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Las Vegas NABC Wrapup
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It turned out to be too ambitious to try to write an article every day of the Las Vegas NABCs AND work the tournament AND play.  After a week of doing so, I ran out of gas. I'm home, somewhat rested, and ready to wrap things up! 

On the second Thursday of the Las Vegas NABC, I played in the Mixed BAM with new partner Paul Cornelius. Our original teammates were still in the Mini-Spingold, so we had to get a replacement pair at the last minute.  Jade Barrett came to the rescue, and set us up with two good players who had never played with each other before. With two unfamiliar partnerships on the team, we finished slightly below average both sessions.  Even though we didn't qualify, I still had fun, because it's BAM and our teammates were very nice -- I can't wait to play the next one!

By Friday, I realized I was exhausted. Paul agreed that we could play a single-session side game, so we could both take the night off. My weekend teammates, Michael and Mindy were now in the semifinals of the Mini-Spingold, so there was a distinct possibility I'd be looking for teammates again at the end of the day. Unfortunately for them, they didn't make it to the finals.  (But chapeau for making it to the semis!)  Their misfortune became my good fortune, because they were available to play in the weekend 0-10,000 Mixed Swiss.

Saturday, I played with Spencer Sun, Michael, and Mindy as our teammates.  Spencer and I had previously played together only once before. The field was small but strong, and we started out somewhat badly. We knew things weren't going well when we were thrown into a round robin in session 3.  In the evening session we AGAIN started a round robin (really not good), until the directors came over to tell us there was a mistake, and we were back in a head-to-head.  It was a rough night, and we ended up with only two match wins and a tie.  Spencer had only planned to stay for the weekend if we qualified, so I was in the hunt for a new partner for Sunday.  Kevin Schoenfeld's team didn't qualify for the second day of the Open Swiss, and they had a fifth available, so Kevin came to the rescue, so our regular team would be together for Sunday A/X Swiss!

As I left the Mixed Swiss, I was pondering how exhausted I was when I bumped into Roger Lee, who asked me whether I could play with him and Josh Donn in the Midnight KO. I was sooo exhausted, but how could I pass up a chance to play with two of the best players in the world? I played with Roger for the first match, and we won our first match handily, with Roger always finding the killing lead when we were on defense, despite whatever mistakes I was making on my end.  For the next match, I played with Josh.  Every hand Josh would ask: "Are you going to write this one up?"  Of course I was so tired I couldn't remember the hands nor what happened during the hands, so the answer is "no," as much as I would have liked to.  But I bet he'll remember and comment. We lost our second match by a little bit, and I was done for the night. I also seem to have lost my lucky pencil in the process, so I'm thinking that maybe Josh or Roger swiped it to get some of my mojo. But it was a small price to pay to play with the very best.

Sunday morning I packed up and headed over to the playing venue where we entered the A/X Swiss.  Even though I'd gone to bed ridiculously late, I managed to get enough sleep that I could play reasonably well. (But maybe it's all relative as everyone else is really tired too!)

We started out sensibly by losing our first match. It's always good form to lose your first match.

In the second match, on our first board, board 15, I picked up the following hand in third seat, red versus white:

South
Kx
AQxxx
xxx
Kxx

Partner opened the bidding 3NT (gambling), which I alerted. RHO passed.

Your bid?

South
Kx
AQxxx
xxx
Kxx
W
N
E
S
3NT
P
?

Looking at my hand I inferred that partner had solid diamonds, so there was no need to run. 3NT looked like a decent contract to me. I passed. My LHO now piped in with 4, partner passed, RHO passed and I had another decision to make.
 
Now what?
 
I had to choose between passing, doubling, and bidding. 4 looked like it might make, although I did have a fair amount of defense. We had a nice diamond fit, and I thought that game still might make our way, so I bid 5, which got passed out (undoubled). On the lead of the A, a better-than-expected dummy came down:
 
North
Jxx
x
AKQxxxx
Qx
South
Kx
AQxxx
xxx
Kxx
W
N
E
S
3NT
P
P
4
P
P
5
P
P
P
 
I played it very badly for down 3, and -300. I guess I was sleepy after all. I'd also made the wrong decision, as it was clear that 4 wouldn't have made. I felt bad, but moved on.
 
Halfway through the match, the caddies came over to deliver boards.  Unfortunately, they were the wrong boards, out of sequence from the boards we had been playing. They insisted they were correct, and after a short conversation, we convinced them that these were indeed the wrong boards, and they left to bring us the correct boards, which we started playing.
 
