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Mar 12

GNT C district champions!

So we won the district GNT C qualifier, and will get to Philly next summer to play in the national finals!

Eleven teams entered the flight C event, which was played as a two-day KO (first day, cut to 6 teams and then to 4 teams, second day, semi-final and finals, each match 28 boards).  With two players close to life-masterhood we were seed #2, can't complain about that…  Also, we had a 6-man team, which is good for that kind of long event.

Anyways, the first match was fairly easy — not much to say about it. The second was a round-robin with two qualifiers, but one of the teams had the pair that won the district NAP C, so we had to be careful.  We still won both matches.  Meanwhile seed #1 was playing impressively, being above +100 imps after the 56 boards of the first day.

On the second day, we got to play seed #6, which had one father-and-son pair playing a homegrown strong club system (relay system, their card said).  I guess they got a bit unlucky as they didn't have a single 1 opener over the first 14 boards (we sat out for the second half so I don't know what happened), whereas we got tons of Polish 1 openers.  Their mini-NT (10-12 white) didn't seem to cause a lot of trouble either, as we had no problem reaching game with AKQxx Qxxx x AKxx opposite Jxxxx Ax xx JTxx after their 1N opening.  I get very lucky when partner puts me in a 23 HCP 3NT:

NS deals
North vul
North
K9xx
AJ
AKTxx
xx
South
Q8x
xxxx
Qx
Axxx

Not only do I get the very helpful lead of a fourth best small , but I also misplay the spades by going for the direct finesse of the nine when I should play small to the king and small back to the eight, which wouldn't have worked here.

Oh, and they were clearly unhappy at each other's play, and I have rarely been that "obnoxious" in trying to make small remarks to create discord in a partnership…

Anyways, we win the match by 30 or so and here comes the final, again seed #1 as expected.  On the very first board, we defend 2X making 3: that's a pretty bad start (though it's only -280, not that big a deal in itself…).  Clearly, they are a very solid pair.  They play SAYC with no gagdets (or at least I didn't get to see any alert by either of them over 28 boards) but they play it well (which is much better than, say, playing a strong club badly :-)) and their cardplay, especially in declaring, is very solid.  Nothing really good comes in out way, and at half-time we are behind, 17-38 (including another 2X making 3 on another board for them, at the other table… how often does that happen?).  Ouch.

Well, it's time for some action, so here are some boards from the second half.

You hold JTxxx AQx x xxxx and partner opens, white on red, 1N in first third seat (11-14), and righty doubles.  You can show a two-suited escape, or a one-suited escape, which by agreement can also be a "psychic" escape into shortness with a three suited hand.  Well, I decided to have fun and go for the last option, so I XX'ed, forcing 2 by partner, and then "escaped" into 2.  This went back to righty, who doubled again, and now I made a terrible choice by bidding 2 (whatever).  You know the story: pass, pass, double, let's get serious now, bid 2 (poor partner doesn't have any idea of what's happening now) and play there.  Quite incredibly, I was in a 18 HCP contract which had some play at the game level as partner held Q9x Kxx xxx AQTx.  At the other table, our partners play in a normal diamond partscore for +6 imps.

A couple of boards later, I end up in the following game

South deals
NS vul
North
Jx
Kxxx
KTx
KTxx
South
AQx
QJxxx
Q
AJxx

West North East South
P P P 1
2 3 P 4
AP      

A heart is led to the ace and a spade comes back.  Now what?

I duck it to lefty's king, win whatever comes back, draw trumps, eliminate spades and endplay the overcaller with the Q.  As he also had the Qxx, I would have probably tackled the clubs in the wrong direction otherwise.  At the other table our teammates returned a after two rounds of trumps, solving the problem for declarer (grrr…)

Now, the silliest one: holding x xx KQJ9x A6532, red on white in first seat, I open 2N (preempt in both minors), partner squiggles a bit and passes!  A spade is led and partner puts down, as expected, QJTxx Axxxx Ax x.  For some reason, righty ducks the first spade and all of a sudden I have eight tricks???  At the other table they had an awkward auction and ended up in 3 after having tried all four suits, down 1 and another 6 imps for us.

At that point we were fairly late, we got a warning from the director a couple of minutes before.  I know we made up some imps but think that one extra board will definitely be needed so as the next-to-last board is wrapped up, I ask partner to quickly put down a first bid for the last board.  Yes, we get to play the last board!  Well, it seems to be a fairly routine 4 in our way (1-(3)-4-AP) with 10 top tricks… except that our teammates found the sacrifice in 5 AND somehow they didn't get doubled, -200, win 9 (the biggest swing of the half! everything else was 6 or less) and win the match 50-48!