Larry Cohenís 2014 Holiday Cruise Buttons

Larry Cohenís 2014 Holiday Cruise

Day 1 Monday December 22, 2014
Port St. Lucie - Fort Lauderdale

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I was awake at 5 a.m., but I lay in bed until 6:30. I then got up and read the last couple of chapters of Forged in the living room. Soon enough Sandy and Chris joined me and made themselves breakfast before Sandy left for her job. That notion jerked me back to reality; I had momentarily forgotten that most human adults have to go to work in the morning.

The cranes were oblivious to the perambulations of Sue and Chris.

Sue first appeared at about eight. Shortly thereafter Chris, Sue, and I took a walk around the block at about one-third of my normal pace.[1] The highlight of the outing for me was the spotting of a pair of sandhill cranes that frequented the neighborhood. Quite a few of Chris's neighbors had decorated for Christmas, but a palm tree with Christmas lights has always struck me as a little pathetic.

Good practice for Tanznia in September.

We drove to the IHOP for breakfast. For the second day in a row I anticipated scant opportunity for lunch, and so I pigged out on the country-fried steak and eggs, an offering that did not receive the "healthy choice" designation on the menu. To compensate I ordered a side of Crestor.

Florida is filled with expatriate fans of teams from New England and New York.

In the course of the morning I went through the front door of the Tsiartas house several times. During the holidays opening the door triggers a recording of Bing Crosby crooning a few bars of "Let it Snow." I must say that I hope that at least eleven months transpire before I hear that song again.

Our destination was the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood Airport in order to return the Nissan Versa to the E-Z Rental Car headquarters there. The first stop was at CVS so that I could buy some Barbasol. After that it was straight down I-95 to Fort Lauderdale. It took us about ninety minutes, which gave us plenty of time to make the 3:30 boarding deadline.

Of course they have Christmas trees in Florida.

Sue was intent on stopping at Port Everglades to drop off our luggage first, but I convinced her that it made more sense to drive straight to the airport. Otherwise, she would have to deal with the potential chaos of traffic at the pier both coming and going. I hardly ever win one of these arguments, and so I was definitely surprised when she said that I had convinced her. I am pretty sure that when Sue later saw the line of cars waiting to get into Port Everglades she was happy that the taxi driver had to deal with it, and we did not.

Returning the Versa was E-Z.

We returned the car without any problem, but the walk to the taxi stand with four suitcases, a backpack, and a carryon was pretty long and a little confusing; the route from the rental car return stations to the taxi stand is not a commonly traveled one.

Quite a few cabs awaited us at the stand, and the one assigned to us easily held our four suitcases. The cab had a credit card machine in it, and a sign on the vehicle listed the cards that the company accepted, but our driver insisted on cash. What are you going to do? I remembered that a friend with whom I had worked a few times always asked about acceptance of credit cards before he entered the cab. If the cabbie said no, he would not get in the vehicle.

Fort Lauderdale (or maybe Hollywood) from the ship.

Our check-in at Pier #12 was uneventful. Needless to say, we were careful to deny that in our entire lives we had ever met anyone who had suffered from any kind of an illness. In fact, we had a policy of refusing to associate with anyone who knew anyone who had ever had a cold or fever.

Our cabin was #1031, which was nestled behind the forward elevators a little on the port side of Deck #10. Sue had reserved an interior cabin because we expected to spend very little time there. Our luggage arrived at the cabin on time and without incident.

This is what a lifeboat drill looks like in the twenty-first century.

The Emergency Drill was held at 4:30. We went to the theater on the fourth floor, but I don't honestly remember anything that was said there.

At a little after 5 p.m. we took the elevator up to the Sky Conference Center on the fourteenth deck to register for the bridge games and to receive our badges. We also each received a copy of Larry's Lessons.

Larry Cohen did not use this excellent workbook on the 2012 cruise.

Both Larry Cohen and his wife Maria were there. Karen Harrison from the Hartford Bridge Club had asked me to say hello to Maria and to remind her about the coconut cake. I did my duty.

The Partnership Desk was run by Sandi Murray, who works for Larry, and Laurie Levin, who is from South Africa. I made arrangements there to play in the afternoon game on Monday with a lady named Carol. Sue also was matched up with a different Carol for the afternoon game. We also met the directors, Linda Green and Sheri Levy, who were also from South Africa.

The schedule for bridge would be almost the same every day:
   Larry's two-hour bridge Lesson at 9:30.
   The afternoon pairs game at 1:45.
   The evening pairs game at 8:00.

It was a little disappointing to learn that there would be no team games. I guess that with only ninety-seven players and no morning game, it would be a little difficult to schedule a Swiss or knockout. Another difficulty was that Sue and I planned on taking excursions at four ports of call, which meant that we would inevitably miss four of the lessons and four afternoon games.

At 6:00 we repaired to supper in the Silhouette Dining Room on Deck #3. Our tablemates were David and Marguerite Levin from the Boston area, Larry and Donna Fleer from Texas/Minnesota, and Maryellen Rice from Ft. Wayne, Indiana. We learned that the Levins had been married for ten years and that they met on David recognized my name from my e-mails promoting District 25 bridge tournaments. They were polite enough not to complain about them.

The evening game commenced at eight. When I informed the directors that I would be playing with Sue, they shocked me by telling me that because I had a little over a thousand masterpoints we would be considered an A team. OMG, if I write this up for, I will need to call it "The View from A Low."

As it happened we played East-West, as did both the Levins and the Fleers. The movement had us following the Levins, and the Fleers followed us. There were two sessions of five tables each. We only played fifteen boards. Evidently some of the players turned into pumpkins or something at ten o'clock.

We did not play like an A team, but we somehow turned in a 51% game. The most interesting hand for me, which is depicted at right, was one of our worst. I was sitting East. Here was our auction:

Me  South  Sue  North  

North's 2NT bid showed clubs and hearts. I had a lot to tell Sue. I wanted to inform her that:
   1. This was definitely our hand;
   2. I had good defense against one of their suits (clubs);
   3. I had pretty good spades;
   4. I had diamond support.

Sue and I were not playing my favorite convention, Unusual over Unusual. Therefore I was only able to convey one message, and I chose to let her know about my diamond support. I was afraid to double because we had not talked about what it would mean in this situation.

Day 1 was the last time that the pools were this empty.

As you can see, our best contract is 6NT, but that is not where this hand should be played. If I had doubled 2NT, which I would have if we had been playing Unusual over Unusual, South would almost certainly have bid 3 anyway. Sue could then double that bid, and we should set them at least four for 1100, better than any contract that we could make.

At about 11:30 p.m. I awoke with the sudden realization that I had left my camera bag, which contained my Canon SX50, in the Sky Conference Room. I dressed quickly and took the stairs two-at-a-time up to Deck #14 (there was no Deck #13 on this ship). The bridge room was open, but there was no sign of my camera bag.

I slept fitfully. If I could not locate that camera in the morning, I might feel compelled to violate the ship's strict policy against throwing anything into the sea and join Davey Jones in his locker.

[1]  Chris had been hobbled for several years by a chronic condition, but his health had improved dramatically after he was "rebooted" within the last few weeks before our arrival. I had long ago learned not to expect Sue to walk very fast; her nickname as a kid was "Turtle."

[2]  You may be wondering why I did not bid 5 or even 6 when Sue rebid her suit. In answer I would just note that she actually went down one in 4. My therapist has helped me repress the memory of the details of the play.