Posts tagged ‘jim’

Excellent bridge results

Jim and I played bridge today for what I fear is the last time in the foreseeable future, since I’m moving in a week. We got last place out of 12 partnerships with a 40% game, but I’m marking this one as a win. I finally understand what an uppercut is, and although I didn’t perform one, I found one in the postmortem. But the thing that truly sets tonight apart is that on the first hand of the night, I got a double squeeze!! These are quite rare; I don’t expect to get more than one per year. Seeing it, executing it correctly, and having it work was absolutely thrilling, and it rattled our opponents to the core.

My first double squeeze in more detail →

Wonderful bridge results!

The title says it all. Jim and I had a 53.7% game tonight which placed us 3rd out of 10, and we each got 0.5 Black Master Points. Moreover, on the fifth board of the night, I got a squeeze play! Yes, I have now finally accomplished my goal of successfully executing a squeeze play in a sanctioned game! I got a simple squeeze against LHO, and while it scored below average (because we didn’t bid the slam), no one got more tricks than I did. \/\/00T!

The 4-card squeeze play (spots approximate) →

Disappointing bridge

I played bridge with Jim again this evening. We had a rather poor game (41% gave us last place out of 10 partnerships), at least partly because I had 29 points on the first hand of the night and got flustered (there are typically 40 points in the deck, so 10 points is an average hand, to put things in perspective). I opened this monster with 2C even though I could have opened 3NT. Jim replied 2D (we use the control-showing step response: he had no aces and at most one king, but I faltered a bit explaining it to our opponents, since I only use it with Jim and it almost never comes up). I bid 2NT (balanced, stronger than previously shown), to which he replied 3H (apparently, this was a transfer, but I missed it). I bid 3NT, he went to 4S (trying to correct for my lack of transfer), and I paused for a bit and bid 6NT. We made an overtrick. That hand gave us an above average result, but made me really nervous (particularly when I learned in the postmortem that I was the only one who didn’t interpret Jim’s heart bid as a transfer to spades), so I was a bit off for the rest of the evening.

One of the last hands of the night had a squeeze play in it. I saw the squeeze play. I set it up correctly. The last thing I needed to do was lose one final club trick. After that, I had a simple squeeze against my left-hand opponent in clubs and diamonds. However, LHO won the club trick, pondered for a very long time, and… gave me a free finesse. I had accidentally endplayed her while trying to squeeze her! Oops. I took the rest of the tricks, but this was little consolation after being robbed of my squeeze play (which would have worked if RHO had won the club trick or if LHO had returned a spade instead of a club). I’m still trying to execute my first squeeze in a sanctioned game, but at least I got darn close this time! I wish I could remember the hand in greater detail, but the third-to-last and second-to-last boards of the night are running together for me (I declared both of them in major-suit games, one making exactly and one making an overtrick).

The 5-card squeeze play, if I had been able to do it →

My first Silver Master Point!

Tonight I played bridge with Jim for the first time in about a month. It turns out that this week is the big Aquatennial tournament, so instead of the typical 6-table game, we had a huge 25-table monstrosity that was actually split into two different flights. Some of the tables were downstairs because they ran out of room on the ground floor! Jim and I didn’t have any unusually good plays, but we were consistently above average, and ended the night with a 52% game (5th of the 14 east/west pairs in our flight). This netted us each 0.61 Silver Master Points! All the ones I have previously gotten are Black, though at my rank, color doesn’t affect anything yet (it simply denotes that I got them at a larger tournament which presumably attracted stronger competition). Jim missed bidding two slams at which he instead signed off in game (only one of which I can fault him for; the other one was quite tricky), and I misinterpreted our opponents’ bidding in one hand, overbid, and went down two doubled tricks (this was our only bottom board). Other than that, though, we had no noticeable mistakes or miscommunications! We just had solid bidding and play throughout the evening. Hurrah!

One one hand, I managed to recognize a situation for a squeeze play (this was another Vienna Coup), and executed it correctly. However, it didn’t actually work (it would have worked only if the opponent with the Ace of Spades also held the Queen of Diamonds). Still, I’m proud of myself for recognizing the situation and responding correctly to it.

Also, remember not to hold up your winners too long, even in notrump: I made 12 tricks in a notrump contract because my opponent refused to take her king the first two opportunities she had, and I didn’t give her a third. This was our only top board of the evening, since everyone else made only the 11 tricks to which they were entitled. For the non-bridge enthusiasts who aren’t familiar with this strategy, a hold-up play is when you choose not to take your winner now, and instead take it later. Assuming you are still able to take it later, you don’t lose any tricks. However, this can cut the transportation between your opponents’ hands, so that one hand has remaining winners in the suit but no longer has a way to get to them (and hence cannot cash these winners). This is a particularly useful technique in notrump contracts, where the hand that becomes void in the suit cannot get in with a ruff.

