Larry Cohen’s Regional at Sea Buttons

Larry Cohen’s Regional at Sea

Day 7 Saturday December 22, 2012
At Sea

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Some of the pools for kids on deck #16.

When we awoke we soon realized that the ship was still swaying a bit. Sue related her adventures in the dance club on the previous evening. We decided to go up to the Windjammer Café for breakfast. This time I remembered to bring my camera.

Sunbathers on the left; Central Park eight decks below on the right.

I was extremely disappointed to discover that the Sky Walk was closed due to the weather. Not only was it windy; it was also quite chilly, at least for the southwestern Caribbean. I took some photos through the door of the Windjammer Café, but I was fairly certain that the results would have been much better if I could have gone outside.

Despite all of the people in the jacuzzis on deck 16, no one was allowed on the Sky Walk.

When we took the aft elevators back down to the third deck after breakfast, Sue was intrigued by the suspended pseudo-dresses that were visible from inside the elevators. I had already put away my camera, and so I did not take any photos of them.

Larry’s last lecture was on the throw-in play. I could still vividly remember the first time that I had successfully executed a throw-in play at the Simsbury Bridge Club. I was so excited that I sent an e-mail to my guru, Paul Pearson, in which I bragged about my feat.

At one point in his talk Larry offered a free bridge cruise to anyone who could find a 100 percent play on the hand that he was demonstrating. There was one taker, but his proposed line would not work if the diamond suit split 9-0. The highlight of Larry’s presentation was when he pleaded with everyone not to tell Maria that he had used the words “wife” and “pig” in the same sentence: “I use my wife as a guinea pig.” He explained that it took her a long time to be able to see throw-in plays.

I played in the Swiss with Frank, Sue, and Geri. My goal was to win one match. Geri and Sue had not won any masterpoints on the cruise yet, and I did not want them to go home empty-handed.

Our first match got off to a terrible start. One of our opponents, a lady from Alaska, spilled half of a cup of coffee on the table. I thought that this might be one of the teams that we should have been competitive with, but we lost decisively. I did not fret too much. Losing decisively in the first round of a Swiss is not necessarily a bad idea.[1]

We lost the second round by snatching defeat from the jaws of victory on the last two hands. On the penultimate hand Frank bid 5 when he should have doubled (he held AK, KQ, and Kx when they inserted 4 after I had opened 3), and on the last hand, when he did double, I was unable to contribute even one trick. That last one was certainly understandable; I would never gainsay any partner who held the AKJ10 of trump the right to double a 4 contract.

Geri listened attentatively to my inspirational pep talk at lunch.

At that point we were grouped with the other two teams with poor records in a three-way for the third round; the second half would be played in the fourth round. This arrangement worried me a lot. There would be another three-way that occupied rounds five and six. The directors would undoubtedly place the three teams with the worst records after round four in the three-way, provided that they had not already been in a three-way. We would have just played the other two teams that had amassed poor records after two rounds. There might therefore not be many weak teams left for us to play in rounds five and six. I suspected, therefore, that our chances of avoiding getting shut out might very well depend on our performance in the three-way.

Sue was too hungry.

Lunch time found us in two close matches. We trailed team #20 by five points, but we were ahead of team #24 by three points. We desperately needed to win one of these two matches; we needed to find our A game for the round after lunch.

As team captain I took command of the situation. I proposed denying food to my teammates in order to hone their competitive edge. For some reason I was outvoted. The four of us took the elevator up to the Windjammer again. Again I brought my camera, and again the Sky Walk was closed.

Deck 8 from above.

After lunch I returned to the stateroom. On the way I stopped on the eighth floor, and walked across the area called Central Park. It defied credulity, but this area was actually open to the sky even though there were nine decks above it. I was amazed at how strong the breeze was even though the area was protected by eight or nine decks of ship on all sides. I was actually quite chilly, something I never expected to experience on this cruise.

A stroll through Central Park.

A strange thing happened over lunch. One team decided to drop out of the Swiss. Since this left an even number of teams, the directors terminated our three-way, and put us back into head-to-head competition against a team that had not been in the three-way. We lost that match by a score of 19-12, but we won the last two matches. So, Geri and Sue each earned a half point.[2]

We won the last two matches!

I do not know in which match she accomplished this feat, but Sue was proud of herself for executing a throw-in play. She told Larry that she had been able to use what he had taught her. She had the right to be thrilled about that. She probably had less experience than anyone else who was playing in the tournament, and she held her own and was able to put what she learned into practice.

A cocktail party for all of the bridge players was held at 5:00 in the Viking Crown Lounge on deck #17. Wine and hors d’oeuvres were served. Larry presented awards to the players in each category who had earned the most points. He also recognized the four players who had made Life Master during the cruise. One of them was Ann Crawford, our teammate in the second knockout. Our victory in the first match did not help her; she had achieved her rank on the previous day.

Frank took these photos of the hors d’oeuvres that were served.

Wait a minute. Where were those little pigs-in-the-blanket? I love those, and I didn’t get any.

Geri, whose sister was also on the cruise, told Sue that she had enjoyed playing with her. She also disclosed that she had been married to the same man for fifty-four years.

Pogo and Dave at the party.

I made sure that I had e-mail addresses for Geri, Frank, and the Albigs. I was very surprised to learn that the pattern of Frank’s e-mail address was the same as mine: He said that his son had set up a website for all of the family to use. I also had set up a website, but I had no intention of allowing any family members near it.

Proof that I attended.

Pogo asked me about alerts. I told her that I would e-mail her and Dave the link to the ACBL webpage that explains all of the rules of alerts and announcements.

Frank was the semi-official photographer for the cocktail party and awards ceremony. He took snapshots of all of the winners as well as the staff members. He spent most of the rest of the time taking photos of any women who would agree to pose for him. If there had been an award for most congenial player (male), Frank would certainly have received the votes of most of the female participants.

Frank captured the mood in these photos.

Larry surrounded by his staff.

The new Life Masters posed with Larry.

After the cocktail party Frank loaned me his camera. When I arrived at our stateroom, I fired up my laptop and downloaded his photos. Unbeknownst to me, Sue told Larry that I would arrange for him to be able to upload Frank’s photos from my website.

Worn with pride by like-minded competitors around the globe.

Our last supper together was a very pleasant occasion. I returned Frank’s camera to him and I presented him with the “Cheat to Win” bracelet that I had worn all week.

Boney and another waiter on parade.

During the meal the waiters took part in a silly parade. After supper we said goodbye to Frank and the Albigs and to the other diners at our table.

When I saw Odeon in the hallway, I gave him an envelope that contained a $20 bill.[3] I confided how much Sue and I loved the animals that he had created from towels and left in our cabin. He had a big grin on his face.

As usual, Sue stayed up much of the night and packed. As usual, I fell right asleep.

[1]  I wrote a blog entry about this subject. You can read it here.

[2]  I did not understand why we did not get credit for half of a victory in the three-way. I sent an e-mail to the head director, Su Doe, about this matter, and she assured me that she would take care of it.

[3]  This was in addition to the standard tip amount, which was paid by the package that we had purchased from Alice Travel.