Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Never - ever - say die

In looking at my posts and drafts, I am a bit shocked to see that I haven't published in three weeks! Apologies to my regular readers. As always, I have many inchoate articles but none have seemed ready. So, at the risk of being accused of too much self-congratulation or just too much fluff, I offer this reminder that we can turn things around -- especially in the relative randomness of a robot tournament.

This is something of a follow-up to my earlier Never say die article from last year and another in my series on robot bridge (see previous posting). The basic premise is that, no matter how bad things seem in a session of bridge, you should never (ever) give up.

Admittedly, this is a far cry from doing well in a real-person two-session event, but the message applies even to a lowly 12-board robot tournament on Bridge Base Online.

I like to think of myself as not being a quitter, but there are times when, having invested only a dollar and a few minutes of my time, I am tempted to give up on one of these tournaments if I start badly. But I don't give up. The only time I give up is if I make a mis-mouse which is unfortunately all-too-frequent with my MacMouse (I've mentioned this here before). If, instead, I simply make a bad play or I take a losing gamble, I simply resolve to do better in the remaining boards.

The other day, I played such a tournament (matchpoints), and my early efforts did not augur well. On the first board, I was slated to go down 2 in 1NT but managed hold myself to down 3. That was a zero, as everyone else was able to take more than four tricks. On board 2, we failed to compete to the two-level on our vulnerable 7-card fit and allowed the opponents to properly take their 9 tricks in diamonds (36%). Then in 3NT, I didn't appreciate the likelihood of a K being either singleton (a "kingleton?") or doubleton when I was missing six cards to the KJ in the suit (30%). Then, my opponents defended accurately in another 1NT hand and I went down 2 for -200. Half the field got softer defense and only went down one (23%). So, after four boards I had a rollicking 22.16%. Was this an appropriate time to quit? Hell, no!

I came back with a 64%, 90%, 98%, 60%, 92%, 63%, 88% and finally 82%. These scores were good enough to get me up to 60.4% and a fourth-place finish.

I was particularly happy with this hand, which earned the 98%, especially because I so often don't take advantage of potential ruffs in dummy:

After the switch to the Q, I sensed something a little fishy, like a 1-3 split but it seemed that no harm could come of another round of trumps (plus, these Robots can be tricky). The auction suggested that my RHO wouldn't be able to overruff any club or diamond ruffs I might want to take. So I resisted my normal urge to wipe the enemy trumps out, and set about doing some ruffing. I didn't have a lot of hope for the the diamond finesse, given the auction, but it worked!

Twelve tricks are cold on the deal, but of the other 21 heart contract declarers, only two managed to take all the tricks, and one of those wasn't even in game!

BTW, did you spot that the robot sitting East tried to confuse me by playing his 9 and 7 before the 4? The robots like to do that in case there's a Rabbit at the wheel who might forget about the lowly 4. In this case, he just made it too easy.

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