Team Rowan had another tough match this Tuesday at the Glasgow Bridge Centre against Kenmure. I'd been watching the experts at the weekend in the Scottish Cup Final (see report here) so felt confident I'd be on excellent form.
However, at the half way stage we were 2000 points down, as has been the story all season. Tonight I'd been bidding boldly to put Anna in a few thin games, which I think is the right thing to do at aggregate, except for the fact that none of them made and we kept going one off for -100. Here's one where Anna had no chance:
The opponents opened and raised Spades, playing four card Majors. Anna weighed in with 3♥, which shows a good suit and good hand just like she has. I have a good dummy for Hearts and couldn't resist topping her up to 4♥. But my dummy wasn't as suitable as I thought and the game had no chance. Anna managed to steal a trick with the ♠K but still went one off.
At the break Team Captain Jill reassured us that we could easily recoup our 2000 point deficit - it was only 500 points per table. We didn't have to wait long before me and Anna generated a 2000 point swing on our table alone. Unfortunately, the swing was in the wrong direction:
West dealt and opened 3♥, which I passed (in the same position on another table Trish Matheson from our team doubled as North). East bid 4♥, which was either extremely conservative or extremely shrewd. Anna paused for a long time over this, and with my singleton Heart I was willing her to bid. In retrospect it would have been so much better if we had of just let the opponents play in 4♥, like they wanted. Anna came up with 5♦, which I passed. Another option from Anna would have been 4NT showing minors, but it wouldn't make much difference here. I passed 5♦ and East, with his monster Heart support, came back in with 5♥. Anna looked at her three Aces and doubled. I removed the double from 5♥ to 6♦, and was delighted when East bid again with 6♥, doubled and passed out.
We'd pushed them up two levels and doubled, this should be profitable I thought. I led my trump, and declarer was able to cross-ruff, set up the Spades and make a vulnerable 6♥x+1 for 1860. If I lead (and continue) Diamonds that stops the overtrick, and actually means declarer has to play quite carefully to make it, not drawing trumps but playing a complete cross-ruff.
This was a freak deal, so I didn't feel too bad. I remember a hand at the Scottish Cup Final where his opponents bid up to 6♥ and Les Steel paused before passing it out. I asked if he was considering a sacrifice, but he said no, he was thinking about double, and if the opponents then made it that would mean it was a wild deal and would just be one of those things.
However, our result was not replicated at any other tables. Where our team-mates also had the North-South cards Trish and Christine were allowed to play 5♦, and where Team Rowan sat East-West they either defended 6♣ (off one on a Spade lead and ruff) or played 6♥ down one, presumably on a trump lead. So overall the board was a big loss for our team, thanks to us.
After this hand I was possibly on the tilt, and bid up to a very bad slam. I had the big South hand below, and overbid to 6♦. Here's the hands, I'm withholding the auction. As you can see, dummy was not very helpful:
6♦, had no chance, and went two off. At one point in the auction Anna (North) bid 3NT to play, and delighted afterwards in telling me that it was the only making game contract. She'd bid it, and I'd ignored her and bid on. "Trust your partner" she said.
However, after this, things picked up. We stayed alert in defence and took down a couple of games, then I played an awkward 4♠. I made it via a clever Morton's Fork:
|♣ Q 8 6 5|
|♣ A T 7 4||&dclubs; J 2|
|♣ K 9 3|
I lead a low Club up towards dummy. If West took their ♣A I would have just one Club loser, but if they ducked it (as they did) I could then discard both my losing Clubs in hand on some spare winners in dummy. After the game made Anna instinctively scored it up as off one, because we'd gone down in every other contract, and had to be reminded that I'd actually made this one.
Then for the final hand I again had a go at slam, and this time found a much more suitable dummy:
West lead a Diamond around to my ♦Q, and when Spades split I had 12 top tricks. I now think correct technique is to test Clubs before drawing trumps, so you have enough entries to set up Clubs if they are 4-2 and Spades are 4-1 so you have a trump loser. I didn't do that though, just eagerly drew trumps. However, to finish with a flourish I did still make an overtrick with a mostly deliberate Heart-Club squeeze against West. This was satisfying, even if it did make Anna slightly nervous as dummy wondering why I hadn't claimed yet.
As far as I know the other tables played this hand in 4♠, so that was a gain for Team Rowan.
At the end of the match the news from the other tables was all good, and we had clawed back nearly all of our deficit for a famous 40 point loss. That means the points from the match are split 8-8, a famous draw for Team Rowan!