Saturday, February 17, 2018

Bridge Blog 1017: St. Catharines Sectional Recap

Maybe it’s time to become a tournament hound. On the heels of my second-best Buffalo Sectional last month comes the best-ever St. Catharines Sectional – 6.66 points – which also is my third-best sectional of all time.
A couple Buffalo players topped the list of winners in St. Catharines. Partners Christy Kellogg and Bert Hargeshimer corralled 27.46 points each. Bert and Christy piled up their points in the Friday afternoon open pairs (third place for 7.35), the Friday evening open pairs (first for 8.25) and third in the all-day Saturday open pairs (third again, this time for 11.22). The remaining fraction came from their play in the Swiss teams game on Sunday, where they were not among the leaders.
You have to look down to 21st place to find the next Buffalo representatives – Donna Steffan and Jay Costello. They each had 12.93, their reward for being part of the winning Swiss team on Sunday.
Then there’s Saleh Fetouh in 30th place with 9.43 and me in 44th place with my 6.66, between Amir Fasoud (6.86) and Selina Volpatti’s Friday partner, Rev. Christopher Kulig (6.51). Selina, meanwhile, was 34th with 8.48 points, thanks to our performance together in the Swiss teams.
Other Buffalonians in the Top 100 included John Bava and Ed Morgan, tied for 53 rd with 5.08; my Saturday partner Denise Slattery, 58 th with 4.69; and the Buffalo player with the most master points of all, Dan Gerstman, tied for 82 nd with 3.12.
In all, 280 players earned points and there were 252 tables. At the club game in St. Catharines on Friday, word was that the tournament lost money. Let’s break down previous years’ totals, for Swiss and total tables.
2018 – 40 Swiss, 252 total tables.
2017 – 49 Swiss, 355 tables.
2016 – 51 Swiss, 342 tables.
2015 – 54 Swiss, 356 tables.
2014 – 60 Swiss, 366 tables.
2013 – 46 Swiss, 311 tables.
2012 – 49 Swiss, 303 tables.
2011 – 54 Swiss, 347 tables.
2010 – 39 Swiss, 343 tables.
2009 – 59 Swiss, 343 tables.
2008 – 48 Swiss, 294 tables.
And now let’s review my performances, year by year.
2018 – 6.66.
2017 – 0.52.
2016 – 0.51.
2015 – 0.34.
2014 – 1.79.
2013 – 0.36.
2012 – none.
2011 – 1.81.
2010 – 3.85, thanks to winning Bracket 3 in the Swiss team game with Helen Panza, Paula Kotowski and John Kirsits.
2009 – 0.72.
None before 2009.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Bridge Blog 1016-A: St. Catharines Sectional, Part I

