Ross Taylor

2009 COPC – Pairs Madness

And now for something completely different !

Keith and I had a good time in the first two sessions of the COPC, qualifying 5th comfortably. This means we will have a reasonable carry-over into the final two sessions tomorrow.

The list of qualifiers and their carry-over into today’s final can be found at the CBF website at the following link :

Leading the way are David T. Willis and Waldemar Frucacz. Lurking near the top are Judy and Nick Gartaganis; Bing Le and Richard Chan; David Lindop and Doug Baxter to name just a few pairs. Other names I am familiar with near the top include Peter Jones, Aidan Ballantyne, Zyg Marcinski and Bryan Maksymetz,former winner John Duquette and his partner Dave Colbert, the always dangerous Bowman brothers, Doug and Sandra Fraser, George Retek and Bryan Fraser, Laurence Betts, and the legendary Hash Mohamed from Calgary.

We scored well in the afternoon – in spite of some bad boards; and came in second overall with a 60% plus game. In the evening, we needed to refer to one of those handy doodie score calculators a few times – as we defended a doubled part score making; a doubled slam making; and 1NT redoubled making.

There were a few other bad ones in the mix, and a random selection of tops too – and when it all settled down, our second session was around 55% – I didn’t check so I don’t know for sure.

For sure we all know that matchpoints is a different beast – and you must take actions you would never consider in a team game – when they work – you can score spectactularly well on a hand – and similarly, when they backfire, you will have egg on your face.

A few entertaining examples. On the first exhibit, I made not one but two transcendental bids in the same auction – I held KJ1094 KJ983 4 54. I was in third seat, red versus white, with two passes to me.

Now I am the first person to open light at any form of scoring, but here I passed, perhaps oddly. I felt that I could easily get dragged too high too quickly on this hand by partner or the opponents; and that instead I could very comfortably show this hand (and cap it at less than an opening bid) by taking delayed action. So I passed in third chair.

LHO opened 1 diamond in fourth chair, and RHO responded 1 spade. Hmm, I said. Maybe I will stay quiet a bit longer – RHO just bid my best suit, and LHO is unlimited. So I passed, and LHO rebid 1NT. Keith passed, and RHO bid 2 diamonds. This is a development I liked.

Now I knew LHO was limited to 11-14 HCP, and that RHO preferred the safety of 2 of a minor over 1NT. So now I came in with a confident 2 heart bid. Well, confident might be a bit strong; after all, LHO could still have four hearts on this auction.

Now, LHO did not double, and he did not bid 2 spades, nor did he bid 2NT. He bid 3 clubs. Great, so he must have something like five diamonds and four clubs, and at most four cards in the majors.

RHO preferred back to 3 diamonds effortlessly. I smelled a nine card heart fit between Keith and I, and Keith rated to have scattered 9-10 HCP. So now I bid 3 hearts !!

This escaped the wrath of the opening bidder, but when it came around to my RHO he could not take this flagrant abuse of the bidding process by me, and he doubled, and all passed.

North (Keith)


South (Ross)


The lead was the queen of diamonds which held the trick. LHO shifted to the king of clubs. A few minutes later I chalked up + whatever it is for 3H X making vulnerable and a bushel of matchpoints.

RHO had AQ65 75 A1096 876, and his partner had 82 A10 QJ753 KQ93.

I must admit it sure looks weird that I passed twice, then came in at the two level and the three level vulnerable opposite a passing partner and between two live opponents, and made my doubled contract…..only in a pairs game.

On a serious note for a second, we bid a making slam in the first session.

North (Ross)


South (Keith)


Keith opened the bidding 1 heart, and I responded 2 clubs. Keith responded 2 spades (not showing extras) and I bid 3 hearts, which only now established we were in a game forcing auction.

Keith said 4 hearts; refusing to cue bid, as an attempt to limit his hand. I reasoned now that if he had a diamond control and good hearts, we should be playing in 6 hearts. Blackwood would not help me – as I would not know if diamonds are covered.

If I cue bid 5 clubs, it would help a bit, but there might be a hole in the trump suit. So I cue bid 4 spades to give Keith room to use Roman Key Card Blackwood if he had a diamond control.

That’s exactly what he did with the same eleven count he had started with. He opened one heart; he bid 2 spades over 2 clubs, then signed off in game. But he truly understood the value of his hand on the auction I gave him – he found we were only missing one key card, and bid slam which made for almost all the matchpoints.

We try to put pressure on the opponents no matter what the scoring, and we hate to sell out too low.

