Friday, August 31, 2012

Bridge Blog 563: Bumpy landing

“Who’s your partner? Nobody here claims they’re playing with you,” associate director Mike Silverman declares as I arrive at the Airport Bridge Club a couple minutes early for a change on Friday. I check my datebook. Celine Murray, my Wednesday partner. No Celine, but I’m in luck anyway. For my last game of the month, Mike pairs me up with Judie Bailey, my partner in the Syracuse regional. She still has the cast on the wrist she broke in Scotland back in early July.
We haven’t played together since then and I’ve forgotten a few things. Like she doesn’t play New Minor Forcing, which I run into on one of the hands. And I’m not so sure about all the wrinkles in Cappelletti, so her 2 No Trump bid over opponent John Ziemer’s 1 No Trump opener has me baffled. Showing the minor suits, she explains later. I bid 3 Clubs thinking Stayman and, fortunately, Ziemer’s partner, Jerry Geiger, puts him at 3 No Trump, bid and made, average board. Three Clubs doubled vulnerable would have been a disaster.
We have no shortage of disasters. We take the contract on the first 14 boards we play, not neccesarily the best thing to do. The 10th of those hands was minus 1400, down five doubled vulnerable. Had the game ended there, on what was our fifth absolute bottom board, we’d have less than a 40% game. But we stop outbidding the opponents and our fortunes improve. We finish with a respectably mediocre 48.68%, second in the B strat North-South, 0.78 master points, .39 red, on this last North American Pairs qualifying game of the year. Qualified once again and winding up August with 17.60 points, 6.79 red.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Bridge Blog 562: Adjustments

Airport Bridge Club manager Bill Finkelstein announced today, Thursday, that he’d made a mistake in assigning extra point sanctions to one of the two games Tuesday. The morning one. The one in which Alicia Kolipinski and I came in second in B. So instead of 1.59 points, 0.80 red, we got 1.36 points, all of them black.
Making up for it somewhat are two other point acquisitions – 0.56 for the Wednesday club series for August, which is determined by wins, and 0.60, half red, for the 51.88% game Florence Boyd and I turned in today, Thursday. So the new totals for the month are something like 16.82, 6.40 red.

Bridge Blog 561: Too many aces, too many spaces

Aces are a blessing, but they seemed more like poison pills  on Board 18 in Thursday’s game at the Airport Bridge Club. I had all four of them, plus a Jack, in a relatively balanced hand.
So here’s the set-up. North-south, Bruce Burr and Ross Markello, respectively, are vulnerable. Florence Boyd (East) and I (West) are not. Florence is dealer. She passes. Ross passes. I bid 1 No Trump, although now I see the rationale for opening 1 Diamond and rebidding 2 No Trump.

Spades: A-J-9; Hearts: A-7-4;
Diamonds: A-10-9-6-2; Clubs: A-9.

And everybody passes. It’s mine for 1 NT, for better or worse. Bruce leads the Queen of Hearts and Florence puts down this hand.
Spades: 10-4-3; Hearts: 9-2;
Diamonds: J-3; Clubs: Q-J-10-5-4-2.

I wait out Bruce on the Hearts and win the third round with the Ace. Problem is, I have no good way of getting to the dummy to cash all those long Clubs, so I try to set one up by leading the Jack of Spades. Nothing much works, and I consider myself lucky to take six tricks. Down one.

Spades: K-8-5; Hearts: Q-J-10-8-5;
Diamonds: Q-5; Clubs: 7-6-5.

Spades: Q-7-6-2; Hearts: K-6-3;
Diamonds: K-8-7-4; Clubs: K-8.

At that point, the hand had been played only once, by a pair who bid all the way to 3 NT and went down three. Florence said she couldn’t see bidding with her weak hand, but if she did, it would have to be a relay to 3 Clubs. As I put my cards back into the holder, it seemed like Clubs would only make eight tricks – losing a Club, a Heart, a Diamond and two Spades -- so we’re damned if we stay at 1 NT and damned if we go to 3 Clubs.
Or are we? Our minus 50 score is good for only 3 out of a possible 8 game points. In Clubs, the hand makes nine (thanks to a good finesse for the King of Clubs) or 10 or even 11 tricks, as it turns out, and five pairs bid it successfully. On the other hand, Flo’s pass delivered us from the temptation of trying for game at 3 NT. In all, three pairs went there and they all went down three.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Bridge Blog 560: How low can you go?

