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At the Generali World Open Pairs, Philadelphia 2010 Part 2

Continued from At the Generali World Open Pairs Part 1

Semi-Final Session 1 :1D

This was the second session of Day 3. We started at Table 12 NS, Section A.

We did not have a good start to the session but we finished with 60% and in 9 th position. Amazing!

We had one 100% score when my LHO rescued us from a poor auction doubling 6, so I retreated to 6, again doubled, but which could not be beaten. The Australians, Delmonte/Bach, overreached to 5, going down 2 for 97% to us. Outside of these two boards it was typical hard grinding matchpoint bridge. A tribute to our “one hand at a time” philosophy. Could we continue to hold it together?

 

I played Board #12 ( rotated ) as a semi cross-ruff for 11 tricks and 87% of the match points.

 

Lho
J85
7
K10986
J643
Paul
10
K832
A432
A982
Rho
KQ743
J1094
J
Q107
Stephen
A962
AQ65
Q75
K5
W
N
E
S
P
1NT
P
2
P
2
P
4
P
P
P
D
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0

 

LHO led the club 4. I won Ace in the dummy, and started with A and a spade ruff. Then K and a second spade ruff. Now A followed by club ruff to hand and a third spade ruff. I had 8 tricks and the defense could not prevent an additional 3 trump tricks.

 

Semi-final session 2 :

We were now onto day 4 and I was still fresh. The 11am and 4pm schedule suited me well. We started 12NS, Section G

 

This was another session of basic block-and-tackle matchpoints bridge going our way. On Board #3 we scored 100% when the Poles, Golebioski/Kalita, found their way to 4 for no good reason. Holding AKJ6 I doubled for down 4 vul. Then Matt Granovetter, holding K5, 743, KJT9, AQ97, made an injudicious take-out double in balancing seat of 2 by Paul. Pamela Granovetter jumped to 3 holding T943, K, AQ3, J8532. Pamela played it well to hold it to down 2, but it still was 100% to us. Outside of these boards our scores generally ranged from 40% to 60% and we finished with 55% maintaining our 9 th position.

 

We were in great position for a qualifying spot for the finals. But could we get it done?

 

 

Semi-final session 3 :

A tough session. We were still 12NS but at Section E. We started solidly with a couple of average rounds but thereafter our scores stayed generally below 50% despite minimal errors. Field protection appeared thin.

 

Slams played a mixed role in this session. First, we bid a 6 with complexity in the play; Paul went one down for 28%. We bid a good 6, making for 90%. Then I was in 6 making for 63%. Then, a slam disaster. My LHO opened 2 weak with hearts and another. Paul bid 4. In trying to process the 2 opening and what Paul’s 4 might mean I confusedly passed. We were playing Leaping Michaels. In 20 years of playing Leaping Michaels this was the first time it had come up and completely leaped past me. We were cold for a grand slam in two strains! A zero.

 

Our session score was 43% and we had fallen to 46th, but we were still in qualifying position for the Open Pairs Finals.

 

Semi-Final Session 4 :

We remained 12NS, Section E. We were into Day 5 and Paul and I were both still fresh. This did not help our game. Through the first 3 rounds we played 12.5%. We continued to play “one board at a time” and in reviewing the hands later, there are no obvious blunders, but I made a poor lead on Board #26 to allow 4 to make – 7%. We missed our spade game on Board #11 – 8%. Then I was doubled in 4 on Board #19, for down 3 and 38%. Then Paul went down one on Board #21 in 2 – 13%. A series of decisions going awry.

 

Our session score was 43% again and we had slipped to 88 th position. We were no longer qualified for the Open Pairs though still qualified for the IMP Pairs – barely. The brass ring was still within reach; but could we grasp and hold on to it?

 

In this session, I met Gulzar Bilal, captain of the Pakistan Team. I was born in Pakistan and although I have not lived in Pakistan since 1980 the pull of one’s birth country is strong. The Pakistan Team had topped their group in the Rosenblum round robin and I was pleased to congratulate him on a fine accomplishment. I invited Gulzar also to the San Francisco Fall NABC in 2012.

