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A Round from the Reisinger
(Page of 5)

On Sunday I had the great pleasure of playing in the Reisinger Board-a-Match final. I played with Ron Smith, and our teammates were Bart Bramley and Kit Woolsey. We qualified for days two and three in some of the last spots (19th out of 20 for day two, 10th out of 10 for day three), but our scores were high enough that we had plenty of breathing room between us and the first non-qualifier.

Our day-three score was easy to calculate because we began with a carryover of 0.00. We climbed up to fifth after the first final session, got as high as tied for second in the second final, but slid slowly downward as the day wore on. Our only bad round of the night was the final one, and we fell to 7th. Obviously that's still a great result, but it felt a bit disappointing given how well we had been doing earlier in the day.

I had played a reasonable amount of board-a-match before, but not a ton, and never in as tough—or as fun—a setting as the Reisinger final. Here is one round from the first final session that highlights how hard it can be to predict your scores and how thrilling—or heartbreaking—the comparison can be.

First up:

West
98
Q982
752
K1085
North
J106
J4
QJ86
AQ74
East
KQ5432
63
43
J96
South
A7
AK1075
AK109
32
W
N
E
S
P
1
2
3
P
4
P
6
P
P
P
D
16
6 North
NS: 0 EW: 0

West passed, and Ron opened 1, showing at least four diamonds. Ron has a reputation as a conservative bidder, so comments about this opening bid tended to be, "WOW, he opened THAT!?" At favorable vulnerability that reputation is undeserved—he's "Ron Light," although this hand is scraping the bottom of the barrel of 11-counts I've seen him open.

East overcalled 2. I bid 3, and Ron chose to raise to 4 on his doubleton. It seemed like the chances of grand were remote if partner wasn't willing to offer a stronger raise than 4, and I wanted to make sure we got the strain decision right, so I jumped to 6. I caught well, and after the K lead, with hearts not 5-1 and diamonds not 5-0, we were cold. Ron won the A lead, cashed the AK, ruffed a heart high, crossed in trumps, ruffed another heart high, drew trumps, and gave up a spade: +920.

At the other table, North passed in second seat. Bart says he decided to, "perpetrate a weak 2 opening." South doubled, and North, Nik Demirev, thought long and hard and eventually passed. North-South collected 800, a great score in isolation, but still lost the board. During the comparison, Bart and Kit were very pleased to hear +920: "Nice coverage!"

On Board 17 we didn't do nearly as well:

West
1085
J8532
1075
83
North
762
K107
AK
KJ1064
East
AKQ
A6
Q983
AQ97
South
J943
Q94
J642
52
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
P
P
D
17
1NT North
NS: 0 EW: 0

Ron opened 1NT and played it there, and the defenders did very well by leading a top spade and shifting to diamonds at trick 2. At double-dummy Ron could have taken six tricks, but he tried setting up clubs, so East got three tricks there, to go with three spades, the A, and the Q. Down two: -100.

At the other table, our teammates did not guess the defense as well, and 1NT rolled home: +90, lose the board.

We struck back on 18:

West
K6
8
A75
KJ98654
North
Q9
KQ62
J10632
72
East
A7532
AJ97
Q8
AQ
South
J1084
10543
K94
103
W
N
E
S
 
1
P
2
P
2
P
3
P
3
P
3
P
3N
P
P
P
D
18
3NT East
NS: 0 EW: 0

I led a diamond, and declarer eventually made all the tricks for +520. We hoped that our teammates would come through with a slam, and indeed they did: +920, win the board.

That was win, lose, win for 2 out of 3 matchpoints.

The final day of the Reisinger is played as a barometer, and you can compare with your teammates after every round. While I was waiting for Bart and Kit to finish this round, I watched some friends who were sitting East-West compare with their teammates.

At their table, my friends' opponents had an accident on Board 16, playing a diamond partscore for +150. On Board 17, the opponents chose to bid Stayman over 1NT and reached an inelegant 2 contract, down four: -200. On 18, my friends had gotten too high, playing in 7 down 1.

When their teammates came to compare, they read out -50 on Board 16. North had reached 6 after less-informative bidding by East-West. East led the K and West played the upside-down 9. Declarer was taken in and played spades before trumps, thinking it was safe to set up the third round of the suit. Nope! West ruffed the third round for down one: lose.

On Board 17, -200 was a routine push, presumably in the same contract after the same auction.

On Board 18, the other team's East-West had stopped in game, so stopping in 6 would have been worth a full-board swing.

From my friends' perspective, they thought they had an easy 2 out of 3. It was a real shame to collect only 0.5.

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