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.