I never think about the Greater Niagara Sectional Tournament in St. Catharines, Ont., without thinking about the weather. More than once, because the expressways were just too treacherous, I’ve threaded my way home on local streets through heavy snow and ice.
       The 2018 edition was no exception. I was glad my tentative plans evaporated Friday, when a steady drizzle-like flurry piled up all day long. Getting out to the Airport Bridge Club and back was miserable enough. Thrown together at the last minute with Bill Boardman, our results were  miserable too (sub 40%), but at least we had a lot of fun getting there, starting on our first two hands with back-to-back slam attempts that crashed and burned.
       For Saturday in St. Catharines, I enlisted my usual Saturday partner at the Airport Club – Denise Slattery – and fortunately, the snows of Friday had slipped away. It was clear sailing all the way to the Holiday Inn & Suites, Parkway Conference Centre, a few short blocks away from the Queen Elizabeth Way.
       Since Denise has just 200-plus master points, I had hoped that the tournament would average us down into the B stratification, but nooooo. Nobody with more than 2,000 points can play in the B/C/D strat game. We went into the A/X unlimited game instead (a two-session game, all that was available at that level). We were X players, the ones with fewer than 3,000 points.
       Nevertheless, we were up against the A players, the savviest people in the Merlot Ballroom. Vera Carpenter and Rashid Khan from Toronto. Jerry Smee and John Mackay from St. Catharines. Christy Kellogg and Bert Hargeshimer from Buffalo. We got to all of them during the double session.
       Afternoon highlight was a score I never registered before – plus 1,600 – 3 Spades down three. Redoubled. Vulnerable. The victim was Barbara Sims, partnered with Bev Ross, who has been a director at other Niagara District tournaments.
We were bidding up to 4 Heart game, not vulnerable, when Barbara intervened, thinking her six-card Spade suit and void in Hearts would thwart us. Holding A-J-10-2 in Spades, A-9 in Hearts and A-Q-6-5 in Clubs, I could have done the sensible thing and raised Denise to game after she rebid her Heart suit. Instead, I doubled. Barbara redoubled. Disaster ensued.
Despite that top board, our afternoon score was not especially notable – 53.37%. Fifth overall among North-Souths. But first in X – 1.38 master points. We planned to celebrate by searching out a Thai restaurant that was recommended to us, but seeing a fresh blanket of snow in the parking lot, we opted for the company of a couple Buffalo guys – John Bava and Ed Morgan – and a fajita platter in the Holiday Inn’s restaurant.
We ground out a 51.55% game in the evening and were happy with that, considering the opposition. This time we were second in the X strat, but our combined afternoon-evening total held up. Although we were eighth overall, behind seven A pairs, but we were first among the Xes – 4.69 silver points for the day.

Bridge Blog 1016-B: St. Catharines Sectional, Part II

From left, Miro, me, Selina and Ana

Sunday’s forecast was fearsome. Winter weather advisory. Snow, sleet and freezing rain from morning till 7 p.m. I set my cell phone alarm early and got up before it even went off.
Yet nobody was using windshield wipers in front of my house on Richmond Avenue. Nothing worse than a foggy haze all the way to St. Catharines.
Our pickup teammates – Miro and Ana Kovacevic, immigrants to Canada from Serbia whom I’d met in the A/X game Saturday (we started both sessions from the same table) – proved to be very agreeable. Selina and Ana promised to exchange e-mails. We got a group photo together, taken by their 14-year-old son, who was working as a caddie in the Swiss team game.
We had confidence in each other as players as well, a feeling bolstered by the first round, when we beat our opponents by 6 International Match Points. Losing the second round to a Hamilton team by 6 IMPs did not discourage us. We went on to trounce our next opponents by more than 30 IMPs.
After the lunch break, we were beaten back again, losing by 9 IMPs to Peter Petruzzellis and Adam Weiss-Margules, whom I’d encountered Saturday. (Teamed with Buffalonians Donna Steffan  and Jay Costello, they went on to win the day.) Distress deepened with a 17 IMP loss in Round 5, 12 of those IMPs on one hand where Selina went down at 3 No Trump and the opponents made an overtrick.
Round 6 pitted us against two familiar folks from St. Catharines – genial John Mackay and long tall Jane Jennings. We fought each other to a 6-6 IMP tie.
Which unfortunates would we face in the seventh and final round? None other than two of the best players in Buffalo – Mike Ryan and John Ziemer – who, since they were playing us, clearly were down on their luck. It didn’t change. We posted our biggest triumph of the day against them – 40-5 IMPs.
With 3½ winning rounds, worth 0.32 point per round, we were guaranteed at least 1+ silver point for our efforts. But it was better than that. We tied for third in the X strat – 1.97 points. (No, not a tie, now that I see the final results online. The folks we were tied with, the John Mackay-Jane Jennings-Jerry Smee-Clyde Paul team, turn out to be an A team.) Miro and Ana declared that we should team up again at another tournament. Selina and I heartily agreed.
Meanwhile, this was my best-ever effort in the St. Catharines Sectional – 6.66 points. Best previous was 3.85 in 2010, when I was on a Swiss team with Helen Panza, Paula Kotowski and John Kirsits and we finished first in the third bracket.
My luck continued outside the Holiday Inn. It was raining, but the temperature hadn’t plunged. It hung in just above freezing all the way home. No sleet. No ice.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Bridge Blog 1015: January Jam