It was the worst of times for me and Wednesday partner Celine Murray. We’d take eight tricks on a 2 Spade contract, everybody else would take 10. We’d watch our opponents find their maximum contracts, then fail to do it ourselves.
I consider two of the biggest bloopers to be primarily my fault, since I set the fatal flaws into motion. The worst was doubling Lois Tatelman’s vulnerable 6 Diamond slam after we competed up to 5 Spades. We had all the Spades and Clubs, she was 6-6 in the red cards and got a score you don’t see very often – 1540. Our only trick was the Ace of Spades. Well, in retrospect, maybe Celine should have taken out the double by bidding 6 Spades, which would go down only two vulnerable.
On the other blooper, I had better than an opening hand with a six-card A-K Heart suit and Celine did her jump to 2 No Trump on the second round of bidding, indicating 17 to 19 points. I do the Blackwood 4 NT bid to ask for Aces and she has three. I ask for Kings and she has the one I don’t have. All the Aces, all the Kings, grand slam, right? Wrong. The long suits – her Spades, my Hearts – don’t run. It would make 6 No Trump, but not 7, because we’d have to lose a Heart to North, in this case Faith Perry. Celine, in trying to wear down Faith and her partner, Pat Lancaster, played out all her stoppers and went down three instead of one.
We knew we were doing badly, but when the preliminary results were posted, it was still a downer – 31%. Were those our good scores or our bad scores, we wondered. Would we sink below 30%? Fortunately, we perked up a bit when the final tally emerged – 37.8%. It was last East-West, but not last overall. That honor belonged to Faith and Pat, who came in at 37.2%. I wish I could say we captured that margin in our round with them, but we didn’t. We got only 8.5 out of a possible 21 game points.

Bridge Blog 559: Over and under

Sometimes Alicia Kolipinski and I are terrific together. Sometimes we fall on our faces. We did both Tuesday in the double session at the Airport Bridge Club. In the morning segment, we came in third overall, second in the B strat, with a 59.41% game, an exercise in recklessness where most of my wild bids were profitable. That was good for 1.69 master points, 0.85 red. In the afternoon, however, there were no tantalizing long suits, no daring point counts. The cards were flat and so were we. Our 43.98% was next to last. Nevertheless, it put August 2012 ahead of August 2011. The month’s total now – 15.99 points, 6.90 red.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Bridge Blog 558: We get postcards

Today’s mail brought the little card that the American Contract Bridge League sends you when you’ve accumulated so many master point entries in a month that they can’t fit them all into the allotted space in Bridge Bulletin magazine. Previous total: 1,323.17. Current total: 1,340.64. And the little warning: “DO NOT DESTROY this card until you receive another with a new total.”
So my point total for July was 17.47. And that got me wondering, am I ahead or behind last year’s pace, because where I want to be is ahead. And if I’m not, I need to play more bridge.
So let’s go to blog history and get the numbers. OK, here’s Blog 440 from early August 2011. At the end of last July, I had 16.61 for the month, 84.80 points in the Ace of Clubs, 92.46 overall for the Mini-McKenney. As of the end of this July, I had 92.07 Ace of Clubs, 113.67 Mini-McKenney. OK, I’m ahead. But to get 200 points this year, I need to be playing more bridge.
August 2011 added 15.12 points to my collection, 4.54 of them red. Coming into Friday’s game, I had 12.51 points for this month, 5.15 of them red. Wednesday partner Celine Murray was supposed to play with me Friday, too, but canceled on Thursday due to a family event. Should I go golfing instead, I asked myself. No, myself answered, not when there’s an air quality advisory because of the heat. Me and myself needed a nice air-conditioned bridge game, no matter who my partner might be. Then, at 11 a.m., as I’m watering the lawn, my cell phone rings and it’s salvation – Celine. She can play after all.
For a change, we get off to a good start. In fact, we’re sitting East-West and all the big hands are ours. We win the auctions on the first 10 hands we play, not a sacrifice bid among them (one is a 25-pointer on which I open 3 NT), and I’m beginning to feel sorry for North-South. I feel even sorrier after we do what we did to Nancy Littenberg and Cynthia Helfman on the 11th board. I’ve got still another opening hand with two five-card suits when Cynthia decides to bid 2 Diamonds after Celine opens a Spade. I bid a negative double to show my strength in the other two suits, but Celine, instead of bidding Hearts or Clubs, leaves the double in.
Cynthia proceeds to get caught in a merciless cross-ruff and goes down three vulnerable, minus 800, one of  three absolute tops we register for the day. In the end, we’re declarers on 18 of the 27 boards, making one slam, failing on another and beating the double on a 4 Hearts contract. It’s a 55.62% game, best of the week for me, third best North-South in this game, second in the B stratification in our direction and second in B overall. We earn 1.79 master points, .90 red. New totals for the month – 14.30 points, 6.05 red. Now I don’t feel so remiss about missing the two games this weekend.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Bridge Blog 557: Hero or villain?

