tricks and played a third Heart. I ruffed with the ♠T, and North shrewdly threw a Diamond. I started my cross-ruff, and got two Club ruffs in dummy before North took his ♠Q. He played a Club through and I had to ruff high in dummy to stop South over-ruffing. All this ruffing high had weakened my trumps and I ended up with my ♠4 in hand losing to North's ♠6. In fact on this layout once the ♣Q becomes high I don't need so many ruffs so can draw one round of trumps and make it.
I should say I played this hand painfully slowly, and apologised to everyone afterwards. And on the other tables? Christine managed to make 4♠ for Team Rowan in the West seat, and it was also made by the opposition East-West pairs. So due to my bodge another bad one for Team Rowan.
My final board is a big one, where me and Anna got very carried away:
Anna dealt and chose to pass the East cards. I think this was perhaps a mistake, as it caused her to bid like mad later on to 'catch up'. South opened his freak hand 1♣ and I overcalled 1♥. Although I could have bid 2NT to show a two-suiter we only do this for weak or strong hands, so with my middling hand I have to bid twice (if possible). North bid 1♠, Anna came in with 4♥, and South bid 4♠. I could have passed this, but was determined to show my second suit and maybe direct the lead so bid a natural 5♦.
Things took off now, and we bid the double fit all the way up to 7♥. No one knew who was sacrificing and who was bidding to make. I wanted to double 6♠ to stop Anna bidding on as I thought we could beat it, but was worried if I doubled my ♠K would get finessed. Anna did go on and pull out 7♥, and it was up to North to end the madness by doubling.
Once the defence took their two tricks against 7♥x my main concern was whether or not they could have made 6♠. Unfortunately, when I drew trumps the Hearts were 1-1, meaning in defence of 6♠ we would have got one Spade and one Heart (but no Diamonds).
7♥x-3 cost us 500 points, which was bad considering they were going down in 6♠, but a good sacrifice against their 4♠ game.
On the other tables Trish & Christine sitting East-West defended 6♠x-1 for +100 and David & Heather sitting North-South judged very well to defend 6♥-2 and also collect +100, so overall I think the other pairs saved us. There was of course also a fourth table for Team Rowan featuring Tom & Raymond, but they remain tight lipped about their adventures.
Overall it was regrettably a big loss for Team Rowan, and I fear we are still without a win in Division One.