I came to my second NABC with my wife, Liz, looking forward to the great weather I expected in a desert in the South of the USA. When I came out of the hotel it rained on me!
After a couple of days Colin Revill asked me to play in a Senior's K-O. I had to admit to being five days too young! I see George Jacobs has become a Senior - he is one day older than me!
One of the things I naturally do is compare this tournament with those in England. Its size is tremendous, and there are many things that are excellent. However, there are some things which perhaps we do better: all tournaments in England use boards made up in advance on machines, and that is great for telling stories. For example, the following hand played against Lynn Deas in the North American Swiss was sadly only seen at the two tables. No-one was vulnerable, I was South, and my partner, Helene Bauman dealt:
She opened 1, doubled, I bid 1, Lynn Deas bid a practical 6, Helene bid 6 and that was 800 against a making 7. We were pleased enough, and it is difficult to see how E/W should reach 7. However, they were playing a different game in the other room!
1 from North, doubled, and South bid 3. 4 by West was followed by 5, 5 by East, South passed and .... West bid 6!!!!!!! Dummy must have come as a surprise to everyone. Fortunately South did not have the defence's club, and after a diamond lead declarer does best to play A, 6 to queen and king, heart to jack, club to ace. if the club is South he is home: if not, South can ruff and decide whether to cash partners diamond or spade, and may go wrong. However after the A he led the J and a third round!
No-one panic. If declarer can play it like this, the defence [understandably confused] can go one better. Rather than cut declarer off from dummy, South not only ruffed the first round of clubs but then tried to cash a diamond .....
I reached my first National Final in the Blue Ribbon with Helene. She likes to bid a lot, but she seemed to go one level too far on this hand. No-one was vulnerable, I was West, and South dealt:
I thought the defence was over-generous, but looking at the hand, what can they do? They led a club, I played one back, three rounds of hearts and another club. Now the spade king won with the ace, the spade jack [knave, sorry, forgot where I was!] was returned. A spade to the ten, and the last trump squeezes North for one down. I think I can do it just as well if he returns a club instead of the spade jack.
My wife, who has played in a lot of side games plus the Life Masters, and I have enjoyed ourselves immensely. We have made new friends, I have sat on appeals, run a Tournament Director's seminar, and played more bridge than I have for a long time. I hope to return next year.