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The Portland Bowl 2006
Third or Fourth?


So, it was to be another year of competing in the 3rd-4th place playoff (after losing the semi-final to Durham), and to make matters worse Cambridge A had lost to Cambridge B in the other semi-final, meaning that we had a tougher match than we would have done if we had gotten to the final. It took me three boards to make my first contract—a rather uninspiring 1NT with 7 tricks on the normal lead (and 7 cashing tricks for defense if they find an unusual lead). Our main gain of the set happened when Daniel went off in a 4H contract on two wrong guesses, while André guessed right and made the contract. Our main loss was when I took a phantom sacrifice over a 4S contract. A few partscore swings mostly in our favour left it:

First stanza: 21–9 to Trinity
Board 17
North deals
 S Q 6 2 
 H K T 9 2 
 D 9 7 4 
 C K 6 4 
 S 9 3 
 H A 7 6 
 D Q J T 2 
 C Q 7 3 2 
none vul  S
 H Q J 8 4 3   
 D 6 5 3 
 C A J 9 8 
 S A K T 8 7 5 4 
 H
 D A K 8 
 C T 5 
In the second stanza, we lost 10 IMPs when Teymur was deceived by Daniel's lead:

West
Daniel


3H
all pass

North
Toby

pass
pass

East
Hugo

2H
pass

South
Teymur

dbl
4S

I'm not sure exactly what Teymur's bidding shows, but I decided that with no aces, I shouldn't raise it. On this hand, Teymur should just bid 4S immediately to show a strong single-suited hand with spades. Anyway, Daniel led the H6, and Teymur, not reading this as an underlead of the ace, played the nine. He now couldn't avoid two club losers and a diamond loser, for one down.

We regained 9 IMPs on this board:
Board 21
North deals
 S K 7 2 
 H K 7 6 
 D K J 9 
 C Q J 8 5 
 S
 H Q J 8 5 3 
 D A T 7 6 4 2 
 C
NS vul  S J 8 6 4 
 H T 9 4 
 D
 C A 9 7 4 2 
 S A Q T 5 4 
 H A 2 
 D Q 8 5 
 C K T 6 

West
Daniel


dbl
pass

North
Toby

1NT
2S²
pass

East
Hugo

pass
pass
dbl

South
Teymur

2H¹
4S
all pass
¹ transfer to spades.
² 3-card support.

4S can be beaten two tricks if defense find all their ruffs, but on the normal heart lead it made with an overtrick for +990.
We then lost 7 IMPs when our opponents' bidding misunderstanding landed them in a fortunate contract.

We gained 12 IMPs from a fortunate penalty card:
Board 24
West deals
 S
 H T 3 
 D A 9 5 4 
 C A K J 7 6 5 
 S 6 5 4 
 H A K J 4 
 D K Q J 6 2 
 C
none vul  S A Q T 9 8 3 
 H 9 8 6 2 
 D 8 7 3 
 C  — 
 S J 7 2 
 H Q 7 5 
 D
 C Q T 9 4 3 2 

West
Daniel

1D
dbl

North
Toby

2C
all pass

East

Hugo
2S

South
Teymur

5C

Hugo led the beer card. I won my ace, drew the trump, and led a diamond. Hugo (presumably expecting me to need to draw more trumps) discarded another spade. He noticed the revoke in time to prevent it's being established, but the low spade was now a major penalty card, so I was able to make my SK and the contract.
Second Stanza: 29–17 to Trinity

In the third stanza, we lost 13 IMPs when our reasonable slam went off on a bad trump break, then we regained 7 by bidding the thin game on this board:
Board 27
South deals
 S K Q 5 
 H T 3 
 D A T 7 5 2 
 C K J T 
 S 9 4 2 
 H A 9 7 2 
 D Q J 9 8 
 C 3 2 
none vul  S A 6 3 
 H K Q J 6 
 D 6 4 3 
 C 8 6 4 
 S J T 8 7 
 H 8 5 4 
 D
 C A Q 9 7 5 

