Join Bridge Winners
Santa Clara Regional
(Page of 3)

This past week I played all week long at the Santa Clara Regional.  Because I was playing with several different partners, I played pairs the entire time, except for the final-day A/X Swiss.

Day 1 I played with one of my regular partners, Ron Karr, in a one-session charity pairs event, and another evening one-session pairs game. We had a nice game to finish 1st overall in B (4th overall), netting us each a mug, the section top giveaway at this tourney.  That was one monkey off my back!   Day 2, I played with one of my occasional teammates, Manuela Marani, in a two-session open pairs event.  We had a great first session to place second overall going into the evening session.  Our second session was not so smooth, and we wound up getting the last placing in B.  Still a nice result as it was only the third time we'd played together.

Day 3 I played in yet another two-session open pairs event with one of my old-time regular partners, Don Rothschild, who is an Emerald Life Master.  We had two decent sessions to finish 9th overall.  Placings 3-10 were within about a quarter of a percentage point of each other, so the inevitable scoring corrections shuffled up the rankings the next day, and we moved up to 8th overall.  (I found about five such errors, and later learned that I should only report my own, not others'.)

By this time, I was getting a little bit tired.  I was scheduled to play with Ron Karr on Day 4, and I wanted to be as fresh as possible for the big two-day pairs event on the weekend. So I suggested we play in the Seniors, which started at 10am, and for which I was newly eligible.  I was hoping to get carded, but they believed me, so I had no problems buying an entry.   We had two decent sessions, helped by the 10 and 3 start times, yielding pointage both times.  But we didn't score high enough to place in the overalls... the bar is a bit higher in the seniors, even in flight B!  There were some very good players playing in the senior event... the competition seemed similar to what you'd find in a decent (large) club game.  I found the experience relaxing and fun.  And I was thrilled to be able to go home for dinner and get to bed early.

Day 5 was the start of the two-day All-Western Pairs, a tough event that brings out the best players from all over.  Playing with my regular partner Kevin Schoenfeld, I was hoping we'd make it to day 2, something which I did not do last year.  Alas, it was not to be.  We had a lousy first session.  Our second session started out badly, but improved mid-event.  We had some possibilities, but then exhaustion kicked in, and I made a couple of bad (and inexcusable) mistakes.  Although we wound up doing slightly better in the second session, it wasn't enough to qualify, not by a long shot!

Day 6 we decided to play a single-session side game so I could recover my energy for the last day.  There were many good pairs sitting in our direction (many of whom had not Q'd the day before).  We had a nice game, and wound up winning overall with a 60%, for my third mug of the event.  (I measure my success in these tourneys not by masterpoints, but by mugs or glasses won.)

The final day Kevin and I played in the A/X Swiss, my first team game of the tourney, joined by our regular teammates, Michael Fleisher and Mindy Foos.  On the first board, I picked up a bad hand in first seat, both vulnerable:

South
10x
98765
xxx
Axx

A 4-count with five hearts.  As dealer I passed, as did my LHO.  Partner now opened 1.  RHO doubled.  Unfortunately, I had some intellectual momentum going, and didn't take in the double until I had my bid in my hand: 1NT forcing, which of course is not forcing in this situation. It all passed out.  Uh-oh.  I was glad I was playing it, so no one would see my hand. 

With the lead of the 2, dummy came down:

North
AQxxx
Ax
Q10x
xxx
South
10x
98765
xxx
Axx
W
N
E
S
P
P
1
X
1NT
P
P
P

This was going to be dicey.  I played a low heart from dummy, hoping to induce a heart continuation, as this would be my best shot.  RHO won with the J and continued the K, which I won in dummy.  I played a low spade towards my hand, which RHO won with the K.  She continued with the Q, drawing all the enemy hearts.  At this point, RHO switched a low club (understandable given the weak clubs in dummy), which I won with my A.  I cashed my now-good hearts, and then took my spade winners, but my luck had run out: spades weren't splitting.  Ultimately I was able to take six tricks for down 1, -100.

At the other table, our teammates got to the 3NT game our opponents should have been in, for +11 IMPs.  Despite winning the race to 1NT, I wish I had passed... had they found the right switch, I could have been down a lot.

The full deal is shown below, along with the bidding at the other table:

West
J9xx
10xx
KJx
QJx
North
AQxxx
Ax
Q10x
xxx
East
Kx
KQJ
Axxx
K10xx
South
10x
98765
xxx
Axx
W
N
E
S
P
P
1
X
P
1NT
P
2NT
P
3NT
D

The rest of the match went well with us bidding and making a couple of games not bid/made at the other table, and we wound up blitzing.

