Bridging six years

Every so often, two similar experiences will bookend a period of time. And the title of this post is apt as a pun as well as a description. (I will say that this post was intended for yesterday, but I had a longer-than-expected day.)

It’s been just under six years that I have lived in Evanston, but today will be my last full-time day here… tomorrow is the big Menomonie move! I want to reminisce about something from September 2009 in this post.

The beginning of September 2009 had me getting acquainted with Evanston and Chicago after I moved. It involved grocery shopping on bike, learning some of the amenities on campus, touring museums and being a tourist, and figuring out how to interact with a roommate, among other skills.

On Sunday, September 14, I rode my bike to Skokie, and found Temple Judea Mizpah, since I had read online that they have bridge games on Wednesday evenings. It was a nice ride, and indeed I would come back that Wednesday for the game.

It was my first “real” time playing duplicate bridge (excluding the Intro to Duplicate that I had in my freshman year at UNL), but I felt pretty confident of myself with playing, given that I had played each Monday that previous summer (albeit in rubber style).

I remembered some of the mechanics of duplicate (i.e., the boards and the bidding boxes and the movement) from four years earlier. Obviously, being new to the place, I didn’t have a partner. But, although my side didn’t do well in our first time out, it was a lot of fun. Here is an excerpt of my journal entry from that day:

“At Skokie, I exited the train and walked to Temple Judea Mizpah—an easy cross-lot walk.  I paid ten dollars to play, but food was included. Daryl, the director, told me he would assign me someone. As people shuffled in, I noshed on cookies, orange slices, and even matzos!  At 1900h, I was assigned to Daryl’s father, Irwin, and we were Pair #12.

We played nine rounds of three hands each. Obviously, I won’t go through every hand. My bidding, for mostly going natural, didn’t go as well as it could have. I think I played well enough for a novice. The notable screw-ups: on one hand, I should have bid four hearts over his three no-trump. On another, [the contract was cold], but [I] didn’t trump when I meant to trump [and thus went down]. On one hand, I lied with my response to his [regular] Blackwood prompt, because I had one ace in my hand and bid 5 clubs as a response (it should have been 5 diamonds). It worked out anyway. One thing to notice [that came up a few times]: partner’s 1NT response to an opening bid indicates no fit to the suit listed, and only 6-9 points.

So, that was my first duplicate experience, about a week and a half after I moved TO Evanston.

Yesterday, I played an afternoon pairs session with Phil, whom I had met on Sunday when we played in a Swiss teams match in the Intermediate/Newcomer games at the North American Bridge Championships (NABC). I will admit that it was weird for me to be the more experienced part of the partnership, since I have almost always been of equal or less experience than my partners in duplicate!

The game on Sunday was interesting, as despite debacle after debacle with defense and bidding, our team somehow won two of the four matches and earnt 0.28 red masterpoints! On our way back to Evanston, we discussed the game, and he complimented me on my calm nature with trying to explain things that went wrong.

We played again yesterday, and I could tell that we played a lot better during the pairs game. There were some interesting hands, and quite a few hands went down after the defenders managed to get a crossruff going against the declarer! There were a few bidding conundrums, but no disasters from misunderstanding or erroneous agreements… but rather auctions where multiple actions could have been right.

We ended up with a 48%, which was unfortunately out of range for earning masterpoints. Still, we performed a lot better than the first time, and I can tell that I have become a much better bridge player since 2009.

So, I played bridge in Chicagoland for the FIRST time about a week and a half AFTER getting the keys to my Evanston apartment. And I played bridge for the LAST time here about a week and a half before I turn in my keys.

Wait. But I said that I’m moving to Menomonie tomorrow! As it turns out, my Engelhart contract doesn’t expire until the end of August, so I plan on returning the weekend of the 21st, particularly because my contract for UW-Stout doesn’t begin until August 24.

Next Friday (i.e., August 21), I was invited to a Rabbi’s place for services and dinner, together with some of the community members. Not only will this give me another chance to return to Evanston (for a third round of moving stuff) before my Engelhart lease expires, but it provides me with another chance to see people from the Evanston Jewish community.

Interestingly enough, Saturday will be my last night sleeping in Engelhart. Rewinding to September, I saw that I visited NU Hillel for the FIRST time on the day after my first night sleeping in Engelhart! How bookends work!

And although I am moving away from Chicago, it is not unreasonable to travel down there at an unspecified time for a weekend getaway… who knows? We’ll see how busy I get.


Menomonie: 1 day!

Orientation: 11 days.

Stout teaching starts: 27 days.

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