Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Bridge Blog 890: Flowering and wilting

The month of May started off merrily with a streak – a 59.23% game with Helen Panza, first overall for 2.48 points; a 54.76% with Barbara Sadkin, second overall, first in B for 1.53 points; 55% with Eva Schmidt, third overall, first in B for 1.64 points.
It didn’t stop there. In St. Catharines on Friday the 6th, Selina Volpatti and I were sixth overall with 56.88% and earned 0.47 of a silver point, that being STaC week over there. The next day I played the American Bridge Association tournament Swiss team game at the Airport Bridge Club and our team won four rounds, which may or may not have counted for ACBL points.
My luck extended into the second week – a 53.24% with Nadine Stein, first in B, 1.26 points; a 58.29% with Helen Panza, third overall, 1.56 points; a tie for first with Barb Sadkin in a home-style pairs game, another 0.30 of a point; a 53.57% with Selina in St. Catharines on Friday the 13th, fifth overall, 0.32 of a point; a 50.93% with Ron Henrikson the next day, tied for second in B, 1.21 points.
The third week, however, broke my spell. Three games out of the running (deeply out of the running). The only bright spot was a miracle of stratification on Tuesday with Marilyn Sultz, in which a 50% game made us second in B in our direction and yielded 0.68 of a point. Then I was gone for a week, off to New York City to visit the in-laws. No duplicate bridge for me there, just toll bridges.

Having leaped into prominence among the Unit 116 Ruby Life Masters in last month’s ACBL tally of master point races, I was wondering if I can keep up the pace. Total so far this month is 11.39. So maybe. But maybe not. I haven't played in a week and Memorial Day weekend activities are threatening to continue keeping me away from the tables.    

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Bridge Blog 889: Eventual April

Just like the April weather – rain, cold, even a snowflake or two last Sunday – has been lingering into May, I too have been lingering on my April roundup. Malingering, even. Those figures from the ACBL monthly master point tallies have been out for more than two weeks now. I need to take a look.
And what to my wondering eyes should appear but my name in second place amongst the Ruby Life Masters (1,500 to 2,500 points) in the Unit 116 (Buffalo only) Ace of Clubs (points earned in clubs only) competition. My club total for the first four months of the year stands/stood at 45.55, runner-up only to David Millward, who’s been down in Florida all this time accumulating 58.44 points. And here we thought that all he wanted to play was golf.
The rest of the top 10 in Unit 116 Ace of Clubs looks like this: Gene Finton (also in Florida until just recently, now he’s listed as living in Getzville), 43.74; Mike Silverman, 43.09 (last month’s leader – that long vacation stunted his progress); Ken Meier, 40.31; Bill Finkelstein, 35.47; Allen Beroza, 33.95; Vince Pesce, 26 even; Fred Yellen, 23.72; and Chuck Schorr, 21.99.
Among all Unit 116 players, I’m fifth. Meg Klamp (now listed with a Buffalo hometown although we haven’t seen her here yet) is tops with 70.36. David Millward is second. Jerry Geiger is next with 49.12, followed by John Welte, 45.80; me, 45.55; Martha Welte, 44.85; Gene Finton, 43.74; Judi Marshall, 43.20; Mike Silverman, 43.09; and Martin Pieterse, 42.61.
A tightly packed bunch, I’d say, especially when you add Liz Clark, 41.92; John Ziemer, 41.72; Ron Henrikson, 40.56; Ken Meier, 40.31; and Bill Boardman, 39.62. I’m up 15.55 from my 30-even total at the end of March, thanks no doubt to the belated addition of those 5 points Judie Bailey and I earned in senior pairs back in the beginning of March. Without those 5 points, I wouldn’t even be in the Top 10.
OK, onward to the Mini-McKenney races, which count all points earned everywhere. Here I’m third with 51.03 points. Tops is David Hemmer with 95.55 – clearly a monster at the tournaments. Next is the invisible (to us so far) David Millward with 72.62.
After me, there’s Ken Meier, 46.22; Mike Silverman, 43.87; Gene Finton, 43.74; Allen Beroza, 41.74; Fred Yellen, 40.17; Bill Finkelstein, 35.47; and Chongmin Zhang, 29.10.
On the Unit 116 overall Mini McKenney list, however, I’m a distant 24th. Top dog here is Saleh Fetouh (who else?) with 271.49, followed by Mike Ryan, 109.90; Meg Klamp, 104.97; John Welte, 96.72; Martha Welte, 95.77; David Hemmer, 95.55; Davis Heussler, 90.78; Dian Petrov, 89.95; Tom Koralewski, 89.58; and Ron Henrikson, 82.17.
Moving along to Ace of Clubs races for District 5 (Buffalo, Cleveland and Pittsburgh), I’m third among the Ruby Life Masters, with Allen Selling of Erie, Pa., slipping into second place between David Millward and me with 46.51. Unit 116 players occupy five of the top 10 slots here and eight of the top 25. I’m 27th among all players in the district. David Millward is fourth. Leader there is Meg Klamp.
In the District 5 Mini-McKenney race, I’m 20th among the Ruby Life Masters. The leader is Sue Lan Ma of Kirtland Hills, Ohio, with 147.70. Next is Charles Ladiha of Vermilion, Ohio, with 104.37, then David Hemmer’s 95.55; followed by Peter Merker of Mentor, Ohio, with 92.84; and Barry Boyd of Wheeling, W. Va., with 88.78. David Millward is 11th.
In the overall District 5 Mini-McKenney, Sue Lan Ma is 10th, David Hemmer is 32nd and I’m 133rd. On top is good old Reanette Frobouck from Pittsburgh with 300.19, followed by our own Saleh Fetouh not so far behind with 271.49, Don and Kathleen Sulgrove of Twinsburg, Ohio, with 191.10 and 190.81, respectively; and Philip Becker of Beechwood, Ohio, with 179.17.
Do I register among the 500 names on the national Ruby Life Master roster? Hey, I do. Tied for 414th with Marshall Mah of Spokane, Wash. David Millward is 146th.
National Ruby leader is Edward Rauch of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., over the century mark with 105.80, followed by Jill Fouad of New Canaan, Conn., with 101.72; Fernando Teson of Tallahassee, Fla., with 101.61; and Ariel Liebovitz of Houston, Texas, with 100.49.
Among all the Ace of Clubbers nationally, the cut-off point is 70.29 points. Of all of us Unit 116 players, only Meg Klamp makes the cut. She’s 498th.
And the national Mini-McKenney? You need to be a triple centenarian to top the Ruby Life Master list. Leaders there are Oren Kriegel of Chicago with 349.86; Mary Jane and Michael Gladfelter of Columbus, Ohio, tied with 339.26; and Cookie Potter of Boca Grande, Fla., with 301.66. District 5 leader Sue Lan Ma is 51st. Unit 116 leader David Hemmer is 234th. And he’s the only Unit 116 representative. The list stops at 74.66 points.

