Thursday, August 19, 2010

This blog is expired, please visit my new bridge website

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

USBC Quarter Finals

I've been trying to watch as much of the USBC as I can... theres nothing watching top level bridge to improve your game.   Unfortunately it becomes much harder to learn when you can see all four hands, its very difficult to put yourself in someones shoes when you can see what the correct action is before you make your decision.   There was a hand last night that watching double dummy prevented me from seeing a great discovery play in a vulnerable game.

The contract was 4H after Chris Willenken opened 1H after two passes, Roy Welland bid 2C reverse drury (good heart raise), from there the partnership negotiated their way to game.

the lead was the 7S: (the pair on lead would lead top of nothing from xxx or xx)
Q9xx                  A8
QJT98               A6xxx
J                         Qxxx
Qxx                    Kx

when they lead the 7S, declarer made his first attempt to make the contract by going up king of spades, and when it got covered by the king he won the ace.  Now came the key play... since his right hand opponent was a passed hand... and was already marked with KJ of spades, and likely the A or K of diamonds since the guy on lead didn't lead a diamond, so he doesn't rate to have both.  Now if declarer would find north with the Ace of clubs, he would be sure that the King of Hearts is offside and will be able to play to drop the singleton king offside at no risk, because he knows its there.   So the best play would be to play clubs to discover where the Ace is for his heart play.    

There are the links to the current round results.  Here is my attempt of explaining the format.
Everyone entered the event in the USA 1 bracket and as we've elminated teams from that bracket, they get a birth into the USA 2 bracket.   

The Nickell team will join the 3 winners in the USA 1 bracket, to play a semi finals and finals to decide who will represent USA on their first team.  At any point should a team lose in that bracket, they will be put into the next round in the trials for USA 2.  

The trials in Canada are also going on right now where my brother is playing with his regular partner jurek, dan korbel and david grainger, kamel fergani and nick l'ecuyer.  In 2002 the last time they held the trials in Penticton BC (where they are now) Vince and I played in place of Grainger and Korbel.  I am so excited to see how they do, they are in my opinion the pre tournament favourites, but i know from experience a lot can happen in the CNTC-A, a lot of unknown players can play great and knock you out when you least expect it.  My mom is also competing in the CWTC in an attempt to play on the Canadian Womens team, her team is Demme.

See you in the vugraph

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Sweden Fun

Ok so the last week has been quite busy.  On Wednesday night I hung out with Swedish Bridge Superstars Fredrik Nystrom and Johan Upmark to watch the Premier League Championship game and to play some poker.  Even though Upmark's apartment was very small, he had one of the best set ups for hanging out and playing poker that I've seen, it was very motivating.  He plugged his laptop into his big screen TV, and connected a wireless keyboard and mouse, as if we were playing on a desktop with a huge monitor.  We all sat around the TV and discussed all of our major decisions.  
On Thursday Jenny and I took the train for 3 hours to visit Sara Siveland in Ludvika,  Sara is one of our closest friends and she just had a baby 2 months ago, so it was a chance for us to experience life with a newborn.  It was so cool.  The first 5 minutes were overwhelming!  Screaming baby, diaper changes, feed me!!!! yikes!  Then after a little while, when the negotiations with the baby ended and it was satisfied with food and a clean diaper, it became the most wonderfull experience ever.  It is remarkably rewarding to settle an unhappy baby down.  The baby is always crying for a reason, you just need to figure out what it is.   Friday night we played some soccer (2 vs 2)  which of course had me on the floor barely able to breathe after about 5 minutes.  Quitting smoking is one 
tough task, getting your body back to the shape its 
supposed to be in is another.  After the Soccer we went back to the house to have a bbq.  We sat outside in the beautiful clean summer country air and had a delicious meal.  After dinner I walked over to Sara's brothers apartment to play some Nintendo Wii.  He proved to be the perfect opponent for me in both Wii Tennis and Wii Bowling.   That went on until very late in the night until he walked me home (it was still sunny!!). Saturday we woke up to have breakfast before our noon train, headed down to the train station and when we got there our day of delays began. I wonder what the odds are of having train delays on a perfect summer day.  It turned out our first train had some defective part that caused a brutal domino affect that made our 3 hour trip into a 7 hour trip.  Our plan when we got back to Stockholm was to meet Jenny's Mom, her husband Micke, Sofia (jennys sister),  Jenny's grandparents and two family friends Inger and Rick (obv all bridge players) at the summer cottage.  Well we did finally make it there after everyone had already started dinner.  There was just enough time to have a few drinks and enjoy the end of the most beautiful day of the year.  
Last night I played in a cool Summer Tournament at ST ERIK bridge club , the biggest bridge club in STockholm and I wouldnt be suprised if it was the biggest in the world.  With over 100 tables plus 3 or 4 classrooms, it is capable of having a monster tournament.  

