Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Bridge Blog 832: Buffalo Spring Sectional Redux

          The Buffalo Spring Sectional felt smaller than the Winter edition in January and it was. Table count was 145 vs. 156. A total of 147 players earned 545.43 points vs. 162 players earning 552.12. Master point leader once again is Bud Seidenberg, but this time he has 20.83 points instead of the 32.32 he captured three months ago.
          Bud once again was on the winning Swiss team on Sunday, which gave him 9.08 points. He also was first in the two-session pairs game on Friday, good for 9.97 points. Other point leaders include Bud’s Friday partner Jay Levy, 18; and two of his Swiss teammates, Chris Urbanek, 16.71; and Saleh Fetouh, 16.52. After them come Davis Heussler, 13.32; Jim Gullo, 12.91; and Donna Steffan, 12.56.

          You have to look way down the list to discover your humble correspondent in 96th place with 1.87 points, just behind Ron Henrikson (1.95) and barely ahead of John Ziemer and Jim Tao (tied with 1.86). John spent most of the week at the big regional tournament in Gatlinburg, Tenn. 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Bridge Blog 831: Buffalo Spring Sectional, Day 3

Swiss teams, 23 of them, I believe. My team – Selina Volpatti, Usha Khurana and Joe Miranda – gets off to a fast start, winning two of the first three rounds and providing Selina with the quarter of a silver point she needs for what? She’s not quite sure. Hope it’s Life Master.
But then we hit the wall, losing four straight rounds and playing our final set of hands in the round robin group. We lose against one of our round robin opponents, but win by a bigger margin against the other. I’m not sure if that counts as winning a fraction of a round or a full round. The final master point tally will tell. Each winning round is worth 0.26 of a point. We’ll have either 0.65 or 0.78.

Once again director Brian Meyer hustles the players through their paces. The Swiss team sessions usually don’t finish until after 5 p.m. (which is why I took tonight off from work), but this one is done shortly after 4:30 p.m. Could have gone to the office after all. Came home and did some much-needed yard work instead.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Bridge Blog 830, Buffalo Spring Sectional, Day 2

Saturday at the sectional has the feel of a game at the St. Catharines bridge club – two boards a round with 17 tables morning and afternoon for the two-session game (five more on the side for the single session in the p.m.). We play 26 hands against 13 pairs and don’t face the other four. It’s a quick game, made even quicker by director Brian Meyer, who allots 15 minutes for each round, but then calls a new round with two minutes left on the clock.
The morning is a succession of missed opportunities for me and partner Judie Bailey. We fail to bid two slams and, worse yet, get slapped down twice when I double the opponents. The end result is even more dismal that my Friday games with Celine Murray – 38.62%. Even so, we’re 14th out of 17 North-Souths. Not last. Not even next to last.
The afternoon is brighter. Sitting East-West, we don’t miss slams. The opponents do. We also bring in three top boards – Judie making 4 No Trump on a hand that’s supposed to be good for only 2 NT; the opponents bidding 3 Diamonds and making 5 Diamonds when they should have bid and made 6; and the final board of the day – 5 Clubs doubled and made by me on a distributional hand that should indeed make 5 Clubs.
Our score is much improved – 52.72%, second in the B stratification among the East-Wests. For this we get silver points, 1.09 of them.

As for the accommodations, hospitality is a repeat of Friday --  sweet rolls, doughnut holes and fruit and nut breads in the morning, wraps and cut-up fruits and veggies in the afternoon. No criticism there. Room temperature, on the other hand, gets lots of complaints. No heat because it’s sunny and in the 60s outside, so it’s cool Friday inside the Main-Transit Fire Hall social room and maybe a little cooler Saturday. Lots of people say they’re chilled. Judie puts on her jacket in the middle of the morning game and keeps wearing it for the rest of the day. 

Friday, April 17, 2015

Bridge Blog 829: Buffalo Spring Sectional Tournament, Day 1

You haven’t been writing in your bridge blog, someone says to me prior to the start of play Friday in the Buffalo Spring Sectional. Well, I tell them, there’s nothing much worth writing about. I’ve scarcely racked up any master points lately, maybe three or so for the month so far. At times like this, the most eloquent comment is no comment at all.
Besides, what can you really say about a seemingly endless slog through games in 35% to 50% range, except to murmur a prayer for deliverance through a miracle of stratification. There are no such miracles on opening day of the sectional.
Not that I’m expecting lightning to strike with Celine Murray as my partner. She’s been my accomplice in a lot of those 35% to 50% games and we have a couple more of them Friday – 44.34% in the morning, next to last North-South in our section, and 45.32% in the afternoon. Our very first hand of the day is an omen of bad things to come.
We start out on Board 28 against two of the top players in the room – Bill Rushmore and Dian Petrov, proprietor of Bridge Club Meridian. We’re vulnerable. They’re not. West (Dian) is dealer. He passes. So do I with this hand:
Spades: K-7-4; Hearts: A-8-5; Diamonds: Q-8-3; Clubs: J-9-5-3.
Bill Rushmore also passes and Celine opens 1 Club in the fourth seat. Dian passes again. I look at my 10 high card points, my flat distribution, my lack of a four-card major suit, and bid 1 No Trump. And that’s where we play it. Celine has this hand:
Spades: J-8-3-2; Hearts: Q-4; Diamonds: A-9-7; Clubs: A-7-6-4.
Should she have bid at all, I wonder as I cover the opening Heart lead with dummy’s Queen. I take Dian’s King with my Ace and that turns out to be one of only four tricks that I wind up winning. Minus 300. Almost certainly a bottom board. (In the end, it gives us 3½ out of a possible 17 game points.)
According to the hand record, it’s an East-West hand all the way, routinely making 3 Hearts or 2 No Trump. Here are the other two hands:
East
Spades: A-10; Hearts: 9-7-6-3-2; Diamonds: J-10-5-2; Clubs: K-10.
West
Spades: Q-9-6-5; Hearts: K-J-10; Diamonds: A-9-7; Clubs: Q-8-2.
Attendance is light compared to the winter sectional – 19½ tables in the morning, about the same in the afternoon. Some of the players are down at the big regional tournament in Gatlinburg, Tenn.

