I got to the opening session of the Buffalo Spring Sectional Tournament in Main-Transit Fire Hall in Williamsville Friday morning just in time for the awarding of the certificates to the winners of last year’s Ace of Clubs masterpoint races. And, for the third year in a row, one of those winners was me.
But, as I reminded people who congratulated me during the game, that was last year. Now I’m in a much tougher point division – the 1,000 to 2,500 level – and I’m not anywhere near on top. The leading player is Mike Kisiel and I’ve never gotten more points in a year than he has.
Furthermore, I’m in one of the worst slumps of my bridge playing career. For proof, we need look no further than my record on this wretched week leading up to Friday the 13th: Monday with Sharon Chang, 44.18%; Tuesday with Mike Silverman, 44.01% (seventh of nine North-Souths); Wednesday with Celine Murray, 37.18% (dead last); Thursday with Eva Schmidt, 44.44%. At the end of the games this week, my partners just headed for the door. They didn’t want to see a summary. I entered the weekend with the same 0.96 points for the month that I had when the week began.
As Pair 13 East-West (with Mike Silverman again) at the Sectional, I thought my luck might change. We started off well – average plus games against Betty Bronstein and Judie Bailey (26 game points out of 50), Ruthie Kozower and Nadine Stein (34 game points), a pair of women from Rochester (Leah and the one from New Zealand – Christchurch) (27.59) and Luke Danielson and Nita Ferrell (28.64). That, my friends, is a 57% game after four rounds. But it was all downhill from there. Here’s one of the ways we went adrift.
It was Board 2 against Pair 7, a couple of husky elderly guys (Walt? And Stan?) that I didn’t recognize. North-South is vulnerable. We’re not. I’m East and I’m the dealer. Here’s my hand:
Spades: Q-J-10-6-4-2; Hearts: A-Q-7-5; Diamonds: 8; Clubs: 9-8.
Emboldened by non-vulnerability and distribution (nine high card points, two-plus points for the six-card suit), I open 1 Spade. South passes. Mike bids 2 Clubs. North goes 2 Diamonds. I rebid the Spades. South rebids their Diamonds. Mike goes to 4 Clubs. OK, there’s our eight-card fit. I pass.
Mike makes 4 Clubs and a mistake by the opponents gives him an overtrick, but it was clear from the start of play that we should have been in another suit. Hearts. Four Hearts. We lose a Diamond, a Spade and the King of Hearts. Instead of rebidding my six-card Spade suit, I should have recognized the strength of Mike’s hand (after all, he did bid at the two level) and bid 2 Hearts. Then I could go back to Spades if he didn’t raise the Hearts. Here are the other hands:
Spades: 7: Hearts: 10-9-3-2; Diamonds: K; Clubs: A-K-Q-10-5-4-2.
Spades: 9-5-3; Hearts: J-6-4; Diamonds: Q-J-10-9-3; Clubs: 7-5.
Spades: A-K-8; Hearts: K-5; Diamonds: A-7-6-5-4-2; Clubs: J-3.
In the final tally, it wasn’t the worst of hands for us. We got 13.54 game points for our plus 150. But plus 420 for 4 Hearts would have been much sweeter. Other hands – the overbid and under-defended ones – were much less fortunate. We finished the session at 37.06%, 12 th of 15 East-Wests (there were two sections). Mike, who had an early evening engagement, was gone before the final results were posted.
Without a partner for the afternoon session, I contemplated the sunshine, the 83-degree air and my end-of-the-week sleep deprivation and decided that, teamed with a stranger, my game would hardly be any better the second time around. Instead of returning down Main Street to the fire hall after lunch, I swung left on Transit and headed for home.