Gatlinburg Tournament 2013 Buttons

Gatlinburg Tournament 2013

Day 3 Friday April 19, 2013

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The utility of my umbrella was not maximized by its placement on my desk in East Windsor.

I woke up feeling rather refreshed and checked the weather on the Internet.[1] It was much cooler and a little drizzly. This made me question my sanity for not bringing my umbrella on the trip. It was sitting in plain sight on my desk at work at the time that I was gathering the things that I needed to bring to the tournament. Perhaps my inordinate luck in the weather for the trips that Sue and I had taken to Europe had affecsted my thinking concerning the vagaries of stateside weather.

I donned my sweater and my jacket for the junket over to the Log Cabin Pancake House for breakfast. This time I tried a ham and cheese omelet, but the cheese was too sweet for my palate. This confirmed my observation that one should generally order what a restaurant specialized in rather than one’s own predilection. When in Rome, don't order a Reuben sandwich or fish and chips.

After breakfast I asked the desk clerk at the hotel whether there was a support number that I could call to talk to someone from their Internet supplier. She asked me what the problem was. She didn't understand my answer, but she said that “he” was not there, but he would be back in ten minutes. Since we planned to depart for the tournament within ten minutes, I gave up and got prepared to play bridge.

By the time that we departed from the hotel it was pretty obvious that it was likely to rain most of the day. Michael and I set out for the Convention Center together, but I opted to jog rather than walk in order to avoid getting soaked. When I arrived at my destination, I sat on a bench for a minute or two to get my breath. My jacket had absorbed most of the rain. I took it off and hung it up. Pretty soon Michael showed up, and we went downstairs together to meet up with Bob and Pat.

The playing area was absolutely enormous.

We got a little nervous when they had still not appeared at 8:50, but a minute or so later Bob came over to greet us, mumbled something sexist, and reported that Pat would be along in a minute. We had heard that the semifinal game of the compact knockout would be held upstairs as it had reportedly been in previous years, but that was not the case. We just played in our own section in the middle of the big room. I did not see the bracket posted anywhere, but Bob had somehow learned where we were supposed to sit.

We won our semifinal round handily, and the final round was only a little closer. So, we got the day off to a great start by winning the compact knockout. This was good for 12.07 gold points, at least twice as much as we would have won in a comparable event in New England. Now we needed to concentrate on the full knockout in which we were scheduled to participate in the afternoon and, we hoped, the evening.

The final count of attendees was 3,716.

The four of us ate lunch at the concession stand again. I chose a roast beef sandwich this time. It was marginally better than the ham and cheese of the previous day. During lunch I saw Mary Witt. She knew everyone at our table, and she spent a few minutes talking with us. She asked me if I had attended Tom Gerchman’s 60th birthday party, and I admitted that I had been there. I told her about the clown and professed my opinion that Tom had enjoyed himself immensely.

Our good fortune continued in the afternoon. We played in a three-way, which meant that we only needed to win one of two twelve-board matches to advance. We won our match against a couple from Idaho by a wide margin. The other match, against a young (by bridge standards) lady and a guy with malformed fingers was closer, but we eked it out. The second round, which would be a head-to-head 24-board match, was scheduled for the evening session.

The rest of the team went to supper. I asked to be excused so that I could rest up for the evening match. I had an ulterior motive, too. I thought that I might have time to figure out why the e-mail was not working. As it turned out, I made no progress whatever on my secondary objective, but I did manage to nap for about an hour.

I could have used those tongs.

I then walked up and down Parkway looking for a place not named Subway in which I could grab a quick bite to eat. I could not find much that appeared appetizing. I ended up walking all the way down to the KFC that was past the Clarion. I ordered the usual three-piece extra-crispy meal there. I had forgotten how greasy it was, or perhaps it had gotten greasier over the years. I don't go to KFC often, but I had a rather distinct recollection from years past that the original recipe was very greasy, but the extra-crispy was tolerable. I would not have even called this offering crispy.[2] I went through half a dozen napkins, and my fingers still felt greasy.

Our opponents for the evening match, two ladies from Mexico (one native, one an expat from South Carolina) arrived late, as did their teammates. I had to suppose that it was unreasonable to expect them to be able to finish eating supper in the paltry three and a half hours allotted for that purpose.

