Sunday, September 9, 2012

Bridge Blog 568: Burdened by success

So prone to perversity is the human psyche. A smidgen of success and suddenly there’s a burning desire to maintain it, a veritable obligation, even though it defies the laws of probability.
All it took to do that to me was to average one master point per day for the first week of September. Saturday, I could have stayed home from the Airport Bridge Club, as I’ve done on most Saturdays this year. But it was rainy and miserable, no day for gardening or running errands, that’s for sure. And it was still humid, too sticky for puttering around the house. So why not spend a few hours in an air-conditioned room, especially if I might add to my points?
OK, off to bridge, unplanned and without a partner. Club manager Bill Finkelstein paired me with one of the better players, Cleveland Fleming,  and we started off like we were on fire, ripping through our first-round opponents at a 92.5% rate. We were still up at 80% when the second round finished.
Then reality set in. A slam try failed when Cleveland didn’t take a finesse to set up the dummy’s long Diamond suit. I made a bad sacrifice bid, then on the next hand let opponents make a part score in Spades when we could have had game in Hearts.
On another hand, I trumped prematurely, costing us a valuable trick in defense. And then, holding a long Heart suit and not much else, I took out Cleveland’s double of a 2 Spade overbid by the opponents, which he intended as penalty, and we went down three vulnerable at 3 No Trump.
We deflated to a mere 52.50%. Nevertheless, it was second in the B strat and gave us 1.01 points. September stood at 9.63 points after eight days.
Amassing more master points was definitely on my mind earlier in the week when I accepted Carlton Stone’s invitation to be part of his team in the Swiss teams game at the Airport Club on Sunday. (I haven’t been playing on Sunday much either.) I eagerly enlisted my Wednesday partner, Celine Murray, despite her lack of experience in team games.
It was another good start, beating the team with the most aggregate master points – Liz Clark, John Ziemer, Jerry Geiger and Harry Cheung – by 28-13 International Match Points. And despite a gaffe by Celine – after she opened 1 No Trump, she failed to recognize my stolen-bid double of Paula Salamone’s 2 Heart overbid and Paula made the contract – we only lost to Paula and her daughter Miri by 20-18 IMPs.
The next two matches saw us in a similar pattern, we swept the Manju Celony-Shakeel Ahmad team, thanks to good defense, 34-9; then lost 17-13 to the Mike Silverman-Alicia Kolipinski team when our teammates struck out on a hand where Mike made 3 NT with an overtrick. After that round, which included the lunch break for pizza, we were in second place, one victory point behind the leaders, the team of Jan and Carl Hasselback and Paul and Linda Zittel.
We squeaked past the Judi Marshall-Cleveland Fleming team, 15-14, then confronted the people we had to catch. On the first hand, Paul Zittel bid up to 6 Spades on a mismatch and went down two. Our teammates stayed at 4 Spades and made an overtrick. After we shut them out, 23-0, there was no doubt about the final results. We were first overall, always a good feeling, and won 3.61 master points, which made me feel especially good. Add that to 9.63 and it’s wayyyy ahead of a point per day.

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