Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Um, okay, that was fun - - ?

Starman and I played a solo Swiss teams event last week.

On one particular board, Starman opened 2 ♣ (showing 22+ high card points) and I bid 2 , which is the standard "tell me more" bid. He then bid 2NT, signifying a balanced hand and 22-24 points. I was holding the following cards:

♠ Jxxxx

♣ xx

Clearly, I wanted to Starman to play a game in a major (the void counts as 5 distribution points if my hand is the dummy in a suit contract), so I want to transfer. I bid 3 . Starman considered this, and passed! I literally played the contact with no trumps in my hand, and only three in his hand. Mind you, they were the AKQ, but still. At the end of the hand, I said to our teammates that it's the only time I can imagine saying, truthfully, that I was relieved the trumps split 5-5!

Not to worry -- I was right: we do play transfers in that situation. Starman looked into it later, and we agree we won't miss that again. And I wasn't upset -- shocked, but not upset -- as I can well imagine making that mistake myself in that situation. And also, I kind of knew that we'd not discussed transfers in that situation. I had contemplated bidding 3 so that he'd either let me play in hearts, or he'd transfer and play in spades. But 3 was the right bid.

Hey, stuff like this happens.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

That's a table I'd like to kibbitz

I noticed the following foursome at a virtual table on Bridge Base Online the other day:

seabiscut (sic)

Monday, May 19, 2008

More on that bidding question

So Starman looked at the substance (as opposed to the style) of the preceding post. He said, happily, "I don't see what the problem is -- that's Michaels, showing spades and a minor, so you bid two no trump showing that you have minors."

That's the titular unusual two no trump, in fact. Which is cool, but not applicable, as I don't have both minors. Go back and check. I'll wait.

Okay, got it?

I went through all this with Starman (who would only make a Michaels cue bid when I actually HAD spades; he's that kind of partner) (although, now that I think about it, he bid three no trump the other night after a Jacoby transfer, and he had a singleton in a side suit -- I was not amused! -- so maybe he very rarely is that kind of partner), who finally said that he guessed you had to bid two spades and just take your medicine.

Not an entirely satisfactory answer. Anything better out there?

Sunday, May 18, 2008

So what do you bid?

My hand:

♠ Ax
♣ xx

I'm sitting South. The bidding goes:
1 2 Pass?

My partner's 2 bid is a cue bid to show spade support, but allow me to bid them. Only trouble is, I don't want to bid spades, let alone play in spades. I don't want to pass (with a human partner, it would serve him/her right, but I was playing against a computer partner, and strangely they never seem to care that I'm tearing my hair out), and I don't want to bid 3. I actually have a crappy hand.

I'm embarrassed to say, I don't know if we were vulnerable. I also don't know how this hand played out, or if I just took it as a sign that it was time to stop playing bridge online and go do something useful. But I did take the time to write it out, so that I could mull over it.

I still don't know what you do. I'll have to ask someone smart.

Incidentally, and on a meta-note, this post was really hard to do. I had to crib a version of an HTML table. I'm a lawyer, people, not computer savvy at all. Starman (who *is* computer savvy) was disinclined to help, but did make the crucial suggestion at the crucial time: Google the terms "Blogspot Table FAQ" and see what you get. It worked! Well, the bidding table here needs a lot of tweaking, but I think I can make something sensible the next time. This is good enough for now.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Finally . . . a win!

Starman and I went to our third night of the club's round robin event. This has -- more by accident than design -- been the only in-person bridge we've played. The event is every month; we missed January, but have played the other three months. And finally, on Wednesday, we (and our teammates, Scott & Sharon) won! That puts us in fifth place, out of six teams total.

Now, I know that looks bad, but it's a real mix of 199'ers and life masters. (Guess which group we're in. Yup. And guess which group our opponents on Wednesday night were in. Two-for-two. You're good at this guessing thing. Now guess which group our opponents in February and March are in. Wow! A hat trick. The might Kreskin has nothing on your mental abilities!) We're just pleased to have played better.

There are any number of explanations for how & why the cards and scores went the way they did, but the one I like is this: we've been practicing playing online for IMPs (international match points) and not the usual match points. It makes a difference. I think I have a rough idea of why it matters -- something to do with the cost of riskier sacrifices and so forth -- but it's been a revelation.

