The Declarer (Floyd McWilliams' Blog)

Thursday, January 29, 2004

Three weeks ago Tuesday my wife Sherry and I played bridge at the Palo Alto club. (Maybe I should have a cutesy blog name for Sherry. The DeclaraWife? The Declarette?) Eleven pairs attended, so each round a pair "sat out" because there was no one for them to play. By chance we got the last round sitout, so we left early. We checked the results on the web the next morning and found that we had won.

The web scores include all the individual matchpoint scores for each hand. When I play bridge I record what happened on each hand: The contract, who declared it, the result, the auction, and some notes about the hand. Here is what the entry for one hand might look like:

2C 2S
3S 5S
5N 6S
ruff out H

When I looked at the matchpoint results, I found that we were given the score of +100 on a board that was actually -50. This was enough to drop us into a tie for first. I was annoyed -- when I don't win I get upset about all the mistakes I made -- but I was a good citizen and sent an email to the director to tell him of the scoring error.

I didn't want to disappoint Sherry, which is why this story didn't make it into my blog. Unfortunately when we went to the club the next week, the director made the announcement that last week's results were wrong and that another couple had tied us.

Last night we played in the Wednesday night game. We both played well, and the opponents abominably, and we were fairly lucky. We had but two poor scores, one of which was the hand I whose notes I transcribed above: Sherry had SAKQ9xx Hx DJTxx Cxx, I had SJxx HAKJxx DAKx CAK, and we languished in a small slam when the grand is 85% or so. (A suggested auction -- remember that we do not play Blackwood -- is 2C - 3S, 5N - 7S.)

Many of the hands had wild distribution. One example was board 23 (the Michael Jordan board): At all vulnerable, 3rd chair, I held


Sherry passed and RHO opened 1S. I almost bid 2C, but decided to bid 5C instead. This was passed around to RHO, who doubled. All passed, and I was charmed to see this dummy:

SJ9xx HJxxx Dxx CK87

Despite RHO's 19 high-card points I scored up 750 in my doubled game.

When play was winding down I parked myself behind the director's computer and watched him and one of the other players enter the scores. It looked like we were headed for second place. We had about 60% but another North-South had 65%. The last few boards were entered and it was a little closer, but we were still about 7.5 matchpoints out of first place -- more than a full board as 7 was a top.

I stuck around to get the individual scores. While copying the scores I noticed that my doubled 5C contract was worth half a matchpoint. How could this be? It turned out that the scores, which were all positive for North-South, had been entered for East-West. I told the director and he fixed them. Now we were in first place by several matchpoints! I guess the effect of negating the scores had been to flip our top and the putative winners' bottom, so that we gained nearly two full boards.



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