I met up with my buddy Al on Monday afternoon to talk about a card. We'd played together for a few days in Gatlinburg, but that's the extent of our partnership to date, so we wanted to do some tweaking and fine tuning before competing here in Hunt Valley.
In Tennessee, we'd played a Standard card. This time, Al wanted to try some 2 over 1. We kept the card pretty simple, with just a few must-have gadgets like Drury (one-way, reverse, fit). I'm constantly deflecting the question "What do you play here?" New partnerships probably shouldn't even discuss 90% of my card with McKenzie.
When the dust settled around the selling table, our team's combined 1350 points landed us at the bottom of the seventh bracket (out of nine total). I was introduced to our teammates just before the first match. Mike and Jon are indeed solid players for their ~600 combined points, and they play Precision. Knowing that few of the other pairs in the event would be playing anything more than SAYC or a basic, basic 2/1, I predicted that we would have lots of swings -- hopefully all in the right direction.
The very first board was a good one for feeling out the competition. Nice little preempt situation here:
Fourth seat, favorable, you hold: AQT9843 62 K 853
1N is 15-17, and 2D is a transfer.
I decided 3S was best here. It would be good to put pressure on the opponents right away, and show them that I'm not afraid of their 1N bids. I got to play here, undoubled, and when dummy wasn't totally broke, I was able to bring in 10 tricks. Lose 6 against a making 4S at the other table. Dang. It's about a 17 point game.
The next board was another bidding problem of sorts. This time unfavorable, you're in third seat with:
J42 K63 84 AJ632
So pard has hearts and diamonds, apparently, but none good enough to open, preempt, or overcall at the 1-level. The old "but we can't let them play at the 1-level!" balancing double. Having no idea what partner's really got, and all but certain there's no fit, I chose 1N. 2C was my other option, but with bad spots and in front of the 1C bidder, I decided not to take my chances here. Imagine my joy when the auction continued (P)P(2C)! I worried when pard tanked in the pass out seat, but was pleased to see his green card. We set this two tricks for a win 5 opposite our teammates' making 1N.
There wasn't much more excitement in this set, but there were swings aplenty, and we found ourselves down 25-34 at the half. I reminded our teammates that 9 imps in 12 boards is nothing -- please, please, don't start swinging. Just play bridge.
When we returned for the second half, our opponents were confused. They thought they'd won. "I've NEVER played in an event where you play the same people twice!" Oh, Bracket VII, you're so cute.
We explained the halftime concept to them and got down to business. I declared one hand in the entire second half, which should say quite a bit about the quality of my cards. I felt pretty confident that we'd made up our gap by the third board of the set, when the opponents bid all the way up to 3D and brought home a score of 190. Our teammates didn't find the granny, but were able to eke out a game bid anyhow for a win 6. A few boards later, I knew the match was over when pard made a doubled and vulnerable 4S for 790 and win 13.
The hands were really boring for me this set so I don't have anything fun to share from it, but there will be some gems from the upcoming match. We gave up one imp in the second half of match one, but gained 39, so we advanced comfortably into the quarterfinals.