Friday, May 24, 2013

Bridge Blog 677: Long road back

            At the tables again after 10 days away, it was as if I’d forgotten everything I knew about the game. Not that I expected much more from my first day back on Monday than the 43.45% I got with Usha Khurana. Mistakes were made, but it could have been worse. At least we weren’t last.

            Tuesday’s session with Eva Schmidt really was worse. Sitting South, the cards were so awful that other players were talking about how bad they were for two days afterward. It felt so disastrous that I feared we would break my all-time low of 24.48%. We didn’t, although a 32.41% game is nothing to brag about.

            I had hopes for improvement Wednesday with Celine Murray, who had scratched on Tuesday, but the results were almost as dismal as Tuesday – 36.11% – although the cards were better, good enough to make me adventurous enough to go down big on a couple doubled contracts. Those two minus 800 match point scores were both bottom boards.

            The lovely Dianne Bloom, my partner Thursday, cited a couple bidding rules I violated (she’s big on rules) after a couple disastrous contracts, rules which club manager Bill Finkelstein reaffirmed, and it got me wondering if I’m lurching into senile dementia. How could I not know that a 2 No Trump bid over an opponent’s bid shows 13 to 14 points, not 18 to 19? How could I not recall that the Jacoby 2NT convention no longer applies if the opponents interfere? The final score was an improvement – 42.75% – but the position in the standings wasn’t. Still last overall.

            I could hardly expect better times on Friday as I drove to St. Catharines, Ont., for a game with Selina Volpatti at the Bridge Centre of Niagara, where the competition is tough. How tough? Tough enough so I couldn’t get away with my usual sacrifice bidding. Lorna Johnson, a merciless A player, nailed me with a double after I bid 3 Spades with this holding:

            Spades: A-10-9-6; Hearts: 9-8-6-3; Diamonds: K-Q-6; Clubs: A-2.

            Selina had 5 Spades, but only 5 high card points. The Spades split 4-0 and Lorna had ‘em. Not vulnerable, which is why I overbid East-West’s 3 Diamonds (they make 4), but she got the extra trick and gave us minus 300 match points. I should have only been down one. Instead of a good sacrifice, it was a bottom board.

            There was a huge turnout – 21½ tables, thanks to another bridge game in town being closed for the day. The main room was full and there were more players in the side room. At the Airport Bridge Club, the field probably would have been split into two sections, but not here. So we only played two-thirds of the East-Wests in our 13 rounds.

            Selina was disappointed when the electronic scoring pad showed us at 50% when the final round was over. I, on the other hand, was gratified to have had my best game of the week – indeed, my best game since May 8. It turned out that the scoring device rounded us up, sort of like when they do at the cash register in Canada now that they’ve stopped using pennies. Our actual outcome was 49.84%. Still, that gave us fifth place in the B strat in our direction and a whole 0.21 of a master point.

            My point count for the month is so anemic – 3.13 at the Airport Club, 0.57 at St. Catharines – that I feel the need to hit the tables again over Memorial Day weekend to try to pump things up. Fortunately, the Airport Club is giving double points Saturday and for both sessions at its chicken barbecue doubleheader on Monday. I’ll be there.

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