Squeezing The Dummy

Sunday, July 03, 2005

San Antonio: Part 5

Morning Knockouts: Today was the semi-finals of the morning knockouts. We met a team captained by Colby Vernay again, and were in the first half. Colby impressed me again, this time with his ethics. I opened 1N 14-16, and he overcalled 2 which his partner alerted as showing both majors. When his partner bid 2 he passed when it got doubled. They actually played 2 showed one major. They went -1100 when Colby actually held hearts and moved on to the next board. Some players may try to correct to 3, but this would be wrong. Without the alert the 2 bid would be a long suit and almost always get passed. Greg and I also doubled a 4 contract and beat it when declarer misguessed trumps. Our only bad board was my fault. I held: K42 5 Q63 AKJ872. Partner opened 1 which could be as few as 2. I responded 2 and partner bid 2N, 14-16. I tried 3 and partner bid 3. Now I should just bid 3N because we could still be worried about diamonds as 1 might be short. Instead I bid 3 and we got to an inferior 5 game that went down. I don't like the 3 bid at all in retrospect. We were up 12 at the half and sat out, and our team picked up another 40 or so with us out. Tomorrow is the final.
Knockout 2 Session 1: Today a new knockout started. I was playing with my father and Bob and Petra Hamman. My dad is a great player and I was excited he came in. We are almost always on the same wavelength because he was my main bridge teacher. We spent an hour reviewing our system notes, and then had to play. We drew a decent team from Dallas and a team that included Derrell Childs and Alan Copeland. In the first set against the Dallas team we bid a fair slam that made, and had solid but flat results otherwise. In the second set I pushed the opponents into a slam by overcalling 3 with T987532 T8 -- T942 with nobody vulnerable. The slam happened to make, but otherwise we had some solid plus positions. We went to compare, and both slam hands were swings. We were up 10 in the first match and 4 in the second match. Nothing eventful happened and we picked up another 4 in the second match and pushed in the first match. We won both matches, one by 8 and one by 10. I thought we played very well but there wasn't much in the cards.

Knockout 2 Session 2: In the second session we had another round robin. We drew a team that included Darlene Riely, my partner in crime from the Thursday midnight game, and a fair team captained by Mike Miller. The deals were very swingy, and everything we seemed to do was right. This is what Zia calls heat 1. After 12 boards we were up 49 in one match and 38 in the other. The exceptional thing was that we didn't give up an imp. The second set was more of the same, with an inordinate amount of slam deals. One hand was particularly brutal for my partner, but he did very well. He held: T84 AJ A74 J9862. After my strong club, his RHO interfered with a 3 bid. In our system, X is negative and GF, and pass is non forcing. This hand really shows the weakness of our system, but he still had to choose a bid. He started with X, hoping for a 3N bid. When I bid 4 I could have anywhere from 4 to 9 hearts. He might well pass here, but he made a winning bid of 5. I lifted it to 6 and made it. My hand was 2 KQ92 KT42 AKQ7. We bid a few more slams, and our final margins of victory were 60 and 71. Hopefully things go this well tomorrow, but it seems doubtful.

Midnight Knockout 2: I got on a 5 man team for the late night knockouts. I know, I'm crazy. My team was Patty, Alan Copeland, Derrell Childs, and Kathryn Locke. I sat out the first match, then played with Alan in the second. He is one of the few people I have played with that is faster than I am. He would actually claim BEFORE he saw dummy, and was right every time. I played with Patty in the semi-final match against a team that included Jeff Ford. Jeff was our teammate in Thursday's midnight game, but now he was the enemy. The match was decided on a 32 point slam that patty and I bid and the other table didn't. The heart suit was KQ92 opposite J53. This needed to come home for 3 winners, and there was also a squeeze possible. It's about even money, and this time it went down. We ended up losing by about 13.

On a side note, I am in contention for winning the whole tournament. The "winner" of a tournament is the person who wins the most masterpoints. Though I don't care about masterpoints, winning a tournament is a good achievement. I was happy with the way I played today and this is added incentive for me to keep it up. I'm going to give it all I've got.

