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Las Vegas NABC, Day 4, Life Master Pairs Finals
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Sunday marked the finals of the Life Master Pairs.  We went into the event in 55th place with a wee bit of carryover.   We started at the table closest to the Spingold preregistration area.  (I think the directors did that on purpose in case they had problems with the Bridge Winners preentries. ;)  

Our session started out mixed.  We bid our way to a solid 4 game, and when our opponents decided to lead trump, I was able to run a long heart suit for pitches, making 6.  However, on the next board, our opponents bid and made a slam.  We bid our way to a pushy 3 contract where I was in a 4-3 fit (responding to partner's takeout double with a 10 count at the 3 level).  I played it really well to make 3 in a crossruff, which garnered most of the matchpoints.  We were off to a good start.

A few hands later in second seat, red vs. white, I picked up:

South
10842
KJ10863
Q74
W
N
E
S
P
?

Your bid?

I was disciplined and passed.  The auction continued

South
10842
KJ10863
Q74
W
N
E
S
P
P
1
2
P
2
3
3
P
P
3
4
4
P
P
5
X
5
X
P
P
P

Now it was time to get in the action.  I bid 2, and my partner raised.  Everyone got into the action at that point, and eventually we ended up in 5 doubled.  On the lead of the K, dummy came down.

North
K7
AQ5
Q10987642
South
10842
KJ10863
Q74
W
N
E
S
P
P
1
2
P
2
3
3
P
P
3
4
4
P
P
5
X
5
X
P
P
P

Plan the play.

North
K7
AQ5
Q10987642
South
10842
KJ10863
Q74
W
N
E
S
P
P
1
2
P
2
3
3
P
P
3
4
4
P
P
5
X
5
X
P
P
P

I ruffed the opening lead in dummy. If clubs split, I might be able to establish the clubs while I still had transportation to the board.  Everything rated to be to my left, so the K would probably be an entry. I ruffed a club to hand, both following.  I played a trump to the board, both following, and then ruffed another club, which produced the A on my left. I played another round of trump to the board, LHO showing out. I played the last club towards my hand, and being down to two trump in my hand, I was afraid. Afraid I was going to lose control of the hand.  
 
Really, all I had to do was to stop and think: about the bidding, about the distribution, and about what everyone had in their hands, and I would have realized I would have been fine. Instead of ruffing (the right move), I pitched a diamond, a winner on loser play. Eventually, I was down 3 for -800. The right play was to continue what I'd started out doing and ruff the last club, pull the last trump and play a spade towards the K in dummy. I would lose the A and the A and make my contract for +850. Instead, I was -800, for our worst score of the day.
 
All four hands are below:

West
AQ6
9
AKJ9865
A5
North
K7
AQ5
Q10987642
East
J953
742
1032
KJ3
South
10842
KJ10863
Q74
D

Later in the event, I picked up:

South
A43
K1076
AJ65
A10
W
N
E
S
3
P
P
X
P
P
P

LHO opened 3, and after two passes to me, I doubled.  Partner passed, and we were defending 3 doubled.  Debbie led the K and dummy came down:

East
J1097
A842
974
Q9
South
A43
K1076
AJ65
A10
W
N
E
S
3
P
P
X
P
P
P

I encouraged, and Debbie continued with a low diamond to my A.  I played the J and declarer ruffed.  Declarer now led a low club towards the board and inserted the 9, which I won with the 10.  I thought a bit, cashed the A, and exited a diamond, which declarer again ruffed, pitching a low heart from dummy.  Declarer pulled the last trump, pitching another heart, and then played a spade towards the board, which Debbie won with the Q. She switched to a low heart, which I won with the K and returned another heart to the A.  Declarer played another spade, which I won with the A. Debbie claimed one more spade trick, for down 4 and +800, a top, which cancelled out the bottom (-800) from earlier in the session. 
 
All four hands are shown below:

West
865
J3
82
KJ8752
North
KQ2
Q95
KQ103
643
East
J1097
A842
974
Q9
South
A43
K1076
AJ65
A10
W
N
E
S
3
P
P
X
P
P
P
D
3X West
NS: 0 EW: 0

Overall, we ended up with a 53+%, moving us up to 32nd place, still sitting as the best of the Bridge Winners.
 
We had a quick dinner, discussed hands, and then I went to my room to take a short rest.  On the way back I stopped by the cafe and downed an espresso, as the fatigue was starting to get to me.  This had the effect of keeping me relatively alert for the evening (and unfortunately, into the early morning as well).
 
Our evening session started out poorly.  Again, on the second board someone bid a 6NT slam against us.  On the next board, I doubled a pair in 4 which made. Fortunately, on the very next board, we bid our way to a somewhat optimistic 6NT slam that took a heart lead to beat it.  They didn't lead a heart, and I was able to concede a spade before claiming 6 for a great board.  Later in the session we bid a couple of slams that didn't make, and in general, had a fairly up and down session to finish just a smidge under 50%, similar to the night before.  
 
However, this was good enough to move us up to 36th place overall, for 25.33 Platinum!   Both Steve and Ari had excellent second sessions, and they moved up a few places above us. Debbie did end up the best of the Rosenbergs.  This represented my best showing in a National Pairs event, and I was really thrilled.  (My main goal was to make it to the finals, with the hopes of placing in the overalls.)
 
After the event was over, I was pretty tired.  But I poked my head into the Midnight KO room anyway.  Debbie was there talking to a few people, and the director said he needed another team.  So we cobbled one together with me, Debbie, Rebecca Wernis (one of the collegiate team champions from UC Berkeley), and Barry Goren. We sat down to play.  On the very first board I picked up:
 
South
Qx
AKQxxxxxx
x
x
 
Debbie opened the bidding 2NT.  I Texas Transferred her into 4 and bid 4NT.  She answered 5, two without the queen.  I said "REALLY?" and disgustedly slapped down the 6 card.  (We were getting all our talking out from having practiced Keller for three straight days.)  She laughed. Two passes, and my RHO put down the X card.  I took out the redouble card, and Debbie was thinking she might have to pull it, but I cautioned her: don't you dare!   RHO led the A, but that was all they could cash, and we wrapped up 6. I had no idea what the score was, but apparently our opponents did, probably because they play midnights more than I do. +2070. We went on to win the match but then forfeited because we wanted to go to bed.
 
Today, because of our incredibly high seed of 81, my team of Kevin Schoenfeld, Atam Lalchandani, and Ravi Bhalla will meet ?DIAMOND in the Spingold. Fortunately, I got to play two boards against Hampson and Greco last night as early practice. Wish us luck!
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