Friday, December 2, 2011

Sleepless in Seattle (continued)

There are several aspects of NABCs that we really enjoy.  The gifts for one.  Yes, I am kidding but this tournament has been terrific on gifts.  We have new umbrellas, mouse pads, space needle key fobs, luggage handle/identifiers, chocolates, multiple decks of playing cards...   Another thing we enjoy very much is the chance to get to know better our friends and acquaintances from New England, typically by going out to dinner and going over the hands.  I am at my very best in this phase of the game.  This year, there have been fewer New Englanders than typical, but we've made the most of the social opportunities.

Another aspect that we really like is that you can play with World champions, national champions, etc. and learn how they play the game.  In what other endeavor can you play against such people simply for the price of an entry fee?  And, almost without exception, those top players are pleasant, courteous and never argue at the table.  One of the more friendly and fun-loving experts, Dutch star Jan Jansma, came to our table during a regional open pairs yesterday.  I was playing with my old buddy Dave, with whom I last played exactly three years ago at the Boston NABC. 

I hope Jan won't mind if he sees this account of one hand we played.  When they got to our table we were having a 70% game and I was "in the zone" (Oh, how I wish I could always play there!).  On this particular hand, I picked up (favorable vulnerability) ♠K6 KQ6 JT ♣AKT532.  I don't normally open 1NT with a six-card suit, but I observed an expert do just that earlier in the week and this seemed like the right time to try it.  LHO doubled which was explained as five of a minor and four of a major (or better, presumably).  Dave bid 2 (transfer) and I duly bid 2♠.  Dave now invited with 2NT and I had a decision to make.  I possessed only two spades but my hand had now become very suit-oriented.  I figured the "minor" was diamonds (see how well I was playing?) and wasn't so thrilled with JT as a stopper.  I therefore opted for 4♠.  The club 9 was led and it didn't take J. P. Beaumont or Sarah Linden to deduce that this was a stiff (though not the kind of stiff they are used to dealing with).  Partner tabled ♠AT932 J72 A5 ♣864.  There was nothing to the play, fortunately.  I had to lose two trumps and the HA and that was +420 for 24.5 out of 25 matchpoints.

We fell out of favor after that somewhat and met Kim and newly-crowned Life Master sister Kathy in the last round.  Due to my atrocious play on the first board (I should have made 4♠ doubled) and my reluctance to wield the chopper on my beloved wife on the second, we donated 29.5 matchpoints more than we should to their cause, giving them 8th in section and dropping us to 8th (B) in section.  However, this led to further sleeplessness, as they thought it would be fun now to enter the midnights, something I am really too old for these days.

By a series of miracles and some fine play by my partner Vincent and teammates we clawed our way into the final against current player-of-the-year leader, Joel Wooldridge.  We stopped comparing after two adverse game swings and went home, finally and joyfully, to get some well-earned sleep!

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