This week Anna and I hosted two other members of our Glasgow League team for an evening of bridge. Anna and I played only one match for the team this year (and played it poorly) but have kept in touch as we secured our place in the second division.
We played Chicago scoring. On most of the hands the contracts were low and the number of tricks taken by declarer was even lower, but there were a few high points. In fact, there were more slams bid than games.
Early on we had a misunderstanding which didn't get resolved to the six level, when Anna finally converted my 6♣ bid to 6♦ and I realised she actually had Diamond support. I'd mistaken her earlier jump-raise as a splinter, but as she pointed out after the hand "you don't splinter in partner's suit". Heather and David agreed. As it happened my dodgy slam still made, on a finesse, for a lucky gain for the home team.
Since our guests weren't drinking tea Anna and I had extra to compensate, and we were both enjoying our third mugs when we blundered into another slam:
Anna opened the strong South hand 1♣, natural, and I replied 1♦ (with a weak hand I would have replied 1♥). Anna now jumped to 3♣, which is technically not forcing but I'm unlikely to pass. I bid a heavy 3NT, and was glad when Anna reached for another bid. I was expecting 4♣ or 4NT, and was surprised to see 4♥. Seeing as I had underbid so far, and never shown my Hearts, I seized on this second opportunity and immediately plonked down 6♥.
Then Anna explained to the opponents that her 4♥ bid wasn't natural, it was a control showing bid, presumably agreeing Clubs with herself. Her 4♥ bid could have been just a singleton or void, but as it happened she had a very strong control in Hearts.
West cashed the ♠A then switched to a Diamond which Anna won. I then watched with increasing relief as she played the ♥A, ♥K and then the ♥J. Just for good measure the Hearts also split, so she could claim after one round of Clubs.
This was another lucky escape. 6♣ also makes, as does 6NT.
On the final hand I had one more bash at the six level, our third auction to slam without using Blackwood at all. Controls weren't the problem here, just tricks. I've rotated the deal so declarer (me) is South
I opened the South hand 1♣, without having decided yet what to rebid. Anna responded 1♦ and I considered 3♣ (not enough points) or a bold 3NT (not enough tricks). I stalled with 1♥, then when Anna bid 3NT overcompensated by leaping to 6♣. Anna is at the lower end of her range for this bid (13-18), and has lots of wasted points in Diamond opposite my void (I could have seen that coming) but the slam still has some play.
West lead a small Spade, and I played low. If this ran round to my Queen I'd have a decent chance of setting up Diamonds for one loser. Unfortunately East won his ♠K, and so I needed the rest.
I have two Spade tricks, six Clubs and one Heart, meaning I need three tricks from the Diamond suit. My plan was to lead a low one from dummy, and if East had the ♦A (but not the ♦J) he might be tempted to play it to try and take the setting trick. That didn't work as East just played the ♦J, which I ruffed. I was fixated on trying to drop the ♦A so crossed to dummy again and ruffed another Diamond; no luck. In fact once the ♦J is gone a better line (which works here) is to try and drop the ♦T in three rounds, by leading a high Diamond on the second round. This also requires the ♦A onside, which it is, so would have been glorious.
Overall Anna and I had the run of the cards, and bid to some interesting contracts. Surprisingly, given that it's her who hasn't played much for six months it was me who bodged in the bidding a couple of times, but I made up for that with some excellent defence and home made chocolate biscuits.