Among all players nationally, the top dogs are over 1,000 points so far and there’s just two of them – Kevin Dwyer of Melbourne, Fla., with 1,061.03, and Chris Compton of Dallas, Texas, with 1,001.05. Not far away is the legendary Jeff Meckstroth. He’s third with 943.51. District 5 leader Reanette Frobouck is 130th. Unit 116’s only representative is Saleh Fetouh. He’s 166th. The list stops at 172.77 points. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Bridge Blog 888: Hot and Cold

I’m off to a roaring start in May. Two games. A first and a second-place finish. Thanks to the extra point awards at the Airport Bridge Club, I’ve collected 4 and a fraction master points already.
Seems to me, though, that April started the same way. I was leading the club’s monthly master point race after the first week or so, but then got waylaid by some terrible 30% games and a health crisis on the home front, which had me attending to my significant other through a series of doctor appointments and a surgical date. I missed the final five days of the month.

In the end, I finished somewhere around ninth in the club’s master point derby for April with 10.55. Plus it looks like the ACBL has finally gotten around to awarding the points from that Senior Game back in the beginning of March, where Judie Bailey and I were second in the district. Will that be enough to maintain my position(s) when the ACBL posts the monthly Unit 116 and District 5 master point totals? We’ll see later this week. 

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Bridge Blog 887: Spring Sectional Roundup

Aside from passing the 2,000-point milestone with my paltry 0.58 points last Sunday, I was among the stragglers in the master point derby at the Buffalo Spring Sectional. I was there only one day, due to the health concerns of my other half, and that 0.58 was all I got. In all 158 players earned points. I was in an 11-way tie for 134th.
        Topping the list was Jay Costello, with 20.16 points. Remarkably, very few of them came from the Sunday Swiss team game, which is usually where the tournament leaders fatten up their point totals. He cleaned up in the two-session pairs games – an even 8 points on Friday for coming in second with Bud Seidenberg (third overall with 14.51), an even 11 points on Saturday for a first-place finish with his wife, Donna Steffan (fifth overall with 12.75).
        Second was perennial winner Saleh Fetouh with 17.17, only 3.21 from Swiss teams. One of his Swiss teammates, David Hemmer, was fourth with 13.87.
        What happened in the Swiss teams? The usual local suspects got shut down. Out-of-towners, a foursome from the Rochester area, took first place. A Canadian collection of players finished fourth.
Second was a group of local dark horses – Sue Neubacker, Dian Petrov, Eva Schmidt and Bob Padgug. And third were John and Martha Welte (tied for seventh overall with 10.42 points), in league with Linda Burroughsford and Tom Koralewski.
Was this tournament really tied for most successful (i.e., best attended), as Betty Metz announced. Or was it just the Swiss team game she was talking about? A check of tournament archives for the past couple years suggests it was more or less a return to normal.
This year 158 players earned points. There were 25 tables in Swiss teams, which is pretty darn good. And 156 total tables.  
Winter 2016 – 137 players earning points. 23 tables in Swiss teams. 136 total tables.
Fall 2015 – 149 players earning points. Just 16 Swiss team tables. 139 total tables.
Spring 2015 – 147 players earning points. 23 Swiss team tables. 145 total tables.
Winter 2015 – 162 players earning points. 23 Swiss team tables. 156 total tables.
Fall 2014 – 163 players earning points. 25 Swiss team tables. 164 total tables.
Spring 2014 – 174 players earning points. 25 Swiss team tables. 157 total tables.

