I hadn’t played more than about half a dozen hands in the initial knock-out round Monday afternoon at the regional tournament in Syracuse when I committed two of my worst errors of the year – and for big stakes, yet.
In the first instance, partner Judie Bailey and I were defending against a 2 No Trump contract and my pretty good hand included three Clubs – Ace, King and Queen. I had a King of Hearts, as well, so I had visions of setting our opponents if Judie had a good card or two and I could leverage things properly. One thing I wanted to be careful of, however, was setting up the fourth Club in the dummy. I was too careful. I didn’t cash the Clubs after I won a trick with the King of Hearts and wound up jettisoning two of my Club honors on the declarer’s long Diamond suit. They made two overtricks, which converted into a couple International Match Points.
Worse yet was my lapse a couple hands later. This time I was declarer at 3 No Trump and, although it made only 2 NT in our direction at the other table, I had maneuvered to a place where I could see enough tricks to make the contract by reaching the dummy with a carefully preserved Ace of Spades and running a nicely set-up long Diamond suit headed by the Queen. So when my right-hand opponent led a Spade, I casually played low from my hand and then simply called for a Spade from the dummy, neglecting to recognize that my left-hand opponent had played the King. After noting that I had not specified the Ace, this opponent also cashed the 13th Heart in her hand. The result: down two on a cold contract. The scoring swing on that little disaster was 13 IMPs, which would have given us a victory over that team in that round.
But it wouldn’t have been enough to beat them overall. We were in a round-robin match against two other teams and played a total of four rounds. In previous tournaments, this round-robin arrangement has worked out well for us, since two of the three teams continue on to the next installment of the knock-outs. On Monday, however, it was the other two teams who survived. We lost all four rounds and the margin was enough that we would have lost to the two other teams even if I had played those two bonehead hands correctly.
So Judie and I joined our teammates – Judy Kaprove and Ruthie Kozower – for a fine meal in their favorite French restaurant next to Syracuse City Hall and skipped the evening pairs game. Between the drive from Buffalo and the beating in the knock-outs, we were spent. Come morning, no more knock-outs. We’ll try our luck in the pairs games.