Poor Bridge Results

Jim and I have played in two big bridge games recently, and even though I haven’t had a lot of practice this semester, we didn’t take last place either time! For those of you who didn’t know, the HMC bridge club kinda dissolved last semester, and I barely played at all. I only played one sanctioned game the whole semester, and Whitney and I had an atrocious 27% (typically, I don’t think people score less than 35%. Ouch! At least part of this was that Whitney was nervous about her first sanctioned game, and this threw off her rhythm. and I made a bunch of really stupid mistakes). Jim and I started off the summer with a disappointing 42% at a Sectional game, but still beat one of the 9 pairs. I don’t feel bad about that, because Sectionals bring out pretty tough competitors. This past weekend was the Worldwide Bridge Contest, where people all across the country play the same hands and are ranked nationally. Of the 14 tables playing in Minneapolis, Jim and I finished with a 48% game (just below average), which I’m quite content with. You can tell we’re not used to playing as partners: for the first half of the afternoon, Jim was sending me Rightside-Up Attitude Signals (we play them Upside-Down), and I was giving him Odd/Even Discards (we use Lavinthal Discards instead). Oops! Except for missing one loser-on-loser play that gave us a second-from-bottom board, I don’t think I made too many mistakes (though I had a few others). The neat thing about this particular tournament is that the committee that made the hands also made little booklets discussing how they should be bid and played, so you can learn what you were supposed to do from the experts.

At least the summer is starting off with an upward trend! Perhaps next game I’ll be above average. Also, I think I’m going to start looking for a second regular partner. Although Jim is a fantastic guy and I like playing bridge with him, he’s quite busy with work right now, and doesn’t have much time to play. Also, it seems like many people at the club (including Jim) have 2 or 3 regular partners, so they can play even when one of their partners is busy/sick/etc. I have no idea how to find a compatible one, but I’ll figure it out eventually.

Bridge and Stuff

Jim called me up again the other day, and we played bridge both today and yesterday. It’s quite obvious that I’ve gotten rusty (before yesterday, my last sanctioned game had been with Jim back in August). We took second-to-last and dead last, both with 41% games, though today’s game played better than it scored. Our defense was rock-solid (with one horrible, stupid, blatantly notable exception in which I doubled our opponents’ game-level contract, and although we could easily have set them by two tricks, they ended up making it). Our offense was mediocre, but our bidding was pretty good, I daresay. We’re trying out some new things in our conventions, however, which are working out alright. Both today and yesterday, we played a control-showing step response to two clubs, which is actually quite clever (imo, better than the point-showing step response which I swore by back in sophomore year). Today, we also used a forcing 1NT (the perfect response to Sheri’s insistence upon weak jump-shifts – I have to show this to more people even if we don’t play 2/1) and upside-down attitude carding (statistically better than regular attitude, but more confusing. For instance, you now show a doubleton by playing the high card first if you’re on lead but the low card first if you’re following suit). Now, I need to get Jim to learn Puppet Stayman and Raptor Notrump, and we’ll be playing exactly what I want to play, except possibly for a different discarding system. Jim lent me his copy of Hand Evaluation by Mike Lawrence, which I look forward to reading.

A Notable Hand From Tonight →

Hot damn!

This evening, Jim and I played bridge for the last time this summer. It was my one last chance to become a Junior Master before school started. Well, I’m pleased to announce that I made it! Our 54.5% game landed us 3rd place in the C stratification and 4th over all 13 East-West pairs, and we each got 0.49 Master Points. I am now no longer officially considered a Rookie. Our game was nothing to brag about, but we certainly did well enough.

I feel a little weird writing this, but the best part about the night, in my opinion, was that I made fewer mistakes than Jim did. He was responsible for both bottom boards that we got, while I blame myself for only one of the second-from-bottoms. Strangely enough, we didn’t do anything especially well; our best boards were almost all mistakes by our opponents.

So I at least got one of my goals. We didn’t use Smolen, nor did I pull off a squeeze play (though I almost endplayed someone into handing me a bath coup. However, he saw what was going on and got out of it).

15 more Master Points until I’m a Club Master.

0 for 9

One of my goals for the summer is to become a Junior Master at the bridge club. Since the last time I wrote about bridge, I’ve needed about a third of a Master Point to get there. Sadly, try as I might, I can’t seem to do it! Jim and I played together this past Thursday at the club. Thursdays they have a 49er game (for people with less than 50 Master Points) and an open game (for people with more). Since Jim has 180 or so, we were in the open game, and got a 3-way tie for 2nd out of 4 partnerships (there was a winner, and everyone else tied; it was kind of weird). It was my first IMPs game (slightly different scoring system), so I was thrown off a bit. Still, no dice. Jim and I then played in St. Paul on Sunday and came in slightly below average out of 14 or so tables. Finally, we played tonight. We had been doing OK but not great, and I thought that we could certainly get points in the C stratification. With 31 of the 32 boards scored, we were tied for 3rd in C, which gets half a Master Point. However, that last board came in, and bumped us down to 4th, which gets nothing. This entry is called “0 for 9” because at each of these games, there are 3 things I’m trying to do: successfully use Smolen Transfers (we’re playing them, but the situation hasn’t come up to use them yet), successfully pull off a squeeze play (I’ve found 2 situations where I tried, but I messed up one and got a bad trump split in the other), or become a Junior Master, which still hasn’t quite happened. Argh! We’re giving it one more shot tomorrow, and I fear that will be the end of bridge this summer. I’d really like to be 1 for 12 in my goals here (preferably 2 for 12, but I can’t be picky at this point). There were at least 3 boards that I should have played better this evening, including 2 cold slams that I considered bidding but shied away from in the end. Well, we’ll see what tomorrow holds, I guess…

