We had a spectacularly good first half, doubled in a making game, making an unmakeable game and taking an easy 800 when the opponents got too high on a misfit (this should have been 1100, but I got the defence wrong). We also got a small swing in when John was unable to make any tricks at all from his partner's 6 card club suit in 3NT because I had 7 of them! I'm not sure I've ever actually seen a suit break 7-6 before. Two voids in the same suit has to be pretty unlikely.
I'm going to write about two games, one that I think I misplayed, and one that I think John and Jim misdefended (so we're even on these two), and then one suit combination that came up.
Note that Norman's bidding on this hand is inconsistent - how can the 4♥ bid make 4♠ a better contract? Whereas John's is at least consistent - he shouldn't bid 4♥ in the passout seat unless he's willing to double 4♠ - perhaps another indication that he must have a decent spade holding. Interesting board, in that I think I would definitely go off in 4♠ if we'd bid to it uncontested, but I think I should make 4♠X on this auction - if only I'd been listening.
John led the ♥6, and this was the decision point. The defence has to cash its two diamond tricks now, or I'm going to get one away on the ♥s and run home with 5♠s, 3♥s and 2♣s (I can't guess the clubs wrong, as the cards lie). This is probably a decision Jim should have got right - he can see that I'm about to make four tricks in the heart suit, and so the defence has to cash any tricks it has now. This points to cashing the ace of diamonds - if John discourages, Jim will just have to hope that his partner has ♣AK. If he does have those cards, they can always be cashed after the ♦A.
Jim switched to a low ♣. I won this in hand and drew trumps before playing of the ♥Q. When John followed to this with the 2 I was pretty sure I wasn't making this contract, assuming he'd led from a small doubleton, but when I played another heart towards the table he followed with the 9♥ and, although I took a while to make the next decision, there really wasn't a guess now. Not only would the ♥6 have been an odd lead from J962 - any lead at all from J962 would have been odd given the bidding. I dropped the ♥J and claimed 10 tricks.
Finally, here's a nice suit combination that I don't think I've ever come across in practice before, although I'm sure I've read about it:
I had to play this suit in NT. When I led a small card toward the table, John inserted the Q. I'm still trying to figure out if I should get this right now. I think probably I should just win this, and play small to the 9 next time - winning a trick whenever the 10 is onside. Not having properly considered this position before and, to be honest, not often playing against opposition that will make this sort of play, I just won and played small to the J - hoping the Q had come from KQx, although with that holding it seems likely John would smoothly have played low.
I was intending to play a small card to the 9 initially, but if the opponents will always play the Q from QTx, I'm not sure this can be right - the 9 can never force an honour, and can only lose to KQx. In fact, assuming the opponents will also play the Q from Qx, I only get a chance to play the 9 when either all 3 cards are wrong, or an opponent has played low from KQx, so I never gain by playing the 9 on the first round.
I should definitely play the 9 on the second round though - as this still (assuming I had enough entries, which I don't actually remember), enables me to make an extra trick when LHO had KQT5. In fact, this is even clearer if LHO will always play low from KQx, as it rules out the only position in which playing the 9 actually costs a trick. All in all, glad the combination came up in this match, as against our usual opposition, I don't think I'd ever have noticed it was interesting. Also, I now sympathise with a comment Phil made a couple of months ago about how analysing suit combinations is hard - I hope at least some of that made sense...
We lost the match by something like 1350 points, which with the 1500 headstart means we just managed to squeak through - a different result on either of these boards could easily have swung the whole thing. However, we're through. I'm hoping we get drawn against a non-first division team in the next round, as I quite fancy the challenge of a few thousand point deficit to start things off.