Polly's Bridge Blog

Blogging my bridge travails nationwide.

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Posts from Philadelphia ACBL Nationals, July 2012

posted Aug 20, 2012, 6:27 PM by Polly Siegel

I posted several articles on bridgewinners.com during the Philadelphia Nationals.  Here are the links to those articles:

Posts for the first half of 2012

posted Aug 20, 2012, 6:20 PM by Polly Siegel   [ updated Aug 20, 2012, 6:28 PM ]

I've been posting on bridgewinners.com of late rather than here, so I'll list the articles and polls I've posted thus far should you find this blog and want to read them.  I'll try to remember to post links to new articles here as I write them in the future.

Feb 21, 2012: Playing Up

Mar 13, 2012: Leading From 3 Medium

Apr 23, 2012: What's Your Ruling?

Jun 24, 2012: A Matchpoint Decision

That should catch us up through the end of June!

Ringing in the new year!

posted Jan 28, 2012, 10:13 PM by Polly Siegel

Well, I didn't realize that it's been over a month since I last posted.  It was a busy holiday, and then I went to the Monterey Regional for the entire week (the benefits of being unemployed), and then I've simply been playing bridge and helping bridgewinners.com get their new site ready for launch.  So it's been a busy month!

To recap for 2011, I wound up finishing the year with 360 or so points (and ending the year no longer in C, surpassing the 750 point mark), winning my unit & district MiniMcKenney and finishing 3rd in the nation.  I also won the unit Ace of Clubs for the third year in a row.   I met most of my goals for last year, as I wound up playing in three National events at Nationals (but not doing very well in any of them).

For 2012, I am still formulating my bridge goals.  The goals I didn't reach last year carry over into this year slightly modified:

  • Improve my competitive bidding -- continuously getting better, but still have moments of suckitude.
  • Place in the top 3 in an A/X Swiss event -- I've only placed once, so this will be a good goal to have.
  • Make it to day 2 in a NABC National pairs event (e.g., Red Ribbon Pairs, mini-Blue Ribbon Pairs).  Still searching for this.
  • Make it to day 2 in a NABC National multi-day team event.  Played in several team games last year but didn't make it to the second day.
  • Get my first Platinum points (from something other than match wins).  Still searching for them!
  • Learn how to identify, plan and execute a real squeeze. Still working on it
  • Place in the top 3 overall in an unlimited open pairs event.  Okay, this was definitely a goal of mine.  Today Kurt Siedenburg and I won the overall in the two-session pairs event at the Pleasanton Sectional, so I think I can check this one off!
  • Make Silver Life Master (1000 points). I ended the year at 755 and am already over 800 having gotten 50 points thus far this month.  I don't expect this pace to continue, however.  But this goal should be well within reach.
I still have to work on more goals for the year, but the above are certainly a good starting point!

Four wrongs never make a right, but sometimes it works out anyway!

posted Dec 12, 2011, 4:24 PM by Polly Siegel   [ updated Dec 13, 2011, 9:26 AM ]

Today at the club playing with Franklin Gonzalez for only the third time, I was dealt the following hand:

AQxx Kxx x KQJxx

My righty opened 1D, I doubled. Lefty passed.  My partner jumped to 4S.  WHOA!   With my singleton diamond, I had visions of slam dancing in my head.  I trot out Blackie, and he answers 5C -- 1 or 4 keycards.  Well, given that I have only one keycard, should I have asked?  Probably not. But  I figured we were cold for 5 based on his bid (which we were) and that it was safe to ask.  Hearing his response, I bid 5S.  My partner now went to 6.  I rethought his response... if he can go to 6, I can go to 7!   (Sometimes one's logic is flawed when you're in the slam zone.)   Everyone passes, so we must be cold, right? 

Righty leads the Ace of clubs.  Oops!  What had I done?

Unphased, Franklin calls for a low club.  Lefty follows and partner ruffs in his hand.  WHOA!  Hmm.  Maybe this contract is actually possible!   Now Franklin floats the 9 of spades.  What?  It holds.  He plays the ten which flushes out the King, won by the Ace, with lefty following.  Trumps split 2-2.  Nice!

Next, he proceeds to play the clubs from the top, which are 5-4-4-0 around the table.  He pitches a heart and three diamonds.  He plays a low heart to his hand, at which point lefty flies with the Ace, ruffed in hand.  Now the King of hearts is set up!  

