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The formerly-known-as 100% stanza. Serial parts 1 and 2.
(Page of 10)

Actually, it's serial parts 1-10 out of 10 now. Who knew I couldn't change the title?

Playing North-South in the Open Board-a-Match Teams in Tromsø, my team had the fortune to score 10 out of 10 US matchpoints (20 out of 20 EU matchpoints) on the first 10 boards against 2 boards per team and then the fortune to have one board taken away by the directors. It is a tale of comedy, tragedy and hubris stretching from Austin to Boston to Oostende to Oslo and comprising two years.

I was playing with Cenk Tunçok, South for our story with Adam and Zachary Grossack sitting East/West at the other table. Together we are Texan and the Yanks. I live in Austin, Texas and the rest live in New England. At the 4 Roses café in Tromsø, Norway on Monday, 6th July, I bought the team coffee and breakfast. My pep talk was, "In the musical Damn Yankees there was a song, 'You've gotta have heart'." http://www.stlyrics.com/lyrics/damnyankees/heart.htm You're Sam's Yankees and you've gotta have heart."

In the first round we drew Sinsen BK from Norway http://www.eurobridge.org/repository/competitions/15Tromso/Regside/participantsDetailTeams.asp?qteamid=SINSEN%20BK@1114

The BAM was played barometer style. The first board was #1:

West
6
AQ97
K108532
Q3
North
J1054
83
A974
J97
East
K9872
KJ102
A842
South
AQ3
654
QJ6
K1065
W
N
E
S
P
1
P
2
P
2
P
4
P
P
P
D
4 East
NS: 0 EW: 0

The auction ended in 4 in both rooms. In the open room, Cenk's 6 lead gave declarer a trick, but instead of the double-dummy line of ruffing two diamonds and surrounding the QJ6 with a ruffing finesse for 11 tricks, declarer chose a line that resulted in Deep Finesse's estimate of 10 tricks assuming a heart lead.

Zach got the more challenging 6 lead in the closed room. He won the 9 in dummy and temporized by leading a low diamond. The A play from North was ruffed followed by a toward the queen which left Zach with 11 tricks and enough to win the board. 

 

Board 2.

West
A109752
105
64
A83
North
QJ3
QJ943
Q93
K2
East
4
A62
AJ1072
J954
South
K86
K87
K85
Q1076
W
N
E
S
 
P
1N
P
2
P
P
2
P
2N
X
3
P
P
X
P
P
3
X
P
P
P
D
3X East
NS: 0 EW: 0

The auction in the open room can be thought of as indicative. I don't recall too clearly when the doubling started. When the dust settled, we were defending 3x. Actually it was still kicked up. Cenk's low lead could have allowed declarer to get out for down 1--a lead forces down 2. I vaguely recall declarer ruffing a and exitting to North. I exited K and we somehow managed to hold declarer to 4 aces and 3 ruffs. +300.

In the closed room, it went something like 1-P-1-P; 2-P-2 all pass. On the Q lead, Adam ducked. North played a second and Adam won. Adam led a ducked to North. North tapped declarer with a third .  Adam led a diamond finessing. South won and played a club ducked to North's king. North tried a fourth heart. Adam claimed taking 8 tricks. Plus +110. Our double win was such that if we did one trick worse at each table, we still would have won the board. I'd say we'd need to work on telescoping our wins, but we (temporarily) scored 100% anyway.

The results of the first round are as follows: http://www.eurobridge.org/repository/competitions/15Tromso/microsite/Asp/BoardDetails.asp?qmatchid=25960

 

In Round 2, we played two boards against the China Trienergy team. http://www.eurobridge.org/repository/competitions/15Tromso/Regside/participantsDetailTeams.asp?qteamid=BEIJING%20TRINERGY@1114

Board 3.

North
J2
7543
652
A853
South
AKQ1098
KJ98
KQ4
W
N
E
S
2
P
2
P
4
P
P
P

The 2 response to our strong opening bid was to play. The opening lead in the open room was the A. This was ruffed. I drew two trump winning the jack then played a diamond to the jack and queen. They tapped dummy. I drew the last trump and played three rounds of clubs--they did not break. Now I played a diamond toward dummy and the doubleton ace played. Making 4 for +420.

