I am not complaining: the 68.4% game that partner and I scored in winning yesterday’s “club championship” matchpoint game at the club is far beyond our normal score. Partner declared well, we conducted some good defenses, and we did not screw up every auction. But – truth be told – the largest contributions to our score were from the opponents conducting more-than-expected numbers of soft declarer plays and soft defenses. Well, that, and the fact that many of the normally contending pairs are in Reno at the Spring NABCs.
Still … there were a number of woulda’, coulda’ results: results that should have been much higher had we only performed to our best standard. A couple of those results merit just passing attention. One result is much more interesting and will be detailed.
On Board 14, partner’s overbid made it much easier to drive to a reasonable 6♠ contract. As the cards lie, all that is required to make the contract is to play this side suit for no losers: AJT8x opposite K9xx. The suit split 2-2. However, declarer concocted a reason to finesse the hand with two small for the queen and so went down one trick. The matchpoint difference between -50 and +980 (even +1010 was available on the defense received) was a whole board, or 11 matchpoints. Oh yeah, I was the subject declarer.
On Board 13, partner had several, uh, mishaps in the use of Suction over an opponent’s strong and artificial 2♣ opening bid. Had he bid a bit better, we might have scored +790 (10.5 mps) or +620 (10 mps). Even as the auction progressed after some initial misbids, -150 (8.5 mps) was easily available and +100 (9.5 mps) was possible. However, at the table -600 was the result. That scored 5.5 mps. Let’s say that that one cost around 4 mps.
Now to the most interesting board of the bunch, Board 9. Partner erroneously showed a heart/club two-suiter opposite my strong balanced hand. Had he shown his sixth heart, the probable result is that partner would have driven us to 6♥. As the auction unfolded, we were in 6NT instead. These were the cards.
6NT is actually a quite nice contract, not bad even with a spade lead and excellent without a spade lead. A little hard to imagine how 6♥ would be a better contract. Ah, but there was a way for 6♥ to be better.
Follow the first five tricks at the table in 6NT and then imagine that the contract magically morphed into 6♥.
- ♠6, 8, Q, A
- ♥A, 2, 3, 6
- ♥5, T, Q, ♦2. OK, the ♥T is not the best play by South, but it is the play one is not surprised to see at a club game.
- ♠9, K, 4, 5
- ♦T …
When North led a diamond at Trick 5, I had a table feel about the lie of the pointed suits. Accordingly, I rose with the ♦A and played more spades, hoping for some miracle misdefense, which was not forthcoming. I still limited my loss to down one trick (4+3+1+3).
-100 scored 2.5 mps.
But let’s get back to the possible continuation had I been declaring a contract of 6♥.
At Trick 6, I could play the good ♠J, discarding dummy’s last diamond. I could continue by ruffing a diamond in dummy, leading to a club honor in my hand and ruffing another pointed suit in dummy. A club to my other club honor in hand leads to this three card end position.
I could then lead a good spade and South would have no good answer. (I’d hope he discards, so that I could dramatically discard dummy’s ♣A.) +980 on the trump coup and, yes, all 11 mps for a net gain from our actual result of 8.5 mps.
Yep, the woulda’, coulda’ score would have exceeded 77%.