He next plays the Ace of diamonds -- yes, he did have one key card -- and ruffs a diamond.  Then he pitches another diamond on the heart and crossruffs the rest of the hand, making 7, even though we were off two aces and the king of trump!   His hand was a 5-1-7-0 six count:

JT9xx  x  AJxxxxx --

I felt kinda bad and embarrassed because it really was a conglomeration of several bad bids... but I guess four wrongs occasionally do make a right!  (The rest of our game we played very sensibly, rationally and well to finish with a 69%, but this bidding sequence I'm not proud of.)  Oh, and the 2.5 points we got for winning puts me at 749.98 MPs, just .02 short of my yearly goal!

Eschewing the finesse

posted Dec 10, 2011, 9:36 PM by Polly Siegel   [ updated Dec 15, 2011, 8:34 PM ]

In today's STAC-week game at the club, playing East, I picked up the following hand playing against one of the best pairs in the room:

AJx  AKxxxx xx Ax

The bidding proceeded as follows, North the dealer:

P - 1H - P - 1N (1)
P - 3H - P - 4H

1) Forcing

Perhaps 3H was a bit of an overbid, but my hand was a little too strong to simply rebid 2H.   Dummy came down as follows:




This contract looked a bit dicey.  Maybe I shouldn't have jumped after all!  I counted my losers, and it was looking like I'd lose one heart if the suit broke okay, since I didn't have great spots, I'd lose one club, one or two diamonds, and possibly one spade if I didn't find the queen.  Gulp!

I got the lead of the queen of clubs, which I decided to win in hand right away.  There was no postponing the inevitable!   

I tackled the trump suit by leading low to the J, protecting against a bad split.  Lefty followed, and the jack was won by righty with the queen.  Another club shot back, and then another one which I ruffed in hand.  I now played the ace and king of hearts, everyone following.  Two suits down, two to go!

Diamonds was the next one to tackle.  I reasoned that if the contract was going to make, then the ace of diamonds had to be on my left, so I played for that to happen.  I led low to the king, and lefty shot up with the ace.  A relief, since I was going to soon have to make a decision on which card to play.

Another club came back, which I ruffed again in hand.  I now led another low diamond and won with the king.  I ruffed the ten of diamonds in my hand, with the queen fluttering down on my left as I did so.  Lefty had discarded her fourth diamond somewhere along the way.  

Now I was able to pitch my third spade on the remaining diamond, and successfully eschewed TWO finesses to make my contract!  It turns out that the queen of spades was to my right... who knows whether I would have been able to figure that out had I taken the finesse.

We ultimately ended up with a 65+% game, which is probably my best result ever during STAC week. (Update: We won C in the district, and finished 3rd in B over 437 tables (!) for 11.43 12.11 points!) It was definitely nice to have a great game after being battered and bruised from Nationals!

Seattle wrapup

posted Dec 10, 2011, 9:22 PM by Polly Siegel

Well, I did indeed get pretty sick during Nationals.  I discovered that I play poorly tired, and I also play poorly sick.  I went to the drugstore to stock up on medications to get me through the event, and they did.  But I really didn't play that well for the remainder of the tournament and we didn't have much success.  Still, playing in the big events was really amazing, no matter how we fared.  It was terrific competition, and we got to play against some amazing players.  I felt like we did okay, but we have so far to go still.

So, goals achieved for the year at this tourney: play in a National event (two and a half of them -- the mini-Blue Ribbon pairs being only a semi-national event, since it's limited to those under 5000 points), and win a compact KO (finally! that monkey's off my back!).   I'll have to wait until next year to get my first platinum points.

Seattle Fall Nationals, Day 4: Compact KOs

posted Nov 28, 2011, 5:27 PM by Polly Siegel

Last night I started to feel very bad during our last match.  Bad sick that is.  Kurt had been sick prior to Thanksgiving, and it looks like I caught his cold.  I slept poorly as a result of all the congestion.  I went to the drugstore this morning to get some cold remedies and tea, and so far it's working.

We entered a new Compact KO with our regular teammates Glenn & Kathy, as Ken & Joel were already committed.  Our first match was a very N/S match.  We won handily.  Our second match was another very N/S match, but on this one, we had a few more swings.  We wound up tying the match and had to play in a two-board playoff which we lost by 1 IMP.  Sigh.  It later turned out that two boards were scored out of order, and when we retallied up the corrected scores, it looked like we lost by 3 IMPs and the playoff wasn't necessary.    Oh well!

