NEBridge - The View from B Low: Hyannis 2016

by Single-Session Swiss

Splat! Subway is at the top.

It is safe to say that no one’s tournament started worse than mine.

The trip to the Cape was easy enough. My wife’s car was having a midlife crisis, and so we took my trusty nine-year old Honda. We arrived at the hotel before noon, which gave Sue plenty of time to meet her teammates in the Open Swiss, one of whom had promised her a free lunch.

While the four of them were munching, the hotel clerk informed me that it was too early to check in. I decided to stroll over to Subway, which was perhaps one hundred yards from the hotel entrance, for lunch. To get there, you need to cross two streets, both of which are connected to the rotary. I could see no one driving on the first one, Scudder Ave. I began to jog across.

Splat! I must have stepped in an indentation on the edge of the road because I hit the pavement simultaneously with both knees, both wrists, and the right side of my chin. I have fallen flat on my face early in tournaments before, but this was the first time that I did so before even picking up the first hand.

I quickly scrambled to my feet and hurried across Scudder. The boo-boos were not too bad. My wrists and chin were not bleeding, and my pants were not ripped. I continued to Subway and consumed a tasteless sandwich and a Diet Coke. I then returned to the parking lot. By the time that I reached my car I could see small blood stains on my pants. I retrieved some Band-Aids from the trunk of my car and patched myself up. The pants were a mess, but I could not think of much to do about them. Besides, the photographers from GQ were not due until Thursday

I located my partner, Ann Hudson, and one of our putative teammates, Felix Springer, fairly easily. He was scheduled to play with Alan Godes. At 12:50 there was still no sign of Alan, and I walked over to the room in which the Swiss was being held. Nada. On the way back I ran into Felix, who told me that Alan had arranged for them to play in the Swiss with another pair. So, Ann and I bought an entry in the sectional pairs. We had not played together since Denver in November. It was probably for the best that we got to warm up in the pairs.

My play seemed reasonable at the time.

We did not do well in the first session. I might have been a little rattled. If so, hand #16 left me totally shaken. I was sitting West, holding the hand with the two six-baggers. I do not remember the auction, but I was lucky enough to play in 5♠ undoubled. When the spades split two-two, I made the horrible mistake of going to the board with a third round of spades in order to finesse diamonds. As I remember it, I soon ran out of trumps, and the last fifteen or sixteen tricks were hearts led by the opponents. I went down five!

Since North-South can make 5, and since many North-South teams doubled 5♠, our result was not horrendous. On the other hand, if I had just led diamonds and ruffed the third one, we would have had a terrific result. Sometimes it is best just to take your medicine.

I ate supper at Bogeys with Sue’s team and Helen Pawlowski. My Reuben sandwich was not bad, but the service was slow. Moreover, six people sitting around two small circular tables was not a very comfortable situation. I always try to avoid eating in hotel restaurants and bars. This was my last appearance in Bogeys.

Would you bid the granny?

Ann and I finished fifth in the evening session. One of our worst hands was #1. Ann, sitting East, opened 1♣. South overcalled 2♠. I wanted to bid my heart suit, but I was not positive that if I bid 3, Ann would consider it forcing. So, I bid 3♠, which was, I admit, cowardly, but certainly forcing. Ann bid 4♣, and I ignominiously passed. Thus we played a minor-suit partial and missed the opportunity to make an incredible grand slam with only twenty-eight points in an eight-card fit opposite a four-one trump split. And it did not even require a finesse!

After the session Ginny Iannini, the tournament chair, told me that Lucie Fradet was looking for a partner for Friday. I soon located Lucie, a player from the Hartford area whose very long quest for a few gold points I have followed from afar. I learned that she wanted to play in the 0-1500 Swiss on Friday. I assured her that I would persuade Felix to play with her, and Ann and I would be their teammates. I also exhibited a little hubris by promising her that we would win some gold. When I explained the scheme to Felix, who had already committed to playing with us on Thursday, he said that he would be happy to play with Lucie.