Wednesday partner Celine Murray is never shy about showing her feelings when one of my sacrifice bids blows up. “That’s a zero!” she exclaimed after the first hand of the day this afternoon at the Airport Bridge Club. But was it, I wondered.
She’d opened 1 Diamond and my hand was 6-3-2-2 – six Clubs topped by the Ace-Queen, three Diamonds 10 high, no honors in the doubleton major suits. We’d just reviewed our bidding procedures, so those Diamonds would be her better minor suit, although she might have only three. And probably only two Clubs. As for the majors, if she had five in one of them, she’d bid it. With my doubletons, we wouldn’t have more than six Hearts or six Spades between us.
Still, I didn’t want leave her at 1 Diamond, either, especially if she had a gang of high cards. Nor did I want our opponents – Jean Sullivan and Linda Wynes – to have a chance to bid and discover a game of their own. Plus, we’re both vulnerable, so a bid from me might make them cautious. So 2 Clubs? That’s a stronger hand, at least 10 points. I made the weaker comeback – 1 No Trump – hoping Celine had that gang of high cards and praying the bridge gods wouldn’t let us be fatally exposed in the major suits.
Everybody passed. The 1 No Trump contract was mine. Shudder! Linda led off with the suit Celine bid and, when the dummy came down, I knew the bridge gods were angry. Celine had 12 points, four mediocre Hearts, four good Spades, and just three Diamonds to the Queen. I played low from the board – a move Celine took me to task for the rest of the afternoon because the Queen might have won. Jean came up with the Jack, but the Queen wouldn’t have won. Jean also had the Ace.
Linda had five Diamonds, which she and Jean turned into five tricks, along with four Heart tricks and a Club. Down four vulnerable – minus 400. Well, I reckoned, if they had bid 3 NT and made 10 tricks, we’d be minus 630. But would any of the other North-Souths go for game?
I checked the traveling score sheet at the end of the day and discovered that, no, this wasn’t a zero for us. It wasn’t much better, though, just one game point out of a possible five. Turns out North-South could make 4 Hearts, too, but only one of them bid game.
That was one of four sacrifice bids I took this afternoon and the results were mixed. There was a zero among them – 4 Diamonds doubled, not vulnerable, down four – not better than letting Mike Silverman and Ross Markello make their 3 NT vulnerable contract. But also a couple successes – 4 Hearts,  down two, not vulnerable, against a makeable 3 NT, which was second-best; and another 4 Heart bid that should have gone down only one, but went down two against another 3 NT.
Our final outcome? Just a fraction below 50% (49.42%, to be exact). Happily, a lot of people were right around 50% in this 13-pair game and our score was good for second in the B strat – 1.48 points, half red, half black.  

Bridge Blog 556: The Dale Effect

Sitting South for the first of the new Tuesday double sessions at the Airport Bridge Club is Beverly Dale. Beverly’s been cleaning up at the tables lately. She won last week at Delaware Wednesday. On Monday at the Airport Club, she brought 95-year-old Doug Dean in on top with a 60%-plus game.
Sitting North was this Dale, your humble blogger, who was in a funk. He registered a 42.5% game with Alicia Kolipinski last Thursday, took the weekend off to go see the Bisons play in Fenway Park in Boston, then came back to a 45.99% game with Judy Zeckhauser on Monday, a game which both of us thought was going to be much worse. Now, on Tuesday, I arrive at the last minute for the 9:30 a.m. start of the first game after working until 3 a.m. at The News. Not only am I more or less a zombie, but in the five days I’ve been sitting steady at 9.22 points for the month, my place in the monthly master point race at the club has dropped from fourth to 11th. I’m ready for some Dale magic. Beverly Dale, that is.
Unfortunately, the two of us aren’t quite in synch in the first session. I start out by pushing my big Diamond hand to slam, one trick better than it could make, then do a 5 Spade sacrifice on a hand where Harry Cheung and Liz Clark would have failed at 5 Hearts. Worst of all is my run to 6 Spades several rounds later to thwart what looks like a slam by Adrian Figliotti and Mike Silverman. Down three doubled. A bottom board. That, at least, came right after we took them down four doubled vulnerable, which was a top. We have a lot of tops and bottoms, but not enough middle. 44.54%. No points.
The afternoon is better, perhaps because my cards aren’t as good. Not as many wild bids on long suits. More defense. After a three or four rounds, we have that warm feeling that things are going well and the final tally proves it. Fewer tops, fewer bottoms, a lot fatter middle scores. We’re second overall, first North-South, with 60.06%, winning a total of 1.49 points. Monthly total – 10.71. And best of all, back into the club’s Top 10.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Bridge Blog 555: Name game

