We were knocked out of the Scottish Cup in the first round by just two IMPs (report here). As consolation we entered the plate.
Anna and I met met with John & Adam at the Glasgow Bridge Centre. Our team-mates had a veritable sheaf of paper with them - their new system. It looked pretty intimidating. Could they remember it all? Could we play a bit better than last time?
Anna had just finished four night shifts in a row and I was also worried she might be a bit slow. But quite the opposite, she got stuck in straight away. At favourable vulnerability Anna overcalled 1NT with:
♠ A T 9 5 3 2 ♥ A 9 7 6 ♦ 7 6 ♣ 8
This ended up going for 300 in 2♠x-2. This was unlucky, as 3NT didn't quite make their way.
Then it was my turn to go a bit overboard.
I overcalled 1♠, and when Anna gave minimal support I bid 4♠. The opponents were not slow in doubling, and I was rather anxious when dummy came down and I could see this was going to be bad. The play of the hand was strange, as I was hoping that the trumps didn't split, as although that would mean I went down an extra trick it would mean that they had one less loser in their hypothetical Heart contract.
I finished on 4♠x-2 for -500. It could have been worse, as if East had of underlead the Club Ace I'm not sure what I would have done. I could maybe work out she has the ♣A for her opening bid but my instinct is always to play low and it probably would have been -800.
John & Adam rescued us on the deal, by making 4♥ for +620. 4♥ looks like it can be beaten with a loser in each suit, but in fact it needs perfect defence to do that. "I'm pretty sure we wouldn't have done that" said Anna.
There were two more big swings in the first half, both caused by our opponents (Lucy & Lorna) having a strong preference for playing in 3NT. In the first they eschewed their 6-2 Heart fit and 5-3 Spade fit and played in 3NT. It had nine tricks on top and declarer played very carefully for a tenth. On the other table Adam played in Spades and when Hearts broke 5-0 he suffered a defensive cross ruff and down two. But in very similar circumstances the 3NT preference backfired here:
South found herself in 3NT. Me and Anna play standard leads, though I'm not totally sure she knows what they are. But she found the textbook ♣A here. We play reverse attitude so I encouraged with the ♣6, while wishing we played standard attitude. I could see that if Anna continued Clubs there would be four Clubs tricks for the defence plus the ♥A. Instead she quite reasonably switched, to a Diamond. Declarer won the ♦J, played a Spade to the King and finessed Spades. At this point she led a Heart. I was East and took my ♥A. A brilliant play, which might not seem significant but was for me, given that I duck almost constantly, often well beyond there's any value in it. It was quite an achievement to take my Ace on the first round. There was logic to it. I figured that if I let declarer win the trick she might have nine tricks already - one Heart, five Spades and three Diamonds (I didn't know the Diamonds were blocked). That non-duck was the highlight of the day. We did then take three more Club tricks for one off.
At the other table Adam and John made a comfortable 4♠+2. At the half-time break we were up 13 IMPs. Sandwiches were provided, but I was full so just had some chocolate from a M & S mini-bucket.
In the second half we played opponents with a strong NT, five card majors and Ekrens 2♦. The one time they opened it we handled it well when Anna doubled and we got to 6♣-2 (duplicated at the other table). My defence got a bit sloppy, and at one point I managed to duck my Ace when declarer clearly had a singleton, then somehow help her to establish that suit anyway, to give a farcical 2♠+2 when we could have beaten the contract.
Another time I had a feeling that 3NT was going to be bad, but felt we had the points so bid it anyway. It went four off, two off on the other table on another lead. But this was the low point, as both me and Anna stretched to bid a thin game and the cards were merciless:
After a 1♠ opening I decided to get in the auction with 2♥. Anna counted seven losers and raised me to 4♥. I think with her Spade doubleton she can almost see how the first three tricks are going to go: a Spade lead to the ♠Q, ♠A then a ruff, so should be wary of bidding 4♥. But then I suppose I started it with an awful overcall so take the blame.
Dummy is a very poor fit, with an annoying ♦KQ4 opposite my singleton Ace. I finished down three, but at one point did manage to get to dummy and had dreams of discarding some Clubs for two off, but the 7-2 Diamond break foiled that. On the other table Adam & John pushed to 4♠ with the South hand so it was vulnerable undertricks all round and a heavy loss on the board.
The good news from the second half was that Anna made 5♣x and John a very poor 6NT. I belatedly took some sandwiches and we went to score up. Had we done enough to hang on? Sadly not, and we lost 75-82. Just 7 IMPs, which could have been saved on any of a number of hands. Our Scottish Cup is over. As Anna said to me on the way home "I think you actually made more bodges than me tonight."