I picked up Q9843 AQ84 K4 95, and no one was vulnerable. LHO opened a weak NT, and RHO said 2 diamonds, transfer to hearts. Fraught with danger, I jumped into the fray with 2 spades. This was passed around to my RHO who said double which meant “do something intelligent partner”

Her smart partner elected to pass holding Jxxx of spades and only Kx of hearts and I meanwhile bought a goldmine in dummy:

North (Keith)


South (Ross)


It was hard (if not impossible) to beat 2 spades, so another +470 for your reckless heroes.

The very next hand against the same opponents, I picked up 8642 107 K10986 97
They were red, we were white; our favorite colours. Keith passed in first chair, and my RHO said 1 heart. LHO bid 2NT – which is a forcing to game Jacoby raise in hearts. It was Keith’s turn to bid, so naturally 3 spades popped out onto the table. RHO said 4 hearts, and I knew I was facing only a five card suit in Keith’s hand for his 3 level intervention. (With 6 spades he would have opened a weak 2, and please, don’t even think Keith could have 7 spades and passed before)

Still, I had an automatic 4 spade bid. Can’t sell out to 4 hearts; must put pressure on the opponents. Actually, they felt no pressure. The partner of the opening bidder had a full 17 count, and he made a forcing pass around to his partner who doubled us. Keith had an eight count opposite my 3 HCP, but there was no way to beat him more than down 2 (minus 300) into their own +650, and a near top was the end result for us.

North (Ross)


South (Keith)


Those three hands were from the afternoon. Another classic example of matchpoint bidding occured early in the evening session.

Keith held K97 J10874 J42 Q7.

His RHO said pass (they were red we were white – gotta love those colours, they are your friend) Keith passed, and his LHO opened 1 club. I passed, and Keith’s RHO said 1 spade. LHO now said 1NT. I passed, and his RHO said 2 diamonds, natural, as a passed hand.

Keith now jumped into the breach with 2 hearts. LHO said double ,and all passed. LHO led a low spade, and turned green when I put down the mother of all dummies:

North (Ross)


South (Keith)


Even though hearts were 4-1, it was a pretty easy make and another +470.

Lest you think our aggressive style is without risk, here are a couple of examples which went the other way.

I held 82 AQ75 A8765 Q3. Keith opened 1NT (11+ – 14) equal white. My RHO said 2 spades, natural. I could force to game, by bidding 3 spades, but that feels way too much – our main objective here is to go plus – and bid game only if it is a near “no brainer”.

But I have a tool for such occasions – I said double, negative, or if you like, a takeout double of spades. However, after my takeout double, everyone passed ! That looked pretty promising – it looks from my side we can collect 300 or 500 here against maybe only a partscore.

Little did I know this was actually an opening lead problem ! The only lead to beat 2spades doubled is a low heart from AQ75. I didn’t find it, and I doubt you would either. The heart lead gets the tap going.

Instead I led the queen of clubs; and saw an ominous 10 fall from Keith’s hand as a rather pained dummy tabled her hand, and declarer won the Ace a little too confidently for my liking:

Dummy (thinking she is going for her life!)


Declarer (life is good)


The club lead caused him no pain, and -470 was the result, and very few, if any, matchpoints for us.

A bit later, I got well and truly trapped in the bidding by my own aggressiveness. I held J2 A1042 Q872 K95. We were red versus white (remember people, this is a time to tread cautiously, especially against good players who know how to pull the trigger)

David Lindop on my right opened 1 spade in third chair. I passed, and Doug Baxter on my left bid 1NT – semi forcing. Keith and David both passed, as should I of course. In five days of imps play it would never occur to me to bid here now.

And frankly it should not have occured to me to bid here at matchpoints. But sometimes it’s hard to turn off the faucet, and you get caught up in the moment. So I made a balancing double.

Not only is any action fraught with risk, but this particular action often suggests a trap or semi trap pass of 1 spade. I trusted Keith would look at his own spade holding and figure out I was just being hungry.

Doug didn’t care how much I wanted to eat; he said RDBLE ! I knew this was not good -looked like we were going for the big swim.

Keith passed, David passed, and now my turn. Can someone else play this hand please?

It looked like I was headed for a zero no matter what I did now. They would have their doubling shoes on, and -200 to -800 was inevitable.

So like a deer frozen in the headlights of an oncoming car, I passed and prayed for a miraculous layout; great spades with interior spots with Keith, and every single card lying badly for declarer.

Well this was not so, Doug chalked up 1NT redoubled with an overtrick – for a gazillion points and no matchpoints for us.

Had I run out “confidently” to 2 diamonds, that was our only chance. I might have got by Doug, who held 87 QJ863 J6 AJ87. If he now bids 2 hearts, I am home free. If he passes though, surely David will reopen double with his full opener of KQ963 K7 K43 Q106, and down I will go for -200. Still that beats -10,000 or whatever it was.

Ah well, live by the sword, die by the sword. Onwards to another day….

If anyone would like to contact me directly I can be reached at

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