Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Goodbye Philly

Kim and I found some friends to team up with for the A/X Swiss on Sunday, my last day at the NABC in Philadelphia which was excellent (with the exception of the layout on the fourth floor which caused huge traffic jams at busy times).  Yes, we could have entered the B/C/D Swiss but it is so much more satisfying playing good teams.  On the other hand, that particular event is a proving ground for teams entering the Spingold the following day and the competition is brutal.  A total of 119 teams signed up and the room was a Who's Who? of experts from around the world.  We had no serious expectations of getting into the overalls (though we've done it before).  But we did expect that we would have an enjoyable time playing good bridge and we were not disappointed.

Here's an example from our second match where we met ACBL Roaming Reporter, blogger and Minneapolis GLM Peg Kaplan (sitting East).  If you click the GIB button you will see that, on this occasion, the singleton lead was the only card in West's hand to give me any hope at all.  The contract and play to the first two tricks was identical at both tables (West pitching an encouraging club at trick 2).  At my table, Peg gave the matter considerable thought before leading to the next trick.  I was tempted to claim during this time, but then I realized that a claim would be just a little premature.  After she held the third trick, I prayed that she would follow West's advice and lead a club (I would be able to claim then).  But Peg knew that if I had six trumps and a stiff club, as seemed most probable, the only way to hurt me was to establish a second heart trick for the defense.  So, she unerringly continued a heart and I was dead in the water.  My teammate did follow West's advice and immediately shifted to a club and their defense was over.  So Peg earned her team an 11 imp swing in a match they were otherwise going to lose by 2.

After the event started, amid a fair degree of chaos in our area, it was announced that there would be only seven rounds, making it one of the more expensive non-NABC events at a cost of 65 cents per board per person.   Going into the last round, we had 62 VPs and three wins leaving us fairly well placed to scratch in X (we would have needed an 8-imp win).  Alas, the team we met was a team of experts having (until then) a bad day and we ended up with only another 2 VPs.  We enjoyed it though, especially round 5 where we got a little lucky and beat a team of top players from back home.  This was largely due to a grand slam which I bid badly (but luckily) for a 13-imp gain.

This was the hand, one of the best I've ever picked up: ♠AKQT987 AQ74 A3 ♣–.  Here's an auction which conforms to our system and would have legitimately got us to the right spot: 2♣ – 2(1) – 2♠ – 2NT – 5♣(2) – 5(3) – 5NT(4) – 6(5) – 6(6) – 7♠ (7).  1: game-forcing; 2: exclusion key-card Blackwood for spades with club void; 3: sorry, nothing; 4: got any kings? 5: yup, the K; 6: what about the heart king? 7: got that one too!  Even with the two red kings, this was not cold – dummy needed a second trump to ruff the heart loser – but she had that too!  I could also have managed without the heart ruff provided that diamonds split 3-3.  I regret to say that my auction was a lot less scientific than what I show here and not worthy of a
13-imp swing.  But you know what they say: sometimes it's better to be lucky than good.

News today of the last board of the GNT Championship Flight makes me realize that even the top players can make the wrong decision on occasion.  It puts my blunder from the GNTs into a slightly more favorable light.  I don't think I've ever faced Joel Wooldridge at the table, but I've several times played his teammates (and lost).  So I was surprised, and a bit shocked, by his double of the 4♠ cuebid with only the QT4!  It was that call (in my humble opinion) that lost his team the championship.


  1. Peg wrote up this same hand in the Daily Bulletin on Sunday Robin if you didn't notice. Apparently she also found it to be a good problem; I wonder if she overheard us at dinner or not discussing this one.

  2. Thanks for the tip. I hadn't noticed. She must have good ears if she overheard our conversation at dinner :)