The Tao of Gaming

Boardgames and lesser pursuits

Giving 120%

As mentioned earlier, the I-35 cup qualifier was today. It opened with a disaster … not at the table, but due to organization. Apparently, despite being a game with four different stratifications and only ~20 teams expected, nobody thought to figure out how they’d handle levels with 5 or 7 teams. So it takes them 30 minutes to figure out which movement they want to use, then one team complains they are in the wrong bracket, and then everything is re-done. (Inexplicably, in my opinion — if you can’t notice you are playing in a tougher bracket than you have to, mentioned it before the game starts).

The last hand of the first round is a doozy:

S: AQJ98642 H: K9xxx D: — C: —

Eight-five hands are pretty rare. I have lots of choices for how to open, but I decide I’m going to open 1S, rebid hearts, and then bid spades forever. It seems unlikely that I’ll get passed out, and partner won’t expect much defense. After an auction that I won’t repeat (since I instantly messed up for reasons that only my aneurysms can explain), I ended up in 6S opposite

S: — H: Axx D: AKQxx C: AKQxx

Which made since spades behaved. Six hearts look superior, but I escape a potential disaster, so I got lucky. The rest of the hands for our first match seem solid, I expect we’ve won even if the slam is bid at the other table.

The second match is going smoothly when I pick up:

S: AQ H:QT9xx D:AKx C:Jxxx

Partner opens 1C and, after my 1H rebid offers 2C, which (in Polish) shows extra strength and real clubs. Taking off my thinking cap, I blast into slam after confirming that partner has two key cards (Heart Ace, Club Ace and King) and the Queen of clubs. When the opening lead is the heart ace I blanche and announce “Of course, I’m playing for you to have the hearts under control, too” before tabling my hand. Partner graciously throws the king under the ace and we make six. Lucky, since I had (again) bid too quickly. I should have just invoked a general game force, supported clubs, and made a slam try, and then we’ll avoid slam if partner doesn’t have the hearts under control.

It’s probably a pickup because standard bidders will have the same auction, but their 2 Club rebid will show 11-15 (maybe 16), whereas our showed 15+, so they may not drive to slam. Then I probably throw away the second match when I pick up:

S: AQx H:AKQJ D:  AJ9 C:AQxx

Just a routine 27 count. Since it’s a monster hand, I open 1C (forcing), planning on rebidding 2D (a near game force without a five card major) over my partner’s expected 1D bid. But, disaster! I’m not dealer. My partner is now barred for one round, so I open 3 NT, which should make but I’m so annoyed with myself that I miscount and go down. Since dummy has long spades (to the jack), the other team will be a in four spades making. That’s three horrible brain farts and this one may cost a match.

And with the second match done, the directors announce that they have messed up the movement and all of the boards played are voided! So it’s noon on a 10am start and we’re only playing one session of a supposed two-session game.

After (totally justified) bitching the game resumes. There are no more slams, my incorrect bids are all mild (compared to my previous goofs and, more importantly, our opponents) so we win the five remaining matches and the event. Given that one of our first two matches both pairs played the same boards against the same team, technically we won six of our five matches. That probably isn’t a record, but is still pretty good.

So our team faces off against Austin’s best two “B” teams in April….thankfully the organizers already know how many teams will be involved. If I can keep my head in the game, I think we’ll do well.


Written by taogaming

February 26, 2011 at 9:07 pm

Posted in Bridge, Session Reports

4 Responses

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  1. In the first hand, I’m not sure why 6H is the better contract. It seems to me the only 4-1 split you can make is if RHO has a singleton honor. (I’m assuming that you don’t have the 8H.) While in 6S, you make if either opponent has a singleton honor. Am I missing something?

    WRT the last hand you mentioned, one of my friends told me about a tournament where he had a similar monster hand, but his partner also bid out of turn or some similar gaffe. The director ruled my friend could only make one bid. I think he bid slam, but it turned out to be the wrong contract. Funny how similar those two situations were.


    February 27, 2011 at 2:59 am

    • I think you are right. During the discussion (when the tournament was being reset) I stated that 6S was better but one teammate thought 6H preferable. Now that I look at it I think you are right. 6S can handle a 4-1 break as long as either the K or T is stiff (40% of the 4-1 breaks). Both hands are equally likely to suffer a ruff from the other suit, but if hearts get ruffed in spades, it’s OK if the ruffing hand had Kx, but if spades get ruffed in hearts you need the ruffing hand to have any three cards. So that’s slightly better for hearts. But the 5-0 breaks are 4%, so I think the 4-1 trump breaks dominates.

      Bid out of turn pretty much bars partner one round. For some reason I dislike the new boards they’ve got, which show dealer as green text, and list direction as black/red text. I just glance at the board and sometimes I see my direction but process it as “dealer.” I’ve passed out of turn (a much lesser offense) once or twice with these boards. Adding in my distraction because of the hand and …


      February 27, 2011 at 10:27 am

  2. Team games with 5 or 7 teams are easy to run. If your director doesn’t know how to do that, that’s pretty sad. Next time, you can tell him. The normal approach is the “up-down” movement. Set up the teams in a normal section with (preferably) at least one table between them. Then for round 1, E/W moves up one table. For round 2, they drop off the boards they just played at their home table and move down one table from there. After round 2, compare. Round 3 is up two tables; Round 4 is down two tables. If there are 7 teams, the pattern continues.


    February 27, 2011 at 11:09 am

    • To say that it was pretty sad seems about correct, possibly gracious. That movement looks simple


      February 27, 2011 at 1:35 pm

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