Who’da thunk it? The first ACBL master point race tabulations for 2018 are out and I’m on top of the Ace of Clubs list for Ruby Life Masters (1,500 to 2,500 points) in Unit 116 (Buffalo only). My glow of satisfaction isn't very brilliant, though. Last year’s champ, Mike Silverman, was on a tropical vacation for half the month. Here’s the Top 10:
Me, 14.29; Allen Beroza, 13.69; Martin Pieterse, 11.10; Ken Meier, 10.04; Mike Silverman, 8.74; Gene Finton (listed in Delray Beach, Fla.), 8.33; Fred Yellen, 7.36; Dorothy May, 5.87; Elaine Kurasiewicz, 5.22; and Davis Heussler, 2.92.
I’m fourth overall among all Unit 116 members in Ace of Clubs play, which counts club games only, not tournaments. Here the leader is John Ziemer with 21.31, followed by Barbara Libby, 16.01; Liz Clark, 14.70; me, 14.29; Gay Simpson, 14.25; Jim Easton, 13.78; Allen Beroza, 13.69; Jay Levy, 12.99; Marilyn Wortzman, 12.90; and Ed Morgan, 12.09.  
In all, 18 players in the unit are in double digits for the month and all but Jay Levy are regulars at the Airport Bridge Club, where extra points were awarded at every game. February is a different story. Folks from the other clubs are going to catch up.
Moving on to the Mini-McKenney races, which count all points earned everywhere, I’m third among Ruby Life Masters with 21.17 points.
Leader is Davis Heussler, with 76.82 points, half of which came from the regional tournament in Cleveland (31.71 points) and the Buffalo Buffalo Winter Sectional (8.47). He’s first among all players in the unit.
Then it’s Ken Meier, 28.02 (13th overall); me, 21.17 (15th); Allen Beroza, 14.58 (29th); Fred Yellen, 13.69 (34th); Chongmin Zhang, 13.41 (36th); Martin Pieterse, 12.47 (39th); Mike Silverman, 8.74 (53rd); Elaine Kurasiewicz, 8.73 (55th); and Gene Finton down in Florida, 8.33 (59th).
Leaders among all players in Unit 116 go like this: Davis Heussler, 76.82; his frequent tournament partner Linda Burroughsford, 76.93; Sandi England, 63.15; Shakeel Ahmad and Manju Ceylony, both at 41.98; Penny and Peter Shui, both at 39.73; David Hemmer, 39.41; John and Martha Welte, 36.49; John Ziemer, 34.20; and Dian Petrov, 28.27.
Now let’s widen our horizons.
District 5 (Buffalo, Cleveland, Pittsburgh) Ace of Clubs, Ruby Life Masters. Here I’m third.
Leader is Philip Goulding of Wexford, Pa., with 19.86. He’s seventh among all players in the district. Then it’s Pauline Sostarich of Hermitage, Pa., 15.56 (13th overall); me, 14.29 (15th); Allen Beroza, 13.69 (20th); John Ferry of North Parkersburg, W. Va., 13.37 (22nd); Joane D’Antonio of Sewickley, Pa., 11.12 (36th); Martin Pieterse, 11.10 (37th); Barbara Shidlowski of Kent, Ohio, 11 even (39th); Ken Meier, 10.04 (52nd) and Jack Hawthorne of Valencia, Pa., 9.90 (55th).
Overall Ace of Clubbers in District 5 look like this: Richard Katz of North Versailles, Pa., 36.30; Patricia Katz of Pittsburgh, 32.72; just S. Ruskin of Pittsburgh, 29.64; John Ziemer, 21.31; Reanette Frobouch of Pittsburgh, 20.44; just D. Pierce of Parkersburg, W. Va., 19.90; Ruby Life Master leader Philip Goulding of Wexford, Pa., 19.86; just W. Tordella of Bemus Point, 19.42; Arlene Port of Pittsburgh, 18.57; and Shirley Irish of Waterford, Pa., 16.20. Buffalo’s Barbara Libby is 11th with 16.01.
Now for the District 5 Mini-McKenney, Ruby Life Masters. Here the leader our own David Heussler by a wide margin. His 76.82 also makes him second among all players in the district.
