Talk about your Longest Day. In the bridge marathon on the first day of Summer last week, I played 65 boards. On the first day of the Buffalo Regional Tournament in the Grand Island Holiday Inn on Tuesday, I played 74 – 24 in the morning knock-out competition, 26 in the afternoon open pairs game and 24 more in the evening open pairs. Now I’m really, really bridged out. The rest of the tournament will be a piece of cake by comparison. I’ll be playing only two sessions daily, not three, and the Swiss team game on Sunday will probably be 49 boards.
Partner Usha Khurana and I played a lot of bridge, but we didn’t play a lot of good bridge. In the knock-outs, with the capable Canadians Linda Burroughsford and Peter Patterson as our teammates, we were trounced by some even more capacious Canadians – the Scott team – who went on to play the finals Tuesday night.
Our direct opponents were a delightful, but odd pair from Burlington – a woman brain surgeon oncologist named Linda and an Australian named Jan. The two had been playing bridge online for a while and finally met last year when Jan was en route to visit someone in Florida. He never made it to Florida. They’ve been together ever since. When he asks for a card from the dummy, he calls her “Darlin’.” Among their other quirks was an opening 2-bid that was not weak, but indicated that they could take 6 or 7 tricks playing in the suit they bid.
Our teammates left after we tabulated the sorry results – beaten 19-3 in the first half, 52-18 in the second half – and we signed in for the two-part open pairs game. While the morning crowd of players was sparse – a little more than a dozen knock-out teams, five tables of open pairs – the afternoon turnout was respectable: more than 30 tables in our game and a bunch more in the single-session pairs game.
Usha and I finished 14 th out of 16 North-South pairs in the afternoon session with a dismal 38.21%. We thought we did better playing East-West in the evening and we did, but just barely – 38.23%. This time we were dead last.
“Did you make both slams?” another East-West, John Marvin, asked after the evening session. No. We only made one of them. The other one was a point of contention for Usha, who felt that I should have not have raised her 1 Heart opening bid directly to 4 Hearts. She was still unconvinced after John Marvin said that it described my hand as being long in Hearts with 9 or 10 high card points. She thought I should have bid 3 Hearts and then she would go to 4 No Trump to ask for Aces. Here’s my hand:
Spades: 9-8; Hearts: Q-9-6-5-4-3Diamonds: A-K-3; Clubs: 8-7
And here’s hers:
Spades: A-3; Hearts: A-K-J-8-2
Diamonds: J; Clubs: A-Q-J-6-3
It makes 7 Hearts. Most players stopped at 6 and collected the overtrick. Our score on that board – 3.5 out of a possible 25.
Our best board succeeded through a bit of defensive strategy. Despite a disadvantage in vulnerability, we bid our opponents up to 5 Hearts and set them by one trick. The hand record for that board says it should succeed at 5 Hearts, while our ill-fated Club suit would have gone down, making only 8 tricks overall.