Sprung from the weekday routine, crossing the Peace Bridge at noon, my elation overshadowed my low-grade respiratory infection. To raise my spirits a little higher, I popped the new Harry Connick Jr. CD, "Smokey Mary," into the player. Silvery snow still punctuated the flat fields, just like a week ago, and some of the frozen stretches of standing water looked big enough to play hockey on. It was hauntingly bleak. Every mile or so there was something – horses wearing blankets, ramshackle abandoned buildings – that beckoned to be taken with me on my camera. But I resisted.
I was rolling. There was hardly any traffic on back roads through Netherby and under the Welland Canal. Other motorists didn’t appear in numbers until Highway 406, the express route from Welland to St. Catharines. Past the construction zone, it opened up into four lanes and suddenly they all were going 80 mph. A minute or two after 12:30, I was exiting at Glendale Avenue and turning into the Bridge Center of Niagara’s strip mall.
I was early, but partner Selina Volpatti already was there and she’d paid for us – a couple extra bucks this time because it’s STaC week in Canada, Sectional Tournament at the Clubs. What a good time to be on a little hot streak. I’d had 64% and 58% games on the previous two days. Could this hold up? Maybe. Selina got a succession of bidding hands and, after an initial stumble, we were making our contracts and setting our opponents. At the halfway point, after seven rounds, we were at 63.73%.
But it didn’t last. I led out of turn at the start of the eighth round and it cost us the trick that would have set the opponents’ 2 Heart contract. That was a bottom board. A few hands later, I pushed Selina to what I thought was a 5 Diamond sacrifice. The hand record said she should have made it, but the opponents found a way of getting an extra trick. Still at 55% when we hit the final round, I played two successive 3 No Trump contracts, down one on each for near-bottom boards. Our final outcome – 52.37%. Fifth overall North-South, fourth in the B stratification. We got 0.49 of a silver point. Selina needs silver. She was pleased. Outside, it was flurrying. My new windshield wipers got a workout on the ride home.