06 August 2010

Bridge in the south!


This summer, I had the pleasure of attending the 2010 North American Bridge Championships in New Orleans, Louisiana. I was more than thrilled after competing at last year's Youth NABC in Washington DC with my temporary partner Brian Hamrick, so I decided to bring Sam, my now-regular partner, to play. Brian would be playing with Lenny. The four of us had learned precision in the past year, but had slightly different systems. Perhaps the biggest difference was that Brian and Lenny have used their system against real people (they go to a local club), whereas Sam and I would be test-driving our system at the NABC. Like every other eager bridge player, we made all housing arrangements in February and planned out daily activities as soon as ACBL released the game schedule. I also took the opportunity to apply for a $500 subsidy by my local bridge section for going to the NABC, which I received, and am grateful for their support.

On the mild Saturday night on which Sam and I arrived, the four of us played a one session 299er Swiss. It went pretty well. On the hand that I held a decent 15 point hand with AKQJ seventh of spades, Sam raised me to game with a spade void after I made a jump rebid. It made! We were happy that Precision is working. I can't say I was surprised that the guys wanted to dive into bridge, but I was surprised that I did not collapse or deteriorate in the middle of the session, contrary to last year.

Sunday was a day full of bridge. After losing the first round of the Morning Compact KO, we entered a two-session Bracketed Swiss. Unfortunately, on one board, the opponents called the director on us because we had a miscommunication while bidding. Later that night we signed up for the Mini Spingold 0-1500 just for fun.

Monday was another day full of bridge, but thankfully it was the last three-session day. In the morning, we handily won the Compact KO Consolation. Then at 1PM we played a session of the Mini Spingold. We did surprisingly well in the first quarter, but not as well the second quarter. We lost more in the last two quarters, but did better than the second quarter. Sam and I did well, unfortunately at the expense of our opponents (at the end of 56 boards we seemed to have destroyed our opps' marriage. oops.) I psyched on a board by accident, having miscounted the point cards, so I opened 1D with 9 points but with AQ sixth of diamonds. Sam, thinking I had a decent hand, bid 3NT after a pesky opps' overcall. Guess what? It made! :D

Taking a break from Swiss teams, we played the Gold Rush pairs event on Tuesday. Like the name suggests, this event awards Gold masterpoints! Sam and I did OK in the morning, but were ultimately hampered by our poor defense.

Wednesday was another two-session pairs game, the National 199ers. Again, due to our subpar defense, Sam and I were massacred in the morning, finishing third to last in our direction. The opponents played nearly all the contracts. However, we made our epic comeback in the afternoon. We played as many contracts as possible, and stole contracts as much as we could. Our efforts launched us into 4th place overall!

Thursday begins the Youth NABC. The morning pairs went okay, but not as well as it could have. I had the pleasure of playing a 7NT, courtesy of Sam, and it made! Apparently it was supposed to involve a double squeeze because clubs split 5-0, but as I finessed the person with the clubs, he didn't cover high enough so I got an easy 13th trick ^_^ Sam and I finished third in our direction. The swiss match in the afternoon went pretty well. We tied for second place, with first place finishing just one victory point ahead.

Friday was the National Youth Pairs, sponsored by Baron Barclay's bridge supplies. To our dismay, the cards treated us poorly; the opps had most of the contracts and our sacrifices got doubled. Simply put, we got massacred. Finishing a dismal third to last in our direction, we had no chance of qualifying for the actual event, but we did get 0.20 pity (master)points. The same thing happened to Brian and Lenny. We decided not to play in the consolation game, but went for a session in the Midnight Zip KO just for fun. It went very fast; the opps that Sam and I faced had a very convoluted system and played very quickly. We were done with three boards in approximately ten minutes and the remaining three soon after. Unfortunately, we got knocked out. Still, that doesn't change the fact that it was fun!

Also, midnight knockouts redefine a popular phrase. The phrase no longer goes ``you snooze, you lose'', but ``you lose, you snooze''. Losers get to sleep first while winners have to keep playing. Who would have known?

Saturday was our last game day and the last day of YNABC. We participated in the National Youth Swiss Teams, a two session long swiss game. We ended up doing well (finishing first in C, fourth in B, and 7th overall), but not as well as we had hoped because of unfortunately placed cards. On one of the 3NT contracts the opps played, the dummy, sitting south, had AQT fourth of hearts, east held KJ third of hearts, and west had three low ones. Oh well, at least we blitzed C. In another hand in which I had the pleasure of 3D with a 4-3 trump fit, one of the opps showed out of diamonds on the first round of drawing trumps. Oh dear, a 6-0 trump split. *sobs* At least we didn't get doubled! 3D-4 vul is pretty bad enough. On yet another board, I overcalled a 15-17 1NT with 1 point, holding 5 hearts to the jack and effectively preempted the opponents out of a slam.

