Thursday, December 22, 2011

Bridge Blog 490: Joel II

          I got to play Thursday after all. Kathy Pollock decided to append an open pairs game to the Thursday Non-Life Master session at the Bridge Center of Buffalo and, sure enough, the experienced players came out – the ACBL Player of the Year among them.
          Joel Wooldridge was in a different section when he and his mother, Jill, won Sunday’s Unit Game, but Thursday’s match was a four-table Howell. Everybody would have to face him and his mom for a four-board round. As for me, I came without a partner. Originally I was playing with Usha Khurana at the Airport Bridge Club, but that’s closed, so she found a Non-Life Master to play with.
          So I was paired with another newly-minted Life Master, Tova Reinhorn. Tova and I hadn’t played together in years and I don’t recall us doing well, but no matter. Aside from the fact that I don’t play two-over-one, we seemed to be pretty much in sync.
          We met Joel and his mom at the turnaround table in the second round. Two things about them – they seem to bid really well and they take a long, long time to think over their next moves. So what happens on the first hand? I’m in one of my patented sacrifice situations. If I recall correctly, I bid Diamonds over Tova’s take-out double. Sure enough, it was down one for a minus 50, but it was better than the previous pair, which had gone down three at the same contract.
          The second board found Jill at 3 Clubs, just making it. The other score on the slip was 50 for the North-South pair. Bottom board. Board three found Jill as declarer again at 4 Hearts. I think I had three High Card Points. She blew us away by making two overtricks. The previous pairs had played it a 3 No Trump, making three overtricks.
          Board four found Joel as declarer at 5 Diamonds after a convoluted bidding sequence which involved all the suits. The previous players had stopped at 3 Diamonds, making two overtricks. Top board, Joel, but at least we didn’t disgrace ourselves. In fact, it seemed like we played 50% against them. Looking at the summary sheet, I see that up until that fourth board, we were a little better than 50%. After it, we were 41.67%.
          Still, Tova and I kept feeling like this was a good game, good enough that I was disappointed when the preliminary scores showed us only a fraction over 50%. In the final tally, we came in at 51.79%, winning no master points at fifth out of the eight pairs but, amazingly, one notch ahead of the Wooldridges.
          Then Tova found a scoring error, a rather odd one where the totals were reversed. I dismissed it, thinking it would make no difference to us. But half an hour later, as I was walking into Talking Leaves Books on Elmwood Avenue to pick up the latest issue of Artvoice, my cell phone rings. It’s Kathy Pollock. She readjusted the scores to correct the error. Our score remained the same, as I had suspected, but John Kirsits and Ken Meier had gone from a top to a bottom. They fell behind us. Now we were fourth overall and second in B for a grand .28 of a master point – first time I’ve scratched in a week.

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