These louvers on our hotel room floor ...
... belonged on the closet door.

Sue and I grabbed breakfast on Thursday at the Gourmet Brunch. It was my third visit to that establishment and, just as on the other two occasions, Dick Budd from Maine and two ladies from Central Mass were there. My advice is to eschew the bland sausage.

Ann and I played in the 0-1500 Swiss with Felix and Steve Salidas. All four of us played pretty steady bridge all day, and in the sixth round we were matched up with the 6-0 team. We beat them by twenty IMPs, which vaulted us into first place. We also won the seventh round to maintain our spot in the standings. However in the last round there was not much to work with. We scored six pushes out of seven hands. In the other board North opened 1♣ at both tables. At our table South responded 1, and North jumped to 2NT, which went down two. Ann and I thought that this would be a good result. After all, South had made a reckless bid with only one queen. Declarer was left in a hopeless contract.

Mark Aquino turned his back on the other two members of the expert panel, Bob Bertoni and Bill Braucher, just as I snapped this photo.

Well, yes, but not as hopeless as playing 1♣ in a 1-3 fit, which is what happened at the other table. The contract went down five!

As it turned out, we had no chance of winning the event. The team that we defeated in the sixth round won the last round in a blitz and won the event rather easily. We slipped down to third. The four of us were disappointed, but we knew that we had played well.

Felix and Ann joined us for supper at Sam Diego’s. We went in separate cars, and ours arrived late because we ran into the Derrahs, who had just arrived at the hotel. I had been helping them teach bridge to sixth and seventh graders at Duggan Middle School in Springfield. The classes had been meeting every Thursday, and this was the first one that I had missed.

Bob told us that he had learned on his arrival at the school that because of some bureaucratic nonfeasance our bridge-teaching sessions had been canceled. He spent a long time trying to find out from the authorities at the school what was going on. In the end he got the assurance that the school supported the program and would continue it next year.

This shot of geese having breakfast on the golf course was taken from our hotel room.

We had a great time at SD’s. The food was scrumptious, the margaritas were relaxing, and the conversation was bubbly.

On Friday morning Sue and I were too stuffed to eat a big breakfast. I drove to Mickey D’s and picked up two breakfast sandwiches.

I may have pressed too much in our second foray in the 0-1500 Swiss. In the first few rounds we certainly not as successful as before, mostly because of my poor judgment. Ann and I missed one slam and bid two that were impossible to make. Still, we were a little above average at the lunch break. We did better in the afternoon, and we won the all-important eighth round by thirteen IMPs. We finished sixth out of twenty-six, and Lucie was able to garner 1.73 gold masterpoints. She was ecstatic, and I was relieved that we did not disappoint her.

Jay Stiefel gave a terrific lecture on Friday morning. It emphasized table presence and counting, as well as counting and counting.

Ann disappeared while I was taking photos of winners. So, Sue, her partner Judy Cavagnaro, and I were a threesome at Il Maestro for supper. I had the Cavatelli Bolognese, but I should have looked up my write-up from 2015 and ordered the Veal Marsala.

I may not have remembered what I had ordered in 2015, but I vividly remember having a great time in bridge and at Il Maestro with my partner for the weekend, Dave Landsberg. We always had a great time playing together and, on the few occasions when it was possible, socializing together. He was the nicest guy that I ever met, and I don’t even know who would be second. I say “was” because I learned on May 6 that he had succumbed to esophageal cancer. He had been scheduled to play in this tournament, too, with Felix, Ann, and me. I will miss him dearly.

Saturday was something completely different. Ann and I were scheduled to play in the Open Swiss, a two-session sectional event, with Judy Hyde and Bob Sagor. This was, for us, a case of joining them because we could not defeat them. As always seems to happen recently in open Swiss events, the top bracket was light – only two teams. The directors were, however, able to adjust the strats so that the B and C contingents were about the same size.

