Sunday, April 23, 2017

Goodbye Gatlinburg

Yesterday we said goodbye to this view from our balcony. We left behind some friends who would be playing in the all day Swiss and joined some on the road. It had been fun, but it was time to go home.

The trip back seemed to go faster than the trip there. We called Dixie, Sharron, and Tom and found out they were ahead of us; John and Herm had also gotten an earlier start (or they were speeding). I learned that John and Herm are farm boys and not only know the difference between hay and straw but also know a lot (too much?) about the growing cycles of crops. If only they also knew about nutritional meals - cheese nips, cheese curls, m&m's, and spicy chicken wings do not make for a healthy breakfast.

Even the drive through Indiana went faster. Lee and I were so caught up in our conversation that we forgot to keep an eye on the gas gauge.

"How are we doing on gas?" I finally asked as we drove down 28th Street.

Lee looked up, startled. "I forgot all about that!" she exclaimed. She checked the gauge. "We're below empty and the light is on!"

Fortunately we made it to the station on the corner and tragedy was averted. We both arrived home safe and sound.

The End

Friday, April 21, 2017


For our next KO we partnered with Gary and Herm.  Thankfully they did not get on the trolley and were waiting for us when we arrived at the venue. Our first session went smoothly, and we joined up with another winning team from Grand Rapids for dinner.

I suggested we go to Calhoun's for pork chops because Julie loves them so much and I  wouldn't hear the end of it if I  didn't give them a try. The group was agreeable, my chop was delicious and we got a surprise dessert from an anonymous benefactor. All was right with the world.

Our second session started out roughly. To make a long story short, we were 21 points behind going into the second half.  Discouraged but giving it our best shot, the following happened at our partners' table.  (In case you are wondering how I know all of these upcoming details, Gary told the story approximately 5 times.)

Gary was the dealer and passed. His left hand opponent passed, and Herm, sitting in third seat, squeezed out every point he could find in his cards and bid 1 spade. Fourth seat overcalled 2 diamonds. Gary then reevaluated his hand. He was looking at 4 spades to the jack, 6 hearts to the queen-ten, 3 diamonds to the queen, and a void in clubs. In other words, he had a total of 4 high card points. Gary reports that the void was critical to what happened next.

Gary bid 2 hearts. His left hand opponent then bid 3 clubs. ("Are we sure this is how it happened?" Herm asks. Gary ignores him and continues the story.) Herm wisely passed and Gary astutely bid 4 spades. Gary watched as all of the color drained from Herm's face. Gary reports that Herm looked extremely distraught; Herm declares that this is an understatement and that he had to fight the urge to kick Gary under the table.

Herm played the hand brilliantly and made the contract, turning the tide of that session. We won and went to the Shamrock to celebrate with drinks, dancing, and karaoke. Several other GR folks joined us, but I  am proud to report that we were the only team with all members present!!

Thursday, April 20, 2017


Distributional hands continue to haunt me. We almost won a knockout round, but didn't because I  misjudged one of these hands from hell. Lee kindly keeps telling me we also would have won if she had done something different on another hand, but I  don't even remember that one anymore. I think she's just  (futilely) trying to stop me from obsessing about this.

Picking up a hand with 6-5 distribution and 2 singletons should be a great thing, right? I can still see it; it was loaded with enough points to give hope, but with enough holes in those points to cruelly dash that hope on the rocks. I went down doubled for a bizillion points, and I  wasn't even vulnerable.

So I  ask you, how can I  know if distribution is good enough to make game? My partner had reluctantly supported me (after originally passing and then going back to my first suit when I  offered up my second suit for her consideration). And my opponents kept taunting me by bidding my singletons' suits. How was I to know that I  should have passed?

It didn't help that the opponents' hands were also distributional.

But really,  help me out here-how much value should I  assign to extreme distribution?

Wednesday, April 19, 2017


We have a new Life Master! Congratulations, Karen Cornelius! 

The Party

Last night after the evening session, Tom and his condo-mates hosted a pizza and beer party. Lee and I  were the first to arrive (surprise surprise) and Sharron warmly welcomed us.  While we waited for Tom to arrive with the pizza, Dixie came back from bridge and guests started to filter in.  But where were Julie, Dee, Barb, and Cristi? They were staying in the same condo and said they would be there. Also MIA were Gary and Herm. Where were they?

After awhile there was a knock on the door and Cristi came in. After greeting her, I asked where everyone else was.

"We didn't know the condo number, and no one was answering their phones." Cristi eyed me accusingly.

"Oops.  It's  still turned off from the tournament. Hey, how did you find us?"

"I was really hungry and knew you all (pronounced yawl) were on the second floor, so I came down the stairs and started looking in windows.  I caught a glimpse of someone I thought was Tom so I  knocked."

Soon Julie, Dee, and Barb also came down, but where were Gary and Herm?  Tom put an empty pizza box outside the door to help them locate us, or perhaps to lure them in.

Then all of a sudden, in a flash of commotion, there they were looking disheveled and distraught. "Where have you been?" we cried.   "We were lost on the trolley!" they moaned.  As they explained what happened, it began to sound like that Twilight Zone episode where a couple of people get on a train to escape a creepy town but the train just keeps going in circles.  Weird.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Day 1

First the good news: I had a wonderful dinner at the Cherokee Grill with 9 Grand Rapids Bridge players. And there are lots more of them here in anyone playing at home? Anyway, several of us drank bubbly (me included) and we all ate tasty food. Now Lee and I are resting in our room before the evening session because we are both sick.

Let me repeat that: We are both sick. Lee is taking medication for a horrendous sinus infection and I am suffering with the cold and cough from hell. This is important to keep in mind as you read about our poor performance to date.


It started out to be a promising day.  We left early to look for teammates and were happy to run into two GR players who were also looking for teammates. We joined forces and discovered we'd be playing in a round robin.  I think that's supposed to be a good thing because you have a better chance of making it through. We got knocked out. Don't ask who our teammates were; they begged me to leave their names out of this.

Then Lee and I decided to play in the afternoon gold rush pairs. I'm going to skip over that part of the day and go right to Lee's part of a phone conversation with her daughter Audra that I (accidentally) overheard.

Audra: murmurmurmurmurmur

Lee: Well not good, but that's because we're sick.

Audra: murmurmurmurmur

Lee: We planned this a long time ago, we weren't going to cancel.

Audra: murmurmurmur

Lee, indignantly: What do you mean, I'm too old to be doing stuff like this?

At this point it appeared that Audra wisely shifted the conversation to her budding interest in yoga.

But all is not lost, dear readers,  for within the hour we will be at it once again, playing in the gold rush evening session. Even if we don't do well (although I think we will), we will be looking forward to the pizza party at the condo across the street.

I don't think we're going to make it to the bridge session tomorrow morning.

Monday, April 17, 2017


After a harrowing 12 hour drive up and down mountains in the rain and sleet, chased by bears and police cars with sirens blazing, we finally arrived at our destination...the Travelodge Inn in Gatlinburg.

If only our trip had been so exciting. It took 11 hours (10 of which seemed to be in Indiana), and there were mountains and a little rain, but thankfully we did not get stopped for speeding (although lots of others did). We did see a cute bear cub statue drinking from a ceramic water fountain in the lobby of the Inn. And we learned about the difference between hay and straw.

Currently we are preparing for tomorrow's tournament by laying in bed and drinking - wine for me, whiskey for Lee.  In the morning we will be risking it all at the partnership desk, looking for a pair for knockouts. I anticipate an interesting story.