Match 2 was played against another local team, where I was introduced to a new convention on one of the boards where both of us were vulnerable.  I love to learn new things!  The bidding started out with my RHO opening 2.  I had a lousy hand and certainly wasn't going to bid, so I passed.  My LHO inquired about opener's hand by bidding 2NT.  Partner passed.  RHO now bid 3, showing an Ogust response indicating a bad hand and a bad suit.  I passed.  LHO passed!!!!  Partner thought a little bit and passed.

So I would be on lead to 3, holding the following hand:

West
xxx
xxx
Qx
QJ87x
W
N
E
S
2
P
2NT
P
3
P
P
P

Your lead?

I thought long and hard about it, and ultimately decided to try to develop some tricks of our own.  A diamond lead looked right to me, since RHO had announced a bad hand.  So any strength was likely to be in dummy.  I led the Q, and dummy came down:

West
xxx
xxx
Qx
QJ87x
North
AKQx
Jxxx
AK9xx

Seeing the dummy, the bidding made some sense: Garbage Ogust!

My Q lead turned out to be fortuitous, catching dummy with very little in diamonds.  The Q held, and partner encouraged.  I led another diamond, which was won by his 10 when declarer played low.  Partner played the K, and I pitched a heart when declarer ruffed.  Declarer now found out about the bad trump break and went down 2 for +200. The full deal is shown below:

West
xxx
xxx
Qx
QJ87x
North
AKQx
Jxxx
AK9xx
East
KQxx
Jxxx
AK10xx
South
AJxxxx
xx
xx
10xx
D

At the other table, the auction went EXACTLY the same way.  (I wonder who gets naming rights for this convention?)  Our opponents chose to lead a heart instead, and declarer was able to pitch his two losing diamonds on four rounds of hearts, with East winning the fourth round. East had no way to exit with a club, so declarer was eventually able to scramble 9 tricks on cross-ruff lines.  This board represented our biggest swing in the match, which we ended up winning by 14 IMPs.

Match 3 we lost handily in a near-blitz.  I take the blame for two boards, one in which I made a bidding error, that cost us being in a slam, and another which resulted in a -800, although I can't remember why.  I just know it was my fault!  Time to regroup.  Fortunately, it was also time for lunch!  The directors had wisely staggered the lunchtime ritual for the A/X and the BCD Swiss events, with the A/X getting to go first.  Although the break was short, it was wonderful to get to eat at our typical lunchtime.  It helped me get through the rest of the day with much more energy than I would typically have if the break had happened after match 4.  (Note to self: bring lots of snacks!)

After lunch, we were matched against the team of a good player who is nearly blind.  As a result, he requires a card turner and special cards, cards which are challenging for sighted people to read.  It promised to be a stressful match.  There were two boards that stood out.

Midway through the match, I picked up the following hand in 1st seat, white versus red:

South
AK
Q92
KJ
KJ10983

We play a strong NT (15-17).  What's your plan? 

I had to think through the possibilities before I placed my opening bid on the table.   Opening 1NT would probably be an underbid.  Sure, I had 17 HCP, but I also had an excellent six-card club suit.   So if I opened 1, what would my rebid be?  3 didn't do the hand justice.  I decided the hand evaluated to an 18 count, and I'd rebid 2NT if my partner responded at the one level, which is exactly what happened.  The bidding continued:

South
AK
Q92
KJ
KJ10983
W
N
E
S
1
P
1
P
2NT
P
6NT
P
P
P

My LHO now moaned.  He thought about leading, and then slammed his pack of cards on the table face down.  He picked them up and moaned some more.  He slammed them down.  Clearly he was having a problem!  Finally, after much deliberation, he led the 8.  Dummy came down:

North
x
AKxx
A10xxx
Axx
South
AK
Q92
KJ
KJ10983
W
N
E
S
1
P
1
P
2NT
P
6NT
P
P
P

Before doing anything, I counted my tricks:  2 diamonds with possibilities for extras, 5 clubs with a possibility for a sixth, 3 hearts with the possibility of an extra if hearts split, and 2 spades.  It really was a no brainer.  I had all the tricks I needed, so now the choice was how to get my 13th trick.  With all the moaning and groaning on the left, I decided he had to have the Q, so I played the K, and a low club, and sure enough, the Q appeared and I claimed 7.

