From Harvey "the rabbit" Lapp
Friday, Sept. 15th:
The day of the big show arrived with my partner and I still discussing the same strategies. I planned to donate from first seat with a score of 8 or 9 to 6 or 7, if I had no definite stopper of the turned suit. This tactic is often known as "ordering at the bridge." The other part of that plan is, if I pass (indicating that I have a sure stopper), my partner only orders up if he thinks that he can take two tricks. Michael said that he would also order at the appropriate scenario, that is, if he remembered to. The way I looked at it, if that situation were to come up, we had about a fifty-fifty chance of protecting our interests. The opponents had a much smaller chance of actually scoring a four-point loner though, so I convinced myself that this was okay.
We began registering outside the ballrooms at about 5pm EST, and then had two hours to kill before the tournament started, so we went to Whitecastle for some of those tiny hamburgers that we can't get in Vegas. Our discussion over dinner didn't change much. I tried to pump Michael full of euchre strategy, but I began to feel that I was in danger of blowing a circuit in his brain. He looked confused. Even the concept of "next" seemed to be evading him. I decided that it would be better to just let him "wing it" again. Otherwise, he might not even call hands that he could score with for fear that he would be foiling some plan of mine that he didn't understand. He did assure me that he would order at the bridge at the appropriate time, but I doubted that he would remember to.
The table rules at the WSOE are harsh, as they probably should be. After dealing and offering the cut, the dealer must place a plastic "cut-card" under the deck while dealing. The players can only say; "Pass", "Pick it up" or "Alone." No variations of ordering and no knocks on the table are allowed. When a suit is called or ordered, a trump cube is placed on the kitty with the appropriate suit turned up. No asking "what is trump?", or even worse; "what was picked up?" allowed. Exposed cards, cards played out-of-turn, revokes and everything else mentioned above, score two points for the opponents of the guilty party while setting back the guilty team two points (a four point swing). When any of the above happens during a loner, four points are awarded, while two are taken away on the other side (ouch!).
In the WSOE 2006, each team played two games against 9 opposing teams, for a total of 18 games. On the first night, we played two games each against three different teams. The chip we drew randomly during the registration was N (North/South)-18, which meant that we were stationary on table 18. Our opponents (East/West), had to travel. The East/West teams played two games and moved up one table, each round. The tournament director, Scott Zagol, allowed a one hour time frame to finish the both games, which seemed to work pretty well. Last year in Cleveland, I saw players taking longer just to finish 8 hands (as opposed to two 10 point games) for some reason.
The first game was tense. Everyone was being careful to remember to mark the trump cube and say "Pass", Pick it up" and "Alone" instead of knocking, or using other phrases which are okay back wherever home may be. The game moved along at a decent pace and Michael and I were doing well at first. When we reached a score of 9-6 in favor of us, Murphy's Law took effect. The dealer was to my partner's right. He turned up the Jack of Spades, and my partner looked across the table at me as though he were remembering the "order at the bridge" strategy that I had been cramming down his throat for the past 24 hours. "Pass" he said, giving me a small hope that he was indicating a certain stopper in his hand. I had the nine and ten of Spades and a red Ace, none of which qualified as a definite stopper. I would have ordered up with this hand from Michael's seat, but, the question was, did my partner really have a stopper? I should have ordered it up anyway, not giving my partner a chance to drop the ball. Instead, I "Pass"ed, and was immediately "Alone"d by the dealer. We both passed that bower to him. The dealer had a "lay-down" too, but he followed the rules and played one card at a time. This opening loss set the pace for what was to become a tough evening. We only ended up winning 2 games out of the 6 that night. 3 rounds out of the 9 were complete.
Michael was especially bummed out. He had learned the hard lesson about defensive euchre and the need for conventional card play. He had also reneged during a hand in a later game in which we would have euchred the opponents and won, but instead, he turned himself in and had to hand the game over to them. I did respect Michael's honesty though. We didn't go there to cheat.Back at the bar we discussed more euchre strategy. It was becoming clear to my partner that he was ill-prepared for an endeavor of this magnitude, but we weren't about to give up now. We had been told earlier that it would take 11 wins out of 18 to reach the playoffs, and that was our goal. So we needed to get up the next day and win 9 more games out of the 12 that we had left to play.