Before you read the answers, a word of warning. The bridge you are about to see was perpetrated by players of international standing. These people have trained for many years to raise their skills to the level that you will see exhibited. Please, do not try any of this at home.
A gentle start. If you open 3, you will play there and make it. If you open 1, you will probably be allowed to play in 2 - either way, you'll score 110. At the table, the player with this hand chose to pass. At the other, the problem did not arise, since the bidding was opened with 1 by the hand in front of this one, who had AKQ103, no other high card, and the survival instinct of a schizophrenic lemming.
I overcalled 3, but the opponents competed to 4 and went three down in it. We gained 7 IMPs, insignificant in view of the holocaust that was to supervene, but of some relevance to the final margin.
Your partner's failure to overcall on the first round is explicable in one of two ways: (a) he was asleep; (b) he has a strong holding in hearts. If (a), there is little you can infer - he might have anything, given that he has just woken up.
But if (b), he is likely to have a good hand with a poor club suit, since with decent clubs, he would probably have overcalled on the first round anyway. It is your duty to show your excellent trump support - 5 would not be far-fetched, and 4 is the very least you can do.
At the table, the chosen action was 3, a lily-livered effort that deserved to be punished. In a sense, it was, for partner bid 5 holding:
A87 AKQ95 None KJ432
and your side missed an excellent slam. But Nemesis had reckoned without your opponents, who judged that I (your partner) would not have leapt to 5 unless I was confident of going down it it, so they doubled me. Unable, for obvious reasons, to find a defence which justified this decision, they conceded 950. That wasn't 1370, but it wasn't the 620 recorded at the other table either, so we picked up an 8 IMP swing.
Your best action is to pass. If you do, you will concede 190. If you do not...
This was the auction that actually unfolded:
¹ After the match, there would have been a lively discussion about which of the various actions taken in the course of these epic 48 boards had been the most completely absurd. But this bid put an end to that.
I should not have doubled six spades, of course, but this escaped me at the time. Naturally I led the A, which meant that declarer needed trumps 3-3 to avoid conceding 1100 with seven clubs laydown, but they were, so he did, and we recorded minus 1660. When team-mates contrived to double the opponents in six diamonds and collect three of their four available tricks, we lost 15 IMPs.
You might have started by showing support for your partner's spade suit over 2. But it was not clear that the opponents would get so high so fast, and 2 was certainly a reasonable choice. What you must not do now, though, is panic - the five level is not the place to volunteer three-card support.
Our team-mate bid five spades, which was doubled and one down. The opponents had done well, though - you were collecting only 300 from five diamonds, but that would have held your loss on the board to 3 IMPs instead of 11.
In 6 after the A, the 2 to the nine and ten ruffed, the A, a diamond ruff, the K, another diamond ruff, and the A, declarer had to find a way back to his hand. He cashed the A, on which North dropped the jack and South completed a peter to show an odd number of cards. Not knowing which of the black-suit plays to take at face value, West tried to ruff a spade, but North overruffed to defeat the contract.
West would have made his slam by taking a club ruff instead, but North had done well to lead the 2 on the second round from an original holding of A72. Our team gained 11 IMPs, perhaps fortunately - the slam is not a good contract, but I've seen sicker dogs get well.
The opening lead chosen at the table was the A, which scored 690 fewer aggregate points than a minor-suit lead would have done. East, one felt, had been a trifle reticent in the bidding.
At the other table, no such restraint was shown, and the final contract was five spades doubled. Our man made no mistake, leading a diamond to extract the maximum penalty, and we gained 13 IMPs.
Do you know what partner's pass of 2 redoubled means, the next time this happens at your table? What it means is that he wants to defend 2 redoubled - he would have passed out 2 doubled if West had not raised the stakes. That being so, I ought to have passed - after all, I had a couple of aces, which was as much defence as partner could reasonably expect. What I did, though, was to bid 3, craven cowardice of the highest order. But it should have been a winning move:
Two spades redoubled would have lost six tricks, and we would have scored 400. But when West doubled 3, we were in a position to score 670 - the spade finesse would have taken care of the club loser, and I had enough stuff to nullify the J.
Unfortunately, partner decided that 3NT would play better than three diamonds. He was right about this, but only from the point of view of the opponents, and the asking price was 800. I forget what our team-mates did. One doesn't like to ask, somehow.
Better open this one. If you don't...
...you will miss a slam, for the full deal is as shown above. Not that we got to a slam:
¹ Hearts and diamonds
Fortunately, declarer got the trumps wrong, otherwise we would have conceded 140 when cold for six hearts - even worse than passing the deal out.
At the other table, the East hand opened the bidding, with the result that he became declarer in four spades doubled. South led a club, which would have let the contract through on most days. Not this one, though - it proved the start of a murderous defence, and another 800 entered the ledger in the wrong column.
This was the first board of the last set in our room, and this was what happened:
¹ Responsive, and probably irresponsible, but you have to do something when you're 31 behind. Usually, the thing you end up doing is being 41 behind, but not always.
² Ridiculous. I had some daft notion that a responsive double would usually have the minors, so I'd better show my heart suit in case partner didn't believe I'd got it. But I'd overlooked the fact that following his 3 bid, the auction was forcing to game, so I should just have bid my suits in natural order.
³ Pick a minor.
Six clubs was cold, of course, and we feared the worst. The opposition, however, managed to surpass the worst by a comfortable margin:
¹ The young expert these days requires J86432 and a queen for a three-level pre-empt. The North hand above, however, is by no means a maximum for a simple two-level overcall, which promises the Earth and everything that's in it.
³ A bold and daring bid by modern standards; after all, you have already overcalled 2, so have shown most of your hand. The play took longer than it might have done, because North had to wait until South had gone to the bar before he dared show anyone his hand.
At the table, South passed, which proved the decisive losing action, for partner's hand was:
AQ109 AJ A8743 A6
In the other room, the hand above opened a strong club, after which 4 was easily reached. That took eleven tricks, one spade only ten, and the war was over.
I have been perusing the rules of the competition for some time now, and they do not appear to have made provision for what ought to have been the result of this match. Both teams should have lost.