Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Bridge Blog 864: Niagara Falls Regional Day 1

So there I am Tuesday afternoon in the Crowne Plaza Hotel lobby, all set up with teammates David and Maria Deaves, but stiffed by Barbara Sadkin, whom I thought all along would be my partner for the opening round of knock-out team play (See Blog 863).
Fortunately, however, there is a bridge angel, one Janice Upenieks, who is partnership chairman for this affair. Within minutes, she hooked me up with Kevin from Kingston, Ont., full name Kevin Loughlin, with a bit of a brogue from being born in Dublin, Ireland. Kevin is unhappy that I don’t play two-over-one (about which David Deaves disagrees, saying it’s only for experts).
At any rate, there are three flights of knock-out brackets and, averaging slightly fewer than 2,000 master points, we’re in the middle bracket. My hopes go up when we start out in my favorite configuration for team games – the round robin. Three teams, two winners. That 50-50 chance of progressing to the next round becomes 2-to-1 in favor.
But our robin did not get the worm. In the opening set of 12 hands, we trailed one of our opponents by 25 International Match Points and the other one by just three. Needless to say, we did not make up the big deficit in the second set of 12 boards. And we stayed even with the other team until the last hand, that last one bad hand. Both of them moved on to the evening session and both got beaten.
Kevin was amenable to playing the evening charity pairs game, a 17-table event, but we got off to a terrible start, beginning with an absolute bottom board on the losing end of a 3 No Trump contract. After three rounds, we were at 21.97% and my bidding was under frequent criticism.
Nevertheless, the mood was much looser (we bantered considerably with the East-West pair following us, lovely Torontonians Anita Greenberg and Joanne Heller). In the fifth round we scored an absolute top board on a 3 No Trump contract (lot of those this night) and eventually it seemed like we were pulling up at least one of our socks. We finished at 49.45%, sixth in the B strat, earning 0.38 of a red point. A crumb, but at least we weren’t empty-handed.
Although pairs games aren’t necessarily treasure troves of points, the winning pair – Jill Wooldridge (mother of wunderkind Joel) and Clyde Paul – raked in 7.88 red points with 63.22%. They were North-South and maintained their percentage against us when we let Jill make a 4 Heart contract that should have gone down two, according to the hand record sheet, and which made 3 Hearts at most tables.
My fault there and it was crucial. I needed to overtake a cheap Diamond trick so I could return a Club to my partner and nail Jill’s King. Plus 50 would have given us 10 match points instead of the single one we wound up getting. Those extra nine match points would have moved us up a notch, a fraction ahead of the fifth-place East-West pair in B – David and Maria Deaves. And it would have knocked Jill and Clyde down to fifth place North-South. 

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