I can do better with Marietta Kalman. I know I can. I’ve done it. But I didn’t do it Thursday at the Airport Bridge Club. Our day was the flipside of the high spirits that Robert Alan Davis and I enjoyed the night before at the Delaware Wednesday club.
Certainly my bidding leaves much to be desired, but our problems are compounded because we don’t seem to understand one another. Again and again, we ran into little snags where what she picked up from lessons at the Bridge Center of Buffalo ran contrary to what I seem to have absorbed from Bill Finkelstein’s classes at Airport. Here’s an example:
It’s Board 23, end of the day. We’re sitting North-South. Our opponents are Sharon Chang, sitting West opposite her daughter, Jacqueline, up from New York City for the holidays. Jacqueline plays at the big Manhattan bridge club. Anyway, South – Marietta – is dealer. East-West is vulnerable. Marietta bids 1 No Trump. Sharon passes. I’m sitting with a big hand:
Spades: K-Q-9-6-2; Hearts: A; Diamonds: 9-8; Clubs: A-K-9-8-3.
Sixteen high card points, add two or three more for the two five-card suits. We’ve got slam, either in Spades or No Trump. But how do I get us there? I decide to go with 2 Hearts for a transfer to Spades, then bid 4 No Trump, showing strength, asking for Aces or both. But Marietta passes. Sharon leads a Diamond and Marietta proceeds to take all the tricks, thanks to Sharon throwing away a winning long Spade, to an aggravated look on Jacqueline’s face. It’s a next-to-bottom board for us. Almost everyone else bid the slam at 6 NT, making 6 or 7. Here are the other hands:
Spades: A-3; Hearts: Q-9-5-3; Diamonds: A-K-J-6; Clubs: Q-7-5.
Spades: J-8-5-4; Hearts: K-4; Diamonds: Q-10-7-3-2; Clubs: J-8-5-4.
Spades: 10-7; Hearts: J-10-8-7-6-2; Diamonds: 5-4; Clubs: 6-4-2.
Marietta said I should have bid 4 Clubs, asking for Aces. She thought that 4 NT asked if she was at the top of her 1 NT bid. That was the way she was taught, she said. When we put this hand out for analysis after the game, Bill Finkelstein said my transfer bid was useless – I should have gone straight to 6 NT – but that my 4 NT should have considered an inquiry about Aces. That, he said, is the way he teaches it.