Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Small Slam

“Having sex is like playing bridge.  If you don’t have a good partner, you’d better have a good hand.” Woody Allen

Charlie Halberstadt and I were the duplicate bridge winners at Chesterton Y.  With 11 couples we played a 22-hand round robin; one couple sat out each round. I was subbing for Charlie’s regular partner, Naomi Goodman, who is back home for a visit to her native Australia. Director Alan Yngve’s pre-game lesson stressed the danger of going down two vulnerable (resulting in the dreaded score of minus 200) when bidding for a partial contract. Charlie and I began and ended the evening setting our opponents two tricks while vulnerable.
 Alan Yngve (2nd from left) with bridge instructors Barbara Walczak, Dave Bigler and Carol Osgerby

I bid and made a small slam.  Holding seven Diamonds, including the Ace, King, Jack, plus a bare Ace of Hearts, King spot of Spades, and King, Queen, spot of Clubs, I opened Two Clubs, indicating over 20 points.  Charlie responded Two Spades, signaling seven to nine high card points.  I bid Four Clubs, asking for Aces, and he responded Four Hearts, indicating one.  I took the first nine tricks and, on the board with one trump and the King, Queen, spot of Clubs in my hand, led a Club.  The player to my right played her Ace, making my last three cards good.  Had she played low, I’d have been forced to lead away from a Queen spot.

My most difficult hand was playing 3 No-Trump.  We had all the top Spades but worth just four tricks.  We had the Ace, King of Diamonds but only a total of six cards in that suit.  We had seven Hearts with me holding the Ace, Jack, and two others.  Our weakest suit was Clubs, with me holding the King spot. I was assured of seven tricks but needed nine.  The guy on my left kept leading spades rather than Clubs, which would have set up my King.  I got a three-three split in hearts, setting up an eighth trick, but when I led a Club from the board, the guy on my left was able to overtake my King and set me.  Several others playing the same hand actually went down two, so it didn’t hurt us much.

Among our opponents were former Portage H.S. math teacher Chuck Tomes, a softball umpire for many years, and Jim Carson, who bowls at Cressmoor Lanes on a team with owner Jim Fowble.  Tomes, who with wife Marcy finished second, agreed to go with me again to an IUN Redhawks basketball doubleheader.  Carson, who with wife Marcia finished fourth, asked if I was still working and, after I mentioned being co-director of the Calumet Regional Archives, said cryptically, “I dig holes.”  At least I think that’s what he said.  I didn’t have time to ask a follow-up question.

Toni and I played duplicate bridge a few times at Temple Israel in Miller when we first moved to Indiana, but it was hard getting to sleep afterwards. Sure enough, last night I was replaying hands until 1:30 a.m. but, unlike four decades ago, didn’t have to be in the classroom early next day.

Ron Cohen, making a guest appearance in Steve McShane’s Indiana History class to talk about the Gary schools under progressive educator William A. Wirt, left me a New York Review of Books issue containing an essay by Nathaniel Rich about George Plimpton.  The Harvard-educated patrician wrote about competing against pro athletes in baseball (“Out of My League”), football (“Paper Lion: Confessions of a Last-String Quarterback”), golf (“The Bogey Man”), hockey (“Open Net”), and boxing (“Shadow Box”).  His inspiration was sportswriter Paul Gallico, who sparred with Jack Dempsey and got knocked out cold in ten Seconds.  In “Out of My League” Plimpton wrote:
  [Gallico] described, among other things, catching Herb Pennock’s curveball, playing tennis against Vinnie Richards, golf with Bobby Jones, and what it was like coming down the Olympic ski run six thousand feet above Garmisch – quite a feat considering he had been on skis only once in his life.  I wondered if it would be possible to emulate Gallico, yet go further by writing at length and in depth about each sport and what it was like to participate.
 George Plimpton bloodied by Archie Moore

John Hiatt

Ron also dropped off music critic Chuck Eddy’s “Terminated for Reasons of Taste.”  It contained a 1987 Creem review in of “Bring the Family” by Hoosier John Hyatt, whom I saw with niece Lisa Teuscher at the Star Plaza on a bill with Lyle Lovett and, according to Eddy, has “songs covered by everyone except the Butthole Surfers.”  After praising the “right listenable disc with nary a single absolutely yucky tune,” Eddy slams Hiatt’s too-clever wordplay “like rhyming ‘amoeba’ with the ‘Queen of Sheba’” and adds this left-handed compliment:
  The vocalist’s certainly impressive mastery of Curtis Mayfield falsetto and James Brown screech and Dylan sustained nasality and Howlin’ Wolf wolf-howl and (all over the place) Van Morrison convulsive stutter suggest that this rock ‘n’ roll adult’s still too unsure of himself to find his own voice.  Mannerism-flaunting this studied can sure convey an appreciation for soulful music, but that’s not exactly the same as singing from the soul, catch my drift?
Phil Chess

I heard “Roll Over Beethoven” on WXRT and wondered morbidly if Chuck Berry had died.  Actually Chess Records co-founder Phil Chess had passed away at age 95.  He and brother Leonard, who died in 1969 got into the business after meeting rhythm and blues artists such as Bo Diddley and Etta James at a nightclub they ran in Chicago called the Macomba Lounge.  Born Fiszel Czyz in Poland, he came with his family to Chicago during the 1920s and served in World War II.
Henry and Hannah Hageman

The annual condo association owners meeting took place at Hageman Library in Porter, named for pioneer landowner Henry Hageman (1816-1899).  In fact, before the Town of Porter came into being, the community was called Hageman.  In 1841 Hageman married Hannah Gossett, who gave birth to 13 children, seven of whom lived to maturity.  Hageman sold several parcels to founders of brickyards and other enterprises.  According to Indiana Memory website, Hageman served as a Westchester Township assessor and trustee.  As the condo meeting dragged on, board member Sandy Carlson provided Cubs-Dodgers updates.  On the car ride home I heard announcer Pat Hughes describe Adison Russell’s (below) 2-run home run.  Cubs triumphed, 10-2, to break out of their hitting slump.

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