Tonight we will play in Swiss.

Seattle Fall Nationals, Day 3: Open BAM

posted Nov 28, 2011, 5:23 PM by Polly Siegel

Yesterday we played in the National-level event Open Board-a-Match (BAM).   There was a companions women's BAM going on concurrently which siphoned off some of the best women.  We played with our teammates from yesterday, Joel & Ken.  

Board-a-Match is a really fun event.  It's run like a pairs game with two board rounds, but when you're playing two given boards, your teammates are playing the same boards against the teammates of your opponents.  You score those boards only against the other team:  1 match point for a win, .5 for a tie, and 0 for a loss.

Randy & I thought we had a pretty good game the first session.  Our teammates did not, and we only ended up with 7.5 match points (13 is average).  The second round, we played our very first board against the Nickell team, which includes two of the top players in the world: Jeff Meckstroth and Eric Rodwell.  Eric was sitting North, and our teammates played against them.  We played against their teammates.  

One of the most interesting boards of the match came up in that round.  I held a nice 5-3-3-2 14 count with a nice heart suit.  The bidding started off innocuously enough with my lefty opening 1D.  The bidding proceeded as follows:

1D - P - 2D(1) - 2H (me)
X - P - P - P

1) Inverted, shows a limit raise or better in diamonds, typically denying a four-card major.

I went for -1100.  Ouch!   At the other table, the bidding started out exactly the same way, with Rodwell bidding 2H in my seat.  Unfortunately, our teammates bid on to a barely makable game.  The opener held four hearts to the AQ and a minimum; the responder had a slightly better than opening hand.  My partner had 1 point, two hearts, and no way to get to his hand.  It just shows you the types of competitive decision making that the best are capable of!

We wound up winning the other board against them.  We bid to a diamond partscore, making 4, and they bid to an unmakable 3N.   Our teammates had a better second round (although they did go for -2000 on one board, sacrificing against a slam that we didn't bid, so it really didn't matter), and we ended up with 10 match points for the evening session.  Not terrific, but better than the first session!

Regardless, it was really fun to play against the best!  It just goes to show you how much you have to learn.

Seattle Fall Nationals, Day 2: Compact KOs

posted Nov 27, 2011, 11:29 AM by Polly Siegel

Since both our BAM teammates and us didn't make it to day 2 of the Life Master Pairs, we decided to team together to play a compact knockouts.  Compact knockouts are a tweeny form of team game -- you play shorter 12-board matches, with the winner advancing, and the loser playing another team that lost in their first match.  The first and second rounds take place in one session, and then the third and fourth rounds (the "money" rounds) take place in a second session.  The KO completes in a single day, which is perfect for those who are waiting for the next big event to start, as we and many others are.

Our team had about 3100 points which put us in the second to bottom bracket.  The first match was straightforward, and we won handily.  Match 2 was more of a fight.  Randy and I bid our way into a 6S slam, which if it hadn't been for the worst trump split ever, would have made.  Our opponents stayed at game, and we lost 13 IMPs on that board.  We lost an IMP or two here and there, and won 13 when our teammates bid and made a slam that our opponents did not.  

But the real swing board was one that we had very title to do with: both sides bid into a 6D slam which our teammates made and our opponents did not.  I'd like to take credit for setting it, but really the opponents did it all by themselves.  My partner led a club, suggested by the auction.  Dummy came down with KT on the board.  Declarer called for the king, and I won the ace.  I figured our only shot was that declarer had one more club and my partner had the queen.  I laid down the Jack of clubs to smother the ten (just in case partner didn't have the queen), and declarer, fearing a ruff (for some odd reason, since partner and I had a lot of clubs!), ruffed with the queen of trump.  Sadly for him, trumps broke 3-0 and I had the jack, so I got a trump promotion and we set the contract by 1.    Had we not, we would have lost the match by 3, because every IMP counts, and in this match, there were a lot of little one-IMP losses.  Overtricks DO matter (not at the expense of the contract, of course!).

In our third match, we met the most formidable opponents by far.  I thought we weren't doing that well from our side, but in fact, the match wasn't even close.  I made a 3N contract that our partners set at the other table.  Partner made a 4S contract that was set at the other table.   Contracts that were set at our table were set at the other.  And so on. 

