Monday, November 29, 2010

Notes from Orlando

I had hoped to regale all my faithful readers with tales of derring-do in the National events here at the 2010 Orlando NABC.  Unfortunately, we haven't really distinguished ourselves much.

I played the first day of the life master pairs with Dave Marshall, playing reasonably solid bridge in the first session.  After dinner, I hit some sort of wall, however, and made bonehead plays, one after another.  Needless to say, we did not qualify for day two.

We played a session of compact KO the next afternoon, declining to continue in the consolation in favor of checking in to our condo and doing the grocery shopping.

Sunday saw us back in action in the Open Board-a-match, Kim and I together and the Marshalls at the other table.  I played about as well as I've ever played I think in the afternoon.  I was in the zone.  In round two against Barry Rigal, I managed a winning lead against a 4S game and followed that up by executing an end-play against Barry in a 2S contract to halve the board.  So far, so good.

We had a few too many team errors, however, and ended up with only 10.5 boards out of 26.  One round that was predictably bad perhaps was against a team with three current or recent world champions.  In the evening, we did better and, if I personally had not had a cow-fly-by moment, we would have been average.  We still wouldn't have qualified, obviously.

The format, board-a-match, is generally considered one of the very toughest forms of bridge.  There are no easy part score deals (as there might be in a team game) and there is no field to support you when you don't go all out for the maximum tricks.  There's just you and the other table.  Every board, however boring it may appear at first, is a potential battleground.  Kim and I really enjoyed the event, though.  We love playing against the "stars", even though we get star-struck all too often [but the more we play against them, the more ordinary it will seem, we hope].

These National events are surprisingly relaxing in some respects.  First, a two-board round lasts 16 minutes and generally we're done within ten.  That allows plenty time for getting a glass of water, refocusing after a bad result, etc.  Second, the other competitors are almost universally pleasant and respectful.  And finally, with very rare exceptions, you never ever hear RHO whining to LHO, why didn't you switch to a spade?  How could you bid 3H? etc.  And of course you never have to wait while the opponents ask each other how many clubs they had on the last hand!

And the standard of bridge is so high. Bridge against good players is actually much more predictable than club bridge.  They never make stupid bids that just happen to work out well.  Nor do they embark on an inferior line of play only to find that it works best on this hand.

We think it's really excellent training for going back to the bridge club and making the most of every hand.

Tomorrow, we try again in the Blue Ribbons.


  1. Kudos to you, Robin (and to Kim and your other partners) for playing in the Big events.

    One of the pleasures of playing in such events is that all the opponents know the rules and you rarely have to call the director. That makes for a more comfortable playing experience: also one where claims and concessions can speed up routine play and allow time for the real thought-provoking hands.

    And one of the technical benefits, I think, is that one gets a better feel for what competitive bids work and which do not. Because one can expect to get punished for a greater percentage of the times one steps out of line, one can learn better when competing makes you a tough opponent and when competing makes you roadkill for skilled, opportunistic opponents.

    Good luck.