The other leaders include: Philip Goulding of Wexford, Pa., 46.81 (13th overall); Leroy Hackenburg II of Pittsburgh, 34.20 (28th); Wayne Heritage of North Olmsted, Ohio, 33.10 (32nd); Unit 116’s Ken Meier, 28.02 (38th); Frank Scali of North Ridgeville, Ohio; 27.75 (39th); Douglas Henderson of Rocky River, Ohio, 24.66 (46th); John Bacon of Shaker Heights, Ohio; 22.28 (52nd); David Norris, also of Rocky River, 22.25 (53rd); and moi! Tenth place with my 21.17 (58th overall).
Mini-McKenney leader among all District 5 players once again is Sue Lan Ma of Kirtland Hills, Ohio, with 84.91. Then it’s Davis Heussler, 76.82; Linda Burroughford, 75.93; Kathleen Sulgrove of Twinsburg, Ohio., 64.85; Stephanie and Robert Alexander, both of Mentor, Ohio, both with 64.19; Sandi England, 63.15; tied with Don Sulgrove of Twinsburg; Kenneth Kranyak of Parma, Ohio, 62.90; and Fleur Howard of Gates Mills, Ohio, and Phillip Becker of Beachwood, Ohio, both at 61.95.
Ace of Clubs, Ruby Life Masters, nationwide.
Paul Hassett of The Villages, Fla., 48.97 (eighth among all players overall); Mason Barge (is this a man or a watercraft?) of Atlanta, 43.87 (19th); Kitty Wong of Pearland, Texas, 43.25 (24th); Anna Maxcine Thacker of Palm Coast, Fla., 40.89 (33rd); David Morse of New Minas, Nova Scotia, 40.81 (34th); M. Gregory Goggin of Naples, Fla., 38.99 (45th); Russ Pearly, also of The Villages, Fla., 35.60 (78th); Michelle Mataillet of Miami, 32.23 (102nd); Dolores Aquino of Houston, 31.59 (112th); and Elizabeth Black of Dunedin, Fla., 31.07 (122nd).
I’m 353rd on this list.
Ace of Clubs, all players, nationwide. One of the usual suspects, Bill Kulbersh of Atlanda, is on top with 72.49; followed by Robert Epstein, also of Atlanta, with 68.56; then it’s Roberta Trayman of Naples, Fla., 64.63; Barbara Sartorius of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., 54.92; Charles Trayman of Naples, Fla., 54.64; and Sandy McCay and Gail Goggin, both of Naples, Fla., with 49.40 and 49 even, respectively. This list of 500 names cuts off at 22.20.
Onward to Mini-McKenney, Ruby Life Masters, nationwide.
Leader here is Robert L. McClendon of Ponte Vedra, Fla., with 241.30, almost twice as many as second-place Kevin Rosenberg of Cupertino, Calif., with 129.53. Then it’a Mary Ose of Sacramento, Calif, 119.07; Alex Khakovsky of Columbus, Ohio, 96.07; Joann Matchette of Vero Beach, Fla., 84.31; Marianne Claysmith of St. Augustine, Fla., 79.44; Steve Wallis of Wesley Chapel, Fla., 78.58; Karen Hoffner of Galloway, N.J., 77.68; Unit 116’s Davis Heussler in ninth place with his 76.82; and Kitty Wong of Pearland, Texas, 75.85. The list ends at 21.39. My 21.17 falls just short.
And now for the really heavy hitters, the Mini-McKenney leaders overall.
Guy on top is a new face (to me) – Geoff Hampson of Las Vegas, who has 404.04; then it’s Joe Grue of New York City, 383.60; Mark Itabashi of Murrieta, Calif., 364.84; Daniel Korbel of Las Vegas, 297.69; Shan Huang of Melbourne, Fla., 293.24; Kevin Dwyer, also of Melbourne, 291.85; Gillian Minter of New York City, 269.01; Justin Lall of Charlotte, N.C., 265.96; Sylvia Shi of Las Vegas, 265.83; and Bruce Ferguson of Palm Springs, 265.82.
Familiar names: Former Buffalonian Joel Wooldridge is 19th with 216.24. Unit 116 leader Davis Heussler is 216th. Linda Burroughsford in 226th. And Jacqueline Chang, Sharon Chang’s daughter, has 52.10, tied for 486th. This list cuts off at 51.29.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Bridge Blog 1014: Internationally Irresolute