The Summer League spans 3 straight Tuesday nights, starting at 6:30.  The teams (preregistered) are divided into a groups of 6, where you play two 12 board matches each week, on the 3rd week , its one 12 board match and then a party / prize giving ceremony.  The players in Sweden are far younger than in north america, so everyone likes to hang out after and have some drinks, its a great experience.   Our first two matches saw my team win 16-14 both matches, putting us in 2nd with 32 VPs behind the leaders who have 36 VPs.   I play with Jenny and her mom Mari plays with Micke.  The 3rd Tuesday I will be at a regional in Penticton so I will be replaced by Grandpa.  
We had a few Very tough hands in the session.  One that I thought was cool:
Jxx xxx KQT98 xx

AQxx AKTx Axx Qx
      S            N
The bidding at our table, uncontested was    2D       2S
                                                                                    2N      3N
2D = 18/19 BAL
2S = Transfer to 2N

The lead was the QH, and you could see that you have 5D, 2H and a Spade, and the entire club suit was wide open assuming the defence could find it.  You have the potential spade finesse  for a 9th trick.  However, at our table because Jenny and I play upside down carding, another oppertunity arose for declarer.  When it went QH low , Jenny played her singleton 3 of hearts, (easily mistaken for encouraging).  Even though declarer has a legitimate line of play by winning the Ace of hearts and eventually taking a spade finesse, it is so likely that when I see the 3 of hearts, that I will continue hearts.  If he stops to ask what our carding is before making his decision, I will figure out that something is up.  This is a key example why its important to know what your opponents carding is before you start playing.

Thats that,  today I have a 2 hour session of practise with my national team partner Bob Hampton on BBO and our other plans are to hang out with one of our close friends in Stockholm, bridge player Sandra Rimstedt.  See you soon!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Stockholm Sun

June in Stockholm is a pretty amazing time of year.  As I sat in a taxi cab at 4AM on my way back to my in-law's place, after a night of video games and poker with Swedish Bridge Champion Peter Bertheau, the sun was shining.  It's a very rare sight to see a major city, in nearly full daylight with completely empty streets.  I've been searching for a while to find the motivation to restart my blog and for some reason, as the car crossed over a bridge between Gamla Stan (the old town) and Sodermalm (southern island), the peaceful image of the city made me want to write again.

My wife Jenny is in her 26th week of pregnancy.  Our little girl is expected on September 2nd. These three weeks between the New York regional and my next tournament in Penticton, BC, Canada were a perfect opertunity to come to Stockholm to visit her family.  As the due date creeps closer and closer,  the nervous feeling of how far away both of our families live is amplifying.  

One of the small costs of the baby is that I will be on the sidelines for my favorite bridge event of the year, one which I have only had the privilege  of playing once because of my Canadian Citizenship is coming up in a week or two;  The USBF Championships in White Plains, NY (click here for Who's playing?  Vugraph schedule) .  The event will crown two winning teams to represent the USA for the Bermuda Bowl in Brazil at the end of the summer.  It is always the most exciting tournament of the year to watch, they play 120 board matches and somehow even if a team has the lead by 100 imps, the matches always seem to end with a single digit margin.

A few other junior bridge players and I are in the process of creating a brand new modern bridge website and my blog will soon be moved over there, check back for more info.  Thanks to anyone who still checks around here, I will soon be posting a lot more conventions and pictures.  

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

another life update

Well another few months go by, new world champions have been crowned, roger federer has won 2 more majors, a guy who grew up in a refugee camp in laos won the world series of poker, and I am still doing the same thing. The summer was fun, I spent all of june in las vegas for the world series of poker. I didn't do great in any live tournaments but I spent a lot of time with some of the best internet poker players in the world watching them play and having them watch my play and give me advice. I went on a huge poker rush and built my bankroll to the point where I can start flirting with the idea of playing high stakes. The highlight of the month in vegas was when my friend John Kranyak final tabled a 3000 person tournament at the w.s.o.p. finishing 4th for $180000.

