BBOers Festival Winner Interview - Jim Munday

Jim Munday

Jim Munday (jmunday on BBO) won the January's Stars and Platinum Robot Individuals, with an overall score of 64.90%.

Let's get to know more about him.

Would you tell us a bit about yourself? Where do you live and what do you do?
I’m a (semi) retired Software engineer living in Albuquerque, NM, with my wife, Sue. These days I am the technical editor for the ACBL bulletin and review cheating cases for BBO as a consultant.

How long have you been playing bridge, and what led you to taking it up in the first place?
I have been playing bridge for a long time (50+ years, about 45 as ACBL member) having learned the game from my parents (mostly my mother) as a young child.

Congratulations on winning the Stars & Platinum tournament. You placed 3rd on Day 1, 4th on Day 2, and then eventually finished on top. What was your winning strategy?
For the declarer play only, my strategy is straightforward going with what I think the best % play is. I am familiar with some of the robot tendencies and do use those to my advantage with plays I’d never make at the table (face to face). The robots typically lead and defend passively and it’s important to remember they do not signal in any meaningful way other than the occasional count signal, thus the bots can occasionally be “fooled” if forced to make early decisions. Once they get the actual layout on their radar of course, they play double dummy, so it’s important not to give them complete count in suits if at all possible

Are there any memorable and interesting hands from the festival that you'd like to share?
I didn’t enter with any grand intentions, I often enter these events just to try to keep sharp. Having seen that I was in contention after day 2 (a poor effort), I decided to play for the win on day 3.  This was the first deal and I found a successful (though uncertain) line:

Click "NEXT" to see the play

(running thought process) I won the first heart to prevent a damaging club shift and to disguise the position from East. I naturally started on diamonds, taking special note of the opposing diamonds (7, 9). GIB signals count here so the layout had to be Q743 - 109 or 10743 - Q9. The robot might have played the 10 from 109 and the A will present me with at least 4 tricks as long as the 10 or Q fell (if RHO held 109 the J8 would remain as equals to West's Q4) so I rose with the K on the 2nd round and was pleased to see the Queen fall. Continuing diamonds would only develop 1 additional trick and put West on lead so I decided to go after hearts leading to the 9, which held. I then led a spade to the ♠J, the most fluid way to attack the suit and if it lost, East wouldn't be able to hurt me. This won, and on the ♠K, East pitched a club. This was illuminating as East was known to be 1-5-2-5 distribution and almost certainly held the ♣K for the overcall. If that was the case, I could exit with the ♣Q and the defense would be stymied. If East ducked, I could simply set up a long diamond. When East won the ♣K they had two losing options. Cash the K, which would set up my jack and rectify the count for a squeeze against West (in spades/diamonds, not knowing the ♣J is falling I needed 1 more trick). A club return does no better as I can win the club and endplay West in diamonds to lead spades. Sort of a complex hand but using the GIB tendencies as a guide, one trick at a time, it fell into place. This scored very well and got me into a great rhythm for the session.

Click "NEXT" to see the play

This was the board I regretted and thought might cost me. The robots competitive bidding strategy is erratic and it will occasionally take strange actions. The hand is on the diamond suit. I won the first spade, again to disguise the position. I cashed the A, if East’s spades weren't solid at this point, this might tempt them into playing hearts when winning the K. I could've played for K to be offside and cashed out for 6 tricks (with gratifying results here). East might well have bid the same way without the K, and could've been void for example, so I went with the odds and ran the J. East GIB cashed a LOT of spades.

You play bridge online and face to face too. Do you find these two different ways to play complimentary?
I vastly prefer face to face for true competition. Online bridge has many benefits but I just take it less seriously, there are simply too many distractions, and often times the stakes are simpler lower (or non-existent). Some high level events have ported to online and more are coming from what I’ve heard but I prefer to have actual cards in my hand. Bridge is a card game.

You've also played with a lot of partners. If you can say(!), who's been your favorite partner?
I have a number of regular partners currently, to single one out would diminish the others but I'll answer the question this way: I enjoy playing with each of them because they're exceptional people and each helps me play to the best of my abilities.

Do you practice regularly with your partner(s)?
Yes. I have regular BBO games with a number of partners and play regularly at our local club with my wife, Sue.

In this new year, what's your bridge resolution? Is there anything you haven't done and would like to accomplish?
Many years ago, I had set out a goal to represent the US in international competition. The pandemic and recent cheating scandals have diminished my competitive bridge interests somewhat but that’s still an unchecked box.

What would be your advice to someone who's trying to improve their game?
There are any number of technical tips that people have heard elsewhere so I’ll take it in another direction. 4 words of advice (times 2) that I’ve used to achieve consistently improved results:

  • Be Ready to Play
    It means a few things; have your convention card filled out and at hand and be familiar with it, arrive early, bring or obtain anything you might need with you to avoid distractions during the round (coffee, aspirin etc).
  • Learn from your mistakes
    Review your session. Make a note of any boards during the session (after the round) you had questions about. Review your results, see what boards you maybe bid poorly or took fewer tricks than the field on. Ask questions of others to see what you might have done differently. Read books and practice.

What are your other hobbies outside bridge?
I enjoy word games / puzzles (Crosswords, Sudokus etc). Sports as well, though more on the spectator side now (grew up in San Jose so partial to Bay Area teams), and would have to be classified as a cat person (we have 2).

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