The match did not begin well at all. On the second hand the lady on my right opened 1, I overcalled 1NT, the lady on my left bid 2, and Michael doubled. RHO passed, and I did not know what to bid. According to our agreements, his double was for penalty, but I held the KQJ of hearts. Michael could not possibly have more than two hearts. I had to wonder whether he had forgotten that we were playing (and had always played) lebensohl. If so, his bid could have been a “stolen bid” asking me to transfer to spades, or it could have been takeout showing heart shortness and support for all three unbid suits. I had a maximum with four spades, so I bid 2, and he passed. In fact, we could have made four spades, but I could not super-accept because I had to assume that he had a weak hand. If he held a good hand with spades, our agreements required him to bid 2NT and then 3. I took ten tricks, and we missed an easy game. Two hands later I got flustered, made a colossal blunder in playing a hand, and a cold game went down.

The intermediate and newcomer groups played in an area that was behind the spot that I was standing on for this shot.

From that point on Michael started to press. He overbid two or three hands, and we were set three tricks every time. Fortunately, our opponents’ bidding boxes evidently lacked double cards, so we escaped for only 150 or 300 each time. By the end of the twelfth board I figured that we were behind by 30 IMPs or more. I asked Michael to compare scores with Bob and Pat. I took a walk to cool off and regain my aplomb.

When I rejoined the team, Bob took me aside and told me that he needed me to regain my concentration. This gesture was understandable but unnecessary. I was well aware that I occasionally flew off the handle. Over the years I had developed some techniques for regaining my equanimity. I was definitely ready to play the second set of twelve boards.

I was surprised to discover that we were only behind by 14 IMPs. Both Michael and I played much better in the second half, and we won the last twelve boards by 21 IMPs. Only one very bizarre hand gave us a hard time. After two passes the lady to my left opened 4, and no one else bid. Michael led the K, and this dummy was displayed: 7  KQJx  AJxxxx  x

I held: xxx  xx  xxx  AQ10xxx

The first trick was taken by the dummy with the ace, and declarer discarded a club. The dummy’s club was then led. I played the ace, and to my great surprise Michael showed out. So, either Michael had revoked (I asked him quite pointedly to make sure that was not the case), or declarer must have been dealt six clubs. Surely, all the rest of her cards must have been spades. She held no red cards whatsoever! That left two spades for Michael. So, armed with this knowledge I had to find a lead.

I elected to place my fourth-highest club on the table. My hope was that Michael would be able to ruff it with a spade higher than the dummy’s 7 and then lead back a spade to remove the dummy’s ability to trump. Unfortunately, the card that he ruffed with was the king, which, along with his other spade, constituted a natural trump trick anyway. He then led the A, and declarer made the bid by ruffing a club on the board.

If I had led a spade, Michael would have won his king eventually, and I would have been able to win two more club tricks to set the contract. However, it seemed (and still does seem) to me that I made the right play. From my perspective the likelihood that LHO bid 4 with only seven spades missing either the ace or the king was much smaller than the likelihood that Michael could beat the dummy’s 7. I chose to trust my partner’s ability to read my card and return a trump. If he had, declarer would have still held three clubs: KJ9. When she conceded a club to me, I would be able to lead back a red card, and she would eventually have to concede a third trick in clubs or a trick in a red suit for down one.

They let Bob and Pat bring their cones in and even offered them ice water.

Manly refreshment.

We were all quite elated at our comeback victory that perfectly capped a day in which we won five matches and lost none. We knew that it was quite chilly out, but at least the rain had ceased. We decided to celebrate a little. Pat and Bob purchased ice cream cones at a local establishment, and I bought beers for Michael and me at TGI Friday’s. I ordered a 22-ounce Guinness, and Michael imbibed some sort of concoction designed to appeal to wusses.

The TV was on at the bar, and we learned that the police had killed one suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing, and a huge manhunt for the remaining man, who was his 19-year-old brother, was underway. Evidently they were Chechens who had lived most or all of their lives in the United States.

I still could not get the e-mail to work.

I called Sue to brag about what a great day that we had had at the bridge table and to complain about the fact that I could not get the Internet to work. She reported that our garage was still standing, and Giacomo really missed me.

[1]  I could not easily just look out the window. The window in my room overlooked the indoor swimming area, an atrium that was in the middle of the lodge. I could tell when it was raining, but I had no way to gauge the temperature.

[2]  I tried again the next Tuesday in Houston, TX, and the chicken there seemed even greasier.