"You call that a bad score? This is a bad score!"
that's not a bad score, that's a
The story so far: Jonathan, as North, punted an absurd 6 and went off.
At the other table, the auction was rather more surreal. Paul interpreted the jump to 3NT as conventional, since 1NT and 2NT rebids cover all balanced hands in the 15–19 range, and guessed that it showed spade support. This is a sensible meaning. It's not clear what James intended it to mean, but it is clearly absurd on the actual hand.
When Paul bid 4 (clearly correct), James decided to try 5. Presumably, he thought it was natural. However, whatever 3NT meant, he should be able to stand 4, so Paul thought it was a cue-bid. 5 is, of course, clearly absurd.
James' next bid of 5NT was even more clearly absurd, and is probably systemically Josephine. Whatever, when was the last time partner let you play in 5NT? (In my case, it was when I opened 2, opponents bid up to 5, and I tried 5NT as a 2-suited takeout. Even three small spades in Jonathan's hand weren't enough to tip him off...)
The final contract of 6NTx didn't have much to commend it, especially when Toby led a diamond. It is still possible to make 9 tricks by ducking the first diamond and playing on clubs immediately after winning the second (the plan is to set up the clubs, but as it happens he could have eliminated Rob's minor cards and then thrown him in with the A instead to make two spade tricks), and certainly on the auction and lead James should have placed Rob with both aces and Toby with longer diamonds. The final result of 4 down, as well as contributing to the overall poorness, was worth –1100 and a 14 IMP swing. It's just a shame he's at Selwyn...