I love the Grand National Teams (GNT) event. It probably has something to do with the fact that I have experienced a lot of success in the event. Between District 8 (Illinois without Chicago) and District 12 (Michigan), I have three district wins in flight C (non Life Master), two in flight B (0-2000 masterpoints) and three in flight A (0-5000 masterpoints), in addition to being augmented to a flight A winning team one year. The victories and the subsidies that come along with them have allowed me to be at many NABC’s that I might not have attended otherwise. So, this event has been very good to me.
This year I was looking forward to putting together another strong flight A team, along with one of my favorite partners, Kevin Fay. Unfortunately, those plans were derailed when I received notice that my cousin’s daughter was getting married in July right in the middle of the GNT finals in New Orleans. There was no consideration of missing this wedding, so I had planned on skipping the district event.
Fate intervened however last Wednesday when I received a semi-frantic email from another friend asking if I was available to play on his team in the Open flight because one of their team members had a sudden work situation come up that precluded him from playing at the district finals. Deciding that it would be fun to play in the open flight, I agreed. I found out that I would be playing with two men that I have known for some time, like a lot, but with whom I have never before partnered.
Six teams entered the open flight and every team had excellent players, including one team that boasted several national championships. In fact, the amateur handicappers in the room rated my team as the long shot in the field. The format of the event was a full round robin of eleven board matches on the first day with the top two finishers playing a 56-board final on Sunday. We finished the round robin 4-1 with 62 VP’s, good enough for second behind the leaders 63 VP’s.
In the finals we started slowly, losing the first quarter by 26. Fortunately, we won the second quarter by 40 to take a fourteen IMP lead into halftime. The second half was tight all the way through with us winning the third quarter by three and the final quarter by seven for a 24 IMP victory. It was a total team victory. Everyone played very well. My two partners were strong and we had no systemic failures. I personally felt very good about how I played. Out of the 111 boards, I made only one obvious egregious error because 1) it was one of the final boards on the qualifying day and 2) declarer’s distribution surprised me and I thought there was no chance for the defense. So, that does identify for me an area for improvement in working on every hand no matter the time of day or what has occurred.
Now, as I cue up Alanis’s “Isn’t It Ironic?” in the background, I have my first opportunity to play in the Open GNT finals at the nationals, totally serendipitously. But I can’t take advantage of it because of the wedding. Of course had there been no wedding, I wouldn’t have been playing in the open flight anyway, so I never would have had the opportunity in any situation. Nonetheless, it felt good to win and to know that I can compete at that level. And now I have a complete set of at least one district GNT win in each flight.
As for next year, I will probably be back in the flight A competition. The reason for that is with the success I’ve had on the district level, I’ve yet to win one of the national events despite coming very close on many occasions. In the flight A alone, teams that I have been on have lost in the final once and in the semi-final three times. So, I do have a goal to win one of these type events at the nationals before I move to the open flight exclusively. I do plan on being in New Orleans following the GNT event with a strong team for the Mini-Spingold event. If by chance my team was to win that, re-evaluation may be in order, but that is a couple of months away.
Here are a few bidding problems from the weekend. The theme appears to be dealing with opponents’ preempts. I’ll post the at-the-table results in the comments after folks have had time to respond. Assume IMP scoring for all questions.
1. w/r, ♠x ♥AKQ109xx ♦9xxx ♣Q
2. r/w, ♠9xx ♥AK ♦Jxxx ♣AKJx
3. w/w, ♠J ♥KQJx ♦Qx ♣Q10xxxx
4. r/w, ♠Kx ♥AQxxx ♦A ♣AJ109x
6 thoughts on “Irony, thy name is Bridge”
1. 4H, thinking about slam but pretty sure RHO is going to win trick 2 by overruffing dummy with his JX heart.
2. Pass Pass Pass Pass!
3. Pass, I can’t think of an intelligent way to decide the right strain or level. 2nd choice 5nt.
4. 4D, shows any two suiter. I don’t object to 3H though.
Hemmer, you nincompoop!
1) 5H, I don’t like to play scared, like some people.
2) OK Fine, agree with pass. You got one!!!
3) WTF? I decide the right strain by bidding it! 5C, if we make 6… oh well!! Preempts work! (BTW, nice aces you have on defense there!)
4) Not sure that your made-up convention is exactly standard. I would just bid 3H for lack of anything better.
4) It is standard, I googled “Michaels” and checked first! At this high level 4D needs to be flexible enough for any 2-suiter.
1) What the heck is 5H supposed to mean? you can jump to 4H or cuebid then bid hearts or cuebid and then jump in hearts. I think if you whip out 3D-X-P-5H at the table your pard is going to have his head explode.
Is this a magic deck of cards? Did you get these cards from the same guy who sold Jack his beanstalk beans?
How do you know RHO has Jx of hearts? Ah, guesswork, the foundation of sound bridge bidding everywhere. I just bids what I gots, and I gots a slam invite. 5H, and not close for me.
2. Pass, but feel dirty about it.
3. clubs or hearts might be right, but I don’t have the values to pass. Partner said “sit with defense, bid with shape”. I just bids what I gots, and I gots shape! 5C for me.
4. Hardest one of the bunch. 4D Michaels shows the majors. If partner bids 4S and I bid 5C, that sounds like a cue. Plus I’m not sure I want to force to the 5-level with this hand. If partner bypasses 4H to bid 4S, now we could be a level too high in hearts. Partner understands that we might be jammed up by the preempt; he’ll bid on if he’s got something. 3H for me.
Here’s what happened at the table.
1. I bid 5H. 4H is definitely not enough. Partner bid 6 and put down AQxxx Jxx x AKxx. So, twelve tricks were cold by ruffing a diamond with the heart jack. At the other table, the opening bid was 2D. Then, over the double my hand bid 3D and then 4H over 3S, where they played.
2. I fell from grace and double and paid for it by putting my partner in 3H down 2.
3. At the other table, the person with this hand passed. Opener had 9(!) spades and a doubleton diamond. So, the well placed diamond king in dummy was the tenth trick.
I actually didn’t face this problem, as my partner bid 4N with J Axxx AQx AKJxx. Unusual, but effective here. Of course, I would NOT have passed the double with a six card side suit. My problem consisted of whether to bid 5 or 6. With no aces, I decided to soft pedal it and bid just 5. With clubs being 1-1, if you bid 5H on this you will survive as well.
4. 4D shows the majors. Brian’s analysis is correct as to what will happen there. I decided that I was too good for a simple 3H, so I doubled, intending to show a flexible hand by bidding 4C if partner bid 3S, and passing if partner bid 4S. Here, partner crossed me up by bidding 3N over the double. I passed that and a good 6C contract was missed. Partner had Axx xx Jxxx KQxx. Still hard to get to over 3H.