Gatlinburg Tournament 2013 Buttons

Gatlinburg Tournament 2013

Day 4 Saturday April 20, 2013

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Saturday morning was colder than we anticipated. A thin layer of ice on the rainwater that had pooled up on the roof over the hotel’s doorway was clearly visible from the glass elevator.

The elegant exterior of the Pancake Pantry.

We had decided not to play in the morning session. We probably should have slept in, but both Michael and I were morning people, so we decided to go out for breakfast at 8:00, thirty minutes later than our usual time. Knowing that we had plenty of time, we decided to try to find the breakfast place that Bob had told us about on Wednesday. He had indicated that it was down Parkway in the opposite direction from everywhere else that we had stopped. Neither of us could remember the name, but when we got to a place called the Pancake Pantry Michael decided that it must be the place based on his recollection of Bob’s instructions. It was certainly more elegant on the outside, but I preferred the ambience of the Log Cabin’s interior. Also, the waitresses here were much older – even older than I was.[1] We both ordered the same thing that we had eaten at the Log Cabin on Thursday. I agreed with Michael’s assessment that the meals were nearly identical, but the Pancake Pantry was costlier.

An announcement over the restaurant’s intercom interrupted our repast. The police had reportedly requested that any cars that were parked on the street should be moved. Evidently some sort of parade[2] was scheduled.

Michael wanted to walk around after breakfast, but I decided to go back to the hotel and get a little more sleep. In anticipation of this eventuality I had placed the “Do Not Disturb” sign on the doorknob of my hotel room. Michael went up the stairs at the restaurant to make a phone call, and I departed.

If the Clampetts and the Bodines were in the parade, they did not use this vehicle.

When I entered the street I was shocked by the deafening vroom-vroom sound of motorcycle engines. From my right a single police car proceeded up Parkway, and it was followed by a dozen or more rapidly aging motorcycle riders on Harleys or Harley-knockoffs that were just as noisy. I walked up the sidewalk in parallel to them. Soon I was overtaken by some young men advancing up the street in camouflage pants, tee shirts, full backpacks, and sneakers. Most of them were jogging; a few walked at a fast pace. They were followed by seven or eight small groups of similarly dressed men (and a few women). I presumed that they must have been representatives of local National Guard or Army Reserve units. I was just guessing – for all that I knew they might have been representatives of the Hatfields, McCoys, Clampetts, Bodines, and other local clans.

As I passed a side street I saw a high school marching band playing (badly) a martial tune as they marched in place and waited for their turn to enter the parade. All of the musicians were bedecked in blue uniforms. Unfortunately, I did not bring my camera with me to breakfast, so I was unable to record any visual images of this uplifting and patriotic display.

I turned left on Historic Nature Trail, the street that ran from the Convention Center up to the Glenstone Lodge just as the last of the military groups passed. I dashed across the street before the first group of civilian joggers reached my location. From that point until I turned into the hotel’s parking lot only my age, my attire, and my pace distinguished me from the participants in the parade. They took up the entire street and spilled over onto the sidewalk on which I trod. I feared a couple of times that I might get knocked over.

Not nearly as good as it looks.

Nevertheless, I soon found shelter in the hotel. Since my room was a good distance from the street , I did not hear much noise from the parade. I managed to nap for an hour or more. Upon awakening I wrestled with the e-mail problems for another hour or so. I lost.

Michael and I met at about noon and stopped at Subway again for lunch. I tried the chicken breast sub that he had ordered the first time. I must congratulate Subway. I did not think that it was possible to remove every last bit of flavor from chicken, but their master chefs have perfected a method of achieving this seemingly unattainable result. I guess that they expected you to pile on all kinds of toppings and sauces to make it palatable.

The first cash prize of my bridge career.

We then walked across the street to the Convention Center. Our first stop was the prize room, where we claimed our $2 bills for finishing first in C in our section in the side game on Thursday evening. We then met with Pat and Bob, who handed us our vouchers for $11 for winning the compact knockout. Since Bob had already paid for the afternoon session, we saved our vouchers for the evening.