West
76
Q10986
Q1043
106
North
J2
7543
652
A853
East
543
AKJ2
A7
J972
South
AKQ1098
KJ98
KQ4
W
N
E
S
1
P
1NT
P
3
P
3
P
4
P
P
P
D
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0

South declared after a more natural auction in the closed room. The opening lead was the 10. Declarer won and drew three rounds of trump. Then three rounds of clubs ending in dummy. A diamond was played to the jack and queen. After a tap, declarer led the K to the ace, now a second tap. Declarer's extra guess, which was wrong, ended up costing an extra trick losing two tricks to the last two diamonds. Down 1 scored +50 and another win for for Texan and the Yanks.

 

 

 

 

Board 4.

West
7542
8543
J952
3
North
K9762
Q843
Q765
East
AQ963
QJ
107
A1094
South
KJ108
A10
AK6
KJ82
W
N
E
S
P
P
1
X
2
3
P
3NT
P
P
P
D
3NT South
NS: 0 EW: 0

We had a weird strong balanced double, transfer Lebensohl auction with the weird inference that holding 5, I can have at most 8 HCP and if so only 0-1 control. (This is because we play 1M 1st and 2nd seat as 4+M 8-10.) As an imps person, I hate reporting this auction passing nt with a 0544 hand, but it's matchpoints. I'm grateful to Cenk for sparing me the Hobson's choice of bidding 3 over 3 to suggest NT myself or bidding NT with nothing at all in to put the strong hand on lead.

The 7 was led and the ace won and if I recall correctly, continued. Cenk made 10 tricks by working on . I forget whether he lost the jack or 8 of hearts. He also lost the two black aces. +1 for +630.

In the closed room, they presumably had an auction to the effect of P-P-1-1N; 2-X-P-3N; P-P-P 

After the first trick, 7 to the 5, 9 and jack, declarer tried the K, ducked. Declarer now drove clubs and East continued clubs. Declarer exited with the fourth round of clubs pitching a heart from dummy. East won and exited the 10. It gets hazy now, but I think declarer won and played two rounds of hearts finessing. East exited his last diamond. Declarer cashed his hearts and exited a diamond. Declarer took 2, 3, 3 and 1 for 9 tricks.

Just making. -600 and another matchpoint for Texan and the Yanks.

Here's our scorecard from the second round: http://www.eurobridge.org/repository/competitions/15Tromso/microsite/Asp/BoardDetails.asp?qmatchid=25998

Next hand: tragicomedy.

Board 5.

The next two boards were played against NOE BAK http://www.eurobridge.org/repository/competitions/15Tromso/Regside/participantsDetailTeams.asp?qteamid=NOE%20BAK@1114

Apologies guys, for the board's tragicomedy.

West
AK
J10732
A
KJ1042
North
9852
A5
J5
Q7653
East
J64
Q9
86432
A98
South
Q1073
K864
KQ1097
W
N
E
S
P
P
2
X
4
5
P
6
X
P
P
P
D
6X West
NS: 0 EW: 0

I was a little flustered and under a little time pressure. I did not notice when the tray came back that I had already passed first seat! Our 2 5+ 15+ gadget had come up again (not!). I gave my screenmate a misexplanation. My partner gave the correct explanation of 3-14 5+. I jumped to 4 which I thought had a fair chance of making. I realized my mistake when I went to lead to 6x. The director was called. He said it was too late to reopen the auction so just play it. This went down 4 for +800.

Meanwhile, in the closed room, with correct alerts on both sides of the screen they had the auction P-P-1-1; x-xx-2-3N; X-P-P-4; X-P-P-P.

The Grossack fantasy auction was just as deceptive as ours, but totally intentional as a bluff. By playing a progressive trump coup, this made 4. +510.

Oddly, the ruling in the open room was that the table result stands. Even correcting the auction back to 4x-2 would still have been a win. If I was a cat, I would have lost one of my nine lives on this board (and maybe another on the next!)