On *yet* yet another board, LHO opened 1S and Sam overcalled 2H. Looking at my 23 point hand with heart support, I was so excited and immediately launched into RKC. Sam showed no keycards so we stopped at 5H, which went down. Little did I know that Sam overcalled with 3 points. Oh well.

In sum, the week was very exciting. I have to say that I was actually looking forward to playing, but didn't expect to play this much (~400 boards). Unfortunately, this came at a cost of not being able to explore the culture-filled area. At least we had plenty of seafood for dinner!

Random discoveries

  • Precision works! Apparently some people haven't heard of it. Asking bids clear up everything and make slam bidding very easy and not nerve wracking.
  • Takeout 1NT scares people away. 1NT direct overcall is 4-14 points with two or fewer cards in the opponent's bid suit and at least three cards in the other suits.
  • Aggressive overcalls and preempts are fun! Going down four (doubled) is another story hahaha
  • Playing 7NT is nervewracking when you can't count 13 (or more) top tricks. Then you breathe a sigh of relief when opps set up tricks for you.

  • Saturday
    • 299er Swiss: 24 boards - 1.70MP (0.0708 MP/bd)
  • Sunday
    • Morning Compact KO: 24 bds - 0.00MP (0.0000 MP/bd)
    • Bracketed Swiss: 49 bds - 1.78MP (0.0363 MP/bd)
  • Monday
    • Compact KO Consolation: 24 bds - 1.60MP (0.0667 MP/bd)
    • Mini Spingold 0-1500: 56 bds - 0.00MP (0.0000 MP/bd)
  • Tuesday
    • Gold Rush Pairs: 48 bds - 0.89MP (0.0185 MP/bd)
  • Wednesday
    • National 199er Pairs: 48 bds - 4.06MP (0.0846 MP/bd)
  • Thursday
    • Youth NABC Pairs: 21 bds - 0.91MP (0.0433 MP/bd)
    • Youth NABC Swiss: 24 bds - 1.65MP (0.0688 MP/bd)
  • Friday
    • Youth NABC National Pairs: 24 bds - 0.20MP (0.0083 MP/bd)
    • Midnight Zip KO: 6 bds - 0.00MP (0.0000 MP/bd)
  • Saturday
    • Youth NABC National Swiss: 48 bds - 5.02MP (0.1046 MP/bd)
Total: 396 bds - 17.81MP (0.0450 MP/bd)


  1. As another advertisement for asking bids, this was one of my auctions with Lenny (opps silent):

    1C* 1H*
    2H* 3D*
    3S* 4C*
    4D* 5C*

    strong; GF with hearts
    asking about hearts; 2 of AKQ with 5 hearts
    asking about spade controls; third round control
    asking about diamond controls; first round control
    to play

    Here was my hand as the opener:
    S: AKJ65
    H: Q62
    D: KQ7
    C: A6

    As expected, Lenny's hand came down with the spade Q, the heart AK (and J, as a nice bonus), and the diamond A for 14 top tricks.

    Top boards the easy way.

  2. you should tell us more about the seafood

  3. It was fried. That was about all you could taste.

    Although raw oysters taste pretty good and they aren't fried.

  4. fried raw oysters tasted like clams. or at least the meat portion did. also sam's fried alligator sandwich tasted like chicken.

  5. darn, i meant to say fried oysters. i suppose you can say that raw oysters tasted like clams, too.

  6. The 7NT hand makes on only a simple squeeze though, which is nowhere near as fun as a double squeeze :)

    I held
    S: KQ2
    H: AQ2
    D: AQJ4
    C: AQ6

    and after opening a strong 1C was expecting a negative 1D response from partner, but instead Sherry responded 1NT, positive in clubs. The bidding probably went something like
    1C* 1NT*
    2C* 2H*
    2NT* 3H*
    4D* 4NT*

    Strong; GF with clubs
    Trump ask in C; 5 cards, 1 of AKQ
    Top control ask; 4 controls (A=2, K=1)
    Diamond ask; 2nd round control

    I probably should have made a repeat ask with 5D to make sure partner has the diamond king instead of a singleton, but I was lazy and counted 13 tricks with 5 clubs, 4 diamonds, 1 heart, and 3 spades. Sherry happened to have
    S: A87
    H: 65
    D: K96
    C: KJ843
    and the slam was cold except on a 5-0 club break. Unfortunately, her RHO had
    S: 53
    H: KJ97
    D: T7
    C: T9752
    but since he failed to split his 9 and 10 we got our 13th trick with the club 8.

  7. Also most of our practice was either online or at sectionals. The club games were rather rare, as what would have been the most convenient ones were on Thursday night, conflicting with ARML practice.

    That said, our systems were also much more different than you make them sound.