Swiss teams! The big tournament finale. Forty-five tables. We’re Team 38, which means we get to start off the day against Team 37 – Judy Padgug, Kathy Pollock, Davis Heussler and Tom Koralewski, a more high-powered lineup than ours (Judie Bailey, Ruth Wurster, Marilyn Sultz and myself), but a B stratification team nevertheless.
Then a funny thing happened. Tom Koralewski doubled Judie on a 4 Spade vulnerable contract when she had an awesome long suit and she made an overtrick. On the heels of that was a slam hand which Judie, after checking on my Aces, took all the way to 7 No Trump. Soon as her hand come down, it was obvious that we were taking all 13 tricks. In fact, we could have taken 14. At the other table, Judy Padgug and Kathy Pollock stopped at 6 NT. Thanks to those two hands, we wound up beating them by 4 International Match Points.
We would have been happy to stop right there and rest on our laurels, but there were six more seven-board rounds to go. Plus, having won in the opening round, we got to play another good team, an honest-to-God A team of Stan Kozlowski, Alex Kowal, Bert Hargeshimer and Christy Kellogg. They pretty much mopped the floor with us, 19-1 IMPs, although if our teammates hadn’t made a misplay on one hand, it would have been 12-7.
Incredibly, they were the only team we faced that wound up with a better record than we did, although we did our best to help the others out. But for an bit of over-eagerness on Judie’s part in bidding a slam on a hand that only made game, we would have beaten our next opponents – Rich Cramer-Benjamin and Jeff Bender – by a margin of 7-4 IMPs. Instead, they bested us, 15-7.
Well, we’ll get easier opponents now, I assured my teammates. Next up was a St. Catharines, Ont., team – Kit Nash and Mike Ritza, not so easy – who also were 1-2. On a bunch of low-scoring hands, they stymied us, 10-1.
At this point there might have been a break for lunch, but just a few minutes were added to the middle of the seven rounds so that players could line up for hamburgers, Italian sausage sandwiches and salads at the Event Center Café. (I brought a sandwich from the Lexington Co-op.) The Swiss team games at Unit 116 sectional tournaments, where there’s a lunch break and orders are taken for sandwiches in advance, are far more humane.
Another St. Catharines team faced us in the fifth round – Sharon Stevens and Maureen Clark at our table – and they benefited from a three-hand series where Judie and I zigged and zagged around bidding and making game. They beat us, 24-11.
So much for finishing in the upper echelon of the B strat and collecting gold points. We’d need at least four wins to do that. At this point, however, we were meeting teams that were even more desperate than us. Our sixth-round opponents, Dave Donaldson and Sushil Amlami, told us they hadn’t won anything at all. Nor did they beat us. We took them, 18-6.
Since there was an uneven number of teams, there was one three-team round robin afoot, reserved for the bottom-most teams, and we got caught in it for the final round, playing three-board sets against two different teams. Director Alex Bealles tried without much success to explain to us how to submit the scores until I finally assured him that we would somehow figure it out. We got one good hand against each of them – at our table, Eva Schmidt and Gabe Tannenbaum and then Martin and Barbara Pieterse – and won both sets.
Our final Victory Point tally was 94, almost respectable, but well short of the 110 that the eighth place B team chalked up to win 2.43 points. (The overall winners had 165.) Nevertheless, each victory in a round was worth 0.36 of a red point, giving us a total of 1.08 for the day.