What do you open this hand, first in, red vs green? Does the scoring matter? Does it matter if you were 50 IMPs down at half time in a 24 board match, and haven't really done enough to get that back yet this half? We ended up in a disastrous 6♣ contract, which was galling when 3NT making would have been enough for more than 10 IMPs in, as they played in an only-slightly-better 5♣ at the other table.
Congratulations to Fergus and Lina Kerr and Peggy and John Donaldson (John was filing in for Betty Bell, who had played with Peggy in the earlier rounds). I think that's the second Buchanan teams competition they've won so far this year.
Tuesday and Wednesday went a little better...
2N shows a balanced 16+ raise in ♠s, 3♦ was a cue bid (I think I probably also had 4♥ available as a void splinter here). Norman didn't have a ♥ cue, and my hand improved immensely. When I found out he had the ♦K, I figured that the grand was very likely to be better than 2:1 odds (note that at aggregate scoring what happens at the other tables is irrelevant, so you should be in the grand exactly when you gain 1510-980 enough times to justify the occasions on which you lose 980+50 - ie, almost exactly when grand is 2:1), and bid it. As it happens, the grand is something over 90%, I think. As long as ♠s and ♦s are no worse than 3-1 and 4-1 respectively it's completely cold, and you can pick up a lot of the layouts where one or other suit breaks badly.
I didn't really expect anyone else to have bid the grand on a combined 27 count, but the scores from the other tables still managed to surprise me. Both of the opposition pairs had stopped in game, making all 13 tricks, and our other EW pair had managed to a bid a 6♠... and then go off. I didn't quite manage to get the story of what happened during the play, but clearly a Cow Flew By, as in the small slam, I think you can actually just claim at trick one...
South played in 5♦. Interestingly, this is actually a pretty good contract, but you have to be really careful. Note that it's not good enough to duck a ♦ early - you end up losing trump control. Instead, you have to use the ♥ ruff at trick 1 as a entry ruff a ♣, and later give up the 4th round of clubs, avoid getting forced. It's probably hard to envision losing trump control with KQJ8xx, and none of the declarers managed to make it.
It turns out the 7♠ hand was a microcosm of the entire match, as we were the only one of the three pairs in our team who managed to end up with a positive score (+3770), and yet we managed to win the match 10-6. I think we probably realistically needed a bigger victory to be in with a good chance of winning the 2nd division, but we'll see as the results of the other matches continue to come in.
Finally, last night was the 5th round of the Winter Pairs. Norman and I finally managed to get a genuinely big score - with 66%, which I think now means we're leading the competition overall. We had a much harder grand slam decision as a part of this match:
The auction went - 1♥ - 2♣ - 2♦ - 4♠ - 4N - 5♣ - 7♦.
My final decision was tricky. I was pretty sure that there was a > 50% chance that we were making 13 tricks, but really wasn't sure if there was a >50% chance that the rest of the field would be in 6♦... the odds get complicated here, and trying to work them out at the table, as it turns out, doesn't make you popular with the opposition. In the end, as you can see, I was right to assume that most people would manage to find a small slam with what looks like an enormous hand opposite my opening bid. Note that this time I'd actually need odds of 22:9 for the grand to be worth bidding (although it's actually more complicated than that, since the interesting case is where there are only 12 tricks available, in which case I think it's safe to assume some of the pairs would have gone off in the small slam...), which is even stricter than when we were playing aggregate! I wasn't put to the test in the play when the opposition led a ♥...
I'll be busy bridge-wise in January, with Winter Fours coming up, and then I'll potentially be playing some of the Clyde Congress in Irvine.