We started out playing online for IMPs, and I remember being thoroughly demoralized. Well, when you lose by 81 IMPs in the round robin tournament, against real people in real time, the computer debacles don't hurt so much. We re-read the instructions in our EasyBridge books about swiss teams play, and practiced.

Now, let's not overstate this. The nice peeps we played against on Wednesday (Ed referred to his team as "the good guys") aren't wildly amazing, but they're not bad. We could easily have lost, or it could have been a lot closer. Like if they'd bid a weird spades slam that relied on the following set up: I opened a spade, and partner had 6 spades, 6 diamonds, and a singleton ace in a side suit. Obviously we should be in game, but how to bid the slam if it's there? Well, we didn't (the hand makes 7 if you play the trumps right) and the other side didn't, so that was close to a wash. (I misplayed it on my side and "only" made 6, so a single IMP to their side for the additional overtrick.) But if they'd bid the slam...

Still, it was nice to win, and nice for Scott & Sharon, who must have wondered by people at the club said nice things about us when we really can't play for beans...

One other nice moment of the evening: on the drive home, Starman and I had a great conversation about ourselves as a partnership. I think it was the first healthy and calm meta-conversation we've had in a long time. All preceding arguments were, by definition, my fault!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Welcome Back!

Starman and I played Wednesday night in a Round Robin event at our home bridge club. Very interesting, and actually a lot of fun. We hadn't been able to make it for January, and our team mates (Sharon and Scott -- lovely, friendly people who immediately made us feel completely comfortable despite the fact that we're relative newcomers) had played with some subs.

This, then, was our first time in this particular format: first time as Swiss Teams, first time in the Round Robin, etc. Someone said that there were two really good teams, and then everyone else. Well, I'm not sure if we were playing against one of the really good teams, but the score might suggest that. We were ahead in the first half, but way down at the end of the night. No worries. We had fun, got some of the rust off our playing, and met some more of the club regulars.

One funny thing: Sharon and Scott hadn't known who we were (well -- c'mon, that makes sense: we were mostly playing in class for much of 2007) when it was suggested they partner us. So they asked around. "New but not bad," was the gist of what they were told. Then they remembered us from that end-of-year tournament in December. (The one where I got really sick, right?) It seems we had done well against them that day, despite not doing that well overall. So, okay, they decided we were worthy partners.

We were thrilled with them as well, mostly because they had a happy, lighthearted approach to the entire process. I really don't care if we come in dead last (obviously I hope not) because I know it's all good: good teammates, good experience, my lovely partner -- and it's bridge. How bad can that be?

Monday, February 4, 2008

Getting Back to Bridge

Sorry for the gap in posting. Starman (my partner in bridge, as in life) and I haven't played "real" bridge -- meaning bridge with people -- for two months. The last time we were out in public was also the last time I got really really sick with some gallbladder-related problem. I've been fine for two months, though, so I really can't be phobic about it.

Bridge doesn't actually make me ill. Just cranky!

Over the holidays, I didn't play a lot online. Recently we've gotten back to partnership practice. This entails Starman and me in the same room (more on that in a bit), each with our own computers, playing the same hand as partners. We play against robot opponents, and our scores are assessed against other players. Most of those people are humans playing with a robot partner and against robot opponents, so it's pretty fair. I assume it's also a reasonable assessment of our abilities. We're still not strong players, and the gap in our making bridge a regular part of our lives hasn't helped.

In particular, I've been having trouble with frustration. When I play by myself (with three robots at my online table), it's hard to live with my own mistakes. (There's a way on BBO to see what other people did -- their bidding and the play of the hand -- so you can see how they did better than you did. Sometimes it's better defense by the robot opponents, and I have to shrug that off. Sometimes, it's not them, it's me.) I get angry at myself, and that opens some old wounds.

I made a resolve not to yell at Starman when it's just the two of us together in the room. (We don't cheat {much} and I wouldn't mind playing in different rooms but it's good to be able to discuss bidding and play of the hand.) I know it doesn't help anyone. So far, the only method I've found that is foolproof for not yelling is not caring. Hmmm... Not perhaps the best way to maximize my bridge results. So my challenge is to care, to work hard, to keep learning, and to be completely Zen and at peace with my partner.

I'm glad I'm not being scored on that Zen thing!