“Am I going to see your name in the paper this week?” my golf buddy Richard Hummert, a non-bridge player, rasps into the phone Thursday night. Maybe, I tell him. I wasn’t sure. I was away in Syracuse half the week.
But then as I assemble the Saturday duplicate bridge column, I see it – that tie for second place in the game last Sunday at the Airport Bridge Club. I’m there.
Of course, having a byline, my name has gotten in the paper a lot over the years – again this week atop a Page 1 story about the New York State Department of Health slapping sanctions on Dr. Corasanti, the boozed-up physician who killed a girl skateboarder with his BMW last year and then drove away.
But to some of the bridge players, it’s a way of letting their friends know they’re still alive and bidding. So my Wednesday partner Celine Murray was overjoyed when we finished first overall this past week. It’ll be my only appearance in the next list of scores, although points have been accumulating here and there anyway.
On Monday with Marilyn Sultz, a 51.11% game put us third in the B strat for .60 point, half of it red, since this week’s games are all North American Pairs qualifiers. No luck with Beverly Dale on Tuesday (42%) or Eva Schmidt on Thursday (45%), but my second collaboration with Marilyn Sultz on Friday was rewarded, even though it was only a 49.11% effort (tied for second in B in our direction, tied for fourth in B overall, .84 of a point, half of it red).
Eva Schmidt, undiscouraged by our lack of success of Thursday, agreed to play with me on Saturday (the forecast was for rain, so I figured it wouldn’t be much of a day for gardening or anything else). This was club manager Bill Finkelstein’s prize money pairs game, but our payoff was merely in more fractional points -- .95, half red, finishing fifth overall in a 13-pair Howell with 52.92%. With the month one-third gone, August isn’t making headlines, but it’s steady -- 7.10 points so far, 3.34 of them red, a fraction away from 100 Ace of Clubs points for the year.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Bridge Blog 554: Jarful of July

Right on schedule, the folks at American Contract Bridge League computer central have posted the monthly updates on master points and the master point races. They even included my measly little .84 of a point from the Syracuse Regional, giving me a total of 17.47 for July. For the year, I now have 113.67 total points for Mini-McKenney competition, and 92.07 club points for the Ace of Clubs derby.
So where do I stand? On the Unit 116 (Buffalo) level, in the 1,000 to 2,500 point division, I’m sixth in Ace of Clubs. Carlton Stone is first with 109.84, followed by Mike Silverman (104.74), John Ziemer (98.13), Vince Pesce (96.91) and Jim Gullo (93.02). Behind me are Liz Clark (82.74), Barbara Libby (80.05), Michael Ryan (77.17) and Carolyn Siracuse (73.01).
As for the Mini-McKenney, I’m eighth. Dian Petrov continues to lead this list with 226.09. Right behind him is Judy Padgug with 217.68, thanks no doubt to those 60 gold points she earned at the nationals in Philadelphia. Then come Ziemer (161.30), Gullo (129.61), Ryan (118.06), Silverman (116.29) and Stone (115.70). Rounding out the top 10 after me are Liz Clark (100.90) and Vince Pesce (the same 96.91 he has in Ace of Clubs).
On the District 5 level (Buffalo, Cleveland, Pittsburgh and environs), Buffalo dominates the Ace of Club list for 1,000 to 2,500 point players. Although Robert Maier of Morgantown, W. Va., tops the field with 135.25, only one other non-Buffalo player, Francine Feldman of Pittsburgh with 97 even, landed in the Top 10. I’m eighth. Among the 25 names of the district list, 15 are from Buffalo, including Judy Padgug (66.74), Paul Libby (63.42), Gene Finton (62.40), Chuck Schorr (54.75) and Luke Danielson (51.77).
District 5’s Mini-McKenney list has less of a Buffalo slant. Only eight of us are among the select 25 and I’m the eighth one in 23rd place. Leader once again is Michael Craeger of Brecksville, Ohio, with 352.72. He picked up 60 gold on the team with Judy Padgug in Philly. A distant second is Robert Maier with 235.61, dropping Dian Petrov to third place. Judy Padgug is fourth and Marc Sylvester of Edinboro, Pa., who we see a lot at our sectionals, is fifth with 206.72. Francine Feldman is ninth (169.57) and John Ziemer is 11th.
On the national level, good old Charlie Christmas of Tallahassee, Fla., is on top of Ace of Clubs in my division with 211.66, followed by John Petrie of Long Beach, Calif., with 201.54. Carlton Stone makes the list at 73rd, while Mike Silverman is 93rd. You need at least 103.56 points to make the Top 100.
Over in Mini-McKenney, there are new leaders – Zachary Grossack of Newton, Mass., with 420.52 and Margaret Hart of Baton Rouge, La., with 406.03. District 5 leader Michael Craeger is 11th. Dian Petrov is 80th. Judy Padgug is 89th. You need 213.29 points to land on this list.

