Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Bridge Blog 497: Mystery? Not really

We were baffled. Celine Murray and I came in dead last East-West on Wednesday at the Bridge Center of Buffalo. Not by much, a fraction of a percentage point, but definitely last. And we were wondering why. We’re longstanding partners. We were on offense most of the day. And we thought we did a whole lot better than 41.67%. Fortunately, the Bridge Center provides hand records. Let’s see where we fell down.
          In the first round against Paul Libby and Vince Pesce, the top pair North-South, we got only 10 out of a possible 24 game points. Board 7 saw a lot of pairs score 90, but I should have bid my five-card Spade suit instead of 1 NT. That would have given us 110 and 6 game points instead of 2.5. Board 8 was OK – two overtricks at 3 NT. Only one pair had three overtricks. Board 9, not OK, but nothing we could do about it. They could make a 6 Club slam. They stopped at 5 Clubs, made an overtrick. Other East-Wests set the contract by two or three tricks, meaning that N-S must have made the mistake of playing it at 3 NT, which loses six Spade tricks right off the top.
Second round. Bob Olin and Anna Edwards, who at age 95 doesn’t see well enough to tell if Diamonds are really Diamonds. Here we get only 8 out of 24 game points. The two of us can share the blame for that. We do fine on Board 13, bidding and making 2 Spades, but after Celine opens 2 Clubs on Board 14, I fall in love with my eight-card Diamond suit, hijack the contract and go for slam (2 Clubs-2 Diamonds-2 Hearts-4 No Trump-5 Spades-6 NT). Here’s the hand:

Spades: 10. Hearts: Q-4-2.
Diamonds: A-J-10-8-7-5-4-3. Clubs: 4.
Spades: A-K-4-3. Hearts: A-K-J-10-5-3.
Diamonds: K. Clubs: A-Q.
Spades: Q-9-7-6-2. Hearts: 9-6.
Diamonds: 6-2. Clubs: K-10-6-3.
Spades: J-8-5. Hearts: 8-7.
Diamonds: Q-9. Clubs: J-9-8-7-5-2.

Yes, it can make 7 NT. It also makes 7 Hearts and 7 Diamonds. I managed to lose a trick by foolishly taking the opening Heart lead with my Queen and then not being able to return to my hand. We got 2 out of 8 game points for that. Everybody else was in Hearts. They all took 13 tricks, but two of them didn’t bid 6 Hearts. Nobody bid 7. Had I taken the first trick in the dummy, I could have made an overtrick and had the top board.
We compounded that on the very next board when Celine bid a take-out double over North’s Diamond opener and, with 4-1-4-4 distribution, I gave her my four-card major suit, Spades, where I held 7-6-3-2. She jumped to 3 Spades and I passed. Down three. Celine never should have doubled. She had six Hearts and only three Spades. It made 2 Hearts.
          OK. I get the picture. After the first two rounds, we’re at 37.5%. Round three against Claire Gareleck and Nadine Stein finds us perking up with 15.5 out of 24, but our perking ended there. No single round could get us into the winners’ circle. We needed at least 52.55% to scratch.

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