Friday, July 7, 2017

Bridge Blog 961: Bright point

     I would chalk up June 30 as an undistinguished Friday at the Bridge Centre of Niagara in St. Catharines, Ont., except for all the high hopes I carried into the game. It was the last chance to pile on master points for the month. Those points would be amplified by the fact that it was a North American Pairs qualifier.
     And then there was Board 10, which Selina Volpatti and I encountered in the second round of the afternoon. It looked like this:

North (me)
Spades: A-K-Q-9; Hearts: Q-4; Diamonds: A-K-5-3; Clubs: A-Q-6.

Spades: J-8-7-2; Hearts: 5-2; Diamonds: Q-J-10-9-2; Clubs: 10-7. 

South (Selina)
Spades: 10-4; Hearts: A-K-J-8-6; Diamonds: 7-6-4; Clubs: K-9-3.

Spades: 6-5-3; Hearts: 10-9-7-3; Diamonds: 8; Clubs: J-8-5-4-2.

     Everybody’s vulnerable. South is dealer. Selina shrugs off the weakness of her holding and opens 1 Heart. I add up my high cards. Then I add them up again. Yes, it’s really a 24-point hand. Twenty-four points opposite an opener? We’ve got a slam. A grand slam.
     I bid 4 No Trump, key card Blackwood, asking for Aces and the King of Hearts. Selina’s 5 Hearts says she has two. The top two Hearts. I pause to ponder. Do we make 7 Hearts? Without a doubt. Or do we score a little higher with 7 No Trump? Well-l-l-l, OK. 7 No.
     Soon as East makes his natural lead –Queen of Diamonds – it’s a lay-down: Two Diamond tricks, three Spades, five Hearts, three Clubs. Plus 2,200. That, I declare as I punch the data into the Bridge Mate scoring gizmo, will be an average board.
But is it? The summary sheet at the end of the game and shows that out of a possible 15 match points, we got 14.5. Only one other pair (Bob Forster and Bob Starfield) bid it.
     What happened to the others? Eleven stopped at 6 NT. All but one of them made an overtrick. Two others wound up at 6 Hearts, also making overtricks. And one unfortunate pair played it at 3 NT. Theirs was the bottom board. That partnership, however, finished the day above 50% and won a fraction of a master point. Selina and I wound up at 41.41%, 14th out of 16 North-South pairs.

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