To start the week at the Richmond, Virginia MABC Regional, I'm playing with three friends who are all on the hunt for Life Master. My partner is very, very close, and I'd love to see her go over the top this week. We were playing in a Bracket 4 KO yesterday, and won our first round handily. There's certainly no team in this bracket that we shouldn't be able to beat.
So, it was a little annoying when our first seven boards out in round 2 were minus scores. That's never a good sign. The seventh of these was really demoralizing -- partner opened, and I had a balanced 15-count. We reached what seems like a reasonable vulnerable 3NT, but the opponents took the first eight tricks when my LHO can run seven hearts and cash an ace. All I could hope was that the -300 was a push. But you never know in these lower brackets.
It was a push, but we were still down 33 imps at the half. The team turned to me to wonder what the heck we were doing wrong. I'm pretty sure they didn't believe me when I said it was just bad luck. But it really was. Of course we weren't playing perfectly, but we weren't playing -30 imp bridge, either. We were bidding our close games, and our obvious ones, and none of them happened to make. At the other table, they were being conservative, and so there was a long string of part score swings. But at imps, and at any level, it is right to bid games when there's anything close to a 50% chance that they're working. We were doing that, and 0% of our 50%-and-better games were making. Does that mean we were wrong to bid them? No. We were unlucky.
-33 imps is something like five or six part score swings (-100 where we bid a vulnerable game opposite -140 where the opps stay out is -6 imps). So let's say that we bid 5 close vulnerable games, and the opponents bid none of them (which is exactly what happened). If any two of these games had made (so we're basically hoping that 40% of our 50% chances work out -- conservative, right?), we'd be +620 opposite -170 for +10 imps instead of -6, for a sixteen imp difference per board. If we had just two of those, that's 32 imps in our favor, and -33 becomes just -1. That's if any two of these five close games had been a maker. On most days, you can count on making at least some of your close ones.
I really wanted my team to understand this, because I felt like we were playing good bridge, and I didn't want anyone to make any adjustments. Eventually, the pendulum will swing and those close games will start coming home -- and we don't want to be scared out of bidding them when the time comes.
But alas, it was a very unlucky night. There was all of one game to bid in the second half, and while we gained ground, there just weren't 33 imps in the cards in those last 12 boards.
It's demoralizing, but these things happen. Sure it's disappointing, and of course we all made mistakes here and there, but it's important not to second guess yourself when a loss like this happens. If our team keeps playing the game we've been playing, we'll win far more imps than we'll lose. Last night it just really wasn't in the cards.
So what can you do but buy a new entry? Wish us luck!