Liz and I are very pleased to visit Australia, and our first experience was Liz being "collared" by a sniffer dog at Sydney Airport. That will teach her to be carrying a controlled substance, namely grapes!
Anyway, we flew to Canberra, and were met by Sean Mullamphy, who told us all about the beauties of Canberra, and the great weather. Then he took us to the front of the Rydges Hotel, walked up to the automatic door - and nothing happened. Liz went to see the Parliament House, went on the roof - and it rained on her.
One of my first jobs was explaining to people in the Warm-Up Pairs why the hand records were only one side. Someone had made a few hundred copies of a blank sheet of paper - not one of the Event staff, I hasten to add. During my first day directing, I dealt with the normal sorts of problems - the lady who doubled her partner's 1, and the man at the same table who ruffed his partner's winner; to make it worse, that was a revoke, and she was not pleased.
The high spot of the day was being called "Caddy": I really do not look like a teenage girl. The lady was somewhat embarrassed, and explained it was the bright blue coat that had thrown her, which puzzled me more: surely caddies wear yellow shirts?
You pick up
and open 1: 1NT on your left, 2NT to your right, 3NT to your left, and you make an optimistic double. Partner leads a spade, and you see
Aren't you lucky! The J is in dummy, declarer having bid a dreadful modern 1NT with Axx, and wrong-sided 3NT as a result. You clear the spades, and declarer cashes the K, then overtakes the Q and leads the J: your discard?
In the walk-in pairs I saw a discard at one table: now declarer with AQJxx makes 3NT. You should not be greedy: you can afford to discard a winner, and at another table the A was duly discarded to beat 3NTx!
In most newspaper offices they say "Hold the Front Page" but in the NOT News editorial office I heard "Hold your panties" - very strange. Perhaps it was something to do wuit all the young ladies who were helping.
Having been introduced at the Rydges Hotel to the players by Sean Mullamphy, next day I was at the Hyatt. However, Laurie Kelso was more subtle: he waited until the session when I was in another room to introduce me, and thus could give full rein to his imagination in describing me! Fortunately my spies were present. Actually, Laurie was lucky to be there: when he got in the bus at the Rydges he was the only one. The driver seemed to be waiting for more passengers, and ignoring agonised pleas from Laurie that he was quite important as the man in charge at the Hyatt and he was due to start the event in eleven minutes.
I was asked about lost system cards, so I pointed to a box. "Oh, you mean the box marked 'Lost system car...' Oh". It takes skill to get the hand dryers in the loos to work: like the lifts (which say up and go down) they have minds of their own here.
Many people put their hands in the air without saying "Caddy" or "Director": one player called "Thingy". "Thingy?" I asked. "I knew you weren't a caddy," he said, "but I could not think of the word for you." That reminds me of the caddy who said she always listened to everyone except Directors - I trust she was joking.
Written bidding is unknown in Europe and interests me a lot: I have played a few boards to fill in, and it seems to have several advantages, though there are myriads of Insufficient Bids using it.
Finally, there is no need for a Mosher convention as a name for natural overcalls: just call your natural overcalls Reverse Forward Transfers: they show the suit above the suit below the one bid.
When there is misinformation or unauthorised information, the Director will often assign an adjusted score. In effect, what he does is to consider the possible outcomes if the infraction had not occurred and then pick the most favourable for the non-offenders. This gives them the best score that they might have got, but sometimes seems unfairly advantageous.
An Appeals Committee is given more latitude, and this example from the Pairs Qualifying shows what they are allowed to do:
After North opened 1NT, East asked several questions, then passed, and West bid 3 over South's 2! South doubled this and also East's runout to 3: however this made. The Director disallowed this, and awarded N/S 2NT-2. In actual play, North might easily have bid 3NT, or gone down an extra trick, so the award was generous.
If this had gone to appeal, the Committee might have used Law 12C3, which allows them to give a weighted score, say 30% of 2NT-2, 30% of 2NT-3, 20% of 3NT-3 and 20% of 3NT-4. This would seem fairer. Why are Directors not allowed to give such rulings in view of their acceptability? Moves are afoot at world level to allow Chief Directors the power, and Bermuda saw the first moves in that direction.
Canberra seems to be composed of circles, and we are always going round them when we try to get anywhere. Liz tried to get from Rydges to the NCC. She went right out of Rydges, and then followed the road round to the left ..... until she found herself back at Rydges.
One of my colleagues was approached in the teams by a charming and extremely shapely young Kiwi lady, who wanted to know which categories she should fill in. "Are you all female?" asked my colleague - and no-one has thought of an answer yet.
One lady opened 1, then blushed furiously because she had meant to bid 1 with the South hand:
She did not know that she was allowed to change it (after calling the Director) so she sat there and worried. Of course, poor West had no idea what to do! Eventually she passed, and North and East passed.
Now our hero was in 1. She went four off for 400, and embarrassedly tried to explain the disaster to team-mates. They had missed the slam, so they had only got 680 to gain six imps. Our hero could not understand why she was being congratulated but said she would never do it again.
The standard of food in Canberra is very variable. We have eaten in restaurants ranging from abysmal service through lousy food to excellent cheap food. Best of all was the Indian restaurant in Marcus Clarke Street: cheap, reasonable, quick, and a bottle of "Champagne" for $11.50 [less than US $6]!