At the other table, the auction started out the same, but then took a turn, when opener decided on a different rebid:

W
N
E
S
1
P
1
P
3
P
7
P
P
P

Unfortunately for him, East was void in diamonds, and our teammate sitting West decided to lead his long diamond suit.  On a diamond lead, East scored a ruff and they were down 1, gaining us 14 IMPs.

The second notable board had something happen which was new to me.  The bidding started on my left with a 1 opening.  My partner overcalled 2, weak.  By this time I had sorted my cards and put them in my card holder.  As the bidding was progressing around the table, I noticed that I was holding a 4422 hand.  Hmm, not a shape!  I made sure I didn't have a card hidden behind another, before announcing "I have 12 cards."   My partner said, "I have 14 cards."  Oops!  The director was called, and he took the board away to the other table as we went on to the next hand.  (I should note that I almost always count my cards before looking at them, but for some reason I didn't on this hand...)

The director returned with the corrected board.  Apparently a spot card had gotten transferred from one hand to the other at the other table.  By this time, I'd forgotten the original bidding, but my LHO hadn't.  The opponents were in a grumbly mood because of the information imparted from the original bidding. Since LHO remembered, he decided to speed things up by putting the 1 and 2 bids on the table.  My partner looked at his hand and said "But what if I don't want to bid 2?"   The inferences were clear.  (Even without that statement, the inferences were clear to me, because I now held a 4432 hand.)  The director instructed us to finish the bidding and to play the board.   Kevin put his 2 call back on the table, and the opponents ultimately ended up in a a 3 contract, making 4.  I'm sure I misdefended based on the new information (is it authorized?  unauthorized?  how can you forget it when you're defending?).  Kevin had originally preempted with seven diamonds, now six; but I thought he had originally preempted with six diamonds, now five.  We gave up an overtrick due to the confusion, but it didn't really matter much as we wound up winning the match by 19 IMPs.

We had some nice gains in match 5 when Kevin and I stopped in a part-score, and our opponents bid an unmakeable game.  Our opponents then missed a game we bid on the next board.  We stopped in 1NT, making on a club lead, while our teammates were in 2 the other way, also making.  We won match 5 by 14 IMPs.  

In match 6, I experienced another first: we were close enough to the lead that we got to play pre-duplicated boards in a Swiss.  We'd only get to play them for that one round, as we got blitzed.  One of the losses was due to this board:

North
7
KQ986
J9
J10986
W
N
E
S
1
?

I decided to make an unusual 2NT overcall.  When I caught my partner with a good hand, we ended in 3NT, down 2, losing several IMPs to the other table who stopped in a part-score. We also missed a game that we should have found, and our teammates bid a slam that only made 5.  At least we have the good sense to combine all our mistakes and bad luck in the same match!  Too bad those hand records went to waste...

In match 7, we were teamed up against one of the pro teams in a shuffle-and-deal affair.  Kevin and I, sitting North-South, faced the team's two Polish pros, who were smokers, and quite frankly, smelled really bad, which was distracting.  After announcing that they played Multi (at which point I got out our own written defense, ha!) and transfer responses, my LHO started to take charge of the boards, which must be some sort of pro intimidation thing.  I wasn't having any of that.  I told him firmly "I'll take care of the boards."  Hands off, buddy!  They also played extremely fast, I believe in part to rattle us.  At one point, while I was declaring a 3NT contract with about seven tricks to go, they wanted to concede that I was making my contract.  I probably should have called the director, but instead I said "I'll play it out"  and did so as slowly as I could manage, hoping to give them a little tit for tat.   I wound up making an overtrick, and we won 10 IMPs on that board, as the other pair wasn't in the sketchy game we were in.  On another board, Kevin and I had an excellent auction to get to a 6 contract they didn't reach at the other table.  Another 10 IMPs.  In one of the transfer response sequences in which we interfered, they stopped in a part-score, missing a vulnerable game that our teammates found.  All in all, we wound up winning by 18 IMPs, to gain another 18 VPs.

We ended the day with 88 VPs, which was good enough to place 9th overall, and win X (by a long shot), for 18 gold!  Although I have won X before in a two-session A/X event, this was my first win in a big regional 2-session event.  The team played great all day.  And my energy lasted until the end of the last match.  It was a great way to end the tourney.  All in all, I ended up with four mugs and 39 points, so it was a good week.  (The only disappointment was not making it to day 2 in the big pairs event.  Next year!)

70 Comments
Getting Comments... loading...
.

Bottom Home Top