West
Daniel


pass
pass
pass

North
Toby


2Dº
2NT²
4S

East
Hugo


pass
pass
all pass

South
Teymur

2C
2S¹
3NT³
º feature enquiry.
¹ good weak two with a spade feature.
² asks if spades is a genuine (ie 4-card) suit.
³ 4=2=2=5 distribution.
Teymur's weak two [all of Toby's match reports seem to mention that he plays a weak two in clubs, but i feel I should draw attention to it in case you've forgotten – Ed] is hardly a thing of beauty, but sometimes these things work. Since I had a raise to 3C anyway, I decided I might as well enquire, just in case 4S was making. The 2S bid could be based on a spade guard or a 4-card suit (With some partners I swap the meanings of 2H and 2S here, so the former shows a spade feature and the latter a heart feature. This has the effect of making the weaker hand dummy more often). Teymur's systemic response to 2NT is 3D showing a diamond singleton, but he hadn't read that part of the convention card in enough detail. Anyway, since I wasn't interested in slam, it didn't matter.

4S is always making with spades 3–3 and clubs 3–2. On the diamond lead, it also makes if spades are 4–2 with a doubleton ace.

On the next board, we lost 14 IMPs when Teymur made the wrong lead against a slam:
Board 28
West deals
 S 6 5 4 
 H J 7 4 3 
 D Q 5 
 C Q J 7 5 
 S
 H A Q 5 
 D A T 6 2 
 C A K T 9 4 
none vul  S A Q 8 
 H K T 9 8 2 
 D K 7 4 3 
 C
 S K T 9 7 3 2 
 H
 D J 9 8 
 C 6 3 2 

West
Daniel

1C
2D
3H
5C³

North
Toby

pass
pass
pass
pass

East
Hugo

1H
2S¹
4NT²
6H

South
Teymur

pass
pass
pass
all pass
¹ fourth suit forcing.
² RKCB.
³ 0 or 3 keycards.

Teymur now has a tricky lead. As clubs and diamonds were bid by West, I might try one of those, hoping that partner has a well-placed honour. I'd probably lead a diamond, hoping that West's diamond suit isn't particularly good. Unfortunately, Teymur decided to lead a spade. It's not clear that leading away from a king in dummy's known singleton (Daniel has shown 4+ diamonds and 5+ clubs—as well as extra strength—by reversing, and then shown 3 hearts in response to FSF) is a good idea; there's not much to gain, but your king is going to be offside, so you are likely to give away a trick in the suit. This was the only lead—other than the absurd DJ—that allowed the contract to make, since if Hugo takes a ruff in dummy he can no longer pick up that trump position.

We got some IMPs back when John and David bid a slam on board 30.
Third stanza: 22–29 to Cambridge

This left us 17 ahead going into the last stanza. We lost 4 through over-competing on the first board. Fortunately, we gained 13 when opponents chose the wrong game on the fourth. That would have been sufficient to win, but David & Andre took an 800 penalty on a part-score board to seal the victory.

Here's a board from the last set where my accurate defense went unrewarded (except for the Kudos I got from Teymur for getting it right [the Kudos is the SI unit of respect, equal to the gain from throwing a ball of paper into the bin from the other side of the DPMMS common room in the presence of Simon Wadsley – Ed]):
Board 7
South deals
 S T 9 6 4 
 H Q 8 4 
 D Q 8 6 3 2 
 C
 S 8 7 5 2 
 H J T 5 2 
 D T 7 
 C Q 9 7 
both vul  S A Q 3 
 H A 9 3 
 D K 5 
 C A K J T 4 
 S K J 
 H K 7 6 
 D A J 9 4 
 C 8 6 5 3 

West
Alex


pass

North
Toby


pass

East
Elizabeth


2NT

South
Teymur

2S
all pass

Teymur led the D4 and the beer card was played from dummy. Reasoning that Teymur could have something like AJ94 or KJ94, when playing the queen would block the suit¹, I covered with the 8. Sadly, this was completely irrelevant, as Elizabeth could simply cash eight top tricks to make her contract. Oh well, next time this defense comes up, maybe I'll defeat the contract.

¹ Of course, if Teymur's lead is from KJ54 or AK54, playing the 8 will give declarer a cheap trick, but KJ54 is a less appealing holding to lead from, and with AK54, Teymur might have cashed the Ace to see my (reverse) attitude signal in time to switch if that should prove necessary, so I think it was more likely that my play would work.
Anyway, fourth stanza: 27–16 to Trinity, making the final score:

Trinity 99–71 Cambridge

Another 3rd place to Trinity!!!!!!