I agree with you on point #1. I felt it might have served better to select something else. Though, in the end who knows if that really would have helped. So your point hit a lot on what I was thinking as well.
P.S. I've also played the gamble of 2 gems to the left 1 to the right, selecting a match to further drop it down in the middle. and hope it matches into a 4. Sometimes risks pay off, sometimes not, and sometimes for the other side. I like risks.