To say that our foursome got off to a good start is a gross understatement. We won both of our first two matches in blitzes. We expected to meet one of the A teams, but instead we defeated another B team. At that point we were well in the lead of the entire event. However, one of the A teams defeated us before lunch, and the other one blitzed us after lunch. We rebounded after that and finished sixth out of twenty-three, a respectable showing.

No plan B.

On Saturday evening Diane Lambert joined me, Sue, and Judy at Fresh Ketch for supper. You can have it. I am from Kansas; we Kansans do not consider things that live in water as potential dietary items. Do you know what they do in that water?

Howard Pilch, who played on the A team that had blitzed us, stopped by our table and entertained the ladies with stories that I had already heard during our match with his team. I was more than a little surprised when, unbidden, he revealed his wife’s weight. I had trouble imagining the circumstances in which one would even come by that information.

Sue and I planned to drive to the Sunnyside Restaurant for breakfast on Sunday morning. My keys, however, were not where they belonged, in the right pocket of my jacket. Nor were they in my left pocket, my backpack, my suitcase, or any of the pants’ pockets. They were not under the sofa or the bed in the room, they were not in the playing area, and they were not anywhere around my car, which was still in the parking lot. They were not anywhere near or on the back seat in Judy’s car, the vehicle that we had taken to supper.

I was convinced that the keys must have fallen out of my jacket at the restaurant, which would not be open for many hours. Sue, however, got Judy to loan us her keys so that we could check her car thoroughly. To my surprise I found my keys lying on the floor between the door and the seat of her car. I was, of course, greatly relieved. I had no plan B.

By then, however, there was no time for a real breakfast. I had to run the meeting of the CommComm (Communications Committee to you) at 8:30. We barely had enough time for a quick trip to McD’s.

District 25 says good-bye to the Resort and Conference Center.

On Sunday I played with my old friend Andre Wiejacki. Andre, like many bridge players, has a very interesting history. His involves more countries and more political intrigue than most. If you see him, you should ask him about it.

The less said about our performance in the 0-1500 Swiss the better. Suffice it to say that we were relegated to the three-way in the third and fourth rounds, and we lost both of those matches! I told some friends that the directors conscripted the pairs that finished at the bottom of the 299er event and told them that they would have to play us in the fifth round.

After lunch we did a little better. Our proudest accomplishment was that we finished one point ahead of Sue’s team, which had been ahead of us through the first seven rounds.

Who cares? I got to spend some quality time with Andre and our teammates, Lucia Enica and Lou DiOrio, and I got to play bridge. It wasn’t good bridge, but it was bridge.

The highlight of the week was, for me, a nondescript hand that Ann and I played on Friday. Ann opened 1, and the next player doubled. Ann and I play a complicated gadget known as Manfield for just this situation. You can read my blog entry about it here. In all the time that we had been playing together, this was the first time that we had had a chance to use it. I was licking my chops.

Next year the Cape tournament will move back to the lovely Sea Crest Beach Hotel in North Falmouth, MA.

I had 4=4=1=4 distribution. So, I had four-card support for Ann’s suit. I also had a singleton and two other suits that had potential for being double fits. Manfield has a bid to show the singleton, and it has a bid to show a fit-jump. This wealth of information somehow caused my synapses to get crossed. I could not remember what to bid. I went into a deep tank and then bid 1NT, which I knew was a relay to 2♣. I then bid 3, and Ann bid 4, which was where we belonged.

I knew that I had made the wrong call, but I did not know what the sequence that I had chosen – jump raise after a relay – meant in Manfield. On Friday evening I looked up the documentation, and I was shocked to learn that that sequence was undefined. Furthermore, there was no sequence to describe a 4-4-4-1 hand! I had invented a new bid, and it was actually useful.

Bridge World, hold the presses! I will need a week or so to write up Wavada’s Accidental Adjunct.