Squeezing The Dummy

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


I flew home two days ago after an exhausting 2 weeks of bridge. First was the San Diego regional, and from there I went to Gatlinburg. Overall I would say both of these tournaments were successes.

San Diego was a beautiful place to play a regional and had the most amazing weather I've ever seen. Being a Texan I'm not accustomed to anything other than scorching heat. I really enjoyed going on walks and being near the beach, it reminded me of when I lived in LA. I started off staying with my first time partner Grant Baze. We went over our card and knew what we were doing, but we did have an accident in the finals of a knockout because we had never played together before.

The auction went 1 on my left, X by Grant, 1 on my right, and I bid 2. Grant thought 2 would be the cuebid and 2 was natural, while I thought I was cuebidding. This resulted in an embarrassing down 5 in 2. In retrospect I think I shouldn't have risked bidding 2 undiscussed and that he shouldn't have risked passing. Generally it's best to safety play the auction and discuss it later. Grant was a great partner though and didn't say a word. This is a good auction for all partnerships to discuss, but we waited until after the session to discuss it. We lost this final by 3 so this was a decisive board.

We got redemption later in the week in a swiss team that we won in amazing fashion. With 1 round to go we were in third place pretty far back from first and second. We needed Joe Grue's team to get either 13 or 14 VPs, and we also needed a blitz. Basically we needed a miracle. We managed to get the parlay and ended with 93 VPs while the other two teams had 92 and 91 VPs.
Later in the week my friends from BBO, Phil Clayton and Matt Haag, came in and I got to party with them. We ended up going to Phil's house on a whim one night which was about an hour and a half drive (Orange County). It was a lot of fun and they were both great guys. Phil even grabbed an expensive dinner bill from me and refused to let anyone but himself pay.

Matt ended up being my nemesis in the next swiss team (where I played with Mike Passell as Grant had another date). We had to lead after 2 pass 4 with something like Kxxx of diamonds and xxx clubs and the spade ace. I opted for the aggressive lead of a diamond which let the contract make while Matt led a club. This match proved crucial as we ended up tied for second with Matt's team. I still like my diamond lead, I think it's best to lead aggressively on this type of auction as dummy will often have a long suit to establish and we need to set up our tricks first.

I was happy with how I played with Mike and Anita Cokins in the swiss teams, but early on in the knockouts with Grant I was playing terribly. I'm not sure why but I was very disappointed in my performance the first couple of days. My teammates Anita, Grant, Chris Compton, and later Mike Passell, all played very well. Luckily I was able to bounce back and play well at the end.

From San Diego I flew in to Knoxville and hung out with my best friend Jeremy Fournier. We had a good time, especially when we played Donkey Kong on SNES. I hadn't played that game in about 12 years but it was just like riding a bike, you never forget how to do it.

From there we drove to my house in Gatlinburg which was completely awesome. I had 9 roommates, all good friends of mine and mainly junior bridge players, and we had even more people coming over at night to hang out. Somehow I ended up playing pool for money even though I am a terrible pool player. Hustled yet again.

The bridge area was the craziest thing I had ever seen. There was a sea of people; I couldn't even find my teammates half the time. If you've never been to Gatlinburg, you should go, it is the biggest regional of the year. This year it broke 10,500 tables which is bigger than some nationals. There were 33(!!!) brackets of knockouts, and we were in the top bracket, so the competition was very tough. We ended up getting a 2nd and a 3rd/4th in 2 knockouts as well as winning 2 swisses. This was good for 120 masterpoints. That might sound like a lot, but there was a team that broke 230 masterpoints! That is the most anyone has ever won in a regional.

My teammates were John Kranyak, Kevin Bathurst, Shannon Cappelletti, and Stacy Jacobs. My partner was Ron Smith. I really loved this team and it had great harmony and chemistry. Everyone got along really well and played very well, and even in the heated post mortems no one ever said anything mean spirited. I really believe team harmony is important. Playing with Ron was a real pleasure, he encouraged me to do whatever I wanted and told me he would never hang me. Right he was!

One hand in third seat I opened light and Ron did not force to game with KTx AJxxx xxxx x. Remarkably I ended up in 3 making (they could have beaten me) with the opponents cold for slam! Ron didn't hang me with 5 trumps and a stiff by bidding 4, instead just giving a limit raise and figuring out by the opponent's 1 minute hesitations that he should just pass me in 3. Ron was also a very encouraging partner and never said a mean word.

Everyone on our team played well and I was happy with my play other than two hands. It was always fun to compare with Shannon because she would always have a ridiculous +600 on her card from nowhere. I started expecting it, and the one time she didn't have one of those Stacy did!

It looks like I will be playing a lot more this year so I'm going to buy a laptop so I can actually blog from the tournaments. I know I had a lot of good hands but just can't remember them right now. It's pretty much all a blur. I really love playing though and am looking forward to playing more.

Update: It turns out that Stacy has other talents besides bridge; she is also a blogger/writer. She wrote about Gatlinburg as well and has a picture of our team so go to her blog if you want to read more.



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