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Bridge at the Cavendish (4/3/02)


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Bridge at the Cavendish
The Cavendish Club, also known as the Boston Chess Club, is the only place I know of around Boston that still has money bridge games daily. I used to play there often, and it was a quick way to learn and to lose money. The players I usually played against weren't really good, but they had the experience of playing every day.
The style of bridge played at the Cavendish was Chicago with partials. Players would cut for partners then play 4 hands with different dealer and vulnerability, but partials would carry over to count for games like in old fashioned rubber bridge. The only conventions that were used were stayman, blackwood, and the unusual notrump. The usual stakes were 2 cents a point, but there were sometimes 5 cent games with some of the best bridge players from around the area. Recently, I've heard that there's a 10 cent game on Fridays.
I do not remember the hands very well, but I do remember the people from when I used to play there. I remember B (I will only use initials to describe people from rubber bridge), who was old, loud, obnoxious, senile, and a wild bidder. He livened up the game and his penalty doubles could usually be heard throughout the club. I also remember R, who had money and wasn't really much of a bridge player. When he had enough tricks for his contract he would claim, tabling his cards and pointing to the tricks he was taking.
All of the players I played with were quite nice to me, even though I did so many horrible things. I remember one such hand.

NS Vul
Dealer S

S  xxx
H  9xxx
D  KQxx
C  Kx

S  AQTxx
D  Ax
C  Ax

I was declarer as South in 6S, and the opening lead was a heart. I won in hand and led a diamond to dummy to play a spade to my T and West's J. I won the heart continuation, and played a club to dummy, to take the other finesse. The queen held, but West had no more spades. Therefore, I was now doomed to down 1 in a cold contract.

I was waiting for B to start berating me for going down in 6S when there were 100 honors more in the Henry-proof 6H. But uncharacteristically, he just calmly said, "Safety play. Play the ace first, then lead to your ten. You're not trying to make 7." At this, West joined in by saying, "Even if you don't play the ace, it's still better to finesse the queen, as you can still recover when the stiff jack falls." And there, was my first lesson in safety plays, which I have not forgotten to this day. Would you forget a $31 lesson (lose 100 plus the 1430 that I should have gotten, at the stakes of 2 cents a point) if you're a poor college student?