Winter 2014 – 142 players earning points. 23 Swiss team tables. 132 total tables. 

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Bridge Blog 886: Don't look now, but ...

         I just passed the magic 2,000 master point mark. According to the ACBL, as of March 31, my career total stood at 1,994.15. So far in April, there have been extra point games at the Airport Bridge Club and I’ve collected a few.
        April 1 with Dottie May, 57.28%, tied for first, 1.79 points.
        April 2 with Ron Henrikson, 48.44%, first in C through the miracle of stratification, 1.10 points.
        April 4 with Usha Khurana, 47.22%, third in B, another miracle, 0.98 point.
        April 5 with Barbara Sadkin, 56.25%, second in A North-south, 1.58 point.
        April 7 with Judie Bailey, 44.58%, no miracles, no points.
        That’s 5.45 club points, plus 1,994.15 = 1,999.60.

        So it actually finally happened in today’s Swiss team game in the sectional tournament. Hallelujah! Those two winning rounds for 0.58 points were just enough put me over the threshold. 

Bridge Blog 885: Out like a lamb

        What with the press of work and my significant other’s health crisis, I needed this Sunday night off to finally get a belated look at the ACBL master point races, which were updated to the end of March in the middle of last week. So how do I measure up against the rest of the bridge world at the finish of the first quarter? Let’s see.
        Unit 116 (Buffalo only). Ace of Clubs. Club play only. I have 30 points even, good for fourth place among Ruby Life Masters (1,500 to 2,500 points) and ninth among all players in the unit. Here are the leaders:
        Mike Silverman, 39.14 (second among all players in the unit); Gene Finton (who’s listed with a hometown of Delray Beach, Fla.), 33.04; Ken Meier, 31.02; me, 30; Bill Finkelstein, 25.47; Allen Beroza, 24.77; Fred Yellen, 23.72; Vince Pesce, 16.87; Chuck Schorr, 14.08; Anne Watkins, 13.50; Sue Bergman, 12.29; and Claire Gareleck, 11.77.
        Among all Unit 116 players, it’s an interesting leaderboard.  It looks like this:
        Meg Klamp, 52.63 (with a Fort Myers, Fla., hometown – she hasn’t come north yet this year); Mike Silverman, 39.14; Gene Finton, 33.04; John Ziemer, 32.82; Mike Ryan, 32.26; Ken Meier, 31.02; Martin Pieterse and Liz Clark, tied with 30.03; me with 30; Judy Padgug, 28.89; Jerry Geiger, 28.26; Ron Henrikson, 28.14; Bill Boardman, 28.12; Judi Marshall, 27.79; and John Welte, 27.29 (ahead of wife Martha, who’s 16th with 26.34).
        Unit 116 Mini-McKenney. All points earned everywhere. My grand total for the year so far is 34.90, good for fourth on this list of Ruby Life Masters, too, and 22nd among all local players. Here are the leaders:
        David Hemmer, 48.95; Fred Yellen, 40.17; Mike Silverman, 39.92; me, 34.90; Ken Meier, 33.36; Gene Finton, 33.04 (no tournaments down there in Florida, eh?); Allen Beroza, 32.56; Bill Finkelstein, 25.47; Sharon Gerstman, 21.61; Art Morth, 18.84.
        Among all Unit 116 players, the leader is Saleh Fetouh with a pretty amazing 173.99. Meg Klamp is next with 87.24, followed by John Welte (enhanced by his good showing in the Toronto Regional) with 67.79; Jay Levy, 67.39; Martha Welte, 66.84; Mike Ryan, 64.34; Ron Henrikson, 59.15; Davis Heussler, 56.56; Linda Burroughsford, 55.37; and David Hemmer, 48.95 (no club play for him).
        District 5 (Buffalo, Cleveland, Pittsburgh). Ace of Clubs. Ruby Life Masters. I’m eighth, 39th among all players in the district. Unit 116 players take half of the top ten positions. Mike Silverman leads the list and is seventh overall. Gene Finton is third. Ken Meier is seventh. Bill Finkelstein is tenth.
        Overall Ace of Clubs leaders are Patricia Katz of Pittsburgh, 61.27; Richard Katz of North Versailles, Pa., 55.32; W. Tordella of Bemus Point, N.Y., 53.68; then Meg Klamp. Former Buffalonian Bev Cohen, now a Clevelander, is tenth with 37.97.
        District 5 Mini-McKenney. Leading the Ruby Life Masters are Sue Lan Ma of Kirtland Hills, Ohio, with 89.79; Barry Boyd, Wheeling, W.VA., 84.59; Jean Picone, Pittsburgh, 68.09; Harvey Cohen, Winter Haven, Fla., 61.83; and Chantal Whitney, Shaker Heights, Ohio, 53.38. David Hemmer is seventh. Fred Yellen is 12th. I’m 106th.
        Overall leader is good old Reanette Frobouck from Pittsburgh with 285.69. Saleh Fetouh is second. Ohio players fill out the rest of the top 10. Meg Klamp is 17th.
        Nationwide? I don’t make the Ace of Clubs Top 500 for Ruby Life Masters. It cuts off at 31.97. Top dog here is Ed Rauch of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., with 80.69; followed by Babs Dippell of Bay Harbor, Fla., with 76.49; and Michael Rosen of Freehold, N.J., with 76.44. Six other players have more than 70 club points. Mike Silverman is 232nd.  
        Ace of Clubs nationwide? Topping all players is Bill Kulbersh of Atlanta with 199.31 (wow!). Then Sean Ganness of Miami, 145.74. And Bella Ionis-Sorren of Fort Lauderdale, 143.52. In all, 21 players have more than 100 club points.
        Mini-McKenney nationwide? Tops among Ruby Life Masters are Mary Jane and Michael Gladfelter of Columbus, Ohio, both with 239.96; followed by Oren Kriegel of Chicago with 227.65; Cookie Potter of Boca Grande, Fla., with 225.33; and Joan Cremin of Paradise Valley, Ariz., with 220.65. District 5 leader Sue Lan Ma is 122nd. No Unit 116 players on this list, which ends at 57.61.

