Final round on Saturday’s “Beat Bill” game at the Airport Bridge Club, when we all try to win bucks off club manager Bill Finkelstein by beating him head to head and beating him on total score. Fenton Harrison and I get off to a decent start – we even beat Bill in one of the two hands we play against him and pickup partner Ted Kahn – but two things keep happening. I keep getting preemptive hands with long suits. And we never get a long suit together. It’s a day of mismatches. None is worse than this one in the final round. I’m North, Fenton South. East-West are Isabelle Banas and Linda Wynes, respectively.
It’s Board 7, both sides vulnerable, South the dealer. Fenton opens a Spade. Linda passes. I’m holding this little gem:
Spades: 5; Hearts: A-Q-J-8-5-3; Diamonds: A-J; Clubs: A-Q-9-5.
I count the 18 high card points, add them to Fenton’s opener and figure, hey, it’s a slam. Probably 6 No Trump. So I go straight to Blackwood with a 4 No Trump bid. Fenton gives me 5 Clubs – no Aces. OK, he doesn’t have that Ace of Spades, but he must have King-Queen and some other honors – high Diamonds, king of Clubs. I take it straight to 6 No Trump. Isabelle leads a Heart and I get to see Fenton’s hand:
Spades: K-J-9-8-6-3; Hearts: none; Diamonds: Q-10-7-6-5; Clubs: 7-3.
Ow! We’re in trouble. Big trouble. Try as I might, there’s no way to get to Fenton’s hand. He never should have opened 1 Spade with that dog. It’s not even good enough for a weak 2 Spade bid. And I never, never, never should bid 4 No Trump. Well, nothing to do but take my lumps. There’s plenty of them. Down six. An absolute bottom board. Here are the East-West hands:
Spades: 10-2; Hearts: K-9-7-6-2; Diamonds: 3-2; Clubs: K-J-10-6.
Spades: A-Q-7-4; Hearts: 10-4; Diamonds: K-9-8-4; Clubs: 8-4-2.
I snatch the traveler – the running score slip – and discover that North takes the bid six out of seven times and every single one of them goes down. The lucky ones are at 3 No Trump, going down one, three and four. Another pair, Janet Frisch and Dottie May, bid 4 No Trump and go down five. One North – Jan Hasselback – takes the bid at 4 Hearts and goes down three. And South takes the bid just once. Judi Marshall plays it at 4 Spades, down two.
Had I just bid 3 No Trump, I’d escape with down three, minus 300. Instead of a zero, we’d get 2.5 game points, putting us at exactly 50% for the day. Instead, we’re 48.4%, still enough to beat Bill and Ted (they’re less than half a percentage point behind us, so it’s $2 apiece for me and Fenton) and good enough, through the miracle of stratification, to be fourth in the C strat for .67 of a masterpoint. Total for the month now – 5.28.