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Leicestershire (home) 12/11/2017

Report by John Auld

Last year we won convincingly against Leicestershire. This year we lost (also convincingly) in the Dawes match by 3-17 VPs. The Porter team did win by 12-8 and the Markham lost 7-13.  Thus our poor start to the season continues.

The teams with Butler imps :

Dawes

Willie Crook & Steve Raine                -11

Irene & John Auld                             -19

David Hodge & Frank Ball                  -37

Sandy Fulton & John Rolph                -14

Porter

Bill Whalley & Pravin Tailor                  9

Graham Lee & Dick Milne                 -15

Lloyd Eagling & Keith Rodgers           -9

Toni Smith & Maciej Lejman               20

Markham

Dorothy & Chris Close                      -26

Mary Cook & Gerry Franklin               15

Shirley Ashtari & Ian Dovey                -6

Michael Bleaney & Toby Stephenson  -10

 

The Butler imps reflected poorly on most of us but congratulations to Toni and Maciej with the best score.

It was a struggle to select a hand where my partnership did well but I managed to find board 21:

 

This deal provides support for my latest hobby horse namely the desirability of opening 1C when holding a good 5-5 in the black suits. We breezed into 6C, a slam widely missed after 1S - 2H-3C-3NT. Players are reluctant to proceed over 3NT, in this case with good reason: you may well have a misfit. Sandy Fulton did see it through by bidding 4C over 3NT and John Rolph bid a prompt 6C. Well done but by contrast after starting with 1C it is actually difficult to avoid bidding 6C.

John and Sandy got my vote for sequence of the day on board 6

Like Sandy I made a try after 2H but bid 3C looking for 4H. That had no chance. Sandy suggested NTs and John made a good raise to 3NT. It is the combination of a long suit and quick tricks which makes this a great 23 point game. Alas the heart break meant one off in practise.

On board 8 Steve Raine also found himself in a surprising but makeable 3NT:

 

West opened some kind of multi which obviously included weak hearts as an option and East bid a strange looking 2S which  led to 3H from West. Whatever that meant Steve stepped into the action with an unusual 3NT. This suddenly became a usual 3NT as Willie passed and East led CK followed by HK. On  both of these West played high spot cards. Steve switched on the Raine brain and saw that he could make by playing on clubs if hearts were blocked -surely odds against-or he could seek 5 diamond tricks via a break or a finesse of DJ. That would give him 8 tricks so he would need to sort out the SQ. In his construction of the hand Steve saw West with 6 hearts 3 diamonds and black suit doubletons based on the early signals. Given the bidding he thought that West had SQ and therefore he needed it to be doubleton to make the contract. He went for the playing on diamonds line which failed when the hearts were blocked and the alternative line works.

Who knows what is best? I would say that lines relying on lots of inferences from opponents actions are always fraught. Could West have 7 hearts, or a singleton club, or complete junk?

That was bad luck but if Steve thought he would win the Unlucky Expert prize I am afraid he has to take second place to my effort on board 28:

Like everybody I got  a small heart lead won in hand and tackled clubs. I won the first club returned to a spade to lead a second club. West paused and ducked this so now I knew they were going to keep me off table if I continued clubs. Losing the CA and having a spade through would not leave me well placed so I played a diamond to the Q losing to the K. East continued with HJ to establish hearts and leave his partner holding a heart to return (I thought). I had noted the fall of D9 so continued wih a diamond to the Ace dropping J, before thinking at some length.

If hearts were 5-3 initially as I feared then playing a club meant one off. If East had 5 hearts then a count on the hand made him 2-5-4-2 and West  5-3-2-3 initially.  That meant that now West was guarding spades and the CA. So could I put East in with a heart to cash out and squeeze his partner? Yes! and if hearts were 4-4 all along then a spade finesse would still see me home. I played a heart and duly went one off. Playing a club instead lands the contract.

Unlucky? Sort of. I had played from the wrong hand. Had I played from the right hand I would have to make it. Nobody noticed ; everyone had probably lost the will to live. I realised on Monday.

Sorry team.