Squeezing The Dummy

Thursday, June 30, 2005

San Antonio: Part 2

After winning our first match of the knockouts , we arrive the next day just before the 9:00 game time. We are going to play a round robin with one inexperienced but dangerous team and another very experienced team captained by Colby Vernay.

It is decided that Patty and I will play the first half and sit out the second. We start against the Vernay team and have an uneventful set. I went for 800 against their 660 or 690, and had a few plus positions on partscore hands. Nothing eventful. The match against the weaker team was much the same. We bid a poor game that went down, and had a potential partscore swing. When we compared we were down 15 (after handicap) to the weaker team and up 4 against the stronger team. We sat out and our teammates managed to win the match that we were losing by 15 and lose the other one. For the second session we advanced with one win and one loss.

In the semi-finals Patty and I played the whole time. We were playing against a team of tough locals that were very experienced. We had a solid first set with some plus positions. One of my weaknesses is perhaps not doubling enough partscores at imps. The upside of this is that when I do make a penalty double, my partner knows they can safely sit. Patty had KQ54 8642 A973 8. She opened 1 in third seat (anything goes...) and heard it go X, 2(drury)-p to her. She retreated to 2-p-p-3-p-p-X. She had no qualms about sitting and we collected 500. My trumps were AKT94. We compared at half and were up 36 or so. In the second half the boards were pretty dull other than a pushed grand, and despite a few soft boards we picked up another 3 imps to advance.

In the finals we once again met the Vernay team. Patty and I played the first set and there were two interesting slam deals. The first one I had: KQ AKT82 AT943 3. I opened 1 and partner responded 2, GF. I bid 2 and partner bid 2. I showed my 5-5 with a 3 call and partner bid 4. I have a great hand now and an easy keycard bid. Partner replied 5 showing 1 or 4. I didn't want to risk a disaster with 5 so I just bid 6 to offer a choice. It went all pass and a spade was led. This is what I saw:


Oops! What happened? Partner apparently answered keycard in diamonds even though this is not our agreement. The important thing here is to keep your cool. I said "Thank you partner," and followed suit while keeping my poker face. RHO won the ace, and assuming we knew what we were doing continued spades. When nothing bad happened in the red suits I had made six. I was also impressed with my opponents who didn't say a word; they just pulled the cards for the next board.

The other slam hand we had was when I picked up: K632 852 AK3 972. Partner opened 1 and I had to decide what to do. Usually with three small trumps and 4333 10 counts I just bid 2. I liked the controls in this hand, though, and tried 1N planning on giving a 3-card limit raise. Pard surpised me with a jump to three clubs. I do not think a jump to 4 should just show any 3 card limit raise as you are just preempting your own auction. There are many hands that need to hear another bid from partner. Those of you who read this know what I mean. Accordingly, I bid 3 and partner bid 4. I hated my round suit holdings, and the spade king was dubious so I chose to pass. Perhaps wrong, but probably not as wrong as partners 4 bid with T AKQ32 J5 AKQ93. Slam is not cold by any means but had partner bid 4 you would bid 4 and probably get there. Both suits broke, so slam makes. We went back to compare and our teammates have had a good set. We were up 33 at the half, pushing the second board. We went on to win 39 more in the second set to win by a total of 72.

Our teammates played well throughout, and it was very satisfying to win. Next, to do it again.

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Wednesday, June 29, 2005

San Antonio: Part 1

The San Antonio regional started today. I flew in a few hours early and my partner, Patty Lozano, picked me up. The first session of the knockout was scheduled to start at 7:00 PM. It then continues for 3 sessions on Wednesday if we keep winning our matches.

As we were on a 6-person team we didn't know if we were going to play the first set of 12 boards or not. As I used to live in San Antonio I was eager to catch up with people. We got to the playing area an hour early and were able to mingle and scout the competition. We found our teammates and it was decided Patty and I would play the first set with Derrell Childs and Nagy Kamel.

The first match was a round robin meaning we played two 12-board matches and could advance even if we lost a match. As I pulled the cards for the first board I totally went into a different world. There is something about pulling the cards from the board and touching them that really makes me change. The opponents are no longer friends or people; they are an obstacle in my way of winning.

The first opponents were fairly inexperienced players and I was worried when they had a very strange auction to reach a reasonable vulnerable slam that made. I knew it would be very tough for our teammates to bid, and expected a 13-imp loss. Combine this with the fact that we were giving them a handicap of 8.5 imps, and we had a lot of ground to make up. The rest of the match went well, including going +110 on a hand where they had a vulnerable game, and I was expecting to be stuck a little.

The second match was against familiar opponents that I knew would be tougher than the first. There was action again on the very first board. I picked up: AJ 5 AQ532 AQT84. With nobody vulnerable my RHO opened 2. What should I bid? I saw three options; double, 3, or 4N. Each had glaring flaws.

Double could get us to a notrump contract successfully, or enable us to find spades. The downside is if LHO bids something, we haven't described anything about our shape yet. We must bid diamonds and then clubs or things may get very confusing. If partner bids spades, it is even harder to know what to do. We may miss a club fit with this plan, or be forced into a tough guess later.

3 has safety on its side, we will probably never go for a number. We are also well placed if LHO bids 3 as we can bid 4. If partner bids spades or notrump, we will know she means it rather than having been forced to take a call because of a X. The downside is that this is a distinct underbid and may cause us to miss a game or lose the club suit.

4N will always get us to the right minor suit, but it may simply be too high. Worse, we may get doubled and go for a big number.

When all was said and done I decided on 4N, partially because I felt bad about bidding 3 after a 1-minute pause, and partially because I felt the need to get to the correct minor to be very strong. I rejected a X because the hand is just too complicated to start with a X. It could easily be the winning bid though.

Partner had 52 AJ43 J984 972. A 3 bid would get passed out for +110. 4N gets you -100 in 5. Double would get you Lebensohl, then you would bid 3 and it would be hard for partner to ever stop short of game, so call it -100 as well. -100 was a push.

We had solid results on all of the boards, and had made up the handicap (and the 13-imp loss) in the first match and were up 16 in the second. We sat out while our teammates Ellen and Ira Hessel played, and ended up advancing. They won the first match and lost the second. The second round will be another round robin, and then heads up play for the semi-finals and finals. Hopefully I will be able to wake up to play at 9:00 AM.

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