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!