Today we came up against the mighty Meltzer squad in the Vanderbilt. Needless to say, we were not exactly the favourites to win this match!
Jonathan and I were slated to play 3 out of 4 sets today, including the whole afternoon. We would end up playing the first 32 boards against Kyle Larsen and Rose Meltzer. Rose Meltzer may in fact be the nicest person in the bridge world, and it was a pleasure to play against the two of them.
We were very solid in the first 16 boards and found ourselves up by 6 IMPs , 33 - 27. The second set went well for us and we thought we might actually have increased our lead, but our opponents played well also and we lost the set by 12 to fall behind 53 - 47 at the half.
Here is a board where Jonathan really shone:
I had the first decision to make, and true to my habits rejected using Stayman with secondary honours everywhere and a terrible heart suit. As you can see, 4H has no play and went down two at the other table.
On to 3NT. On a spade lead, Jonathan won the sQ in dummy to lead a heart to the 7, J, and Q. He won the spade continuation with the sA in hand and led the hK to the ace as West discarded a diamond. Well, that was good news and bad news: the good news was that 4H would go down at least two tricks, possibly doubled; the bad news was that 3NT was going to have difficulty making now!
In any case, Kyle Larsen cleared spades as Jonathan won in hand. Jonathan was up to 8 tricks now and had some hope for a ninth. Jonathan cashed four rounds of diamonds. Actually, it took him a while to cash them because he was thinking about the end position, and everyone could tell that Kyle Larsen was getting a bit impatient and wanted to claim one down, -100 (at this point Jonathan has only 8 tricks and if he leads a club up the defense can cash 3 more winners).
However, look what happened as Jonathan was about to lead the final diamond:
What can East discard? a heart gives up the heart suit, and a low club allows Jonathan to exit in clubs and await the 9th trick in the heart suit on the inevitable endplay. A high club discard allows Jonathan to establish his 9th trick in the club suit.
So Larsen discarded a spade, and now Jonathan led a club toward dummy. It didn't matter what the defense did at this point -- either Jonathan was going to score a club trick and a heart trick, or two heart tricks, depending on who won the second round of clubs.
Well-judged and well-played for a 13 IMP pickup. Don Kersey, noted squeeze expert, called this a "three-loser winkle squeeze."
The 3rd set was not pretty. We came back from dinner and were greeted thusly by our teammates: "We lost, do you want to concede?" I don't know any details but our team lost the third set by 60, 72-12, and we could no longer realistically win the match. We decided to continue on the theory that it's not every day you get to play against a team of this calibre (I was in the middle of "Unnecessary Roughness" on TV and would have been happy conceding though!)
Happily we were decent in the final set (no one, us included, was trying all that hard) and lost it 37-34. In the three sets Jonathan and I were in, we stayed within 9 IMPs of our world-class opponents, and had a decent card every time. In the end that counts for not much but it's something to feel good about.
Here's a board we picked up 10 IMPs on in the final segment:
Because in our style we respond 2NT with 12-15 balanced (yes, even in response to 1H or 1S), Jonathan's 2C response to my 1S opening guaranteed either a real suit or extra values. Therefore, I knew we were immediately in the slam zone. I bid 3C along the way to Blackwood just to let Jonathan know about the cQ later in the auction. After he showed 1 keycard, then the sQ and cK, I made a general grand slam try with the 6D bid. Because of the earlier 3C bid, Jonathan decided I simply had to have the cQ, and he could count 13 tricks. He chose to play in clubs in case spades didn't break and there was some other play for a 13th trick (perhaps a diamond finesse or simply ruffing out spades if I had a side king). On this deal, 7NT is best since there are no extra chances, but we were not really in a position to work that out.
In actuality, spades split 3-2 so 7C was cold and won 10 IMPs against 6S+1 at the other table.
Tomorrow we are playing in a compact KO with Jeff Smith and David "Scooter" Sabourin both from the Ottawa area. They may be Canada's hottest new partnership and are both great guys.