Ina Mills was my duplicate partner on Friday. The only risk in writing about Ina is that I won’t find the words to adequately give her the credit she deserves. Friday was a great occasion for me because I got to play with Ina; it was a great occasion for Ina since she was celebrating her 90th birthday. This later bit of news caught me off guard, since she looks and acts and like a youngster anxiously waiting for that first social security check.
Bill and Eve Taylor composed special lyrics for her birthday song that started “Nothing could be fina that to have a friend like Ina, she’s enchanting!” That line says it all, and while Jeanne Reynolds and Howard Christ sang the song, to my amazement, my partner got up and demonstrated a one person line dance complete with all the moves. Did I tell you that line dancing is still one of her passions and you better know the steps if you are in her line.
On the bridge side, Ina ran past Gold Life Master like it was standing still and she ain’t done yet. Who knows what she might have achieved if she had not spent most of her competitive life in an earlier ACBL system where if you didn’t finish first you might end up with .04 master points. Since it was a special occasion on Friday, Ina and I engaged in what we called “birthday bids” in which we entirely eliminated the invitational level, so it was either Ina’s birthday or our opponents' birthday when we were in the auction. Ina did not disappoint. I expected a high level of play from her and she delivered every time, bidding, declaring and defending like the champ she is. No pussy cat this one, she put an exclamation point on the day by bidding and playing two small slams and one Grand.
My job was to accurately sort cards and try not to renege. I did not put down one missorted dummy all day; alas, I did have one renege. It was a disappointment, not so much because I reneged, but because I did it at trick 12. One would think it would not be hard to follow suit when you are looking at only two choices. Maybe the bridge Gods just got it right and decided it would be bad form for Ina to finish first on her own birthday. We slipped into second place thanks to Ina.
At 5:00 I was home chewing on the olive at the bottom of my Martini when I got a call from Ina. Ina (no slouch herself when it comes to the cocktail hour) had decided to stay behind and check the results and scores on every board against her personal score and found a critical scoring error that vaulted us up a couple of places. I think that says it all about the intensity of her competitive juices. Sweet old lady? Not quite. In my next bar fight (I actually hope that was my last one) I want Ina on my back.
So just as the song goes “Nothing could be fina than to have a friend like Ina." Happy Birthday Ina!!