Luise Lee

Adventures with Pamela Hughes

I had a great time in Washington at the nationals. (I think I mentioned that before, but there’s no harm in repating the statement!). I was a little anxious about my first ever competitive bridge match (not counting the one very bad experience in university), but I was also excited at the same time.  It was an odd feeling!

The first bridge match that I played in was in the 0-5 Masterpoint pairs game. I showed up 5 minutes before the event without a partner, thinking that it was an individual event. (I mis-read the schedule in the daily bulletin. I thought that “single” meant “single person”, not “single-session event”, and I completely missed the word “pairs” in the listing.  Doh!)

Fournately for me, the helpful administrators scrambled to find me a partner at the last minute, and I met Pamela for the first time. We got to know each other a bit over the course of our partnership that evening, and I learned that her boyfriend and my husband were ex-partners when they played as juniors. What a small bridge world we live in!

Anyway, we actually had quite an interesting and enjoyable match  — plus, we had a very good game to boot  (I wonder if the fact that we played well made the game even more enjoyable?  Hmm…) 

Here’s how our score card looked for the session:

1 N NONE 14 100 9.86   13 N BOTH 9 620 4.95
2 E N-S 14 50 4.41   14 E NONE 9 -130 2.23
3 S E-W 15 1100 11   15 S N-S 5 -420 8.23
4 W BOTH 15 110 9.5   16 W E-W 5 200 9.86
5 N N-S 13 120 6.05   17 N NONE 4 -110 1.68
6 E E-W 13 140 9.86   18 E N-S 4 -140 3.86
7 S BOTH 12 650 8.23   19 S E-W 3 300 10.95
8 W NONE 12 -100 7.68   20 W BOTH 3 200 6.59
9 N E-W 11 400 10.95   21 N N-S 2 -400 0.05
10 E BOTH 11 200 10.95   22 E E-W 2 -600 4.95
11 S NONE 10 420 8.77   23 S BOTH 1 -140 3.32
12 W N-S 10 650 7.14   24 W NONE 1 -130 0.05
SESSION SCORE: 161.12 PERCENT: 61.03   SESSION RANK: 1(A) 1(B), EVENT RANK: 3(A)  3(B)

We were on fire until the last 4 boards, but got very chilly after that. (Speaking of chilly — man, was it cold in that tournament room!  That’s the last time I wear a skimpy summer dress to an evening game in an air-conditioned hotel conference room).  With 4 boards to play, I couldn’t believe that our names were first on the print-out of the results so far!  All in all, we did very respectively, and we won 2.06 master points! 

I’m not going to talk about the boards where we got a top — more often than not, it was because we were playing with total novices who, in some cases, had difficulty following suit.  I think it is more interesting to talk about the boards where we didn’t really get a very good score.

I’ll start with board 13, because quite honestly, I have no clue what happened on board 2.  I tried looking at the hand records and I can’t reconstruct anything about the hand.  Obviously we set them 1 trick in something, but I have no idea how or why.  Not even looking at the complete hand records was enough to jog my memory. (I guess the more experienced of a bridge player I get, the easier it will be for me to remember the hands correctly). 


Board 13

Dealer: North

Vul: Both

Q 6 4
A 4
Q J 9
K J 10 9 7
West East
A 10 8 2 J 7 5 3
9 8 7 K Q J 10 5 3 2
10 8 7 6 3  
Q 6 3
K 9
A K 5 4 2
A 8 5 4 2


I don’t understand why we didn’t do well on board 13.  We bid and made 5, which was almost the best we could have done.   (The hand records say that N/S can make: 5NT, 5, North: 5, (4 from the South side), and EW can make 1 and 4).