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Saturday, July 02, 2005

San Antonio: Part 4

Morning Knockouts: Having survived the first round of the morning knockouts, our team was set to play another round robin. We drew a strong team from Dallas captained by Steve Kornegay that I was very familiar with and an inexperienced team that I didn't know. We were spotting the inexperienced team 11 imps and getting 1 from the Kornegay team. Greg and I played the first half and easily made up the handicap. I kind of felt bad, I opened an extremely light third seat hand and the opponents missed a game. In bracket one regionals, though, I tend to do whatever I feel is right no matter who the opponents are. It is a high enough level that the opponents should be able to deal with it. We had a decent set against Kornegay; getting to a slam with a strong club auction that is very hard to manage in a standard system and beating a light game two tricks. We did miss a 50 % slam that makes and my partner chose an unfortunate opening lead against a game. He had KT93 of hearts and QJ82 of diamonds. The opponents got to 3N, and he chose a diamond lead. Only a heart lead sets the contract. When we compared we were up 4 (after handicap) to the weaker team and up 8 or so to Kornegay. Our counterparts missed both slams, but we lost a game swing on the hand where Greg led a diamond. In the second set we crushed the weak team and had a solid said against the Kornegay team. I should have beaten a game that they misplayed but didn't, but I knew that would be a push. We also defeated a game that might have been made, and we ended up winning both matches by around 20 imps. We finally advanced from a round robin actually winning all of our matches. Hopefully that's a good sign.

Open Pairs Session 1: For the afternoon and evening sessions I played with Derrell Childs. The event was a 2 session open pair game. I have only played with Derrell once or twice in my life and was looking forward to this event. I have can't even remember the last time I played a regional pair game. We filled out a simple card and were ready to play. I was glad we didn't play many conventions, I strongly believe people that never play together should keep it simple. We started out horribly, playing unlucky and poorly. I had a massive brain fart and wasn't making winning decisions, and he misdefended a doubled contract. We finally got some momentum going with 3 rounds to go, and on the second to last round I picked up a crucial hand. I held: K KT842 AK3 Q843. Partner opened 1 and I responded 2. He splintered with 4 and I bid keycard, loving my hand. Partner bid 5 showing 2 without the queen. Now something strange happened. RHO asked me what 5 meant. I knew we were off 1 keycard and the queen of trumps, but decided to hope partner had the jack or for a 2-2 split. I didn't think RHO had the queen after the question, so I figured I could pick up the queen for a good board. After bidding 6, LHO quickly led the ace of clubs. Dummy was:


LHO now shifted to a diamond, again immediately. The tempo of her plays suggested strongly that she had the queen of trumps, but the fact that she made no effort to tap the dummy meant she did not have it. I decided to just play her to have made a bad play. I won the diamond in hand, cashed the spade king, and led a heart to the jack. When that held, I ruffed a spade and pulled trumps to make my slam. Obviously LHO should have continued clubs. We had good boards on the last round and managed a 54.5% game, not bad considering.

Open Pairs Session 2: We were not out of the hunt after our afternoon game, but needed at least a 65% to have a shot. Derrell really played great this whole session, and the opponents played terribly. Again, I felt like every decision I was making was working out poorly. I'm not sure if I was just unlucky or making poor decisions, but I was definitely dropping a lot of matchpoints. Despite Derrell playing perfectly and our enormous luck, we only managed a 63 % game. I felt badly about this result but it was good enough to come in second. Derrell really deserved to win, and I wish I had played better. He is having a great tournament, he has won a knockout, a swiss, and been second in a 2 session pair game. He did lose in the finals of the premier event, the midnight KOs, though. He was part of Alan Copeland's team from part 3.

Overall I was unhappy with my play today. I know I could have done better, and think I was just tired. Bad decisions happen, but there were two boards today where I made costly no-win plays. These are just unacceptable. I'm glad I had partners good enough to carry me in, and am going to refocus tomorrow. No more sloppy play.

