The Declarer (Floyd McWilliams' Blog)

Monday, March 10, 2003


I had a shitty weekend, and tears are running down my face. But I'm crying because of the only good thing that happened to me.

I spent the weekend playing bridge in San Mateo. Saturday I played in a big pair game with my partner Dan Voorhees. Dan is an older guy from up north (Santa Rosa) and I've been playing with him for about a year and a half. We played in a big field full of hopeless players, and they killed us. My friend Len was also playing, also had a bad game, and put it like this: "These people come to my table and they're drooling all over themselves. Then they play like Garozzo for three boards, and leave the table, and it's back to "duh, what?""

Here's two examples:


  • Dan opens 1C. RHO jumps to 2H, weak. I raise to 3C. LHO bids 3H. Dan bids 4C, and now the preemptor gives it one more shot with 4H. He catches his partner with the perfect hand and rolls it.

  • Dan opens 1D and RHO jumps to 3H. The ass on my left bids 3N on SQT9x Hxx DAKJx CKxx because, you know, 3N will play really well opposite seven hearts to the KQJ and out when we hold up the ace. He catches his partner with good hearts and a side entry and rolls 3N.


So Saturday was a discouraging day. Towards the end of the session a very good player from San Francisco was wandering around watching people and looking for a game for the Sunday Swiss. I humbly suggested that he could play with me and my wife and my friend Eric. I just said this to be polite, but he said "Let's do it"! I ran out to the car to call Eric -- and found out that he was busy Sunday. So I did not get to play in a team game.

Sunday Sherry and I played in a side pairs. This was much more hopeless than Saturday as all the real players were in the Swiss. Our first session was crummy. During the second session we just sat there as east-west held all the cards. There were two rounds in a row where the East player played the first four boards. And of course the quality of play was awful; if a penguin had waddled in from Antarctica and started playing the cards he would have done better. We pretty much crushed the East-Wests who came to our table, but they were getting killed at the other tables too. It was the kind of field where you worked hard to hold them to no overtricks in a game contract, and then found that when they bid the game they had a top.

Anyway, Sunday night I finally scratched -- tied for 2nd (out of 6!) for 0.99 masterpoints.

The one good thing that happened was that we had lunch Sunday afternoon at Little Szechuan in downtown San Mateo. Sherry ordered a couple of traditional Szechuan dishes that I had never had before. One was a boiled beef dish. Doesn't that sound yummy? (Actually it sounds like English cuisine.) It was kind of like a beef and kim chee stew. It was really good! The other dish was a diced chicken dish with peppers I had not encountered before. They were thick and green, maybe a half inch wide and an inch or two long. They had a bell pepper flavor and were spicy but edible. I am eating the leftovers right now and wiping away the tears.

Here is one cool hand from Saturday night:

Fourth chair, none vul, I held SAKJ H52 DAK9763 CA3. LHO and partner passed and RHO opened 1D!

I didn't see that a 1N overcall was right; I decided to pass and maybe bid diamonds later. LHO passed and Dan passed after some consideration.

What would you lead?

If you led a high diamond I must say, what's the rush? I led a low diamond and dummy hit with

S96 HJ986 DJ85 C9842

Partner won the queen! He switched to the jack of clubs and everyone ducked. Another club went to the queen and ace. I cashed my ace and king of trumps; Dan pitched a discouraging heart and an encouraging club. Now what?

Well, the hand should be an open book. The only shape with which a three-card diamond suit is opened in standard is 4432. Declarer is marked with good hearts and the queen of spades. The run of the trumps will strip-squeeze declarer! If he throws two spades, his queen will drop. If he keeps SQxx, then he has come down to two hearts and I can throw him in. Declarer did pitch one spade, I hand-locked him, and he was forced to give me three spade tricks. +250 was a very good score.

Dan's clubs were KJTxx, so we can take all the tricks after a club to my ace, trumps and a club back to the king. We're good, but not that good.


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