Outclassed at bridge

I went to the New Barrington Bridge Club tonight, feeling a bit rusty after a month without playing. I had been a bit reluctant to go because my coworker, Fred, said that the bridge scene in LA is mostly senile people playing kitchen bridge. I don’t know what club he frequents, but I had the exact opposite experience! My partner for the evening was Danny Kleinman (director of the Master Solver’s column in Bridge World magazine and author of numerous books, including the Principle of Restricted Talent). Over the course of the evening, my opponents included Jennifer Einberg (editor in chief of the Southern California Bridge News) and a woman who helped invent High Card Points back in the ’50s (HCPs eventually became the defining feature of the Goren bidding system, which was a precursor to the Standard American bidding system). and that doesn’t include any people who were too modest to reveal who they really were. This club had more famous people than I ever imagined I would play with/against. It was amazing!

It was pretty obvious that I was rusty—I made several pretty big mistakes. The problem with playing with a nationally-renowned expert is that he points out not only your big mistakes, but your little ones, and many mistakes that you didn’t even notice you made. We finished the night with a 44.7% game, taking 11th place out of 13. I suspect we would have done better if we had gone over our conventions before the game started; I told him I play Standard American with most gadgets he wants to throw at me, and he gave me his regular convention card and left it at that. By the second round, I had to admit I don’t know Reverse Lebensohl, so we dropped that. Later in the evening, I messed up Hamilton (a defense against strong notrump), since although I learned it at one point, I have never actually used it. I also missed a mini-splinter bid (I’m used to splinters being double jumps by responder in new suits out of competition; this was a single jump in a new suit by opener after a minimum response by me). Woah! It looks like I have a lot to learn. Still, it was a pretty fun night. I wish they had more evening games; the only games I can go to are Tuesday and Friday evenings, and I don’t want to spend Friday nights with old people. Still, I’ll be back next week.

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