My well documented inability to estimate matchpoints on the fly (even with a Bridgemate® giving a current percentage at the time the score is entered) was on display again. The Mad Scientist left without even looking at the score which is never a good sign. I was estimating us at somewhere maybe a little north of 50% so imagine my surprise when the score was 62% and we were in 1st.
I called the Mad Scientist from the car, “Did you think we were having a good game today?”
There was a pause while he wondered, for the umpteenth time that day, if I was an idiot. “Uhh, no,” he said mildly, “We did not have a good game. We were giving away a lot of boards for no good reason.”
My mind flashed to the 3NT I doubled and then mis-defended. It should have been down two — “should” being the operative word there. “Well, we won,” I said.
“That’s weird,” he said flatly. As far as he is concerned, winning bears very little relevance as to whether or not we had a good game. It was, in fact, a mere curiosity. I had called because I thought it might make him somewhat happier (with me?), but now I was thinking about the huge game we should have had instead. As is so often the case, the costliest mistakes were ones that could have been easily avoided.
In my partnerships with Yin and TMS, I’m feeling a distinct lack of trust. I’m not saying it’s completely unwarranted, but even on hands when I do the right thing I often sense waves of disapproval radiating from the other side of the table. When it works, I’m vindicated at least temporarily. But just because something doesn’t work, doesn’t mean I was wrong to take whatever action it was that I took — even if a play or bid will be right 85% of the time there’s still that 15% lurking out there. But with my partner predisposed against me in this way, well, to say it is in uphill battle to convince them I was right would be putting it mildly.
There was a hand like that today, I went ahead to game after TMS made a merely competitive bid in an auction that appeared to be taking place with a pinochle deck. Game is cold our way. Most everyone is there; which is to say, I took the normal action in the midst of an abnormal auction. Even while I was pulling the bid out of my box, I knew he wasn’t happy about it. I bid game because I trusted his initial overcall. Had our positions been reversed, I wonder if he would have.
I really do want to be a trustworthy partner, and toward that I end I try to reign in my aggressive bidding usually by over-correcting and then my bids become too conservative — not that such adjustments ever last long. I can’t figure out why it’s so difficult for me to calibrate, control myself just enough so that my partners will stop worrying
and love the bomb and cut me some slack. I’m never going to be a machine, and as much as I love conventions and gadgets, on a personal level I feel like bidding is more art than science. Not to mention my chronic case of slam-itis. I love bidding slams, even at matchpoints where it just doesn’t pay off to push for close slams.
The first time I was faced with bidding a grand slam that I was also going to get to play at a tournament it was in a pairs game. Doc and I had a very clear, scientific auction. I could count the tricks and I correctly weighed the risk of being in spades versus being in no trump — all very clinical and detached, but my heart was pounding the entire time. It was a thrill to play, even when I realized that 7NT was on and I couldn’t be sure it would matchpoint particularly well (as it turned out it did, those of us who ventured to seven only did so in suit). Logically I knew that hand would be of no more import than the part score I’d play next, but 2♠ is just never going to be as sexy as 7.
Which reminds me, after the game I remembered I needed to stop at a supermarket and turned into a shopping center that I don’t usually frequent. There I found one of those clearance bookstores that pop up like mushrooms in one of the previously abandoned store fronts. It was cavernous, cool and a damp and huge — thousands and thousands of books most stacked in haphazard groupings, some still in boxes and crates. It was impossible to tell who, if anyone, worked there because the handful of people in the store were all just milling about. At thirty paces, I spotted a bridge book tucked into one of the boxes (I have bridge book radar). It wasn’t a title that I was interested in, but since there seemed to be some strange method to the madness I examined the other books in the box. Flanking it were a self-help guide entitled How to Make Anyone Fall in Love with You and an “A to Z guide to sex toys”. Might this have been a subtle suggestion that bridge may harm one’s romantic prospects?