The Rule of Eight, an invaluable tool for slam bidding, works as follows: ascertain by whatever means you choose how many aces are held by your opponents; subtract that number from eight; do not bid at the resulting level. I was therefore mildly surprised to learn at breakfast that the count of grand slams missing a cashing ace by English teams stood at three – none of which, I am pleased to say, could be attributed to the Girls team. Mind you, one of them was a bit unlucky – the hand on lead did not have the cashing ace and needed to lead from SQx, but his partner was playing a convention where double of a grand slam asks for a spade lead. I wouldn’t have thought this was much use in the normal run of events, but junior bridge is not the normal run of events.
The English girls continue to struggle against opponents who do the right thing with depressing regularity. Our first match against Hungary featured several flat boards, but England missed a game and bid a sub-par slam that needed more luck than it received. The board was the subject of a ruling in the Juniors match (you’ll need to look at the hand record to follow the developments).
South opened 1C and West overcalled 2C, which he intended as majors and so informed South. East, though, told North that 2C was natural. North therefore bid 2H, and East “raised” to 3C. When this came back to the side of the screen where 2C was majors, South thought North had a club raise and West thought East had a cuebid in support of a major. South found out he was missing a cashing ace (a treatment that might have been more gainfully employed on some other deals) and got his side to six clubs, doubled and two down.
But the Director took a dim view of all of this (as well he might), and adjusted the score to five diamonds doubled by South making six. Since five diamonds doubled by South making six was the result at the other table, the board was flat – or perhaps “no swing” would be a more apt description. Meanwhile, the England girls lost by a dozen IMPs to Hungary, who consolidated their place in the top eight.
The next opponents were Brazil, who were not in the top eight. A slam depending on bringing in a suit of AKJ53 facing 10986 was bid by Brazil but not by England – the queen was doubleton offside and the Brazilian declarer went with the odds. The good spots made the contract worth bidding, since in addition to a 2-2 break or a singleton queen you could also pick up Qxxx onside for a total chance of around 57%. A so-so vulnerable game well played by Brazil gained them another 10 IMPs; England retaliated with a couple of swings of their own but the final margin was 2 IMPs in favour of the South Americans.
The English girls produced a faultless performance in the third match of the day by going to an Italian restaurant. Well, we had a bye and wanted a change from Chinese food. We missed a wild set of boards on which just about everything was doubled just about everywhere, and IMPs in copious quantities went backwards and forwards. The resulting 12 VPs for eating pasta left the team a little below average and some way below qualifying pace.