Al The Plumber


Congratulations on winning the ACBL Platinum Pairs, Bob Hamman and Justin Lall!  BUT ——
NO PAIR in the event, or EVEN ALL THE OTHERS COMBINED, could have come close to matching some of my partnership’s remarkable achievements.  I played with Marc Rabinowitz, who recently made the mistake of showing up in the same town where I live in FL.  The rare times that we got together so we could use our blank convention card as a place-mat, all that we succeeded in doing was pigging out in a pizzeria.  However, we did get more red sauce on it each time, thus making more things that we don’t play Alertable.
Anyway, of course, he was world-renowned throughout whatever little was known of the world back in Fred Flintstone’s hey day.  (Incidentally, “Hey” is how they used to Alert in both bridge and golf.  The number “fore” hadn’t come to the four yet either.)  Using their perennially rocky methods, Fred and Marc once big clubbed their way to as high as 999th overall out of 1000 in the Bedrock Duduathalon, a combined bridge and golf event for non-dynamic duos.  By some never explained coincidence, that was also the first time that the two players of a partnership both were found croaked during a discovery play, although neither was doing any croaking.  In addition, they each had a duplicate board and a golf club embedded in their skulls.  Despite their grave condition, that pair nailed shut position #1000 with the weird score of WTF, thus depriving Fred and Marc of that overall position.  Pardon my French, but I believe that WTF is the Cro-Magnon relay system abbreviation that translates to DNF, unless they bid a longer adieu that suits them later on.           
Marc also had some students at some time in his bridge non-career.  Of course, many students are “tutored”, but Marc used a little different, but spellbinding, approach.  He “tortured” them instead, but that’s close enough for bridge work.  I guess that’s why he always says that getting them to learn anything at all was like pulling teeth.  Worse yet, he said that none of them appreciated his most advanced captivating, duplicateboarding methods called Stayman and Regular Blackwood.  In a ruff huff, Marc pretty much stopped playing.  By the way, some of those hopeless beginners were named Jeff Meckstroth, Bobby Levin, and Ralph Katz.  I wonder if they later played even as much as once in a blue moon.  Or did they just give up on deck work after undergoing Marc’s brutal hammering initiation, thereby subsequently getting eclipsed by hordes of ACBL Rookie Monsters.
OK, let’s get on with the highly billed Ducky Platypus Pairs.  Here are some examples, from just the second session of the Final, regarding ducking out of winning positions:
1. Naturally, we are much more interested in Good Sportspersonship (It’s hard to keep up with all the PC stuff.  Is that correct now?) Awards than anything else.  It’s ridiculous, but many other players want to collect masterpoints or mistresspoints, or even more bizarrely, they want to climax by winning events.  Err go (I think that’s screwed up bridgepig Latin), we intentionally get many bad results at the beginning of each session to make lots of players feel that they are in the zone, especially an erogenous one if they are chickens coming home to roost, or to us roosters.
That sets the scene for the first 12 boards of the last session.  We decided to pitch only 9 of them.  We do have to mix it up a little, and get a sort of indecent result here and there.  Otherwise, the ACBL good sportspersons hip enough to figure out our strategy might complain that they are not bad enough players to duplicate our duplicate tactics.  Anyway, here are our scores on those boards (on a 13 top): 2-0.0, 2-1.0, 1-1.5, 2-2.0, 1-3.0, & 1-4.5.
Later we didn’t want to be quite so obvious, but we snuck in another 1.0, 2-2.5’s, & a 4.0.  Therefore, our sporting total on those 13 boards (out of a total of 26 boards in the session) was 25.0.  Our percentage on that half of the game was 25.0 / (13 * 13) = 14.79%.
Obviously, on those boards, we cruised right along playing our version of Moneyball.  It’s hard to pin down players on this, maybe because it is not up their alley, but sometimes it somehow strikes some people that we are playing Gutterball.  Please spare me such nonsense.  The contenders that we are supposed to bowl over just are trying to frame us.
Anyway, by using our strategy of remaining as consistently inconsistent as possible, I think we emerged as clear winners of yet another Good Sportspersonship Award.  However, for some reason we haven’t heard from the ACBL yet.  They probably lost our phone #’s and Email addresses again.
Unfortunately, good things can’t last forever.  We got up to a little below average for that session, and staggered into a well undeserved 13th or 14th overall, depending which “ACBL Official Final Results” you believe.  We would have liked to finish a lot lower.  We think we have a great non-system to succeed at that very often, but we still think we won the award convincingly.
2. We played in a “theoretically” impossible to locate vul 3-2 club fit instead of our 5-3 spade fit, even after an opponent opened a natural 1 .  No one else in the event found it.  I mistakenly overplayed it for only -200, and thus got too many matchpoints, 1.5 out of 13.  Sorry pard, I’ll try to lose more tricks next time.
3. We sort of Nonstripe-tail Aped the opponents in TWO CLUBS, AND then remembered not to run like a Nonstripe-tailed Ape when they went ape-shit and whipped out the XX card.  -760.  VICTORY IN DEFEAT!  But a strange thing happened on the way to the formal defeat party.  We were fixed by the field for the umpteen zillionth time.  Three pairs in their direction bid a major suit slam so those sitting our way at their tables were -980.  Damn!    
(Note: Well, at least my partner didn’t pitch a trick, and further demoralize the opponents by netting them +960.  Naturally, that tiny 20 point scoring difference is a lot more agonizing than 220 points is for them in such circumstances.  My partnerships have worked extremely hard to avoid giving pain to gazillions of opponents.)
4. We had too much defense to let them play 5  nonvul going down , so 5 X -2 by us for -500 was an easy choice.
5. They might not X our 2  for -100, so we voluntarily went to 3 .  Double by them.  -300.

Well, that’s enough regarding that momentous session.  I’ll add a couple more low highlights of our game during the first final session:
1. I counted that we tried to dump 10 boards in that session, but unfortunately, 3 times the nasty layouts of the cards foiled us from doing so.
2. Here is one that worked: I could make 2  from my side, and partner could make 3  from his.  Unfortunately, he had bid spades first, so I went to the 5 level to lure him into bidding 6.  I won.  6 , -300.

My keyboard is folding rapidly due to all the stroking of contract declarations so I’ll conclude with just a couple of our numerous innovative pitches from the earlier sessions.
1. A vul 6  in our 5-3 fit was extremely close to being gin, so of course 6 with a stiff A opposite Qxxxx was incredibly enticing.  Down 3, -300.  NICE!  But not perfect.  We did get 0.5 out of 55.  I’ve filed for a formal ACBL investigation.  Black ops tie-ins only please.  Obviously, someone has stolen our copywronged system.
2. Not wanting to play 4  for +420, or 3NT for +430, we settled on the makeable 5  for -50.

There are lots more exciting deals, but my phone is ringing off the finesse.  It must be the ACBL calling about our trophies.
Until next time, please remember it is better to give matchpoints than to receive.
May all your finesses lose except when you play against me,
Al, The Plumber of the Depths of Lunacy
P.S. Elvis was a no-show for the Mixed Pairs.  He was supposed to play with Grace Land.  She is still here, uncontrollably crying a river over that hound dog.  Flood warnings are in effect for the Mississippi River and all the Gulf States.
Just in: Timberlake and Julie arrived from London.  Both are crying about copyright infringement.  Please stay tuned, unless you want to tune out.

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