Playing in a surprisingly large club game yesterday, partner and I had a 58% game which was good only for second place. Either of these boards where we got a bottom would have made the difference. Looking at the boards, it seems that we made the right decisions, i.e., decisions that are with the odds. But the cards were such that a worse decision, made by most of the field, carried the day.
Here's the first. I'm South, in 3NT and receive a heart lead:
What do you play from dummy? If you reflexively play low, congratulations. You were with the field and you make an over trick. But think about it for a second. The only case for playing low is that you hope that West has both the Jack and the 10 of hearts. Otherwise, East will insert his Jack or 10, drive out your heart stopper (ducking once if necessary) and then when they are in with the ace of clubs, they'll cash their hearts. Down 1. The best play is to go up with the queen. This wins whenever either East or West has both missing aces. If East has both missing aces, you can destroy communication between the hands by holding up the king till the third round. If West has both missing aces, your king is guarded and the contract is safe. That both aces are with the same person is a 50% chance. That East has neither jack nor 10 is a decidedly lower number. But the bridge gods were against us. This was the full deal:
This is pretty much the only configuration of cards where playing low from dummy wins. Ugh.
Here's a second. I was South again and having opened light, I found myself in a tough spot after partner doubled their 3H contract. His double shows a good hand that is long in clubs, short in hearts and willing to play in a diamond contract or for me to pass it for penalty. Unfortunately, I am also short in hearts and my diamonds are quite bad. My club king, though, is promising. The 3NT contract has play if the clubs are split 3-2 and if the clubs are 3-2, their 3H is down only 1. We needed to bid our vulnerable game and so we did. But the field didn't. The clubs were 4-1 and so the poor decision won out. Ugh.
Oh well, tomorrow is another day. Regression to the mean. All that stuff. Keeps bridge interesting.