Archive for November, 2010

Grand National Nightmare

With the GNOT this weekend and my being in Geneva, I happened to notice I wrote this a long time ago:

The Switzerland Affair
Trying to Qualify for the Grand National Teams
A Twinings Disaster Story

I have to get in before George Kozakos (NSW open team) claims it for himself. He probably thinks that because he was there at the table, while I was in Switzerland, that it was his disaster, not mine.

If I was lying on a pyschiatrist’s couch right now, I’d probably say that my disaster isn’t a hand or even a match. It’s an entire event, year after year of it: the Grand National Teams. If Mollo had ever entered Karapet the Armenian in this event, I would have made him look lucky.

There was the year I exited the event by going for 1400 in a freely bid slam. They made it in the other room. After we lost this knockout match by an IMP my partner told me that he had never scored minus 24 IMPs before. He wondered if perhaps we shouldn’t have bid the slam. The really irritating thing was that according to several classy declarers, I took the best line. They would have gone for 1400 too. George was in the other room that year.

There was the year we were informed during the National final at Lindfield that we had to play a repecharge against Gallus in order to qualify for the semi-final. We would have won this easily if the two best players on our team had fronted up. But Paul Marston and Paul Wyer both considered it beneath their dignity to have to play Gallus for a place in the final. ‘You play Gallus’, ‘No you’ ‘No’ ‘Look, if you think I’m going to sit at the table with that…’ ‘Well if you’re not going to, neither am I.’ So the rest of us played. And the rest of us lost. George was in the other room.

So, this particular year, 1990, I thought I had a pretty good plan. Okay, I’d enter, but I’d go to Switzerland for the qualifying. At least that way I’d get to the finals. My teammates thought that was a good idea too. They helped me raise the plane fare.

A match or two into the event I rang George to see how I was going. ‘You’re out of the event’ he said. ‘What do you mean, out of the event? I haven’t played a hand yet. I can’t be out.’

‘Well,’ said George, ‘It was like this. I got to a rather tricky six spade slam. You hold….’ I no longer have the hand, but George did double dummy well to make. Came the score-up. ‘Plus 1430.’ ‘One IMP in.’ ‘One IMP!!? What was the contract?’

In the other room, our teammates were two experts in the North American tradition. That meant they loved to psyche. The culprit, East, held


What do you bid when your partner’s 1D opening is passed to you? 1S, of course. Then a remarkable thing happens. LHO passes, and so does partner! This is the auction to date:

West     North    East    South
1D         Pass        1S        Pass
Pass     2D………?

Everybody knows West has psyched, but nobody knows that you have. Perfect! So when, as happened, North balanced with 2D, maybe that will be the final resting place. Who knows? The point is that you’ve done as much as your side can. Content? No! Not our East. If I gave you a dozen chances to guess his next bid you’d fail. He rounded out his hand with a delicate 4C!!! Now, imagine you are partner. Partner knows that you know she’s psyched. Therefore, 4C is some huge natural two-suiter. What else? Well, they sorted that out at the six level and played it very nicely too for the anticipated one IMP in. ‘+1430’ ‘IMP in. Knew you’d make it.’ Thanks team.


November 26, 2010 at 1:13 am Leave a comment

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