This week, I have an appointment with Clothilde, one of the best girls that I train. I impatiently look forward to the debriefing of their first weekend of the Women’s National Division. Her and her partner Alice have just been invited to join the team and are therefore playing this competition for the first time together.
A “ring” tells me that I have a message from Clothilde arriving on my favorite social network.
She tells me: “It went like a dream! We are in the lead and our partners congratulated us. And yet, the weekend got off to a bad start.”
I reply: “That’s normal, even if one should avoid these small mistakes at the start of the tournament and be immediately focused. There is a bit of pressure when you are invited to join a team in the strongest competition of your category. But tell me about that bad hand at the start.”
She replies: “I made a questionable opening which led to a bad contract. I opened 1NT with ♠32 ♥AKJ ♦KJ8762 ♣K3”.
Me: “That’s completely normal, Clothilde. I have already explained to you that this kind of opening bid is automatic and you must not question it every time it goes wrong. If you don’t open with 1NT, you’ll have a thorny problem with your rebid. If you open 1♦ and settle for 2♦ on the next round, you will not be doing justice to your hand’s potential with the sixth Diamond and 15 HCP. On the other hand, if you jump to 3♦, your partner could be disappointed when he discovers the quality of your Diamonds.”
She retorts: “Yes, but we ended up playing 3 No-trump with two small Spades opposite the Jack doubleton. Alice had an obvious reply of 3NT to 1NT.”
Me: “Yes, I admit that is not great. But with one Diamond less and one more Club you would not have hesitated for a second to open 1NT and yet your hand would have been worse than here where you have a sixth Diamond. So, did they take the first five or six Spades?”
Clothilde: “No, the Spades blocked but I still went down. They also had the Ace of Clubs and the Heart finesse didn’t work.
“Show me both hands and tell me the start of the play, please.”