A memorable hand from this evening →

Quick addendum about bridge: my favourite hand of the night

On one hand, I pick up a hand with Ace-Queen-Jack-fifth in both spades and clubs, and open 1S. My left-hand opponent overcalls 2H, and Jim passes. I think to myself, finally! a chance to use Mel’s Complete Count! (Mel Colchamiro invented MCC as an approximation to determine when to continue bidding after opening a 2-suited hand with no help from partner and interference from the opponents. The situation almost never comes up, but when it does, you get pretty confused and worried trying to decide whether to bid on). However, before I could get that far, my right-hand opponent bid… 3C. She had 5 clubs, and I had another 5 of them, finessing the crap out of her! I quietly passed, and the opponents worked their way up to 3NT, at which point I doubled. Jim lead the Ten of spades, and I saw that Dummy had the King of clubs and Nine of spades (note that I had the Eight) but Declarer had the King of spades. However, she held up on the first trick, and took my Jack of spades with it on the second (Jim had continued with a low spade, showing a doubleton, and Dummy played her Nine). We then went through six red tricks, and Jim started to look pretty worried about my double. At last, Declarer let the Jack of clubs ride around to me, and I claimed the remaining 5 tricks with my Queen-Ace of clubs and Ace-Queen-Eight of spades. We got a score of +500 for the hand!

That was one of our two top boards. We also took three second-from-tops and two more tied-for-second-from-top. Our worst boards, however, were merely fourth-from-bottom. Hot damn!

Yes, it’s another bridge entry…

Sunday, much to my surprise, my old bridge partner Jim called me up. He had been suspecting that I’d be back in town sometime soon, and was wondering if I’d like to play with him again. This was really touching, since we had only really played together 3 or so times before, and I hadn’t told him when I’d be back in town! So I was thrilled. We went to the Tuesday game, which is really large because they charge a little bit extra, award a few extra Master Points, and donate money to some sort of charity/fund thing. There were 15 tables there! Jim and I played surprisingly well – I counted 1 big mistake that I made, 2 games that got away from me without me understanding what was going on, and 1 small mistake that Jim made (there were other things we could have done better, but they were pretty small). The coolest part about the evening was that we had absolutely no misunderstandings – certainly we made a couple bad bids, but we at least communicated what we were trying to say. This apparently paid off – we took 2nd place! That is to say, 2nd place over all 15 East-West partnerships (we beat every life master sitting there), and 4th out of all 30 partnerships present. In our stratification(which is only the people with less than 50 Master Points), we took first among the East-Wests and 2nd among everyone. We had an incredible 60.1% game (for you non-bridge types, 50% is perfectly average, less than 35% is abysmally embarrassing, and no one ever breaks 75%. A 100% game would mean that, on every single board, you got the best score in the room). This is the first time I’ve had a 60% game, and only the second time I’ve broken 55%, so I was absolutely psyched. Jim quipped that we should take the scoring printout and frame it on the wall. We were given a whopping 1.76 Black Master Points, bringing my total to 4.70. I can almost certainly make Junior Master by the end of the summer (that takes 5 Master Points total). This weekend, there is a larger Sectional tournament that awards Silver Master Points, but I’m going to be in Wisconsin at the time. Boo!

I think the reason Jim and I do so well is that we understand each other almost completely. Bridge partnerships are built on trust and understanding at the bottom, and good performance on top of that. Jim is only a Junior Master and I’m not even that yet, but we can actually communicate with our bids and discards, and this information allows us to each do our parts better than if we only had a vague idea of what was going on. I think this is why Sheri and I did OK but not great – we have pretty good performance, but we are a bit weak on the understanding and severely lacking in trust, and that was pretty frustrating. I wish I could find someone like Jim out in California.

On an unrelated note, I spent today hanging out with Hansford, who is doing an REU up at the U of M. We went canoing on Lake Calhoun (and Lake of the Isles and that one next to it and even up to Brownie Lake), which was pretty cool. Hansford had never been canoing before. He then came over for dinner and we hung out and played Set and Xactika and stuff. It was pretty low-key, but a lot of fun.