Saturday, December 22, 2012

Bridge Blog 623: The Doomsday effect

          If the Mayan Apocalypse really was going to happen on Dec. 21, 2012, where would I want to be when it happened? Short of hopping a plane to Tahiti, it would be at the bridge table. Plus, short of total vaporization of the planet, it’s hard to know just what’s going on outside when you’re at the Airport Bridge Club, its rooms being windowless and surrounded by other offices.
          It was certainly an eventful day in other ways.  The winter solstice. The first serious stow storm of the season. The new stadium lease for the Bills. The appointment of Sen. John Kerry as Secretary of State. The National Rifle Association saying we should have armed guards in every school in the land. The failure of the brakes in the House of Representatives as the nation heads toward the Fiscal Cliff. And closer to home, an incoming call during my morning shower that vibrated my cell phone off the shelf in the bathroom and onto the tile floor. When I flipped it open (it’s an old LG flip phone), the display screen looked like striped pajamas. No info at all, although it could still make and receive calls.
          And when I arrive at the last minute at the bridge club, expecting to play with Wednesday partner Celine Murray, whose name was in my datebook, her car isn’t in the parking lot. I’d reminded her more than once on Wednesday of our date, but no Celine. I walk in, however, to discover that I already had a partner for the game whose name I hadn’t written down – Usha Khurana. Now suddenly I’m hoping that Celine’s memory doesn’t kick in.
          It doesn’t. Disaster averted, we settle in for a game that seems much better than usual. Particularly satisfying are a pair of doubled hands when Jerry Geiger and John Ziemer are at the table. In one, Jerry wrests a bid away from us by bidding 4 Spades. I double and he goes down four, vulnerable. Not quite a top board, but good enough. Next hand John ventures up to 5 Diamonds, denying us a game bid at 4 in a major suit. I double and we barely beat it, but it’s down one, a tie for top board.
          In all, we have five top boards (including a 3 Spade, doubled, that I make) and two more ties for tops. It’s one of our best games ever together – 62.5%, second overall, for 1.49 master points.
          Saturday I arrive without a partner and club manager Bill Finkelstein calls in one of the substitutes – sweet little old Ruth Hnath. But before she arrives, he plays a round with me and I start off with a doomsday scenario on the very first hand (see Blog 622). The opponents – Paula Salamone and Ross Markello – follow it up by bidding 6 Hearts and making an overtrick. A dark day ahead, indeed.
          Ruth arrives for the second round and immediately is the declarer on five straight hands, including a 4 Club doubled contract that she makes. Well, opponent Martin Pieterse observes as he doubles, it’s either going to be a top board for us or a top board for you.
          In all, Ruth winds up as declarer on 13 of the 24 boards she plays and nails four other tops. Good thing, too. I’m declarer on only one more for the rest of the game and I bring home a bottom score on that one too. Thanks to her stellar play and some good defensive work, we avert disaster and finish with 56.48%, second overall in a tight three-way race for the top, first in the B strat. This being a triple-point game, we collect 1.95. Total for December – 24.24.

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