District 25 News for November 2007

Buzz from the Masters Regional in Mansfield MA

In 2007 District 25 held its Masters Regional at a new site, the Holiday Inn in Mansfield MA, November 7-11. In my opinion, this was a fine hotel to choose, conveniently near the junction of I95 and I495, with good playing areas. Attendence, roughly 1085 table-sessions, was up from about 700 at last year's Masters in Burlington Vermont. All in all, 2007 has been a successful year for the district, both in attendance and financially. Our tournament sites were more centrally located, our schedules were innovative, the tournament chairpeople did well, and both regional tournament manager Helen Pawlowski and outgoing president Alan Clamage can be proud. The bar has been set high for new president Roy Green. Bob Erwin takes over Roy's vice presidential post. Look for 2008, when Boston will host the Fall NABC, to be just as good. Soon after the 2007 Fall NABC, I expect to link to an ACBL web page for the event schedule and other Boston 2008 NABC details.

The average age of ACBL members is 68. While bridge is growing among the senior set, a demographic that is on the upswing, it is good to report that the ACBL is also trying to accomodate our younger members. In 2008, a special youth national will be held in Atlanta GA in July. Here's the schedule.

One sour note is that our district seems to be caught in the middle of a budding labor dispute about overtime pay, between tournament directors and the ACBL. I'm no expert, but the gist is in the federal definition of an exempt employee. Since neither the directors nor the league has deep pockets, I hope this can be negotiated, rather than adjudicated by the Labor Department, or worse yet, the courts. If anything develops, I'll report it here.

2007 has been a good year so far for bridge accomplishments by our members. See District Director Rich DeMartino's report from Nashville for a list of our winners. I'd also like to congratulate Dan Colatosti on joining the ranks of ACBL Grand Life Masters during the Nashville summer NABC.

Enough current events. Time for a few hands from Mansfield. How would you play this 3NT after West leads a fourth best C3 to East's C10?


The deal is good practice in probability math. There are several lines in the bushy decision tree. Nothing split well in practice, and the winning play was to take two diamond finesses through West.

As usual, the event with the strongest field was trhe Friday-Saturday Flight A Knockout Teams. In the first round, I had two opportunities for big swings on queen guesses. First:


 South  West   North   East   
 Pass   1S     Double  3S
 4D     Pass   5D      Pass
 Pass   Pass

West cashed the ace of spades and shifted to trumps. I drew them in two rounds, West turning up with J9, East with the singleton five, and ruffed my second spade. Now how to play the clubs: (a) ace and then finesse West, the opening bidder, (b) ace, king and another, picking up all short queens, and endplaying West if he has Qxx and the HK, or (c), CK and run the CJ, finessing East, but recovering if West has Qx and the HK? I chose (a), but only (c) would work, as East held S-xxxxx H-Jxx D-x C-Qxxx, and West S-AQJxx H-K10xxx D-Jx C-x.

Second, in 6H against silent opponents after North opened 1D:



West led the ace and another diamond while East echoed. There are two tiny indications in opposite directions. Cashing the diamond ace might appeal more to West if he thought he had a chance at a trump trick, but it also might appeal to him more if he had length, so he might give his partner a ruff. Giving more weight to the second idea, I called for dummy's HK at trick two, and was gratified when West discarded. Claim. We won this match by two imps.

I couldn't play Saturday morning because I had to work. My teammates lost an 8-Imp heartbreaker. Try this 4H contract:


 West   North  East  South  
 1C     Pass   1S    2H
 3C     4H     Pass  Pass

West cashes the CA, and switches to ace another spade, which you ruff. If trumps were 2-2, you could claim ten tricks by drawing trumps. Personally, I'd go for that line, with a kicker: trump the second spade, HK, HA, spade ruff, club ruff, spade ruff with my last trump. Now four rounds of diamonds see me home if East is 4342, his actual distribution (West was 2137).

Neither South did that in our match. One tried club ruff, HA, DA, club ruff. But RHO overruffed to return the last trump, and then clutched diamonds to garner the last trick. The other declarer ruffed a club but cashed no trump, instead returning to DA to immediately ruff the last club. Here East overruffed with an honor and, since a trump return couldn't be good enough, played a spade. Declarer guessed to ruff with H8. Right he was: RHO started with H-QJx.

We lost that match by 8 imps. In fact, close matches occurred throughout this event. The following deal decided one of the semifinals Saturday afternoon:
West        H-         East
S-xx        D-Jxx      S-
H-Qxxx      C-K109xxx  H-AKJxxxx
D-KQxxx                D-Axxx
C-QJ        South      C-xx
After the Easts opened 1H, the auctions spiralled to the stratosphere, both North-Souths bidding 6S over an East-West 6H. At one table, East took out insurance in 7H doubled down two. The other East-West fearlessly defended. Eventually, declarer cashed dummy's CK, and seeing the fall of an honor from West, went with restricted choice and finessed. Down one, and lose the match.

The theme continued - the Knockout final was fittingly decided by one lonely imp. Sorry, I wasn't given any deals from that one.

Other News

District 25's next tournament will be the Keohane Individual January 4-6, 2008 at the Marriott Hotel visible from I95/route 128 in Newton MA. The flyer can be found on the January calendar pages. See you there, and also at the GNT District finals in Sturbridge MA the following week.