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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Little Life Master Makes A Big Splash,
by Jim Kaplan

Director John Sedgwick interrupted play at the Springfield Bridge Club on May 8 with a special announcement: “In accordance with club tradition, Judy Putnam will place her Life Master plaque on the board.”

“And it’s newly arranged for short people!” Sedgwick’s wife Terry added.

To applause and laughter, the five-foot-tall Putnam stepped forward. An avid quilt maker and retired chemistry teacher at Springfield College and Ellington High School, she’s been standing tall at tournaments from Gatlinburg, Tennessee, to Burlington, Vermont. She became a Life Master last October in Johnston, Rhode Island, and the awards ceremony was delayed until she returned from wintering in Florida.

“Thank you Norann Coggins, Cindy D’Arrigo, Helen Pawlowski,” she said, referring to her beaming team members, “and everyone who has played with me,” Putnam said.

Partnered with Pawlowski on May 8, Putnam was sitting South late in the day, with West dealing and both sides vulnerable:

H K 6 5
D J 8 6
C K Q 10 9 4
S 7 6 3 S 9 5 2
H 8 7 H J 9 4 3
D K Q 9 4 3 2 D 10 7 5
C 8 7 C A 6 2
S A J 10 8 4
H A Q 10 2
C J 5 3

The bidding proceeded as follows:

West North East South
2D 3C Pass 3S
Pass 4S Pass 6S

Opening lead: diamond king

East might have complicated the auction by raising to 3D based on the Law of Total Tricks (compete to the same level as your total trump). Putnam won with the ace, cashed the king-queen of spades and the heart ace, and drew the last trump. Then it was a simple matter of forcing out the club ace and claiming.

Getting to slam, however, was not so simple. “Helen wasn’t broke, I could support her clubs and we had control of diamonds,” Putnam said. “Helen’s raise with the king-queen of spades was the key to the hand.”

Two days later, Putnam and her husband David left on a trip to France. Asked if they took off to celebrate her ascension to Life Master, she laughed and said, “Technically, it’s our 20th anniversary, but you could say that, too!”

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