 

If all my invitees turn up to the SF Fall NABC 2012, I can see a major scheduling problem. I may have to call on Jim Leuker, Chairman of the San Francisco 2012 Fall NABC, for help!

 

 

Semi-final Session 5 :

We continued 12NS, Section E. Unfortunately, our scores were also a repeat of the 3 rd and 4 th sessions. We allowed the Poles, Jassem/Martens, to make a pushy 3NT. Then the Indonesian pair, Karwur/Pancono, and the Indian pair, Khare/Tolani, destroyed us for 20.5% overall in those rounds.

 

The Romanian pair, Coldea/Rotura, got to 4 after a contentious auction on Board #9. Paul led his stiff club (I had opened 1), but declarer won and cleared hearts, my King winning at trick 3. I played a low diamond from K97 at trick 4. Paul won the diamond Queen and continued Ace which declarer ruffed. Now declarer had a triple squeeze on me for 10 tricks. Had I returned my diamond king at trick 4 the squeeze does not materialize and we would beat 4-X. As I said to Paul at that time, “Even in my wildest dreams I’m not that good!”

This was Board #15 (rotated for convenience):

 

Paul
K632
54
QJ953
63
Karwur
J108
AQJ6
K87
AK2
Stephen
AQ754
K
A62
J954
Pancono
9
1098732
104
Q1087
W
N
E
S
P
1
1
X
2
X
3
4
P
P
D

 

Paul made the expert lead of the spade king to take a look at dummy. I discouraged and Paul shifted smartly to the diamond queen. We took our diamond tricks, declarer ruffing the 3 rd diamond. Declarer now entered dummy with a club and led the spade jack. I wanted to play both my spade ace and queen to this trick but constrained by the legalities of the game followed with my spade ace only. From this Declarer inferred that Paul held spade king and queen, and having already seen Paul’s queen and jack of diamonds, proceeded to drop my stiff heart king offside to make 4 for 87% of the matchpoints.

 

Whatever the merits of my spade ace at trick 5, Pancono’s play brought back agonizing memories of the 1991 NAOP FL B National finals in Atlantic City, where on the final board of the event declarer had dropped my stiff spade king offside to make 6 and drop me from 1 st to 2 nd by 0.90 matchpoints. The next time I have a stiff trump king offside, I am going to do a Hideous Hog on it. Menagerie fans will know the story. The Hog is in a high-stakes game on a cruise ship and is defending a redoubled vulnerable game contract. Realizing that the contract is making the Hog slips a key queen into his sandwich, and calmly eats it, washing it down with a glass of fine wine. With the queen “lost” the game breaks up in acrimony!

 

Epilogue

Board #15 was not our last board in the Open Semi-finals but it came towards the end and put paid to any hopes of our making the finals.

 

The brass ring had been in our grasp but we had not been able to hold on to it. On the other hand, we had qualified for the semi-finals and had strongly contended for a place in the finals. Our last three sessions had been cruel. There had been good, even spectacular play, by opponents. However, I think we had been done in by the Bridge Gods. Consider that we had been on defense 47% in the qualifying rounds, whereas in the semi-finals we were on defense for 61% of the hands. Our overall score in the qualifying was 51.48%, and in the semi-finals it was 49.63%.

 

Paul made the interesting comment that in 10 sessions of high level bridge, our natural 2/1 system had shown up well against the strong club, the Polish club, the two-way club, the multi, two suited pre-empts (OK OK, maybe not against two-suited preempts) and whatnot. We were proud of our showing in a world-class field.

 

I returned to the Open Pairs Finals to kibitz the 15 th and last session. There I played the dummy for the American, Jeff Roman, and the Indonesian, Taufiq Gautama, whilst they took restroom breaks . For a moment it appeared that I might even be able to play the dummy for Fantoni, but it was not to be.

 

I thoroughly enjoyed the Generali Open Pairs. The 5 sessions of qualifying gives contestants the opportunity to recover from one bad session and even two mediocre sessions. Then if you miss qualification to the Open Pairs finals, you may get to drop-in to the IMP Pairs finals. There is incentive a-plenty.

 

I am looking forward to the Generali World Open Pairs in 2014 and hope to actually play in the finals with the blessings of the Bridge Gods. Ready, Paul?

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