The summer nationals in Nashville were average. It was the first major tournament that Warren Spector and I played live together. We only managed to win 1 match, as our 2nd round (3rd round because of bye) opponents were the Strul team (Aubrey Strul, Mike Becker, Lew Stansby, Chip Martel, David Berkowitz, Larry Cohen) We left our team about even at the half and they didn't bring it home, which is understandable against that team of world champions. The 3/4 score was -7 and then the pros just put the lockdown and really gave us little chance to come back. I didnt play too much bridge as I was waiting for warren to finish playing the GNTs so we could practise for the spingold. He won the GNTs which left us with just 1 day to get some cards in. All in all it was a good first outing, we have now begun playing a strong club, which is fun but a lot of work.

September, my 25th b-day, also known as the you dont have to pay a young renters fee when renting a car b-day. I had some of my poker friends fly into Toronto for an awesome outdoor Linkin Park concert.

October started with a regional in Ottawa where I got to play a lot with Jenny which is nice, we haven't had too many oppertunities to play since the blue ribbons in 2005. The team was Beverly Perry , Justin Lall, John Kranyak, Jenny and Me. We played 2 events, and grinded out 2 wins. That tournament is really nice , I love Ottawa its one of my favorite places (obviously canadian regionals are way better!)

Later this month I am going to play in Charlotte. I'm really excited i get to play an entire week with Steve Weinstein. Jenny will also be there playing. After that theres a couple weeks off, then lexington kentucky, then the nationals.

Over the next week I will be playing a lot with Warren on BBO, look for us practising our strong club system

Friday, June 1, 2007

1 month is enough!

OK its time for me to return to my duties as a blogger. A lot has happened in the past month, we played our tournament down in Florida, did quite well, we won a tough knockout and survived with an overall in the swiss after losing the first 2 matches. From there I went to Vegas and played the Cavendish teams and pairs with John Kranyak. John was an absolute pleasure to play with, I have never played with such a nice partner before. We meshed really well and grinded our way to 6th place which had we owned ourselves would have paid $70000, maybe next year we will be able to afford it :) I have a ton of hands from the Cavendish, including 3 occasions where we bid a grand slam, had our opponents sacrifice and then we bid 7NT making. Right now I am commentating on the Canadian National Team Championships Finals. Even though I have stopped playing for Canada, this event will always be important to me, as this is where it all started for my bridge career. Winning this is still one of my greatest bridge achievements and I will always remember the incredible feeling it felt to know I was going to play in the Bermuda Bowl, with my brother Darren as my teammate. One of the high points in my life. Since the Cavendish, I went to Quebec City which was beautiful and it caught me by surprise, I had no idea that it was such a great city. Anyone looking to have a nice vacation I highly suggest it as a destination. I played two pair games with Beverly Perry, we came 4th and 5th overall, and then each headed to our respective home towns. This past week has been spent relaxing at home, watching old episodes of TV and spending time with my family. Maybe you wont have to wait another month before my next blog :)

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Short drive down the coast

After a week at my family's place... its time to make the move down towards the Ft. Lauderdale regional. We don't start playing until Friday, however we have taken advantage of my Uncle and Aunts hospitality for a week already. So tomorrow afternoon we are going down to my partner Warren's house right in center of Palm Beach... Jenny, Warren and I are going to play a cut-around bridge game with David and Lisa Berkowitz. I will try to post some hands (I know I keep saying that) After that Warren heads back to New York to work until the weekend when he comes back to play the regional. He is very generously letting Jenny and me use his house down here for the next 4 days until he returns. I am anxious to see what Palm beach is like. Jenny and I are seriously considering buying a place down here in Florida as soon as we clear up immigration... We both like hot weather, this is really perfect (I imagine that a few days in August I wont be saying that)

I am doing my best to answer all the questions you have to all my posts... I would really like input on the blog, tell me what you like to read about, what is boring... every bit of criticism will help me make this blog more interesting.

On another good note, I had another monstrous day at poker, bringing my total for the week to +6000... a good weeks work!