The only good thing I can say about last night’s game is that it ended early enough for me to catch a late showing of The Pirates! Band of Misfits.
In first seat at favorable vulnerability I picked up:
Even I’m not going to mess with opening this hand. I pass and it gets passed around to my RHO who opens 1♣. Well, this changes things for me. For one thing, opening 1♣ in fourth seat makes me think she really has something and Yin passed in third seat so this is almost certainly their hand. It seems safe to say that I want a diamond lead. You see where this is headed, don’t you? I overcalled 1♦ even though ideally I want more for a 1♦ overcall (like, I don’t know, five of them?), still I felt that the lead-directing aspect trumped my other concerns. I mean, it’s the one-level and we’re not vulnerable, what’s the worst that can happen?
I knew Yin was not going to be happy when he saw my hand. He respected my request not to yell and limited his remarks to, “That bid is sick.” And no, he did not mean “sick” in the street sense, as in “cool”, he meant sick as in totally demented. “It was lead directing,” I muttered. Still Yin’s a reliable miracle worker when it comes to declarer play and he made his contract despite my contribution. Of course, at the other tables they are also playing 1NT, only in the other direction … going down one, so our +90 don’t mean a thing with the other North-South pairs getting +100. Stupid matchpoints.
On the next hand I was still annoyed and went for a slam that looked like a great contract on the opening lead, only to have the whole thing fall apart on me when the king of trump was both stiff and offside and the hearts divided in the expected fashion: 6-5-1-1. I had been playing “safely” for the hearts to be 5-5-1-2, but I had failed to take into account just how cruel the bridge gods can be. Other pairs were in four making five. I was, of course, in six making five. Double dummy the hand is simple, but I failed to follow the “Rabbi’s Rule”1 and suffered accordingly. After the hand my RHO was so giddy at having beaten our contract that she would not shut up about her singleton heart, “I couldn’t believe it when he made that splinter bid and I had a singleton too!” I wanted to strangle her.
The whole night was like that, good contracts were down, bad contracts were making. At one point I played in 1NT on a hand that I was glad I held to down one only to find it making two and three around the room. The opponents, good players who had in fact defended it very well, assured me I had done all I could do, but looking at that traveler I really wanted to just walk out then and there.
Yin and I recently agreed to play that after an opening of one of a major a jump to 3N by responder shows precisely a 4333 hand, 12-15 HCP and three-card trump support. On one hand Yin opened a spade and I had something like:
It is in fact one point too good for the bid (what’s a HCP between partners?), but it was a new toy and I wanted to play with it and we were having a lousy game anyway so justifying it based on the bad shape (never you mind that the bid guarantees that shape) and the fact that none of my points were in my “long” suit, I bid 3N. After a long hesitation, Yin corrected to 4♠. It did in fact make six and it really should have been played in NT, but I couldn’t blame him for pulling after the way I’d been playing. After the hand I mused that maybe what we needed was a way to differentiate between the 12 HCP hands and the 15 HCP hands, something like a 4♣ asking bid with a return to the major by responder showing the weaker holding. “You sound like [the Mad Scientist],” Yin said. The scary thing is he was right. I hate it when he’s right.
1 Turns out the “Rabbi’s Rule” has gotten twisted a bit from it’s original form. It is often quoted as: “Play the ace when the king is singleton.” But it turns out it actually refers to a belief that the king of clubs is always a singleton. Link to a NYT article on the subject: here.