        Among all players, it’s Kevin Dwyer of Melbourne, Fla., with 863.45, which will give him 3,400-plus if he keeps up the pace all year. Next is a familiar face, Jeff Meckstroth of Clearwater Beach, Fla., with 841.38. Then it’s Chris Compton of Dallas with 820.89. District 5 leader Reanette Frobouck is 92nd. Unit 116 leader Saleh Fetouh is 285th. 

Bridge Blog 884: Buffalo Spring Sectional

        I just got a call from my Monday partner. She didn’t see me in the Main-Transit Fire Hall Friday or Saturday and she was wondering if I’m OK. I am, I assured her (as I assured several folks at the tournament during the Swiss team finale on Sunday, when I finally showed up), but I had to accompany Monica to Roswell Park Cancer Institute on Friday to talk with a breast cancer surgeon. And Saturday? Well, she guilt-tripped me into canceling out.
        That was just as well. It would have been hard to justify spending another day (or two) playing as poorly as Judie Bailey and I did on Sunday in our return engagement with Bob Sommerstein and Larry Abate. In the first two rounds, which we lost by margins of 34-1 and 37-16 International Match Points, we stumbled repeatedly into disastrous 3 No Trump contracts.
        Happily, we emerged from our funk to capture the next two rounds – defeating the father-genius 10-year-old son pair and our good friends Betty Metz and Helen Panza. We enhanced our victorious spirits during the lunch break with thoughts of how we could still take home extra master points by winning the last three rounds.
        That dream faded quickly. We might have beaten the Chip Kean-Jim McClure team if they hadn’t beaten Judie on a 3 NT contract that their teammates were able to consummate with an overtrick. Nothing, however, could have turned the tide in a 36-0 drubbing at the hands of the Kozower-Kaprove team. And our teammates zigged on slams in the final round when they should have zagged, overbidding to slam on one hand that wouldn’t make it, underbidding on the one that would – setting us back 24 IMPs in a game we lost 28-17.
        Nevertheless, this day of Swiss team play wasn’t a total loss. Our two winning rounds were worth 0.29 of a silver point apiece.
        Random notes: Betty Metz announced in her welcoming remarks that this was a record-tying turnout for Swiss teams – 25 foursomes. Winners, best as I could determine, were a group of out-of-towners.

        Director Brian Meyer, setting a time after which he would not allow players to begin a new hand, got the game over by 5 p.m. by maintaining 50-minute rounds (although tables were being folded up all round Judie and me as we finished a dismally slow final round against Jan and Carl Hasselback). Brian also broke in yet another family member as a caddie – his 11-year-old son, Jackson.