"What kind of player are you?", asked Jeff Bayone, the owner of the Manhattan bridge club.
"Well, I've got only 200 points," told him, "but I am a pretty decent player. I typically place in regional pairs and teams events. I usually play with B. when I come into New York."
"B. B.?", he asked incredulously. I nodded.
"What are you doing the rest of this afternoon?"
"Would you mind filling in? One of the players had to leave and the director is having to play."
So, I got to finish off the afternoon session. "This is one of B's regular partners," Jeff told my new pard, "so he's pretty good." We had the usual disasters (for example, I doubled their bid and partner with no points and 3-card support for my suit passed the double for penalty) but mostly, we reached the right contracts and played the cards well.
We finished the afternoon session with 56% which was good for 3rd place and a whopping 1.3 master points. In the Norman game, you would need to win 3 weeks in a row to get 1.3 MPs. Not bad for half an afternoon's work!
As I was leaving, one of the players asked if I wanted to play in the evening game. Of course, I did. That was the whole reason for going to the club in the first place. He was a visitor too, from the West coast, where he directed and taught bridge. In other words, he was a very good player. We quickly decided on what to play -- 2/1 with a few trimmings.
The evening game comes around, and with this partner (who was a much better player than the one I played with in the afternoon), it was one zero after another. The club had bridgemates, and so there was no escaping the comparison after every board and the realization that we were completely out of step with the field.
We were preempting when the others were not. We were raising to game when they were not. We were in NT contracts when they were playing in a suit. We were playing in a major when they were playing in a minor. And each time, our decision did not work out.
Were we just bidding terribly? I posted a couple of the hands (where the primary decision was mine) as polls on Bridge Winners.
In this one, the field was in 3NT making 3. 76% of BridgeWinners would not have been in game -- 100% would not have overcalled with my hand, and 76% would not have raised partner's balancing action to game. 2C making 5 or 1NT making 3 were worth zero matchpoints.
In this hand, the decision is whether to open 1H or 1NT. 88% of BridgeWinners would do as I did, and open 1NT. The field, though, opened 1H and were rewarded by partner raising their bid to 2H. They make 8 or 9 tricks. 1NT went down 1 for another zero.
We finished the game with 47%, well out of the standings. Towards the end of the evening, I wrote down my BBO username for partner just in case he wanted to play online sometime. He took it politely, but did not proffer his username in return. Who can blame him?