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Philadelphia Nationals, Final Weekend: Roth Open Swiss and A/X Swiss
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On Saturday our Micro-Spingold team of me, Randy, Kevin and Doug entered the Roth Open Swiss, one of about 190 teams in the event. I think it's probably the largest event I've ever entered!

In the first match, sitting N/S, we were paired against a couple of younger excellent bridge players. We played well, I thought, bidding and making most games and staying out of one bad game. I thought we might have a winning score. Our teammates came back, and on one board we were in one spade while the other team was in game (given the less than minimum I had, it was amazing to me that the other side got to game). On another board, we were in a makeable contract, while they went down 1. The remaining five boards were tied! We lost by 2 IMPs. Imagine my surprise when Gavin came over to have me sign the victory slip... we had been playing the Fireman team! I was really happy to have played them so close. (In all fairness, the boards probably weren't that challenging, but still...)

The next match we got blitzed. Not a single IMP for our side. Ouch! The next match WE blitzed. The team we blitzed was having a very bad time of it, and withdrew from the event shortly after. We lost to Danny Sprung's team before the half by 3. Based on the first four matches, we were feeling pretty good about our chances, as we were only a smidge below average.

We won our first match after lunch against a Canadian Junior team, who were very good. It was a mixed pair at our table, and for some reason, only the women declared. The next match we lost pretty badly.

The swing board was a board that was of the type that we still haven't learned how to handle well. We had a competitive auction, where we were bidding spades, and they had clubs. We pushed them to six clubs and then had to decide: are they going to make it or go down? Bid on, or sac? We chose to pass, and the declared played the contract masterfully, finessing the 8 to bring in 6 for +1370. At the other table, our teammates were in 5, making 5, because they only had to make 5. Had we sacrificed, we would have only lost a couple of IMPs rather than 13 as we did. Live and learn! We bid failed to make five diamonds in another contract which they made at the other table. It was an extremely tricky contract, and the team that beat us didn't slip a trick.

The next match we played against a team I named "bored with us". At every opportunity, sometimes less than half way through a contract, they would claim. They'd claim if I was declaring "You're going to make 5, next hand" or if we were defending "Down 1". We set every contract they declared, as they were extremely aggressive about bidding games. I was sure we'd won. Our teammates came back with a similar scorecard, only the defense had been better and we wound up losing by 6. It's possible that we should have taken more time to carefully examine the claims, but I suspect they were just that much better than us.

Going into the last match, I felt that our chances were still good for qualifying. Our losses weren't terrible, and if we could win the last match, we would Q. However, it was not to be. The last team we faced spanked us badly, and we were blitzed for the second time in the day.

I felt good about the way we played overall -- clearly there are areas we need to improve, but we weren't totally outmatched. And, some of us got our first Platinum points for our two match wins (1.06 to be exact), so that was pretty cool! Next year we'll do better.

Sunday, Randy and Doug had had enough, so Kevin and I decided to play together and we found a really nice pair from New York, John and Ellen, who agreed to team with us. We entered the A/X Swiss. It was a relatively small field, since so many were still playing in the Roth.

We had a rocky start. We won our first mach by 4, lost our second match by 2, and got blitzed in our 3rd match when each side made some bad slam decisions. We won the fourth match by a small amount. We then turned it around to win the 4th and 5th matches handily, the 5th being a blitz.

In the sixth match, we faced an A team, when I picked up the most interesting hand of the match.

I was dealer, and we were red vs white:

North
AKJ109876
87
3
J9

I preempted 4, and the bidding proceeded as follows:

W
N
E
S
4
P
4NT
5NT
6
7
X
7
P
7
X
P
P
P

I bid 6 immediately over the 5N interference, because I had no idea what was going on and didn't want to lose out on another competitive slam auction. The opponents apparently felt the same way, and we set them four, for +800.

At the other table, the auction went:

W
N
E
S
4
P
P
5
P
P
5
P
P
X
P
P
P

Far more rational, right? Our teammates set them one, for +200, and we collected a nice 14 IMP gain on that one board.

The full hand is as shown:

West
Axx
KQJ10xxx
xxx
North
AKJ10xxxx
xx
x
J9
East
xx
QJxx
x
AQxxxx
South
Qxx
K10xx
Axxx
Kx
D

We won the match by 16, which allowed us to finish in 10th overall, and 3rd in X, for 14.40 gold. A great way to end the tourney!

Overall, it was a fantastic tournament... my best ever. I collected 48.73 MPs, made it to day 3 of two NABC events, got my first platinum in an NABC+ event, and had several top placings. We met some really nice people, and played against a lot of terrific competition.

I'm going to take a week off from bridge on vacation with my long-suffering but patient husband as we see the sights of NYC. Thanks for reading!

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