In the first session of the Life Master Pairs, I picked up K8432 T QT2 KJ64, fourth seat, favorable vulnerability. After two passes, RHO opened 1C. I love to make “pressure” bids but this seemed a little bit too dangerous. Still, we weren’t having a very good session and we needed to pick up some matchpoints from somewhere! Plus, having thought about it a bit, I realized that I needed to do something. So, undaunted, I bid 2S. This was passed back to opener who, after much long thought, decided on 2NT. I led the HT which held the trick. Dummy had J965 Q74 J7653 5. Now what? A club is actually best, but I led a spade. Declarer played DA and a small diamond which partner (Barry) won with the K. To cut a long story short, after we cashed our clubs, Barry was endplayed into giving them a heart trick at the end. Still, that was +200 and worth 48.5/59.
In the second session, fellow blogger Polly Siegel came to the table (she writes a series on BridgeWinners). All were vulnerable and, in third seat, my hand was QJT975 AK53 K7 5. Barry dealt and opened 1D. Imagine my surprise when Polly overcalled 1S. I suppose I could have made a negative double but instead I passed hoping to ring up a telephone number in penalties. But Barry reopened 2C and I jumped to 3NT. I made ten tricks with the help of the singleton SK in dummy. 1SX would have been worth 1100 on proper defense. They might have scrambled into 2H which would be down only 800. But Barry’s shape was 1255 so a reopening double just wasn’t in the cards. As it was, we still did well (50/59) although I’m not quite sure why.
A little later, Zia and Dennis Bilde came to our table. On the first hand, I dealt myself QT7 J975 K983 KQ (all vulnerable). Some people I’m sure would open this hand, but not me. I never open balanced 11 counts. So I passed, as did Zia. Barry opened 1C and Dennis overcalled 1H (he had four points, BTW). I decided to consider myself having a heart stopper and bid 2NT. We were all a little shocked at the next bid - 6NT by Barry. Zia led a heart and Barry tabled the dummy: AKJ2 A A5 AT9842. Everything behaved fortunately so I was able to make all the tricks. There were a few pairs in grand slams but we still managed to get 53/59. They got us on the next board however where they bid to a heart game that most didn’t. Zia was quite voluble (and complimentary all around) and I noticed that he still has quite the British accent, more so than me anyway.
And, in the interests of full disclosure, I should point out that all three of the pairs against which we had the lucky, or at least fortunate, results mentioned above, qualified for the second day while we did not.
We adjourned to the midnight KOs and teamed up with Mike Ring (my sister-in-law Kathy’s regular partner) and another Mike from the Seattle area. We were up against some good young players (I really felt old in that crowd). I noticed that my seat at the other table was occupied by Dennis Bilde. It turned out to be a wild match. On the first board, we got a somewhat lucky 690 (or so I thought) and then an 800 on what seemed to be a part-score. Things were looking good. On the fourth board, we set 3NT and then conservatively stopped below game, making 3. Then came a board where we were red on white. LHO opened 1C, Barry bid 1H (with a 12-count) and RHO bid 1NT. What would you do with QTx xxx KQx QTx? Perhaps double would be best, but I decided to raise to 2H. LHO now doubled and this was passed our for down 2 (-500). Not quite so good! The seventh board was a part-score and a push. Our opponents bid the slam on #1 (12 imps away) and managed to get 1100 for the same contract on #2 (on reflection, we lost a trick on defense - 7 imps away). We picked up one on the third board. We got 10 imps when our teammates made 3NT on #4, and 5 when they set the opponents on #5. They didn’t find the double on #6 so that cost 7 imps. So, from thinking we’d won, it turned out that we lost by 26-16. But they were a good team even if they weren’t taking things too seriously.