District 25 News for September 2008
Buzz from Nashua
District 25 held its Fiesta Regional in Nashua NH over the six days August 27-September 1, 2008. See the Results page for scores and winners. Longtime District 25 members will recall that this Labor Day weekend event was held in Springfield MA for many years, but after negotiations broke down with that hotel, has migrated to various other venues. I didn't make it to last year's Waterbury CT site, where we had moderate attendance. Turnout was slightly better this year in Nashua, but still not comparable to the big crowds 2008 attracted in Newton, Cromwell, and Sturbridge.
As always the premier Friday night thru Sunday Flight A knockout attracted a medium-sized but very tough field. For once, the early matches went according to form, and Saturday night's two semifinals featured top seed DeMartino (DeMartino-Brod, Mel&Janet Colchamiro, Steve&Betty Bloom) vs. fourth seeded Becher (Becher-Watson, Binder-Braucher, O'Donnell-McIntyre) and second seed Doub (Merblum-Doub, Applebaum-Streisand) vs. third-seeded King (King-Gabay, Feller-Kantor). The latter match was desperately close, with King eventually prevailing by 7 imps, much of it here:
. North S-J9xx H-10xx D-A C-KQ10xx South S-AKxx H-AKQxx D-KJx C-x
The Doub pair found the spade fit, and judged the deal correctly for spades, stopping in game and losing the club ace and an inevitable trump as the cards lay. The King team bid and made a slam in hearts when West held the club ace and had no answer to an early club towards dummy.
In the other match, Rick Binder and I got to play all 28 boards against fellow big clubbers Steve and Betty Bloom. Over the years, our two pairs have knocked heads many times, and although we've won a few times, they've had the better of it. The first half went all their way and we trailed by 31 imps, 13 imps of it here (NS vul, South deals):
. North S-Kx West H-xx East S-AJxx D-QJxxxxx S-xx H-10xxx C-KJ H-KQJxx D-x D-xx C-10xxx South C-Qxxx S-Q10xxx H-Ax D-AKx C-Axx South West North East 1C P 3C P 3D P 3NT P 6D P P P
The other table settled for 3NT and ten top tricks. My club was strong, Rick's 3C showed a game force with diamonds. His 3NT denied a void or singleton, and suggested long weak diamonds and outside stoppers. I took a flyer on 6D, but Steve, West, found the killing heart lead, without which I'd have set up a long spade to make my slam. As it was, I was reduced to a club finesse with 25 imps riding on it.
However, in the second half the luck turned our way and we staged a comeback. We came within striking distance on this deal:
. North S-Kxxxx West H-9x East S-QJ D-QJ S-10xx H-AQxxx C-AQ9x H-xx D-A10xx D-xxx C-Jx South C-K87xx S-Axx H-KJ10x D-K9xx C-10x South West North East P 1H 1S P 2H P 3C P 3NT P P P
The other table reached 4S by North, but East's heart lead doomed that contract to down 2. Steve led a diamond against my 3NT. Winning dummy's DJ, I ran the H9 to Steve's HQ. He cashed DA, got a suit preference for clubs from Betty, and switched to the CJ. I couldn't afford to let her in yet, so I rose CA and drove out the HA. Steve saw that a second club would give me 9 tricks without the spades if I held the C10, so he switched to the SQ, so my 9 tricks were blocked. However, I won my SA and cashed my three red winners discarding dummy's low spades reaching this ending with Betty, East, still to discard:
. North S-K West H- East S-J D- S-10x H-x C-Q9x H- D-10 D- C-x South C-K87 S-xx H- D-9 C-10
She was caught in one of those strange winkle-type entry squeezes. If she sluffed a club, I could overtake my C10, but when she instead ditched a spade and then ducked my C10, a spade to dummy and a club meant dummy won the last trick for 12 useful imps.
Steve had uncharacteristically lost his way on defense. If he had continued with a second low diamond after winning the first heart, preserving communications, I would have managed only 8 tricks before they won five. More interestingly, if he'd led a LOW club, rather than the CJ, then in the same ending, his CJ instead of Cx would stop the squueze, for winkles usually don't manufacture tricks - they merely overcome blockages.
I could have won the match on the last deal (East-West vul):
. North S-xx West H-Kxxx East S-AQxxx D-Kx S-KJx H-AQxx C-K10xxx H-J10x D-Jxx D-xxx C-Q South C-Axxx S-xxx H-xx D-AQ10xx C-Jxx South West North East P 1S P 2S P 3H P 4S P P P
Against the same 4S contract at the other table, North led a low club and our teammate ducked to his CQ to make. At our table, Rick led a passive trump instead. Steve drew trumps ending in dummy and lost the heart finesse, and Rick returned a passive heart. Steve cashed two more hearts as I pitched diamonds. When Steve led his fourth trump, I erred. On the bidding and play, I could place Rick with both minor suit kings and Steve with the CQ. I was obsessed with the possibility that Steve had C-Q10 and would cash both trumps, strip-squeezing us. In that case, there's no defense if he guesses our shapes - the only hope is deceptive discarding. I wanted to look like I was blanking the CJ on the last trump, so I let go a third diamond now. Alas, Steve cashed no fifth trump. He just played on diamonds, and scored his game on the third round of the suit, thus holding on to win the match by 7 imps.
On Sunday, I elected to play rather than kibitz the Knockout final. Good decision, for two reasons. The final was a blowout for DeMartino - at one point a kibitzer reported Rich's team led by sixty imps or so. And as it happened, we won Sunday's Flight A Swiss.
Due to the Fall Nationals coming to Boston in November, New England will hold no Master's Regional this year, so the yearly regional masterpoint race final results have been posted (click on Races), with the totals considerably lower than usual. The district North American Pairs will be held at Sturbridge October 11-12. After that, I hope to see you all in January 2009 at the Individual in Newton MA.
Boston Nationals News
The Fall 2008 Boston NABC has selected a turkey as its logo, an appropriate choice for a Thanksgiving tournament in the district the Mayflower came to shore in. Look for the logo on documents and memorabilia.
In December 2007, the ACBL put up a web page at http://www.acbl.org/nabc/index1.php?a=2008&b=Fall for the 2008 Boston Fall NABC. Please give it a scan and report any errata. Bridge players all over the world look to the Internet when planning for big tournaments these days, and we hope information on the Boston page will be timely and accurate.
District 25's 2008 fall nationals co-chairs, Kathy Benjamin and Frank Lombardo, have filled the various committee chairs. Expect more Boston NABC information in District News as the time approaches.