You may (or may not) have noticed a slight hiatus in my bridge-blogging recently. It was probably already slowing down in May, but I haven't posted at all in June, and that's because I've been working away in Chennai India. One of the first things I did when I got here was email the local bridge club to try to organise a game. However, I only managed to get there last Tuesday (after being here for more than three weeks). In part, because the Indian National championships were on in Bangalore last week, so the local club wasn't playing their usual weekly tournaments.
I arranged to play with Sathish by email, agreeing (with some slight apprehension) to play whatever system he chose to send me. I was somewhat relieved when he sent me something that looked pretty much like what I play usually at home, with a few minor variations (for example, a raise to 2 of a minor is 9-11 with 5 card support - I never actually got around to finding out what a raise to 3 of a minor was...), and we agreed to meet at the club on Tuesday night.
I turned up at the T Nagar Club about 40 minutes before play was due to start (having left a lot of time for the highly unpredictable traffic), and walked into a room where about 4 full tables were already occupied with people chatting away in Tamil. As you can see from the photos above, the setting looked quite definitely Indian, but also quite definitely like a bridge club. I greeted a couple of people, told them I'd already arranged a partner, and sat down at a table to wait. After about 2 minutes of conversation in Tamil, I heard: "T854 spades, 98 hearts, AKJ3 diamonds, Q53 clubs, favourable, it goes pass, pass to you". It turns out that in India the language of bridge is English, and I was able to follow the rest of the story.
Interspersed with a few words of Tamil, he went on to explain how his light 1♦ opener had allowed his partner to find the right lead against 4♠. They cashed the first three tricks in diamonds, everyone following, and he played the 13th ♦. With ♠A7 visible in dummy, partner only had to ruff with the ♠9, and he'd promote a trump trick in our hero's hand. We all know the end of the story - partner had the ♠9, but declined to ruff, declarer was able to draw trumps and the contract made. When Sathish finally arrived, we cleared up a couple of details of the bidding we hadn't managed to confirm by email, and kicked off the proceedings.
I started off disappointingly guessing a key suit incorrectly in a normal 1NT contract, and failing to make an overtrick. According to the scorecard, this was worth 40% of the matchpoints, so I suspect that there were several more available if I'd gotten it right. We had a generally successful session (including beating 2♥XX by 3 tricks on one board...), but another couple of bad boards: one where I made a silly raise, and one where Sathish just forgot to ruff a loser before drawing trumps meant that our score was only good enough for second place.
Here's a board where we did well. I'll start off with the bidding problem:
What's your call with this hand? If you do open 1♥, what is rebid if partner bids 1NT (playing "standard" 2/1 without many agreements at all (I don't think we'd agreed to play Drury...). I decided to open 1♥, and ended up playing the hand in 2♥. The lead is a small ♣, how do you play?
I decided to try and get my ♠ ruff, as I couldn't really see a way to even 7 tricks without it, and so played a ♠ out of my hand immediately after ruffing the ♣. This was won on my left, and after quite a lot of thought, LHO finally played a ♥. I think any thought at all on this trick pretty much marks him with the ♥Q, as a ♥ to cut down the ruffs seems automatic without it, and I think the decision to finally play a ♥ anyway probably means he has Qxxx (however sound this reasoning is, it turned out to be correct...). I was now allowed to scramble home, making 5♥s 2♦s and a ruff (I won this trick in hand, ruffed a ♠, ruffed a ♣, ran the ♦Q which lost, and was relieved when E didn't have a ♣ for a trump promotion, and everyone followed to the third round of ♦s). Several tables had NS in much worse part score and at one table someone managed to beat 2♥ by two tricks, so this was a good score for us. I think 2♥-1 is probably the normal score, assuming EW don't manage to find the ♥ lead from Qxxx which cuts out the ♠ ruff.
An interesting evening, with a few differences form a British bridge club, and even more similarities. Shame I only managed to make it down once, but if I'm ever back in Chennai again, I'll be sure to pay a visit.