A short while later, the director came over with board 15. Apparently, the mixup happened at the other table too. Our teammates and their opponents had bid board 15, with the other table landing in 4X by EW, with my hand doubling at the critical decision point. The other table was just about to start playing this board when the caddies came over to tell them they were playing the wrong board. So everyone faced their hands, and now the board was fouled.  As a result, we were told to remake board 15 and replay it once we were done with our current set, and then send the remade board over to the other table for play. Reprieve! Or was it?
 
Board 15, take 2. I picked up:
 
North
10x
10
Axxxx
AKxxx
 
My partner again opened the bidding, this time, a boring 1. West now bid 3 and I doubled. Kevin bid 4 (because he's a great partner and always has my suits).
 
Over to you... your bid?
 
 
After a bit of thought, I decided that game was a good bet and raised him to 5, after which everyone passed.
 
Both hands are shown below:
 
North
10x
10
A10xxx
AKxxx
South
AJxxx
Kx
Kx
J10xx
W
N
E
S
1
3
X
P
4
P
5
P
P
P
 
Unfortunately, with a 6-0 diamond split and a 3-1 club split, we failed to make the contract. It was only fitting that the reshuffled, dealt, and played board was still a bad board. Despite the loss on that board, we won the match.
 
In the next match, the other table was playing slow. By the time we got to our last board, we had to wait because the board was still in play at the other table. We had lapped them! It proved to be the most interesting board of the match.  
 
In fourth seat, red vs. white, I picked up:
 
West
AKJxx
AJxx
K
Jxx
 
After two passes my RHO opened 3NT, gambling.  I doubled, LHO passed, and Kevin bid 4. RHO now bid 5, I doubled, and it all passed out. I led the K, and dummy came down:
 
West
AKJxx
AJxx
K
Jxx
North
xxx
xxx
AQJxx
10x
W
N
E
S
P
P
3NT
X
P
4
5
X
P
P
P
 
Kevin gave me count with the 2 (upside-down count), showing an even number.  Do you continue, or switch? 
 
 

West
AKJxx
AJxx
K
Jxx
North
xxx
xxx
AQJxx
10x
W
N
E
S
P
P
3NT
X
P
4
5
X
P
P
P
 
I scrunched up my brow and thought hard.  Declarer was threatening to draw trump and run the diamonds.  Partner could be 4-4-4-1, in which case switching to a heart was essential.  He could also be 2-6-4-1, in which case continuing spades was right.  Which was it? I couldn't work it out, so I decided he was 2-6-4-1. I continued spades, declarer ruffing. Since the K was in the slot, once I continued spades it was all over, and declarer wrapped up his contract with a doubled overtrick. Partner was 4-4-4-1, so a heart switch would have beaten the contract.  The clue I missed at the table was if partner had 6-4 shape with KQ10-sixth of hearts, he might have opened 2 or competed more vigorously.  
 
At the other table, the bidding started out the same, but after the double by my hand, West bid 5, South bid 5 and it passed out, for down 1.  We lost 11 IMPs on that board and wound up losing the match by just a little.  All four hands are shown:
 
West
AKJxx
AJxx
K
Jxx
North
xxx
xxx
AQJxx
10x
East
Qxxx
Kxxx
9xxx
x
South
x
Qx
10xx
AKQxxxx
D
 
In match 4, we had another amusing result. In fourth seat, EW vul, I held: 
 
North
KJx
Jxxxx
x
K10xx
 
My LHO opened a Precision 2 (long clubs). Partner doubled, and it passed around to me. I bid 2. LHO bid 3 (extra clubs!). It passed around to me again, and holding four nice clubs to the K, I doubled. It passed around to my RHO who pulled it to 3, with partner doubling in fourth seat before it all passed out. We set it one for +200.  
 
At the other table, our partners playing 2-over-1, opened 1 in first seat. South doubled, and West now bid 2 (weak). My hand bid 2, East bid 3, and it passed out there, for down 2 (vulnerable) and a push.  All four hands are shown below.
 
West
1098x
xx
KQ10xxxx
North
KJx
Jxxxx
x
K10xx
East
Ax
Kx
xx
AQJxxxx
South
Qxxx
AQxx
Axx
xx
D
 
We had a bad fifth match, and won our last two matches (again lapping the other table in the penultimate match) to finish with 67 VPs, respectable but not good enough to place.
 
Overall, I had a great tournament. I met one of my year's goals, which was to place in an NABC+ pairs event.  I got to play against one of the best teams in the world (DIAMOND) for an entire day. I got to play with three of the best players in the world: Debbie Rosenberg, Roger Lee and Josh Donn. I won a KO and a t-shirt, and took home 56.16 masterpoints, which is the most I've gotten at a single tourney. I also met many Bridge Winners members in person, matching faces to the posts. All in all, it was a great ten days.  
 
One last note: if you see my pencil, can you let me know?
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