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Why is this day different from all others?
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(Warning: the following is an obnoxious and egotistical rant. Hope you enjoy it.)

We are playing the Houston Regional (strong field, well-run, reasonable venue but a bit crowded). Today was a "bracketed swiss." Top nine teams by masterpoints in the first bracket. We have good teammates and in total close to 50,000 masterpoints. (Other than Gatlinburg, 50,000 is usually top bracket.) I buy the entry early. When our team number is posted we sit down against two men I have never seen before and we are sitting in the second row. I say to Annie, "This doesn't look right" and I go and talk to the director before the first match starts. I say, "I think we are in the wrong flight", to which the director responds, "You are in the second flight now." She produces the print out that shows us on the cusp and the top team in bracket 2.

I know this sounds totally arrogant but we didn't come to Houston to play in the second flight. The first flight includes Meckstroth, Wold, Passell, Versace, "Louk and Rico", Hampson, ... and the list goes on. My goal is always to play against the toughest opponents that I can.

Angrily, I return to our assigned table when I look at two young bridge pros each playing with a client sitting in the first bracket. Their masterpoint total is nowhere near 50,000. I think I accosted them when I asked one of them, "How come you are in the top bracket?" to which he replied, "We asked to be in the top bracket." We had been bumped for them.

A director informed me it was too late to change even though we had not played a board. (This problem might be alleviated by having a rule that requires entries to be purchased 15 minutes before the event starts, rather than allowing sales up to play time and then suffering the confusion of rushing to your table 15 minutes after the published start time.)

So, we played the second flight. Do you want to hear how my day went? I kid you not:

1. First round we played against a player who took between 10 and 15 seconds to play his singleton.

2. Then our second round opponents laid the following on us:

West
xx
AKxxx
Jxxx
Ax
North
Qx
xxx
x
QJ10xxxx
East
AKxxxx
AK10xx
Kx
South
Jxx
QJxxx
Qxx
xx
W
N
E
S
3
X
P
4
P
4
P
5
P
6
P
P
P
D
6 West
NS: 0 EW: 0

4S was described by West as keycard in hearts with 5D showing two without the HQ. He passed 6D.

3. Third round:

1N-(P)-2C-(2H)

and without being asked, advancer says, "I am taking that as both majors."

The auction then proceeded

P-(P)-2S-(P)

P-(P).

Hazard to guess how many spades and hearts advancer had for his passes of 2H and 2S? (4 of each)

4. Fourth round we played three boards (8 matches of six boards on the day) against two gentleman before it was discovered that they were at the wrong table. The directors ultimately throw out 3 boards but give both sides 3 imps for the boards that could not count. More on "the gentlemen" shortly.

In the "second half" of our fourth round match our opponents played in a cuebid.

W
N
E
S
1
P
1NT
P
P
2
P
P
P

1D was precision, limited and could be 2 diamonds. The 2D bidder thought it was "majors", his partner passed with Txx in diamonds. (We have seen this accident before.) Of course, the 2D bidder was 4=4=4=1, and while they were cold for 3H, they still brought back a plus.

So we make it to the eighth match and we meet " the gentlemen" we had played against for three boards in round 4.

North
K754
972
84
AKQ6
South
J3
AKJ103
Q52
J53

The auction started with East. I sat South.

(P)-1H-(2D)-4H all pass.

4H was alerted as being part of a limited opening bid system.

The opponents said they were playing upside down carding.

The defense started DA-DK, with East playing the D3 followed by the D6. West shifted to the S8. I think opponents rarely lead from the Q in this position so I flew SK. East cashed the SA, SQ while West played the S2 and a third spade. I ruffed with the HT and West played the ST. I cashed the HA and West played the H8. You have arrived at:

North
7
97
AKQ4
South
KJ3
Q
J53

After much thought, I turned to West and said, "I am going to play you for having made a good play" as I banged down the HK. 

He pitched a diamond and I ended down three. Here is the entire deal:

West
1082
8
AK1097
10842
North
K754
972
84
AKQ6
East
AQ96
Q653
J63
97
South
J3
AKJ104
Q52
J53
D

I had put West on T82, Q8, AKJxxx, xx. If West thinks declarer has AKJTx of hearts, then when the third round diamond is ruffed in dummy with the H9 and not overruffed, his HQ will get picked off. Alas, a play for another day.

(When the deal was over, my wife was heard to say, "You over-thought that." "The gentlemen" won the prestigious second flight. We were third.)

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