For the past 10-12 years or so, Memorial Day weekend has meant the Cleveland Regional for me. It’s relatively close with a good selection of cheap hotels and some great hospitality. On top of that, the tournament has typically been good to me. The weekend (Sat-Mon) schedule is traditionally a Saturday-Sunday KO, a Saturday-Sunday morning Swiss and the Monday Open Swiss. This year due to various issues, we were playing in just the KO and the Monday Swiss. I was playing with my frequent partner Barry Lippitt with teammates Bob Cappelli and Bob Bitterman.
After an two easy victories in the first session three-way in the KO, we moved into the “money round” of the KO. After a few hands of the session, I knew that we were definitely the favorites to win the round. However, the first twelve boards consisted of a lot of flat games and we led only 16-11. There was a lot more scoring in the second half. Unfortunately, we ran into a lot of bad luck.
The first piece of bad luck was a slam that the opponents bid that needed a side suit to break 3-3 and a lot of entries to the hand with that side suit. That all happened for 13 IMPs away.
The next bad break occurred when our opponent had ♠ xxx ♥ Jx ♦ Qxx ♣ Q10xxx with the following auction:
** either a one-suiter or 18+
^ “I didn’t come here to play 2N.” (actual quote during the bidding)
I led a spade that was ducked to declarer’s king. The doubler had exactly 18, with ♠ Kxx ♥Qxx ♦AKJ ♣AJxx. So, with the ♣K onside, this came rolling home, -400. Our teammates defended on this hand for +200 for 5 more IMPs to the bad guys.
However, the most egregious was yet to come.
|♠ AK10||♠ Jxx|
|♥ Ax||♥ Q|
|♦ KJxx||♦ AQxxxx|
|♣ KJxx||♣ A10x|
Barry and I bid these hands to 6♦, after an opening 2♥ bid. At the other table, our counterparts got a little more ambitious and bid these hands to 7♦. After the opening heart lead, both declarers tried a club to the 10, which won, checked on 3-3 clubs, which didn’t happen, and then fell back on the spade finesse for the 13th trick. The ♠Q was onside, so the 33% (one finesse plus either a 3-3 break or another finesse) grand slam cost us another 11 IMPs.
Even with all that luck, we lost the match by 5 IMPs. So, I think we rightly felt a little snake bit after the Saturday session.
On Sunday, we decided to try the Compact KO. We lost the first match largely on this auction:
Now everybody plays responsive doubles here, but I have encountered a lot of differences as to what the responsive double promises. Does the double promise, deny or say nothing about four hearts in the advancer’s hand? Our opponents got to a Moysian 4♥ that made while Barry and I were in a minor partscore. Would there be any difference if the suit bid and raised was hearts and spades was the unbid major?
That loss sent us into the consolation bracket. It appears that we played our toughest remaining opponent in the first round of the consolation. We won that match and easily won both matches in the evening to win the consolation. Here’s an indication as to how bad the opposition was. On one hand, I doubled a competitive auction to 4♠. Declarer had ♠AJx in dummy opposite ♠ KQ98xx in hand with me being to the left of declarer. Declarer led the ♠9 and ran it! He then led to the ace and overtook the jack on the way back to draw my last trump. Neither declarer nor dummy noticed anything unusual.
During the hospitality after the evening session on Sunday, those that played in the pairs game talked about these back-to-back hands (one was N-S, the other E-W, the boards have been rotated for convenience [I’ve always wanted to say that]):
Board 20 (W dealer)
|♠ AK7||♠ Q832|
|♥ AKQ9||♥ 8652|
|♦ 42||♦ AK7|
|♣ KJ86||♣ AQ|
Board 21 (W dealer)
|♠ 6||♠ AK105|
|♥ AQJ632||♥ K104|
|♦ A103||♦ Q|
|♣ AJ4||♣ KQ765|
Can you and your favorite partner confidently get to 7N on each of these hands?
On Monday, some bad luck continued in the first round of the Open Swiss. We played a weak team, but once again ended up with a set of flat hands that were played to a 4-4 tie. The Cleveland Regional uses the 30-point VP scale for all their Swiss events, so there is a large difference between tying and winning a match. It was a day that when we won, we won big, and when we lost, we lost small. So, even with a 3-3-1 record over seven matches, we finished in a tie for 6th/7th. With a 20-point scale, we likely would have finished even higher. Nonetheless, I had a fun time and look forward to this again next year.
Here are some additional problems (assume IMP scoring for them all):
1. red/white ♠ KJxxx ♥ 1098xx ♦ AQx ♣ —
2. all red ♠ AKJx ♥ KJ98xx ♦ x ♣ Ax
3. all white ♠ 109xxxx ♥ Jxx ♦ x ♣ Q10x
a. What do you bid?
b. Do you agree with the first pass?
As usual, I’m looking forward to seeing your answers in the comments.