Scotland 11:62 Wales Green
Scotland 40:47 Wales Red
Saltire 30:58 Ireland+Pete
A wag suggested that the final team should really be 'Ireland + Peat', perhaps why he was watching rather than playing.
To be fair to the Scots, Wales had put out a good team in the top match with both pairs expected to play in the Camrose in January: the Welsh trials have yet to start but they would be in my line up. The score was also helped by a Scottish player misreading the auction on one hand, only noticing when dummy when down and it was too late to undo the auction (a, reasonable, BBO restriction): this was the player with the least BBO experience and was certainly down to a lapse in concentration, reinforcing a view that BBO is very different to real life. However, improve your BBO concentration and your real concentration will improve too. Luckily the players were not too bothered and did not ask me to adjust the score as this would not have been easy, since the Scots had let through game in the other room - perhaps would've needed to get the calculator out for a weighted score?
But let's look at some of the positives from the match. Danny and Helen were the only pair with the methods and judgement to bid the grand slam on board two:
Danny treated his hand as 21-22 balanced, enabling Helen to bid key-card in diamonds at her second turn. When Helen made a grand try with five hearts, Danny just bid the grand presuming his heart suit would deliver everything that was needed. A good, well judged, auction where the key was the ability for West to key-card ask in diamonds. In the European Championships, when this hand was originally played, half the Open pairs bid the grand slam.
There was a far better effort on board thirteen, where four tables bid a slam including David and Cathy:
A lot of people say that bidding in the past was unsophisticated, but the Baron 2NT response makes a lot of sense when responding to a minor opening. David and Cathy were comfortably the best Scottish pair on the evening, in fact the only ones with a positive butler score, so disappointing to hear that they had not made it through the first round of the trials.
There is one more evening of these matches next month. Hopefully the pair that played in Exclusion Blackwood will have sorted out their agreements; the pair that doubled a part-score solid for an overtrick will know when a double is takeout and, when they do double a doomed part-score, actually beat it; and another pair will lead the suit it has bid and supported when it is right to do so; and we'll see Scotland win all the matches.
Although these matches are quite short, I am pleased that they are proving a challenge for everyone. It is highlighting which pairs have solid agreements and which need to work on them. Playing internationals and trialists from other countries is providing a different challenge and exposure to different systems and methods. All in all it is going reasonably well.