Now my New Year’s resolution is twice broken, once on each side of the U.S.-Canada border. On my first visit this year to the Bridge Centre of Niagara in St. Catharines, Ont., on Friday, Selina Volpatti and I limped to a 38.37% finish, for me a new low for 2018. Hope we can pick up our socks in time for the St. Catharines Sectional Tournament in two weeks.

Set aside the backsliding, however, and it’s been a profitable week point-wise – 1.80 with Dotty May on Tuesday morning, 2.19 with Gay Simpson on Wednesday, 0.86 with Marietta Kalman for our 51.67% (fourth in the B strat) on Thursday and 0.65 with Denise Slattery for our 53% (first in C) on Saturday. Total for the week of 5.50 puts me over 20 for the month – 20.53, if my calculations are correct. Irresolute, but respectable. 

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Bridge Blog 1013: Falling Off the Wagon

New Year's resolutions don't last forever. My vow to have no game below 40% held up for just 23 days. It fell during the ACBL-Wide Junior  Fund Game on Tuesday afternoon at the Airport Bridge Club.
Partner Dotty May and I turned in a miserable 39.32%, particularly unfortunate in a competition where points could be won on a district level. Doubly unfortunate, since the Airport Club was the only club in District 5 taking part in the game. The winners got something like 12 points.
And just when things were going so well. I just had my second-best-ever Buffalo Sectional Tournament and in the morning game at the Airport Bridge Club, Dotty and I had a 53.75% game, first in the B strat, for 1.80 points.

Wednesday saw a bounce-back with Gay Simpson, a last-minute substitute for my regular partner, June Feuerstein, who is ailing. Gay's a much more serious player than June and our combined focus turned out to be fortuitous – first overall with 64.58%, for 2.19 points. I'm now approaching 20 points for the month. 2018 is off to a good start. 

Bridge Blog 1012: Buffalo Winter Sectional Scoring Wrap Up

Fifteen players found their way into double digits in the Buffalo Winter Sectional Tournament Jan. 18 to Jan. 20 in the Main-Transit Fire Hall, led by Shakeel Ahmad and Manju Ceylony, partners in medicine, in life and at the tables. They took away 21.19 points apiece. Last year's leader, Liz Clark, got 19.97 points, and 13 players were in double digits.
Unlike most big point winners at the Buffalo Sectionals, Shakeel and Manju did not clean up in the Sunday Swiss team game, where they were second in the B strat and earned only 2.81 of their points. Their success was in the double session team games Friday and Saturday. On Friday, they were first overall, collecting 12.72 points. Saturday they were fourth overall, second in B, good for 5.66 more.
Other leading local players included Saleh Fetouh, 15.27; Ethan Xie and Chongmin Zhang, 13.41 each; Peter and Penny Shui, 13.24 each; John Ziemer, 12.89; Bert Hargeshimer and Christy Kellogg, 10.94 each; Kamil Bishara and Dian Petrov, 10.32 each; and Judi Marshall, 10.06.
My 6.88 points put me in 28th place. In all, 146 players earned points. For a full recap, click this link.

Total table count was 153. How does this compare with recent Winter Sectionals? Last year it was 145. And in 2016, it was 136.