Director this time is local – Brian Meyer, looking slimmed down and almost saintly with his white shirt, moustache, beard and ponytail. He seems to field a larger number of director calls than usual. Don’t know if he’s responsible for printing out the hand records for the games, but for some reason they’re in short supply. I go hunting belatedly for one for the afternoon session and there’s none to be found.

Brian Meyer hands an entry form to Dotty May


Monday, April 6, 2015

Bridge Blog 828: Hanging on in March

          Can my miniscule 2015 point production keep me among the unit and district leaders? Just barely, as it turns out. The newly-posted totals on the ACBL website put me in ninth place on the Ace of Clubs list in the 1,000 to 2,500 point division for Unit 116 (just Buffalo) with 18.01 points.
          Topping the list is Fred Yellen with 44.65, followed by last year’s champ, John Ziemer, with 39.11. After that come Martin Pieterse, 34.48; Mike Silverman, 34.27; Ken Meier, 26.65; Walt Olszewski, 24.77; Barbara Pieterse, 20.72; Elaine Kurasiewicz, an even 20; and, just below me, Dotty May with 17.73.
          In the Mini-McKenney race, which includes all points from club play and tournament play, I don’t even register among the Top 10. Leader there also is Fred Yellen, with 59.16; followed by David Hemmer, 57.77; Martin Pieterse, 48.38; John Ziemer, 41.70; Mike Silverman, 36.25; Barbara Pieterse, 34.62; Ken Meier, 28.68; Walt Olszewski, 28.24; Art Morth, 27.11; and Elaine Kurasiewicz, 20.88. I’m 12th with 19.38.
          The Ace of Clubs race for District 5 (Buffalo, Cleveland, Pittsburgh) is dominated once again by Unit 116 players in the 1,000 to 2,500 division. We hold the top four places. The list of 25 cuts off with Barbara Pieterse. In the big, all-inclusive list, I’m 39th.
          Over on the District 5 Mini-McKenney, the Ohio players rule. Fleur Howard from Gates Mills has 173.58, followed by Sue Lan Ma from Kirtland Hills with 141.89 and Peter Merker from Mentor with 84.68. Fred Yellen is eighth. I’m 88th.

          No Unit 116 players show up among the Top 500 nationally in the Mini-McKenney’s 1,000 to 2,500 division, but we manage to infiltrate the Ace of Clubs list. Fred Yellen is tied for 173th. John Ziemer’s the only other Buffalo area player on it, in 315th place. The list cuts off at 34.97 points. Top club player in the nation is Sanford Robbins of Miami Lakes, Fla., with 105.99 points.  

Bridge Blog 827: Near no-show in Toronto

          If it wasn’t for Saleh Fetouh, Buffalo area players would have been almost totally under the radar at last week’s Toronto Easter Regional Tournament. Saleh won 31.54 points, good for 40th place. He earned 25.40 of them for coming in second in the A/X pairs on Saturday.
On top of the list with 70.14 points were a guy from Toronto, Jonathan Steinberg, and a guy from Ottawa, David Sabourin. Former Buffalonian Joel Wooldridge, who now hails from Astoria, Queens, tied for sixth place with 56.38.
          Then you have to hunt way down the list for Kathy Pollock, who’s tied for 140th with 12.40, and Sandi England, tied for 205th with 10.67. On the entire list of 1,028 players who earned points (or fractions thereof) only 10 more of us Buffalo folks are there, all in the single digits.

          Even my friends from the St. Catharines club didn’t make much of an impact. Best of them were Brian Macartney and George Morrissey, tied for 94th, with 19.81, followed by Maureen Clark tied for 116th with 17.15.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Bridge Blog 826: Incremental

I’m not sure if it’s much of an improvement, but this middle week of chemo in March has allowed a little more time at the tables than the middle week in February did. Then again, I probably shouldn’t have played in a daze on Monday, but I was beguiled by Barbara Sadkin’s promise that “we’ll have our usual shitty game.” How bad could it be? Turns out it was better than usual, 52.38%, third in the A strat in a four-table game, 0.40 of a point.
Then I was in no shape to return until spring was in the dank, chilly air on Saturday, the 21st, and then after I felt unaccountably good on Friday. Better than I did on Saturday, to tell the truth. But I wanted to catch the first lessons on bidding and playing slams and, by sticking around and playing with Paula Salamone, I helped complete a perfect five-table Howell game – being perfect in that you play three hands against all nine of the other pairs.
We were far from perfect. Not even half perfect with our 45.61%. but thanks to the miracle of stratification (anyone with fewer than 1,900 points was in the C strat), we finished second in C in an extra-point game, earning more than I did on Monday – 0.89 of a point.
In the club’s March master point race, this elevated me from 19th place to 17th, with 4.77. On top of the race is John Ziemer, with 8.11, followed by Bill Boardman with 7.80, Ron Henrikson with 7.02, Martin Pieterese with 6.76, Jerry Geiger with 6.38 (he’s been playing the other clubs, though), Mike Ryan (ditto) with 6.33 and Mike Silverman with 5.72.

 To my total we can add that 0.98 from St. Catharines a few weeks ago. With extra-point games all next week and with any luck at all, this might turn into a 10-point month.