The old man is staring daggers into me, practically spitting the words out, “You must have had a game your way!” It’s an accusation, not an observation. “We didn’t, but that’s beside the point.” It’s true that we should have doubled his contract or, at the very least, we should have played in a part score somewhere. If my partner had doubled the old man’s 1NT opening bid to begin with then I would have known to act over what turned out to be responder’s garbage Stayman bid. This is the point which I am trying to make to my partner but the old man keeps interrupting. I refuse to explain just why his -100 is going to be a good score regardless of the fact that we did not have a game.
This is the same old man who repeatedly demanded to know why he had to skip a table. I’m trying very hard to respect my elders, but my patience is wearing thin.
Earlier in the day I knew the declarer could not have a four card major after jumping to 3NT in response to his partner’s opening bid of 1♣. I knew very little else about his hand. And it was in fact true that he didn’t have a four card major, he had two.
We defended a particularly ill considered 3♣ contract very well beating it 4. I was afraid the declarer might cry. I’m torn between being incredibly proud of how my partner and I defended the hand, and wanting to make her feel better. “Every suit split very badly for you,” I said. She nodded. We moved on.
Playing with and against beginners is such a different experience. For one thing most of the mistakes I make go unnoticed. Yesterday TMS and I put forth an almost perfect defense on one hand. It was just a part score, it didn’t even matchpoint particularly well for us. But as we were putting the cards back into the board, I was inwardly beaming at how we had worked out exactly what to do, and that we had given the declarer no quarter. “Thanks for playing another heart,” I said. “You shouldn’t have played the queen at trick one,” he replied.
He’s right of course, it was the wrong card, wrong signal and potentially a costly error, but it just so happened that in this case it cost us nothing. I did everything right after that. With a beginner, the wrong signal at trick one may have not even been noticed, and even if it were it certainly would have been forgotten by the time we got to the end of the hand. Of course, a beginner never would have led another heart.
Once things have snapped into place it all seems so obvious, but until then …. I opened 1NT, my partner transferred me to spades and then bid 2NT. I liked my hand and with only a doubleton in spades went to 3NT. The dummy came down with a moth-eaten six-card spade suit and an assorted mess of 7 HCP. One suit in particular proved troublesome with only one stopper, and the missing spade honors were badly placed. I was down three (or four?). It was a lot. My partner asked if they shouldn’t have invited. I said the invite was a judgment call, and it was okay if they thought the hand was worth an invite … just they needed to tell me it was a six card spade suit by bidding 3♠ instead of 2NT. Whenever I’m playing with a regular partner and one of us opens 1NT (weak or strong) I feel safe and secure in the knowledge that we are very likely to get to the right contract, but I remember when I was first learning transfers and Stayman I used to dread 1NT openers.
I had a hand that I liked a lot, a gambling NT type hand with outside stuff but I was a little in love with my AKQTxxx of clubs. I opened 1♣. My partner bid 1♥. My RHO doubled. I jumped to 3♣. My partner bid 3♠. I shrugged and bid 3NT. Which got passed around to the RHO who doubled and everyone passed. I feel confident that I can make this as long as my partner’s spade stopper is sufficient. The dummy:
I feel the blood draining out of my head. My partner has bid not just once, but twice with four HCP. I’m still only down one as long as the clubs break. They do not. I’m down -1100. It’s IMPs. I need to excuse myself from the table. And then as I’m regaining my composure in the restroom the thought strikes me that this must be what TMS feels like playing with me. It’s all relative.
Like yesterday when I would have sworn I had counted 13 tricks and bid 7NT only to find that he had only one king not two and even if he had both kings it still only added up to 12 (I can’t count higher than ten with my shoes on), lucky for me it made seven anyway thanks to his holding the queen of diamonds but I hadn’t asked about that card.
TMS and I had a 72% game yesterday. I guess that’s what happens when you mistakenly bid 7NT only to find out that it makes anyway. When I got an e-mail after the game it was with a system correction only. My reply included a snarky remark about how I had played pretty well and “thank you so much for noticing”. His response was a recitation of mistakes that I’d made (including that queen of hearts play that marred our perfect defense). Oops.