For a change I got to the Niagara Bridge Center in St. Catharines, Ont., before partner Selina Volpatti on Friday, which presented me with a choice: pay $7 to play as a non-member or do something I’ve considered since we first played there a little more than a year ago - join the club. The decision was made easier by the membership table set up near the door. It’s time for all the members to renew. Full-year member for $50 or a six-month member for $30. What the heck, six months. The ladies at the table assured me that I'd get one of their little nameplates, which I've long coveted. They also gave me a slip for a free play. I’ve saved $5 or $7 already!
It was a 13-table game, which seemed to move along even more quickly for people like us sitting East-West. It also seemed like we were playing an extraordinary amount of No Trump - 13 No Trump contacts in both directions out of 26 boards. Our first game was 3 NT, me pushing Selina there despite being a little weak, and we went down one. Sure enough, according to the hand record (yes, they provide hand records), we should only have made 2 NT. It was a zero.
Despite this, we seemed to be having a pretty good day. On the second hand, I was declarer at 3 NT and the opponents missed a chance for an extra trick, so the illicit second overtrick gave us a tie for top. By the fourth round, we hit a high point with a pair of 75% outcomes at a couple tables, then reverted back to average. Against Pair 13, however, there were three passes to me and I was sitting in fourth seat with this hand:
Spades: J-3; Hearts: 9-7-2; Diamonds: A-Q-J-10-8; Clubs: K-6-3.
I counted 11 high card points, added one for the five-card Diamond suit and thought for a moment. No major suit potential. It didn’t even fulfill the Rule of 15. Plus we’re vulnerable. In the third seat, non-vulnerable, I’d bid a Diamond, but not in this situation. I passed it out. Turns out it was not a good hand for us, 3.5 game points out of 12, even though the hand records show that it will make only 1 Club or Diamond for East-West and 1 Heart for North-South. Guess we have to encourage the opponents to go crazy and bid.
Final results gave us a 51.76% game, fifth in the A strat (we were playing in A, no miracles of stratification here), which was good for a fraction of a point – 0.26. Selina and I may get to renew our partnership on Sunday at the Airport Bridge Club’s St. Patrick’s Day double session. I’ve got my fingers crossed that her husband will give her the green light to play.