Saturday, April 29, 2006

Stephens County Pro Am 2006

Driving in to Toccoa is a bit like going to the dentist.

You may like the dentist you have now, and your memories of past incidents may not be uniformly horrific, but there usually isn't much on the plus side of the memorial ledger to engender nostalgia feelings.

Driving in to Rose Lane, then, is a bit like meeting up with a friend who stood by you during a court martial or a unit you fought a war with. On the one hand, you have strong feelings of loyalty. On the other, those feelings are inextricably embedded in negative memories.

The course is windy. Very, very, very, windy. The kind of windy that when I was living in Toccoa I would have turned around and driven home. But I've driven six hours, so I guess I'm staying.

Despite the wind, I birdie three of the first six holes (and make a long putt to save par on another). And then...

...then the same old tournament same old. I hit trees a few feet in front of my tee pad. The wind carries me places I never shoot from. Despite putting well all day, I manage to turn a 3 down into a 4 over, and when I come back for the afternoon session, I have to play the long tees. I'm tired. I've driven six hours. My ankles hurt on a course that's a tough walk, and the holes get longer.

My agressive putting results in my first three putt on the opening hole of round two, but despite that and an out of bounds, I jump on the three train for some long holes and manage to put together a stretch of play. Then the wind blows up again and I go out of bound on hole 5 and take a circle 6. Pffft.

You know, I should be happy. Lot of good things are happening in my life. I just bought a house, my work year is drawing to a close. But I've been in a terrible mood all day. Maybe I just shouldn't play tournaments, I don't konw.

Last Monday, I was playing blind-draw doubles at OT Sloan with a payout of the top 3 teams. My partner and I shot a -10. Three of the last five groups to come in tied at -11. It's been that kind of Disc Golf year.

And the thing is, I putted well. I could have been an additional ten strokes easy. I try to tell myself that it was the wind, the layoff, the new hole configurations, but the truth is I'm Michael Chang slugging it out with Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras. Moving up to Masters level just means maybe that it's Jim Courier or Boris Becker. Maybe they don't hit as hard as Sampras, but they still hit harder than me. And I can make all the twenty-five foot putts I want, that still itsn't going to gain me strokes if they are to save par on 325 foot holes.

I try to tell myself that I've just got residual bad mood from a conglomeration of negativity that has been surrounding me recently. People saying they aren't in a bad mood who obviously are. Cruddy drivers on the road. Passive-agressive sulkers in many spheres of life.

Anyway, it's nice to see the course, even if the holes I remember nostalgiacally are being systematically moved, lengthened and replaced.

Round 1 (5664 feet) (Starting on hole 12)

3-3-3 2-2-2 4-5-3 3-3 (33)
3-3-4 2-4-4 4-4-3 3 (34) 67

Round 2 (6580 tired feet) (Starting on hole 11)
4-5-3 4*-3-3 3-3-4 3-3* (38)
3-3-3 3-6*-3 3-4-3 4 (35) 73

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Dumbest Thing I've Heard at the Euchre Tables This Year

So I was playing a game at Hardwood (I know, Yahoo! has been slow recently).

My partner ditched the game, and after a brief wait, I went ahead with the robot partner...

To which one of the players objected that the game was unfair...

...because the robot partners never make mistakes.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

More on going alone with 8

Well it is probably inevitable that having written on this topic it would come up in a game. Actually similar hands came up twice yesterday. The first is an example of an even more common example than the one previously mentioned.

My team was winning 8-5 on my deal. Queen of Spades was dealt and after calling and discarding, I held:

Jack of Spades
Jack of Clubs
Queen of Spades
Ace of Hearts
King of Hearts

My opponents led a low heart which was trumped by my partner. My partner led back a low club, effectively finessing my two bowers. If I trumped with the queen, I ran the risk of my opponent overtrumping with a king or ace. I took trick with one of my bowers and led out the other bower, but my opponent on my left now had ace protected. She played off a low trump and eventually had stopper.

If I had gone alone, I would have take first trick wih the ace of hearts and run trump, taking four points.

Of course--and this is an important point--there are configurations for both of these hands that would allow them to march (take all 5 tricks as partners for two points) but not march alone. So one can say, "hey, hindsight is 20-20."

Euchre is a game of probability. My point with these two examples is not that going alone with eight points is the better play or always the right play, only that it is an acceptable play. There will be times when you choose a 65% play and it doesn't work, while in hindsight the riskier 50% play might have. That doesn't make it the wrong play. Also, don't forget to factor in who you are playing with and how well you know their tendencies.

Going alone with 8 points isn't always right, but there are legitimate reasons to do so with certain hands that have nothing to do with bad table manners.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Euchre Ponderings--Going Alone With 8

I've been reacquainting myself with life on Case's Ladder, playing Euchre in the Yahoo! advanced room. There is a lot less activity than there used to be.

I joined Case's in 1998, and it was a zoo. The amount of cheating was astronomical, but the competition was fantastic. I eventually made it to #1 in the Fall of that year, the week before starting a full-time job.

These days there appears to be about 20-50 active players, though there are a few more who pop in from time to time. Most of the people are friendly, but the playis uneven. As a result, I thought I'd write down some ponderings.

Back in the early days, there somehow developed this idea going around that calling alone with 8 points was considered rude or bad etiqueete, the equivalent of rubbing someone's face in a bad loss.

Let's see if I can put that myth to rest.

First up, if a hand is a lay-down, then who cares? But if it is a losable hand, then I don't care if my opponent goes alone. Makes it easier to stop him/her on those 1 in 1,000 times where it is a misclick or mistake.

But more importantantly, there are hands in which a loner can make it but the partnership might not march. In these cases, why should a person be penalized for utilizing strategy? Let's look at the following hand, for intance:

9, 10 Clubs
VOID Diamonds
A Hearts
K, 10 Spades

West..................................... East
J, A, K Clubs........................ VOID Clubs
A Diamonds......................... K, Q, 10 Diamonds
VOID Hearts......................... 9 Hearts
J Spades............................... 9 Spades

Q Clubs
KQ Hearts
AQ Spades

Now imagine North is dealing and the 9 of Diamonds is turned up. It is quite possible that it would be turned down (if N/S called it, they would be set). Now everyone passes to West, who calls Clubs.

GGA? Not so fast.
If East leads Diamonds, North trumps and the hand makes one point. South has no diamonds; this hand would get four points if called alone, but 1 if called as pairs.

Yes, West could be reasonably sure his partner would lead trump, if she has it. Absent that, it is conceivable that one might lead the suit one has three in, assuming it is best chance to hit partner's void.

So the next time someone goes alone at 8 and the other team complains, call it what it is...sour grapes.

March 2006 Viewing Log

*= a second (or later) viewing
3/3--Aristocrats (DVD)
3/3--Winter Light (DVD)
3/4--Casablanca (DVD)(Critic Commentary)*
3/6--Shampoo (DVD)
3/8--40 Year Old Virgin (DVD)
3/14--Equilibrium (DVD)
3/14--The Heiress (VHS)*
3/18--The Gleaners & I (DVD)*
3/18--Junebug (DVD)
3/21--Washington Square (DVD)*
3/28--Emma (VHS; Beckinsale/A&E)*

Not a thrilling month. Best viewing experience? Casablanca, I guess. Least favorite would have to be the Aristrocrats. I like some crude humor (like South Park), but I just found it dully repetitive.