Bridge Blog 553: Summing up Syracuse

A total of 579 people earned master points, or some fraction thereof, in the Syracuse Regional last week. Judie Bailey and I, with our 0.84 of a point, were tied for 538th. Compadres Judy Kaprove and Ruthie Kozower earned 1.03 and were tied for 515th.
Points could be piled up in Syracuse, even if we weren’t the ones piling them. The three guys tied for first had 70.61. Best of the Buffalo area players were – surprise! – Larry and Dottie Soong with 17.83, tied for 80th. They finished ahead of perennial local tournament winner Saleh Fetouh, who had 16.92, and Dian Petrov, with 16.45, who partnered on a few games. The Soongs did it by coming in second with Sharon Chang and her daughter, Jacqueline, up from New York City, in one of the knock-out games, and finishing second in the Thursday Gold Rush teams.

Bridge Blog 552: Don't try this

I never should’ve done it, I confessed to partner Beverly Dale after our first board Tuesday at the Airport Bridge Club. I never should’ve opened 1 No Trump on that hand. But I’m always feeling daring on the first round of the day and a hand with 17 high card points, two King doubletons and a solid six-card Diamond suit looked like it might pay off handsomely in No Trump.
It didn’t. The opponents immediately found the suit in  which Bev and I had no stoppers, then nailed me on one of my King doubletons. Down five. Bottom board right off the bat.
It wasn’t our last bottom board. We wound up in another 3 NT contract after I misunderstood Bev’s negative double as a support double. Down six vulnerable. Our opponents didn’t even need to double us to win big.
After playing three rounds at 27.7%, after we resigned ourselves to coming in dead last, we pulled up our socks and played a respectable near-average game, but it was too late to salvage anything but our pride. We finished at 42.5%, seventh out of nine North-Souths.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Bridge Blog 551: Roller coaster

The roller coaster effect that Judie Bailey and I saw on our final day at the Syracuse Regional Tournament on Wednesday didn’t end for me right away. Playing with Alicia Kolipinski at the Airport Bridge Club on Thursday, I continued to scale to stellar heights and plunge to abysmal depths, a ride which had Alicia hanging on for dear life. “I’m not used to this,” she exclaimed after I put her into a 6 Spade contract. She rose to the occasion, though, and made it for a top board. Most other pairs didn’t bid the slam, let alone make 12 tricks on the hand. We finished with a 48.15% game, earning .84 of a master point.
With Usha Khurana on Friday, it was low upon low. In 24 hands, we had six bottom boards (two minus 800s from overbid hands that were doubled), two ties for bottom and just one top, thanks to an offensive lapse by our opponents. (For another bottom that antagonized Usha, see Blog 550). Amazingly, our 37.5% wasn’t dead last. Another pair had 35%.
Called in on Sunday to help fill what turned out to be a three-table Howell game, I was paired with Nancy Wolstoncroft, who said she wanted to play a game with very few conventions. I began to wonder how few in a hand where I opened 2 No Trump, she answered 4 Hearts, I transferred to 4 Spades and she bid 5 Hearts. She didn’t intend a transfer. No harm done, however. She had the Hearts. I had the high cards. She made the contract.
Aside from the torrential thunderstorm that hit in the middle of the game, blacking out the lights for about 30 seconds, the rest of the session was flat, mostly because Nancy and I weren’t getting good hands and partly because of the flubbed defensive tricks that Nancy pointed out to me on several occasions. These three-table Howell games have a way of flattening things out anyway, just because there’s not that much reward for winning a hand when top score is 2 game points. We wound up tied for second place with an even 50%. This being another North American Pairs qualifying game, it was good for 1.43 master points, half red, half black.

