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Dr. John Gustafson celebrated his 94th birthday at the Spring Festival Sectional in Urbandale, Iowa by winning 3 events and being 3 OA and 5th OA in the remaining two of the 5 events in which he participated. His partners were Richard Freedman, Doug Stark, Gregg Walsh and a nameless player best know for terrorizing hapless motorists on the streets and highways of central Iowa and such tourist destinations as Coralville, Council Bluffs, Fargo, Kansas City and Sioux City. His partners with the exception of Richard Freedman, were his team on Sunday. Two of his pair game wins had scores of 69.40% and 69.17%. In fairness, John did say that he made his worst play in recent memory in one of the pairs events. He called it a true senior moment. From information uncovered by this reporter, it appears to have been the equivalent of getting a two way finesse for a queen wrong after an opponent opened an out of range 1N.
Lest this performance be considered a fluke, in the two months before the sectional John has had 5 games at or above 67%. Of course, to put it in perspective, that is out of 25 games that he played in that period. Would that we could all play so well at age 94!
Here is a picture of John playing with the nameless player in a regional some years ago:
PUZZLEMENT by Pete Wityk
I am playing in a match pointed pairs club game with a regular partner against a competent but not exceptionally strong pair. As second chair with all vulnerable, I, for a change, am dealt more than my share of cards with:
♠ KQ8 ♥ AKQJ63 ♦ K10 ♣ J2
Dealer opens 1♦. I am certainly strong enough to double and bid my own suit. So, I *. The next chair bids 2♦. Partner emerges after a little thought with *, which is responsive showing values without wanting to bid a 4 card major ( presumably 4-3 or 4-4 ) or bid clubs at the 3 level. Opener passes and I bid where I want to play, 4♥. Three Passes conclude the auction, which has been:
N E S W
* 2♦ * P
4♥ P P P
The 4♦ is led and this is the dummy that appears:
This looks to be a common contract and I expect to take 11 tricks and so should most of the field. I call for the 5, West plays the A and I play the 10. The 2♥ appears on the table. I win the A with E following. I lead the J♣ to tempt an ill-considered cover. It doesn’t happen and the A wins. I lead the 2♠ to my K which wins the trick. Then the K♥ draws the remaining trump. Now, the 2♣ is played to the K and I trump the 5♣. When both follow to the ♣, I claim since I can get to dummy to discard the two remaining ♠ in my hand on the 2 good ♣ in dummy and then have all winners in my hand. The full hand was:
♠ J74 ♠ A63
♥ 95 ♥ 82
♦ 98743 ♦ AQJ62
♣ 854 ♣ Q73
Taking 12 tricks for +680 was a tie for top. In my working life, I worked with a number of consultants from India. One of their favorite statements at any unusual occurrence seemed to be, “It is a great puzzlement to me how this happened.” And, it is a great puzzlement to me how this happened. There were 7 +650, 2 +620, 1 +200 and one +140 besides the 2 of +680. I can believe that a cow flew by at the two tables not in game. But, taking 10 or 11 tricks means that the N player didn’t consider this line ( i.e. take the ♣ finesse for 10 tricks, establish two ♣ winners with 3 losers to discard, or that W players, except for two, when faced with this problem all jumped up with the A♠ at their first opportunity ).
So, it is still a great puzzlement to me how this happened.
Submitted November 19, 2017