I was initially confused as to how North/South can make 5NT, but I suppose with careful play, concessions can be made to cope with the 5-0 diamond break.  If the opponents lead a heart, then declarer can win the ace and start with the Q.  If diamonds are 5-0, he knows he will need two club entries to the South hand to finesse the diamond 10, and then to cash the remaining AK.  So he has to hope that clubs are not also 3-0.  Declarer crosses to the A, (being careful not to squander away the precious 7), and leads a diamond to the 9.  He then cashes the remaining diamond in the North hand, then gets back to the South hand on the club 8 to reach the last two diamonds.

If West and East both follow to the first diamond, then declarer knows that he doesn’t need to worry about the fifth diamond trick.  Now he can cash the club ace to guard against the 3-0 club break in the West hand.  Declarer doesn’t need to put the contract at risk by setting up a spade trick as long as he can count to 11 with 5 diamonds, 5 clubs and 1 heart.

I was disappointed with our score for board 13 because I didn’t think we did anything wrong.  But more surprising to me was what happened on the next board:


Board 14

Dealer: EAST


A Q J 9
Q 7 3
A J 9 6 4
West East
5 4 K 7 3
10 9 A K J 6 4
K 10 7 5 Q
7 6 5 3 2 A Q J 9
10 8 6 2
8 5 2
8 3 2
K 8 4



Not vulnerable, it was East’s turn to bid.  He opened with a strong, forcing Two Clubs.  (Isn’t he a little weak to open two clubs?  I thought you needed more than that…).

Anyway, me and my 3 points with no distribution passed, and his partner ALSO PASSED!  East shook his head in despair at this misunderstanding of his bid (it was clear that East was more experienced than his partner).  My partner apprehensibly passed Two Clubs as well. 

I led one of my random irrelevant cards, and when West laid down his hand, East practically burst out laughing.  It was lucky for E/W that they couldn’t have made anything.  According to the hand recordes, NS can make 1, and EW can make 1NT, 3 and 4.

…  to be continued


jim2August 28th, 2009 at 2:29 pm

A very nice round!

On Board #13, your score card has +620, so declarer escaped the diamond ruff. Might some pairs have bid 6 clubs and made it the same way?

Some matchpoint players feel that minor suit games score so often below average, that they bid one more and try for a top.

Luise LeeSeptember 4th, 2009 at 2:13 pm

Hi Jim. Thanks for the comments. I suppose that must have been what happened and why our score was poor. I thought that we did rather well on the board and was disappointed that we didn’t at least get an above-average score on the board, but considering all of the strange happenings over the course of the evening. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised. IT was a beginners game, after all…

MichaelSeptember 7th, 2009 at 4:23 am

On #13:

While it is true that 6C from N is near cold given the way most mortals will play (most will lead the HK without some auction hint that partner has a spade card), I suspect you got a bad board because of 3NT making 4 or 5. 3NT making 4 scores better than 5C making 6. Which leads too two matchpoint “rules”.

1. When you end up rejecting 3nt or 4M to bid 5m at matchpoints, you often should bid 6m on general principles since you are likely getting a bad board. (which is what jim2 was suggesting)

2. When 3nt is possibly the right contract or bid, you should bid it. (Hamman’s rule)

Both rules are obvious exaggerations, but still have a good general point behind them.

on #14:

Lots of people open 2C weaker than you’d expect. And if E really was the more experienced play they may have been trying to mastermind a little (make the auction easier on west to minimize west’s choices and maximize the chance the east declares). And everyone gets fixed before by novices too, so there is not much you can do.

Luise LeeSeptember 10th, 2009 at 11:48 am

Thanks for the complete explanation, Michael! I didn’t know that about 3NT making overtricks vs. 5C/5D. I learnt something new!

In board #13, I think our auction was very simple, and by the time the auction got to me 3NT had already come and gone: partner opened 1C, East bid 4H! and I bid 5C. Perhaps I should have just gone ahead and bid 6C straight away? or maybe partner should have bumped us to 6C? I don’t know…

Anyway, it was a fun night for me. I’ll post a couple more hands from this session after things quiet down from the World Championships.

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