Bridge Blog 550: Laid low

Usha Khurana and I had a terrible game at the Airport Bridge Club on Friday – 37.5%. And we knew we were having it. That didn’t diminish the distress that Usha felt on this hand, Board 20, which we played against the only people who had a lower final percentage than we did. They shall go unnamed, but since we did only 25% in our two hands against them, we did our best to lift them up.
Both vulnerable. West is dealer.

West (Usha)
Spades: K-Q-5-2; Hearts: A-8-5
Diamonds: 4; Clubs: K-J-10-5-3

Spades: J-8-7-6-4; Hearts: Q-9-6-3-2
Diamonds: 10-3; Clubs: 7

East (me)
Spades: A-3; Hearts: J-4
Diamonds: K-J-9-7-6-2; Clubs: A-8-6

Spades: 10-9; Hearts: K-10-7
Diamonds: A-Q-8-5; Clubs: Q-9-4-3

Usha opened a Club, I responded with a Diamond, she bid a Spade and I rebid my Diamonds, showing the 6-card suit. At that point, South doubled. Usha bid 2 No Trump and, having 13 high card points and a long suit, I bumped her up to 3 NT. Chances are, everybody else would be in 3 NT.
North led a low Heart and Usha played low from the Dummy. South, being cagey, played the 10 and Usha won with the Ace. She then tried to set up her long Clubs with a safety play, losing the first trick, but lost to South’s Queen. South then cashed the King of Hearts and led her final Heart to North, who ran the suit, then led a Diamond. Usha had been throwing off Diamonds on the long Hearts and the remaining honors were finessed. In the end, Usha only picked up four more tricks in Spades and Clubs. Down four.
At the other five tables, three East-Wests wound up at 3 NT, going down one or two. The ones who succeeded played it in Diamonds, bidding three, making three or four.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Bridge Blog 549: No cigar

How close did we come to winning gold master points Wednesday in the Syracuse Regional Tournament? So close we could taste it. So close we could tell which hands in the afternoon session cost us the extra 7½ game points we needed to catch 3.64 gold (see Blog 548).
Yes, we had five zero-point bottom boards. So how did we come so close to getting gold points? We also had eight top or near-top boards. After a 47.73% morning game that left us within striking distance, we had 51.7% in the afternoon. Improve just a couple of those zero boards and we’d come home with gold.
Meanwhile, the tournament, which had been running at about half to two-thirds capacity on the first two days, totally filled up the large ballroom at the Liverpool Holiday Inn. Are there any empty tables, one of our opponents wondered. I looked around. There was just one.
After speculating whether any Buffalo players at all were going to show up in Syracuse, we had company on Wednesday. First people I saw were Tova Reinhorn and Carol Bedell. Then I spotted Mike Ryan from a distance. Partner Judie Bailey saw Bob Feasley. And playing not far from us were Marietta Kalman and Elaine Kurasiewicz. And Bob and Judy Padgug. All of them must be playing the team games. None of them appear in the results for the pairs contests.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Bridge Blog 548: Agonies, ecstacies