The brackets that were posted on the wall allowed us to find our tables. Michael and I played against a pair of ladies from Alabama. We thought that we had played pretty well in the first twelve hands – certainly much better than we had played in the first session of the previous round. There were no big swing hands, however, and our opponents did not make any glaring mistakes. Since we knew that our teammates were much more experienced than we were, Michael and I were a little surprised that we lost the first twelve boards by five IMPs. However, that was not a large margin, and we were pretty confident that we could execute another comeback in the second half.

In the second half Michael and I bid and made a good slam, but it was not enough. We lost the last half by exactly the same margin of five IMPs. I could have been a hero if I had just led the king of clubs instead of the king of hearts on the tenth trick of the last hand. If I had, we would have set our opponents on a vulnerable game that our teammates made; not doing so endplayed Michael so that the opponents won the last trick, and I never got my king of clubs. That trick would have been just enough to turn the match in our favor. I played quite well for twenty-three hands and, in fact, almost all of the twenty-fourth. Often, however, bridge results turn on what do not seem like important decisions at the time. The best players seldom make this kind of mistake.

Disappointment shadowed the faces of my teammates: Bob, Michael, and Pat.

For all practical purposes our tournament was over. There were still two sessions in which we could play, Saturday evening and Sunday morning, but people come to Gatlinburg for the knockouts, and there were no knockouts left.

All four of us were a little despondent when we went to supper at the Cherokee Grill. Our waitress, who was named Felicia (or something like that), was definitely easy on the eyes, but she seemed to have a hard time keeping the orders straight. She did get mine right – a half slab of baby back ribs. When I substituted rice for steak fries and named broccoli as my side dish, Felicia remarked “Aren’t you the healthy one!” I considered a few ripostes, but I discretely managed to keep them behind my teeth.

In the evening Michael and I used our vouchers to pay for our entry in the side game. The competition this time was, for some reason, much tougher than it was on Thursday evening. We enjoyed ourselves, but we only scored a 41.06% game. Nevertheless, believe it or not, that was still good enough to finish second in C. So, we even scratched when we had a bad game.

Sandy DeMartino (left) used her position as chairperson of the ACBL Goodwill Committee to promote drug usage among novice players.

The highlight for me was when we played against Sandy DeMartino, who was the chairperson of the Goodwill Committee for the ACBL. I asked her how it came to be that the common expression “good will” had become transmogrified into one word. She was stumped by my query. Joyce Stiefel, who was kibitzing, was tickled by my question. She said, “Leave it to Mike to come up with a question like that!” I then gave voice to the ignorant opinion that people had seen so many signs for the Goodwill stores that they sort of slid into considering it one word.[3]

Sandy also offered two words of advice (and encouragement) for Sue, who at the time was facing two knee-replacement operations within the next two months: “Take drugs!” I promised to pass on the message.

We were warned by one of the local players that it might require up to two hours to get to the airport on Sunday. The weekend of the Gatlinburg tournament always coincided with a car show in Pigeon Forge, which was on the way to the airport using the highway. The traffic for the event was legendary in those parts.

I left it up to Michael to arrange for our transportation to the airport on Sunday. He seemed to think that the people who ran the tournament should not have ordered the attendees not to use Touch of Paradise.[4] He made reservations for us to leave on Sunday at 3:00 in the afternoon. They evidently convinced him that there had been a misunderstanding about the rate. It would cost us $60 to return, which was the published rate.

When we got back to the hotel, I searched on Google for solutions to my e-mail problems. I found some interesting ideas there, but I could still not get it to work.

I called Sue again to tell her about our disappointing day at bridge and to let her know that I would be arriving in Hartford at a little after midnight after our last day in Gatlinburg.

[1]  Women my age are very old.

[2]  I never did discover what occasioned the parade.

[3]  I looked this up on the Internet. I found two theories: (1) Either one word or two words can be used interchangeably; (2) “Good will” is appropriate when used as a noun; “goodwill” is appropriate as an adjective. I found no mention of the charitable organization as the source of any change in usage.

[4]  This taxi company unquestionably has the worst web site on the Internet. You can find it here.