IS there actually a difference between rap and hip-hop? I don't care what it is.
Today's Bridge: It was a whopper of a doozy today, I tell you what. Bridge fans, read on for the mother of all hands: A grand slam in clubs bid and made. I know, 7NT is the most lucrative undoubled contract, but clubs is the hardest grand slam to bid.The opponents started with 4D, while I had almost no power to offer Mike other than support for his spades and two queens (including spades, I think). He didn't figure they'd make their contract or that we'd make 4S, so he let it go. Dan might have had a chance to set up the board's six hearts to the ace, but he ran out of entries and gave up a few tricks at the end in addition to the top two diamonds that Mike had. Then I got the mother of all hands: S A-K-Q-9 H A-x D K-x C A-K-10-9-x. That was an easy 2C opener, and I could only hope that Mike would respond 2S, but he did me one even better and responded 3C! That's a five-card club suit and at least 8 points, which put us well into slam territory and within a distributional fluke of grand slam. I went right to 4NT, Roman Key Card Blackwood (he'd made the only suit-naming bid), although I didn't care whether he too that as RKCB or standard Blackwood - the only responses available to him were 5C and 5D, which were functionally equivalent at this point. He responded 5D, promising the ace of diamonds, and that meant my only possible losers were an unlikely spade loser, a possible heart loser, and maybe a club if the split was against me. So I bid 5H, asking if he had the queen of trump. His 5NT reply told me that he did, and rather than continue the Blackwood convention, I jumped straight to 7C. Mike's hand was S x-x H 10-x D A-x-x-x C Q-J-x-x-x, which was exactly what I needed. When Paul didn't ruff the opening diamond lead, I pulled three rounds of trump, cashed my three spade winners (dumping the losing heart from the board), cashed the two red aces, and crossruffed the rest. As Mike pointed out afterward, the hand practically played itself, but not many of our regulars would have been likely to find the grand slam bid. I got to follow that up with a S A-K-J H A-K-x-x D A-J-9 C x-x-x. The clubs were weak, but I still had to open 2NT, and Mike responded with the Stayman 3C. I bid 3H, and he went up to 4H, a successful iteration of Stayman. (In other words, I got to be declarer with the strong hand.) He didn't have as much support this time, something like S Q H 10-x-x-x D Q-x-x-x-x C A-x-x, but it worked out. Dan started with a diamond, which I let run to my jack, and I ran the top two hearts. Dan showed out on the second round, leaving Paul with the top two trump. Oh well. I cashed my three spades, sluffing the two low clubs, then crossed to the ace, back to the ace of diamonds (avoiding the marked finesse), and ruffed a club. (I think I should have crossed to the ace of clubs first, then run the spades, so I could ruff, cross to the ace of diamonds, and ruff again. I think I was worried that Paul might be really short of spades and ruff in before I could sluff the clubs, but that would leave Dan with eight or nine spades - even with no honors, that's probably worth a 3S bid to shut up our auction.) Finally, I had no choice but to throw the queen of diamonds, and Paul ruffed Dan's king. Oops. He followed with his other trump, then led to my last trump for the tenth trick. Had he let Dan's king win the diamond, I don't think the last card in my hand would set up, although that would put Dan in the lead and he can't lead trump. He's got to lead either a spade for a ruff-and-sluff or a club for the ruff I didn't get to lead myself. Paul can cover it, but that still leaves me with a long trump for the last trick I need. With that rubber put away, they declared and missed another 4D, and I declared and made the same. Mike opened 1S and Paul overcalled 2H. I might have been a little weak for it, but with S A-x H A-x D Q-10-x-x-x-x C x-x-x, I felt comfortable bidding 3D. Paul joked when Dan passed instead of bidding 4C, but then Mike bid 4C. I had to bid 4D, and he left me there with S K-Q-x-x-x H x D A-J-9 C A-Q-J-x. I certainly couldn't have bid 5 without him showing support. I won the opening spade lead with the ace, cashed my ace of hearts, and ruffed my last heart, then ran the ace in the hope of dropping the king of diamonds. No such luck, so I led the board's last diamond instead. Paul made the obvious king of hearts lead, so I ruffed and ran the club finesse. It lost, naturally, and Paul led a spade this time, which put me on the board with all the winners I needed and then some. They made a 2C contract with a couple of overtricks, and I think we finished with a 3S, with Mike declaring this time. It was a jump bid from me, inviting slam, and he wasn't quite strong enough to consider. It made 5, and we didn't figure there was a chance for slam even with our nine-card club fit. Still, a day of almost total triumph. I could take that as a good sign, or a bad sign, but I plan to do neither. No sense inviting the kind of trouble I had last week.
Today's Work: I finished the last document before the big one... for the moment. It was rather delayed by all the stuff I had to do last week, but it's done now. The only problem remaining is that I hate the template for the big document, and I think it's stupid. Some of the sections are redundant, but I don't think I can just replace them with a forward link to the appendix where the same data can be found.
I've got to congratulate Mom on her new job. Two months ago or so, she sold her house in New Jersey and basically threw away most of her old life (except for most of her possessions) to move to Indiana and live off the profit from the sale until she could find a new house and a job, neither particularly certain in the current economic climate. I don't think I'd have the guts to do that. Bidding grand slam when I might be missing the king of hearts is easy enough - if things don't work out, I get -50 instead of +620. The penalty for not taking the risk if it would have worked is that I get +640 instead of +1140, still a pretty big bonus. But I took that risk. Sometimes, if you're willing to leap without really looking, things can work out really well. And they were both calculated risks. I think Mom figured on a few years before her financial situation got bad, because Indiana's pretty cheap compared to New Jersey. And the new job is basically the old job, but probably with all of the bad parts replaced with good parts. So well done, and enjoy the new job.
Finally reached the point in FFXIII where I can do specific missions and get rewards for them. So it's finally turned into something like FFXII, including having to avoid enemies that I can't possibly defeat. (And believe me, I've tried every strategy available. Maybe extreme Thunder protection would help, but meh. I probably don't have time to play it tonight anyway.