 

Board 6.

Everyone was a little on tilt for this one in both rooms.

West
AKJ
Q9543
Q97
J2
North
9
K872
AK62
A654
East
1087652
10
43
K1073
South
Q43
AJ6
J1085
Q98
W
N
E
S
 
P
1N
2
X
2
P
P
X
2
P
P
X
P
P
P
D
2X East
NS: 0 EW: 0

I was caught in my own doubling tempo and missed 3N which only makes on its own declared from the South. Partner led the 8. Declarer not unreasonably played me for Qx of and went down 1 in a cold contract. +200 and another cat's life lost. Like Shröedinger's Cat, we were living on borrowed time.

In the closed room, it went P-P-1-P; 2-2N-P-P; P. They got to 2N in the South, but only made 8 tricks for -120.

Two more matchpoints for Texan and the Yanks. In the lobby, the leaderboard shows we're in a two-way tie for 1st.

http://www.eurobridge.org/repository/competitions/15Tromso/microsite/Asp/BoardDetails.asp?qmatchid=26036

All of this drama was rattling the usually unflappable Cenk. Up next we played Kolata and Kandemir from SAYILKAN. http://www.eurobridge.org/repository/competitions/15Tromso/Regside/participantsDetailTeams.asp?qteamid=SAYILKAN@1114

They were the other half of Texan and the Turks, our Oostende team from the 6th European Open Bridge Championships two years prior. Suleyman Kolata likes to call me "Uncle" and pull my ear when he knows I can play better. I call him nephew. In Oostende, we placed 17th in the teams narrowly missing qualifying for the knockouts by a fraction of an imp. Kolata and Kandemir would do very well later in Tromsø in the pairs, finishing 11th in the final.

On that day in Tromsø, they were instrumental in teaching Texan and the Yanks a lesson of hubris.

Board 7.

West
Q1053
95
Q1042
KJ7
North
KJ987
Q86
97
A106
East
42
10432
AK65
982
South
A6
AKJ7
J83
Q543
W
N
E
S
1
P
1NT
P
3
P
4
P
P
P
D
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0

A couple of years ago, Cenk's explanation of the south hand having 15-16 and 2=4=3=4 would have been right. But our current agreement is 3=1=5=4. Alas this gave us no shot of reaching 4 which makes losing a club and two diamonds.

Suleyman was Cenk's screenmate and had the incorrect information about our agreement, but the correct information about Cenk's hand. Despite being a great player, Ismail's signals may have confused him. Ismail was given the correct information. Suleyman could have beaten the contract if he had simply ignored Ismail's plays, but made a mistake and let the contract through. +620. The director was called. 

In the closed room, the auction was likely (with E/W uncharacteristically passing throughout) 1N-2; 2-3N; P. The opening lead was the 2. The key to beating 3N appears to be establishing a club trick before cashing a third diamond. Otherwise west will end up being squeezed or end played or both. Hard to read early enough. If only three diamonds are taken before exiting, in one variant, West can be squeezed in three suits. -600 left us net +20 and another matchpoint, but there's a ruling pending.

To mix yet another metaphor, the Sword of Damocles now was over our heads.

Board 8.

West
64
K843
10764
A87
North
A53
Q975
K83
KQ4
East
2
AJ2
AQJ2
96532
South
KQJ10987
106
95
J10
W
N
E
S
P
1
P
3
P
4
P
P
P
D
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0

About all that could be said for this contract is that it was a good save vs. 3m by EW since it wasn't doubled. -2 for -100.

In the closed room, it went 1-1-3-4!; 4-P-P-X!; P-P-P

The Grossacks brought down the hammer and also beat it two for +300. We were temporarily in sole possession of the lead with 100% in four straight rounds. How long could our luck, skill and sheer hubris hold out? Not long, nemesis was not far away.

http://www.eurobridge.org/repository/competitions/15Tromso/microsite/Asp/BoardDetails.asp?qmatchid=26074

The leaderboard even reflects this high water mark.

