This is another hand from the Instant Matchpoint game held recently at the club. Normally games are scored after play is complete and all the scorecards are handed in, but because this event is played nationwide and in Canada and Mexico at the same time, and everyone plays the same hands, the hand records carry the Matchpoint awards on their travelers. So much for the technicalities.
Richard Pavlicek is one of the best players in recent history, having won 11 North American championships and he recommended opening the West hand in the analysis of the hands that he wrote. I was reluctant to do so on several counts: I did not want a spade lead on defense; my high cards were in short suits (meaning they are defensive, not offensive values) and my partner would be disappointed in my hand if she had to play a no-trump contract expecting some spade tricks. When I passed I heard the auction displayed with the hand and I thought that when south rebid his hearts, the opponents did not seem to be going very far, so at that point I interjected my bid. My partner was thrilled to support me to the three level which was as high as we were safe. An unexpected bonus on the hand was that north led the king of hearts, the suit his partner had bid twice, so I was able to discard a diamond loser on the third heart lead. I made four spades for a very good Matchpoint score.
The bid I made after having passed the first opportunity is called an advance balancing call. The auction so far led me to believe that my partner would have some values, since the opponents were in a slow and unexciting sequence. When I made the call, she knew that I could not have a good hand because I had passed as dealer, so she did not bid me too high.