On Monday 13th June I was hunting for poor bridge in the Regent Bridge Club. The occasion was the 2nd session of the Sean Stack League finals. This is probably the strongest bridge event that takes place in Dublin each year. We start with 2 divisions: the Premier Division comprising six teams and Division 1 comprising the rest which is usually eight. We hope to grow the Premier Division to eight too but currently we don't have the teams. Anyway this is a good hunting ground for poor bridge as most of the players are very experienced. To reach the final four, the top three teams from the Premiership and the winner of Division 1 qualify.
The teams were:
Team 1 led by Tom Hanlon (Ireland's top bridge player and unlikely to ever appear on poorbridge.com) and including two other Camrose winners. Peter Pigott, Mark Moran, Cearbhall Daly, Terry Walsh and James Heineken. Team 2 led by Ranald Milne and including at least four players who have represented Ireland at Open level. Des Scannell, David Jackson, Pat Barry, Michael Fitzgibbon. Team 3 led by John Comyn and winners of Division 1. BJ O'Brien, Liz Taffe, Jill Kulchysky. Team 4 led by Paul Delaney backed up by Eamon Galligan with support from Thomas MacCormac, Dave Terry, Sean O'Lubaigh and Ronan McMaugh. Thomas MacCormac is our sole full international but he was unavailable for the second session.
So onwards and downwards. Team Delaney is -56 IMPs after Session 1 and continued downwards with plenty of poorbridge, but we would never report ourselves to the poorbridge site. After finishing our two easier matches (the matches we were only behind in by 2 and 17) and losing some more we went into the final half-match suitably armed with 2 pints of liquid — amber for David Terry and black for Eamonn. We were 37 imps behind.
We started with Board 26 where my third opponent, across the table, picked up:
|A K J 8 7 2|
|A K Q J 6|
After two passes he opened 2 (not as strong as 2 benjy), got jostled a little on his left by a guy with a fistful of hearts and received a positive bid in spades from his partner. Launching into Jackwood and finding he had all four jacks he bid a slam whereupon the opponents took the first two tricks with Aces as this game is not about Jacks, so 6-1 and 37 increases to 47 probably.
Anyway, I was not hopeful of finding any poor bridge as we were on the final match with two international opponents and 47 imps down.
However, I got a bite.
I picked up as dealer
|A K 9 8 3|
|Q 10 8|
|Q 10 9|
Being vulnerable I opened a strong NT. This encouraged my LHO to jockey in with his 10 major cards with a 2 bid. My cross table opponent bid 3 which he being a solid citizen was probably enough for game so I placed the 3NT card on the table.
Receiving the 7 lead I saw:
I counted up five club tricks, two spade tricks, two hearts and a diamond or two and maybe some squeeze at the end, so 11 or 12 tricks. Winning the spade lead in hand by overtaking the winning Jack with my ace to the applause of Terry Walsh, a member of the opposing team who was sitting out (and has since been dragged to the European Mixed Pairs final by the lady who he shares his life with, Brid Kemple). Quickly I led a club towards the king and as LHO started to consider his discard I went a little green as my 12 tricks slowly condensed to 7.
Eventually a small diamond was discarded and I passed the 10 losing to the J. A spade return set up the spades for the defence and I led a club off the table to the 9 which won and brought another considered discard from LHO. However, as I was already considering my next pint which Mr Walsh had kindly gone to the bar to collect, I did not care what the opposition discarded as I was only ever getting 7 tricks. To pass the time I played the Q and after another considered discard my RHO allowed me to win the trick.
Now the pint had arrived so it was time to get down to business. Current tally is one trick to opps and four tricks in my bag so I decided it was time to collect my other three high tricks which I did, noting the appearance of the 10 on the table. I decided to exit with the 9 and as both opponents revoked, I quickly played the 8 and they still revoked so I wound up with 10 tricks and a pint and +630 and no idea where the Q went.
The full hand was:
We'd better leave the purveyors of poor bridge nameless as they are not impressed, nor was their leader Tomas Hanlon.
Sean Stack was a civil engineer who I met several times standing in gateways and once in a pub in my non-bridge travels. When starting out in bridge back in the late 80s I went to a masters event to watch as I figured I was too weak to be allowed to play. I watched these two middle-aged men getting top after top against other decent players in my view. After session 1 they had 9.1 tops over average and many years later I heard they finished with a score of nearly 16 tops above average after 2 sessions. They were Sean Stack and Peter Grant.
Sadly, one Friday night about four years ago while my team played a playoff match in the Regent a rubber bridge game took place in the same room involving the same Sean Stack. I returned the following Monday to be informed that Sean Stack was buried that morning, 60 odd hours after I saw him happy as Larry playing rubber bridge. He was gone and the Dublin Bridge League which he organized for many years now bears his name. Sean also proposed my application to the Regent Bridge Club when I was a budding player and knew few Regent members.
Original article http://www.poorbridge.com/?pbotw=14