“Second place is just the first loser.” I suspect I was pretty young the first time I heard that and I still really hate coming in second. When it is by a close margin I spend hours analyzing all the ways in which I gave up the matchpoint that cost us first.
Today though that analysis was relatively simple, there were two hands that cost us a fistful of matchpoints. The second such hand was a joint effort. The opponents had 10 spades between them and the one holding KQTxx didn’t manage to find a 1♠ bid over my 1♣ opening bid; usually this would be a mistake but in this case it led us down the garden path to a doomed 3NT contract without a spade stopper (we should really be in 5♦). I even got a “mea culpa” e-mail from the Mad Scientist for that one. Initially I was excited to have proof of his fallibility in writing, but then I noticed that there was a set of updated system notes attached to the e-mail. *sigh*
The first really bad hand was all my doing. The opponents reached 4♠ after TMS had overcalled clubs on the two-level. I had 11 HCP and four spades so I doubled. I led a club, the dummy had a singleton. TMS won the trick and at trick two he made the strange return of another club. I even thought, “Well, gee, that’s weird,” but then failed to draw the correct inference.
The board at trick three:
My hand at trick three:
The declarer played the queen of spades from the board. While I was perfectly aware that I needed to kill the entries to the board, I didn’t work out the only way to do that was to duck the queen, leaving him on the board. If I had done that he would have been quite stuck. If he leads another spade to his hand, I will win that one and return my last club. If he leads a diamond to his ace (he would have the ace, wouldn’t he?) the best he can do is lead another club to ruff. Now he either leads another diamond which will prove to be his last diamond trick or he leads a heart which I’ll win and put him back on the board so he’s back in the same boat — only getting two diamond tricks. Seven card diamond suit, where is thy sting? All that, if only I duck the d_mned queen. Of course, had I ducked the queen we would have come in first. It’s all so easy in retrospect.