Like the East District League, in which we all play, this is a aggregate points match. It is handicapped based on the players' division and is teams of twelve (unlike the league which is teams of eight). This year Edinburgh won by 900 points, one of the closest matches in recent history. Indeed, the decisive factor was Berwick's promotion to division one which cost the Borders one thousand points in handicap, although there were plenty of opportunities just at the top two tables to turn the result around.
LotG and I played at table one for the Borders against Patrick, our team mate last weekend in the Watson, and Mike, SBU President. We let a couple of 'difficult to beat' games through and missed a nice penalty, so we could have scored a lot better. Mike and Patrick were not perfect either but we had an enjoyable game.
Going through all the hands, I've worked out the par score (achievable if you can both see all four hands) and an expected score (a score I'd expect if two good pairs played without significant error). The par score was +60 to North-South and the expected score was -300 to North-South. So our final score of +40 to North-South could have been the sign of a well-played match, or at least one where we played to the same standard!
Slam bidding at aggregate scoring makes a huge difference and there were three challenges for East-West during the match. This was board five:
With only thirty points and no fit, perhaps it should be easy to avoid slam here, but after the auction starts one spade - two hearts - three clubs it is not easy to stop. This was a day to be aggressive, as the spades were friendly and the club finesse worked. A quick simulation suggests the slam is around forty percent.
Whereas it was easy to bid a poor slam there, board six was a very good slam that was difficult to bid, especially as we were bidding too:
Some players pre-empted with the East hand but I feel it is too strong and, certainly, Patrick's one heart opener gave them a chance to bid the slam. Three down was a good save for us against game, let alone slam.
Finally, on board twenty, another opportunity:
Mike and Patrick, playing Standard American, bid one spade - one notrump (forcing) - three diamonds - three notrump - four diamonds - five clubs - five diamonds. Our team mates, Reg and Diana, had the equivalent Acol auction at table two and I think both Easts would have been better advised to raise diamonds rather than bid three notrump. However Reg did force to slam, not least because the initial two clubs response in Acol guaranteed better values.
An enjoyable evening with some interesting hands and close competition. The season has started.
Update: for the purposes of balance I will note that we, as North-South, missed three making slams, although they were all about 30% or worse.