Monday, July 8, 2019

How to lose 50 IMPs in a 12-board Individual

Yes, you read that correctly. Sometimes when I'm feeling particularly masochistic, I enter one of the ACBL individual tournaments. The denizens of this particular enclave are all regulars. I have notes on many of the players. Of course one's result is almost entirely the luck of the draw. It's seldom that I make an error so egregious that it significantly affects my score as the standard of play is so bad that you really have to go out of your way to lose a board all on your own. So, basically my score is always a combination of my so-called partners' efforts and those of my opponents.

Today's was exceptional. Board one was uneventful. The opponents bid and made a game. Lose one IMP.  The second board was where the (un) fun started. My CHO (partner) was in 3NT:

As you can see (by pressing Next), declarer won the opening lead in dummy and proceeded to cash the CA just in case it "went away." Then they figured that since they were there for the last time, it might be a good idea to take a finesse. There was only one suit with a finessing position and that was hearts. So, despite the fact that they could ill-afford to lose the lead before setting up the diamonds, they finessed the HT. This had approximately a 25% chance of success. Partner was unlucky. From there on, there simply wasn't time to get the diamonds going. The result? Down 2 instead of making 6. But it was IMPs, so the three overtricks we didn't make were just gravy (or lack thereof).

The next, however, surpassed even this.

The funny thing is that, after the hand, CHO messaged me to say "look at the other tables to see how you should bid this hand." Some had opened the West hand (not terrible), some Norths didn't open 2D. Of the Wests where the first round of bidding was the same, some bid only 2H (but their partners still got them to game). One player bid 4H (obviously, if I'd known anything about CHO I would have done the same). But most, like me, bid 3H. No other partnership got the magic +230, nor yet 1430. That was another 10 IMPs.

The next hand was interesting. Neither I nor my CHO did anything terrible:

RHO got a bit lucky that North didn't have four clubs to the J as he might have done. If he doesn't cash his clubs out, we can easily come to 10 tricks. You can blame me for not bidding 3NT instead of 1S. But, seriously, although this rated to be a not uncommon result, it was in fact unique. Lose another 8.

I managed to staunch the flow a bit over the next three boards, for only another 7 IMPs. The third one of these offered 12 tricks to the opponents, but nobody bid the slam.

Most Wests opened the bidding with 4D, some 3D and at least one opened 1D. In every one of these cases, East bid his hearts and 4H was made. There is an argument for 1D but I think it's better to get the hand off one's chest right away. 8 IMPs.

The next board was an unmitigated disaster and I was significantly responsible for it.

Believing my partner to have no defense against 5D (he passed in a forcing pass situation), I decided to try for 5H. I took a while to decide whether to run the HT and cost us an additional 4.5 IMPs (over the 7 we were destined for) when I changed my mind and went up with the ace. Of course, most of the players in these events have no concept of a forcing pass, so it was silly to take such an inference.

Here is the final exhibit:

Watching the play as dummy, I was praying for my partner to claim before anything bad happened. My prayers went unanswered and he decided to take a practice finesse at trick 8. Lose another 9.

At this point, I was an incredible 62.5 IMPs under water on only ten boards! I did manage to get some back on the last board, but surely this is a record. I'm hoping that someone will nominate me for the Guiness Book of Records.

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