The most interesting board of that match was a contract where I should have placed the contract in 3N, but instead opted for a suit.  I just had a feeling, and my feeling was correct.  Fortunately, at the other table they were also in the suit contract and also went down, which was a relief.  

I picked up the following hand, a nice 14 count:

AQ  JT7xx Kxx QTx

My partner opened 1S and the bidding proceeded as follows, the opponents silent:

1S - P - 2H (1) - P
3H - P - (tank) 4H - all pass

1) Two-over-one game force

Dummy came down:

KJxxx A9x Qxx Kx

I had gone into the tank to try to decide whether to show my two-card spade support or whether to bid 3N.  I should have followed my first instinct and bid 3N because my trump were not very good.

In fact, it was a bad 4-1 split.  Righty got a ruff early in the match.  I should have finessed the 9 when pulling trump because if they did split, I would still pick up one of the honors if I did that and then plunked down the ace.  But I did not.  So I was down 2.  (Down 1 was the proper result.)  Fortunately it didn't cost us.

The final match was very bizarre.  We played against a very nice, but rather weak team.  We were puzzled how they made it into the finals.  It could be that they were simply having a bad day.   On board 1 we bullied our way into a 3C contract which made 4.  Our teammates also brought home a positive score by setting the opponents in a different contract.  On board 2, our opponents had an inverted minor auction which opener passed!  They were cold for a slam, which our partners bid for a 15-IMP swing.    Both sides bid and made an obvious slam.  Then in the second half our opponents bid to games that we set by one or two, and bid over one of our auction which I doubled for down 1.  Of the six contracts in the second half of the match, only one was made.  

The most interesting board was one where I had a brain fart.  I picked up the following hand with neither side vulnerable:

AKJT9x  Axx x xxx

The bidding went as follows, with me bidding in fourth position:

P - P - 1H - 1S
4H - 4S - P - P
5C - P - P - 5S
X - P - P

The question was, WHAT was I thinking?  I should never have bid again.  What I was thinking was that I had very little defense if we didn't play in spades.  But really, the 5C bid wasn't intended to play... they already had their heart fit.  So I just should have PASSED, and enjoyed the positive score that was likely to result.  

Dummy comes down:

Qxxxx  Qx Kxx xxx

Pretty much what partner promised!   Yes, we had great trumps.  No we were not going to get any spade tricks if they were playing the contract.  Regardless, there was no way that 5C would make.   Fortunately, our other good boards compensated and we won the match handily to win the event!

Compact KOs are my least favorite event because of the short matches.  This turns out to be the very first one I've won, so I've finally got that monkey off my back!

Today we play in our second National event: Open BAM teams.  Board-a-match has become one of my favorite events, and one that I've done pretty well in every time I've played it.  It's not played often, however.  It's like super match points.  You're only comparing your board against the same board played against the opponents teammates.  You get scored: win lose or tie -- 1 for a win, .5 for a tie, and 0 for a loss.  So every overtrick is important, and positive scores are important.  It will be another event with an extremely high caliber players, so it will be very challenging and hopefully very fun!

Seattle Fall Nationals, Day 1: Life Master Pairs

posted Nov 26, 2011, 10:18 AM by Polly Siegel   [ updated Nov 26, 2011, 10:40 AM ]

Yesterday Randy & I entered our first National event, the Life Master Pairs.  As the name implies, you must have your life master to enter this event.  Most of the people entering are quite excellent players.  There is a companion event restricted to women, which siphons off a lot of the best women players.  Even so there were many mixed pairs in our event.

We started out playing N/S, and it turned out that we were in Meckstroth's section.  The first session was really a blast.   Everyone we played against was really really good.  We started out pretty well, but then had some bad boards towards the middle -- most of the problems being in competitive bidding situations.  Ultimately we ended up with a 42%.  Not too good, but at least it wasn't last!

The second session started at 7:30.  We were EW this time, following a really really slow pair, which was a bit annoying.  This session didn't feel as good as the first, and we ended up at 39% at the end of the day.  Needless to say, we didn't qualify, but it was a great experience nonetheless!

Today we are teaming with our Sunday BAM partners, Joel & Ken, to play in a compact KO, the event that is the bane of my bridge existence.  But this Nationals is all about getting experience, not points, so regardless, we will give it our best shot!

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