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Release 2.19q
Oxford (Home) 23/02/2020

Report by John Auld


Oxfordshire  travelled 100 miles through wind and rain to play this match. Having survived the journey they, like Notts, suffered unexplained computer gliches and random fire alarms throughout the match. Many thanks for their forbearance.

Our lone technical expert Keith Spencer had his hands full without playing bridge as well so is to be congratulated on scoring +30 cross imps with new partner Gerry Franklin in the Markham team. Steve Raine & Willie topped the scores in the Dawes team while the Aulds were best in the Porter.

The match was going well for Notts in the Dawes until the final set when 36 imps vanished for a narrow loss ( 9-11).  By contrast the Porter and Markham were not so good until the last set when things turned around and both were won 14-6.


THE TEAMS with cross-imps:

Steve Raine & Willie Crook  23.34
Lloyd Eagling & Stan Zydaglo  23.18
Sandy Fulton & John Rolph  13.93
Mark Goddard & David Hodge -59.28
Irene & John Auld  40.16
Frank Ball & Steve Fordham  -3.81
Patrick Gaudart & Shirley Ashtari  -4.94
Toni Smith & Pravin Tailor  -5.15
Keith Spencer & Gerry Franklin  30.82
Sue McIntosh & Phil Cooper  15
Jane Hall & Richard Page  -0.81
Michael leaney &Tony Stephenson -14.27



Often it is a struggle to find material for a county match report. Not this time; there were enough interesting hands for several reports. And  that means there were several errors.


One major problem for the cream of Notts and Oxfordshire was slam bidding-or rather non slam bidding.

For example board 10 was a cold 7H: 


Across all 12 tables only Sue McIntosh & Phil Cooper managed to bid this one. Phil's immediate 4NT might seem a bit direct but it showed an appreciaton of the strength of his hand. 5C showed 0 or 3 keycards which  became the latter when Sue bid 6H. Phil now had a clear picture of the hand and knew that 7H was either cold or on a spade finesse. Fortunately it was cold.

On that one most of the field were in a small slam. Board 28 was a more striking example of all round incompetence:


The auction started on the above lines; playing routine methods South expects 6 clubs and - thanks to opponents intervention - probably not too much wasted in spades. In fact North is quite likely to hold C AKxxxx and HA which equals 13 tricks as here.  Noone bid the grand and astonishingly only one pair on each team managed 6C. For Notts that was Toni & Pravin.

A final slam exhibit is the monstrous board 22



With a combined 34 count and a solid spade suit how can more than half the field stop in game? (At this point honesty compels me to include myself in the incompetent sector). In the absence of methods common sense seems to disappear on unfamiliar huge hands. It is worthwhile for ambitious partnerships to have some agreements after 2C with strong balanced hands. They do not happen often but there is a lot at stake when they do. One option is the Kokish convention whereby 2C-2D-2H is a relay after which 2S-2N shows 25+ balanced and is forcing. Now you can use your 2N methods. One thing you dont want to have to do is leap to 3N. In the distant past text books advocated starting 2C-2D-4NT on these monsters, but what on this hand would South do with say S Txx/ H xxx/ D  QJxxx/ C xx ?


Which brings me  to board 26:

I opened 2C and found the magic hand to make game nearly certain. This may surprise those who have heard me advocate not opening 2C on lots of big hands.  There are a few reasons for my choice: the suit is spades and I have defensive tricks which means I can outbid or double any unwelcome intervention. I would not dream of bidding 2C if the black suits were reversed-I would start with 1C. And I have always played that 2C-2D-2S-2N-3C-3S can be passed. (Partner has refused to cooperate three times.) One hand proves nothing but this time it all worked out.


Dawes captain Mark Goddard tells me tthere was a post match debrief which included discussion of board 20:



Please click on show detail

The discussion centred around getting East to play the hand to protect the SK in 3NT, or ialternatively whetther West might open a strong NT to deter South from bidding 2S over 2C (Stayman). That happened at our table when West played 3NT after 1NT-2C-2D-3NT ,  and I was on lead. I had the right idea but led the wrong major. 3N was easy on a heart lead. When Willie sat South readers will be unsurprised to hear that he bid 2S, undeterred neither by the strong N nor by the vulnerability and putting paid to 3NT. One off doubled was cheap.

Sometimes lurking with a good suit does work:


My partner decided to keep her clubs to herself. North who had suffered some bad luck probably felt he needed a good board so punted 3NT over his partner's 3D raise. It did not go well.

I led HQ taken by declarer who started diamonds from hand. I won DA and cleared the hearts. Declarer now hoped I had such as S QJx/ H QJTxxx/ D A/ C Qxx and continued diamonds. Alas I won and cashed hearts. Partner kept as many clubs as the rules allowed and claimed the rest when I finally stopped cashing hearts and led a club. Seven off.