As I review the hands in the semifinal, the pain of not surviving relieved a
little bit, as I found the bridge was actually more decent than I thought.
This year's LM pairs is particularly competitive, partly due to the new
mini-life master pairs introduced, which move more than 200 pairs to the lower
events. As a result, the field is unusually strong. As a data point, last year
there were over 500 pairs playing in the LM pairs, and 130 pairs qualified for
the final. This year, only 330 pairs played the LM pairs, and only 156 pairs
qualified the semi-final. So the strength of semifinal field feels like final
Fred and I haven't played together for more than 3 years together and this
time we played a completely different system than before. As a result, we lost
at least 2 boards to system & convention screw ups. The funniest one was after
oppo's strong 1C opening, Fred overcalled 5C, intending for Suction (the
higher ranking single suit, or the other two suited hand), but I was not on
the same wavelength as I could not see the merit of playing Suction at 5
level. With minor 1-1, I passed and we played in 3-1 fit going 5 off for -250.
One of the oppo was a good friend, nevertheless he called director and seeked
a score adjustment to -300 as 5Dx can go 2 off: people are this serious! The
director consulted a bunch experts and everyone of them chose to pass when
oppo bid your 6card suit AQJxxx.
A characteristics of the high level bridge is the competitive auction and
aggressive balancing. You rarely buy the contract easily, yet, we never had a
chance to catch oppo speeding.
Personally, my main weakness still lies in the opening lead. In addition, I
found myself too pessimistic and often on the losing end when the layout was
The 26 hands I posted here were actually quite plain and not very exciting.
Meanwhile, as you may have discovered, the actions are mostly reasonable. On
my side, I found the 3 mistakes I made was unforgivable: the opening lead
against 6H, my wrong choice of squeeze in 4S, and my passing of 2D with
6-4-2-1. Getting these correct would surely get us above average. In fact the
opening lead itself would raise 3.5%.
In the 2 session semifinal, Sidney Lazard and Bart Bramley always sat next to
us, and there were always kibitzers there. Unfortunately Lazard, the reigning
blue ribbon champion, failed to qualify the 2nd day as well.
Oh well, the ultimate winning strategy is to survive in life itself, I guess.
When you do so, you have the chance to try again. In fact, when I don't feel
the pain and humiliation of defeat, it feels like a winner by just playing in
the event. At the end of day, winning bridge is correlated to winning in life.
This year's overwhelming winner in the LM pairs illustrated that: Nick Nickell
is a very successful businessman and he wins both in and out of bridge.
By the way, there's a little fact that not everyone knows and
if anyone comes to play in the US national. In pairs games like
Life Master, t
hey usually seed pairs, and you very much know the strength, even
if you don't
know those people by face (for example, I didn't know Kit Woolsey before,
they were one of the seeded pairs). In general, the even number of pairs
always unseeded, and some odd numbers are seeded, at least 1, 3,
7, 11, could
In qualifying rounds, the known experts are required to fill in a
try this year so they can seed this. After that, the seeding was
decided by th
e qualifying and semifinal results.
For the hands I posted, you can check that. We were pair5 in the
move up so 3rd round would play pair NS7, the Wooldridge-Hurd, for
W3 was the Lazard-Bramley pair. Larry Cohen-David Berkewitz were
NS11, the pai
r after Douglas Doub, and the one that we were late (so I was
wrong in my orig
inal post in saying that North was a pro and South was a client,
but Cohen onc
e on table when Berkowitz was on lead: pd, your turn to cost a
trick. And this
time, against my 3NT, he was right again! -- the hand that if he led CJ
xxxx x xxxxx JTx I would go down in my 3N as long as they don't
play 3 rounds