Rank 1, 14 MPs against rank 2, 15 MPs. The method of our nemesis will wait until after the description of our last match of the stanza. http://www.eurobridge.org/repository/competitions/15Tromso/microsite/Asp/RoundTeams.asp?qtournid=1114&qroundno=4

 

 

We played the last two boards of the stanza against AKQJ from Russia and Latvia. http://www.eurobridge.org/repository/competitions/15Tromso/Regside/participantsDetailTeams.asp?qteamid=AKQJ@1114

My wife's license plate is AKQJT. People ask her, "What's the T?"

If I pitch a shut-out in a twelve-board match against the GIBs, why not in the BAMs?

Board 9.

West
K1097
KQ103
K9
AJ10
North
AQ843
5
AJ543
32
East
52
8742
Q82
K765
South
J6
AJ96
1076
Q984
W
N
E
S
1
P
1
1NT
2
P
P
P
D
2 North
NS: 0 EW: 0

Playing 10-14 2 openers and relay, we leave some 5 hands for our nebulous club. Specifically bal 13+-14, 5+4+, 55+m, 3-suiters and 7321. The opening lead was a low club. I don't remember what the misdefense was. It might have been that they never played trump when I didn't and I ended up ruffing a diamond with my jack promoting my 8.

+110.

The closed room also was in 2. A x was led, 9, T. Now K to the ace. Now diamond to the 9, J and Q. 7 ruff. Declarer is now tapped out with no entries to the dummy and West still has a heart exit and a club exit. When the smoke cleared, it was +100 for the defense. Another double win.

Next page, the final board and the appearance of nemesis.

 

Board 10.

West
543
KQ9
AKJ102
95
North
Q1086
105
53
AQJ108
East
AK972
64
Q6
K432
South
J
AJ8732
9874
76
W
N
E
S
1NT
2
3
P
3
P
3NT
P
P
P
D
3NT East
NS: 0 EW: 0

I must not have asked if 1N is weak or strong and bid 2. I started with the 7 (not the 2 like the score machine said--if they took off matchpoints for putting the correct lead into the bridgemate, we'd have closer to average). Declarer won and tried a spade to the 7. I won the singleton J and shifted to the 7 which Cenk ducked and declarer took the K. Had declarer been more optimistic in and more pessimistic or optimistic in , he could have taken 10 tricks, but ended with only 9 when the suit did not break. The pessimism in could have resulted in establishing the second after ducking the king. The optimism could have been finessing spades a couple more times. -600. This would be a good score according to deep finesse if you told it the other table was playing because it thinks best defense can hold spades to 9 tricks.

In the closed room, they were in 4 in the East. South led the 7. This was ducked to the king. A heart was led toward the table and South hopped ace. Now a spade was led to the ace and declarer exited with a club. North won and led a diamond. Declarer won the q in hand, then ruffed a , next the Q. North ruffed high and declarer pitched a from east and claimed. If clubs had been continued when declarer exited with a , the singleton J could have scored which could well have beaten the hand. Making 4 for 620. 

We compared and by the 8th win in a row, we knew this was a special set. 10 out of 10 wins. If the odds are roughly 1/3 for a win, 1/3 for a loss and 1/3 for a tie each match, then the chance of winning 10 out of 10 is about 1 in 60,000. If half the boards are ties on average, then 1 in a million. If there's never a tie (which is not a terrible approximation given the North-South system), then it's only about 1 in a 1,000.

The final round score:

http://www.eurobridge.org/repository/competitions/15Tromso/microsite/Asp/BoardDetails.asp?qmatchid=26112

And indeed we did not win 10 out of 10. The director ruled that on Board 7, nemesis had struck and in the strange rules of misinformation and screens in Europe, they permit Suleyman to defend and get confused despite his knowing Cenk's actual hand pattern. The adjustment was made to 90%. Even if 3N was beaten in the closed room on Board 7, we still would no longer have our 100% stanza. We were still in first place, but now tied again with 9 of the first 10. So that's why our first 100% stanza is both in our past and in our future.

It was a great pleasure to play the rest of the event with Cenk, Adam and Zach. In the final standings we ended in a tie for 7-10th place out of 78 teams.

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