Larry Cohenís Regional at Sea Buttons

Larry Cohenís Regional at Sea

Day 12 Thursday December 27, 2012

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I woke up very early and went to the bathroom. I lay in bed for an hour or so before I fell back to sleep. I felt quite lazy when I finally arose again at 7:30. My back was sore again.

I could tell from the thermometer that rested on a shelf above Artís television that it was only 49 degrees outside. It never made it to 60.

I had brought just enough clean clothes to last me through the scheduled trip. I did not have enough for two more days. So, I did a small load of laundry.

I shaved with an extremely dull razor blade before I took my shower.

I connected to the Internet and checked in at the Southwest website. This time we were assigned positions 10 and 11 in B.

Sue cooked sausage and eggs for a late breakfast, and it was accompanied by fresh orange juice. Art surprisingly ate with us. I think that the smell of the sausage cooking may have influenced the decision to supplement his ordinary diet of oatmeal.

The bridge club was located on the second floor of this bank.

Sue checked in by phone with the director at the Clearwater Duplicate Bridge Club. She told him that we planned to attend the game at 12:30.

We drove to the bridge club, which was located on the second floor of a Regions Bank Building on Sunset Point Road. It was less than ten minutes from Artís house, and we had no trouble finding it.

The card that Mark and I played.

The director introduced me to my partner for the session, Dr. Mark Goldschmidt.[1] Mark and I had only a few minutes to scribble a convention card that we both could tolerate. Like Frank Evangelista, he used Meckwell as a defense against a strong 1NT opening. DONT is more popular in New England. I learned that Markís wife had recently undergone chemo. This event and its aftermath had rendered his bridge schedule unpredictable. That was why he was without a partner for the game that day.

We had a few shaky moments, but we ended up first in C, which was not bad in a twelve-table open game. Since the event was designated as a club championship, this earned us 1.59 masterpoints. I managed to make two doubled contracts: 5 and 6. The opponent in the second case admitted before he played the red card that he was doubling because our bidding seemed so shaky. The diamond contract was even more outlandish. Here was the auction:

Me    LHO    Mark    RHO    
5 (!)DblPP

I got this photo of Mark from the clubís website.

After seeing the natural 2 overcall on my left, I prudently checked the quality of the heart stoppers in my solid 1NT opener and discovered that I had four diamonds, three spades, three clubs, and three diamonds. Thatís correct. I had two diamond suits and no hearts. I made the contract easily, but our nine top tricks would have brought home 3NT, too.

I was surprised to see someone whom I knew at the last table. Cherry McLaughlin, against whom I had played many times in regional and sectional games in Connecticut, sat in the South chair.

Mark made a reckless bid on the very last hand, but it did not actually cost us anything. We would have had to score much better than we did to get any more points.

Sue also played East-West and was two tables behind Mark and me throughout the session. She and her partner (still another Alex!) earned .55 master points, which was more than she had received on the entire cruise. The best part was that they did not make her fly to Jamaica first.

Sue and I both had a great time. The club was very nice, and everyone made us feel comfortable.

After the game we ambled over to the Publix and bought some groceries. I made sure that our purchases included a liter of Diet Coke and a 24-ounce can of Corona Extra, which Sue and I intended to share.

Both Art and Babe dozed off during the Belk Bowl.

I stopped and fill up the Cruz with gasoline at the very crowded Hess station. I certainly could not pass up paying $2.999[2] per gallon, and neither could the frugal Clearwaterers (Clearwaterians?). I had to maneuver around the pumps a few times until I could pull into the left side of one of them. Then I could not figure out how to work the gas tank cover. Sue made me feel like an idiot when she gave it a gentle push. and it popped open.

Back at Artís house neither of us could get on to the Internet at all.

How much pie do you want with your whipped cream?

I sat with Art, watched television, and worked on the journal while Sue cooked. This was how God intended the world to work. We then consumed another delicious meal of baked chicken thighs, potato salad, broccoli, and carrots. Art ate with us.

In the evening we watched the Belk Bowl. Duke got off to a good start against Cincinnati, but by halftime it was obvious that the Bearcats were a far superior team.

We all had room for pumpkin pie for dessert.

Sue made sure that the alarm clock worked and set it for 4:15. She was still packing when I fell asleep at about 10 oíclock.

[1]  I later discovered that Mark was a celebrity. A plaque on the wall of the bridge room celebrated him as one of the top ten doctors of all time (below Dr. Seuss but ahead of Dr. J). He was also the vice-president of the bridge club.

[2]  I threw away the receipt. Sorry.