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An Unexpected Sims Result

I was surprised to hear that my partner and I had come 8th overall in the recent Summer EBU simultaneous pairs competition since we did not win our heat!

We came second in the Axe club BBO heat last Wednesday with a score of 63.2%, losing to a score of 67.3% which was a significant margin you might think. Nationally, however, we scored 63.8% while our heat winners only scored 59.4% which was a drop for them of nearly 8%.

These changes come about because locally our results were being compared with the results on 5 other tables but nationally they were being compared with the results from about 140 tables. The main effect of this is to move your results away from the extremes. You may easily get an absolute top or bottom locally and score 100% or 0% on some boards but nationally your results will probably have been duplicated by several other pairs so your complete tops become shared near tops and your bottoms become shared bottoms. For example, our one complete bottom actually scored 32% nationally, which increased our national score by about 1.5% compared with our local score. (We played 22 boards in all). 32% is quite a large change in a result, however. The standard deviation of the difference (a sort of average difference) between our local and national results on any one board is only about 16%.

The result was for board 4 which we played as NS. West opened 2 spades which was passed out and just made while we failed to find our heart fit to play in 3 hearts.

This result is not unreasonable. Though East has a good hand in support of spades, it is a flat 4333 with only 14 points, 3 of which are in jacks. In our heat, however, 4 Easts decided to investigate a game contract but, in doing so, got too high. We, unfortunately, played against the East who passed and I, as South opposite a passed partner, did not think it worth the risk of bidding 3 hearts vulnerable.

Nationally, however, 14 pairs played in 2S making. This raises us off the bottom by scoring the same as us but 21 NS pairs allowed 3S to make which is a worse score than us and raises us substantially off the bottom. 14 NS pairs declared the hand and went down by -200 to -1080 (I have only the scores, not the contracts) again increasing our score.

Our heat winners suffered larger corrections in the wrong direction (for them) which even changed two of their very good scores into below average ones.

Playing NS they got a joint top when they held 2 hearts by EW to the double dummy 8 tricks and scored 90% since four other declarers were allowed to make an overtrick in hearts.

Nationally, however, they only scored 44.8% for this result which is a reduction of 45.2%.! This was primarily because 2 hearts making exactly was nationally the most common result, achieved at 30 tables. An overtrick was made at only 24 tables.

We played this board in 2 hearts as EW and my partner dropped the queen of diamonds under the king after the obvious ace and king of diamonds lead. This simple ruse was sufficient for South to ignore his partner's Peter and switch to a heart rather than giving his partner a diamond ruff! She ultimately made 2 hearts +1, scoring 70% locally but 79.6% nationally where overtricks were much rarer.

Board 17 was the largest difference between local and national results. Our local winners were playing NS as EW made 4 spades + 1. This scored 80% locally for NS since some EW pairs made 12 tricks and one NS pair conceded 500 points in 2 hearts doubled.

Nationally, this result only scored 33.1% - a reduction of 46.9%! It was by far the most common result with 67 pairs recording it but there were a wide range of results that were better for NS. There wre 10 different scores recorded by a total of 58 pairs. Some pairs made only 4 spades, Others played in NT making 9 or 10 tricks and other pairs didn't bid game.

We played this hand as EW making 4S + 2 when south led the 4 of diamonds, the 5 was played from dummy and north, not unreasonably, played the 8! If partner's 4 is a singleton then there is no point playing the king. It can't be a doubleton since north knows it is her lowest diamond. If it's from T94 then the singleton ace is going to drop and finally, partner can't have any holding with the the ace since they wouldn't underlead an ace in a suit contract! We scored 70% for this locally but 94.8% nationally.

These large differences come about because the results from six tables cannot accurately reflect the wider variety of results which occur nationally. The larger the local event is, then the more likely it is for the results to reflect the national results.

I know that a number of people do not like playing in simultaneous events because they think the hands are chosen to be unusual or difficult. This was true some time ago but now the hands are randomly dealt just the same as any club night. Unlike a normal club night, however, you get a commentary booklet in which an expert discusses the hands. This can be most informative and help you to refine your game. The booklet for this event can be found here. Give sims a try if you don't already.

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