Our darkest moment in the Wednesday afternoon pairs game at the Syracuse Regional Tournament came against that brusque young Toronto guy and his partner, the older black-haired studious woman. We’re vulnerable and, sitting in third seat after two passes, I open a borderline 1 Club. The Toronto guy overcalls 1 Heart. Both partners pass again. Holding a singleton Heart, I double to see if partner Judie Bailey can muster a Spade bid or support my Clubs. But she does neither. She passes again. So does the studious woman.
I certainly don’t want the Toronto guy to play 1 Heart doubled vulnerable (the hand record afterward shows that he can make 1 Heart). No Trump isn’t an option, so I rebid my Clubs, even though I only have five of them. Bad move. Judie passes. Down three doubled vulnerable. No question that it’s a bottom board. The hand record shows us making 2 Spades.
Both vulnerable, South dealer, I’m North
Spades: J-10-9-7-6; Hearts: K-Q-6-4-3
Diamonds: 4-3; Clubs: 10
Spades: 8-4-2; Hearts: J-5
Diamonds: J-10-9-7; Clubs: J-8-3-2
Spades: A-K-3; Hearts: 2
Diamonds: K-8-6-2; Clubs: Q-7-6-5-4
Spades: Q-5; Hearts: A-10-9-8-7
Diamonds: A-Q-5; Clubs: A-K-9
On the other hand, I also should have avoided screwing up mini-Roman bids. Our mini-Roman empire declined and fell more than once. This is perhaps the most egregious tumble. The opponents bid 2 No Trump over Judie’s opening 2 Diamond bid and I double, intending to show that I wanted to bid 2 NT to ask her for her singleton. But she left the double in and the opponents made their contract. With an overtrick. Another zero.
I should have bid my five-card Heart suit instead of doubling, Judie contends, adding that I didn’t need to know which suit she was short in. And if she has a singleton Heart (which she does), she would bid Spades. Nevertheless, we were doomed just for bidding on that hand. Judie opened a light (9 high card point) mini-Roman in the third seat. We’re vulnerable and can make only five Heart tricks or six Spade tricks.
          North-south vulnerable, North dealer, I’m North
Spades: K-10-9-7; Hearts: K-6-5-4-2
Diamonds: 6-5; Clubs: 5-4
Spades: Q-J; Hearts: J-8-7-3
Diamonds: K-J-10-7-4; Clubs: A-K-8-7
Spades: 8-6-4-2; Hearts: 10
Diamonds: Q-8-3-2; Clubs: A-K-8-7
Spades: A-5-3; Hearts: A-Q-9
Diamonds: A-9; Clubs: Q-J-9-3-2
So much for bidding without high card points. Do we ever do anything right? Actually, yes. Here are our two absolute tops. First one is against Torontonians Dick Wilson (east) and Marilyn Goldman (west).
East-west vulnerable, South dealer, I’m North
Spades: Q-J-7-5-3; Hearts: K-Q-2
Diamonds: Q-8; Clubs: K-10-5
Spades: None; Hearts: 6-4-3
Diamonds: A-9-7-5; Clubs: A-Q-J-7-4-2
Spades: K-10-2; Hearts: J-9-8
Diamonds: 10-6-4-3-2; Clubs: 9-8
Spades: A-9-8-6-4; Hearts: A-10-7-5
Diamonds: K-J; Clubs: 6-3
It’s a total East-west hand. They can make 4 NT, 4 Hearts and 5 Clubs. But, not being vulnerable, we enter the bidding, although I don’t remember it exactly. Perhaps Judie opened 1 Spade and West doubled. I recall pushing it to 2 Spades, just to make life a little more difficult for the opponents. They pass. We play it there. Down two (as it should be – the hand record says they can make seven Spade tricks). But it's only minus 100 points.
The other one also was an offensive triumph. We played it against a couple guys – Robert Nowacki and James Bridges – who entertained us with a groaner of a joke in the morning (“As the butcher said when he looked at the sausage – it could be wurst.”).
None vulnerable, South dealer, I’m North
Spades: 8-3; Hearts: 10-8-2
Diamonds: Q-6-4; Clubs: A-K-9-5-2
Spades: Q-4; Hearts: Q-3
Diamonds: A-K-J-10-9; Clubs: J-10-4-3
Spades: A-K-9-7-6-5-2; Hearts: 7-4
Diamonds: J-9; Clubs: 9
Spades: A-10-3; Hearts: 6-5
Diamonds: Q-8-4; Clubs: A-K-J-7-5
Judie passed, West probably bid a Diamond and, loving a long suit, I bid either 3 Spades directly or bid 1 Spade and worked my up the bidding ladder against the opponents, who would be bidding Diamonds and Hearts (they can make 3 in either suit). Spades are only supposed to make 2, but I wound up with an overtrick after they led Diamonds. They played third round of Diamonds, giving me a ruff from the dummy and the discard of a Heart from my hand. After drawing trump in two rounds, I have only one more trick – a Heart – to lose.