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Friday, July 01, 2005

San Antonio: Part 3

Morning Knockouts: Today was the first session of the morning knockouts. This is an event that goes on for four morning sessions (beginning at 9:00) instead of being played continuously. I was playing with Greg Hinze on a team with Ira Hessel, Alex Kolesnik, Nagy Kamel, and Derrell Childs. Greg is one of my favorite partners and it was exciting to play with him. We sat out the first set since I had to give a lecture for the novice/intermediates, but came in during the second set. We were in a round robin and came in down 14 and down 1. The team we came in down 14 against was pretty weak. After beating them 500 in 1 doubled, we kept pouring it on. At one point I held: 4 J8632 T82 A652. RHO started with 1, LHO bid 2 and partner Xed. RHO bid 4 and I had to decide what to bid. As we were favorable, and the opponents seemed likely to take the push I tried 5. RHO did take the push, and got Xed by partner. The contract was cold but she went down 1. We knew we had made up the margin plus another 20 most likely. We played a strong team in the second match and had the worst of it. The boards were fairly flat but they missed a good game that went down, and we bid a close game that might have been made but didn't. Predictably we lost the second match by about 10, and won the first match by about 30. It seems to be a trend, but we advanced with a 1-1 record.

Swiss Session 1: After the morning KOs was a one day swiss. I was playing with Patty again as well as Vinh Tran and Ed Groner. The format in Texas swiss team events is 6 matches on a VP 30 scale. I really don't like this format as it seems to randomize things the most, but there's not much I can do about it. We lost to a decent team from Austin in the first round by 2 imps. In the second match we got a good draw and scored a near blitz. We didn't really have anything to do, but the opponents just played poorly. An example would be RHO transferring and passing opposite partners 1N opener. RHO had 9 points and 5 hearts and missed a cold game. This big win was not earned, it was handed to us. In the third match we lost to another good team by 8 imps. There was one swing board where our teammates bid a vul game, down 2, and our opponents stopped in 2. That was lose 9, and the match. Again, there were few decisions or swing boards, and after 3 matches we were a little over average. This was surprising given that we were 1-2.

Swiss Session 2: I was determined to do well in the second session. We started out with another set that had very few swings. We got the best of this one and won by 6 imps. In the second match we played an experienced team that I have known for a long time. There were finally some swings and we seemed to be getting the better of it. Although we had no sure hands where we won imps, we had quite a few plus positions. Plus positions are boards that can only be good or a push. If you have enough of these, some will convert into imps. One of our plus positions was actually a lose 12. We found a good save against the opponents 5 contract and managed to go down 1. At the other table the save was found but our teammates let it in. Oops. Despite this we won by 21 and were in the hunt. We were fourth with one round to go, and although first was unlikely a win would probably get us second. This was no easy task as the team we faced included one of the greatest in the world, Mark Lair. We had a flat set except for partner letting in a red game. This was partially due to fatigue and partially playing too fast in order to keep up with the tempo. Everyone else at the table was extremely fast, and I should have slowed down the tempo in order to be a good partner. I was pretty sure we lost this match, and our partners did not have a good set either so we got blitzed. There was an amusing hand where I was in 1N making one. My hand was: T9 QT62 QT86 AQ7. Partner opened 1 and I responded 1. Partner bid 1 and I chose to just bid 1N. After the best lead and a misguess I was held to 1. At the other table Mark bid 2N with my hand and made FOUR in 3N. The defense didn't get off to the best start and Mark played perfectly thereafter, go figure. I think after getting blitzed we missed the overalls. This was a disappointing finish but you can't win 'em all.

Midnight KOs: I played on a six man team in the midnight KOs (which started at 10:30). My teammates were Darlene Riely, Nancy and Steve Kornegay, and Patty Lozano and Jeff Ford. We brought the Kornegays in as ringers since we were challenged by Alan Copeland to form a team that could beat his. The Kornegays are excellent players and it showed in the matches that Darlene and I were in. They were awesome. I thought we had lost both times but they always had a +50 card it seemed like. We met Alan's team in the final and pulled off the win. The whole point was pride, so it was very nice to beat him in the final.

Sorry, not a lot of hands but I'm tired from the four session day. Four session days are really not recommended.

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