Monday, May 22, 2017

Bridge Blog 955: Is I Is or Is I Ain't?

I asked myself that question all weekend. Just 0.06 of a point shy of 2,200 master points, I failed to pass that milestone Friday and again Saturday.
On the first four boards Friday, in St. Catharines, Ont., Selina Volpatti and I blew it and we knew it. Had we simply avoided our early mistakes and achieved average boards, we would have had a better-than-50% game and a milestone-passing quarter of a point, according to my review of the hands online that night.
On Saturday, it was over before it started. With a hair appointment running late, I arrived at the end of the first round to hear partner Burt Freiman confess that he was over-bidding when club manager Bill Finkelstein sat in for me. Burt was unable to correct it and I was unable to overcome whatever else came along. We barely made 40%. Dead last.
Nevertheless, when I checked the Airport Bridge Club master point race for May after Saturday's game, it showed me with 8.07 for the month, not the 7.97 that I tallied up. Math error? Belated recalculation? Who knew? 
To erase all doubt, what I needed was another trip to the winners' circle. Happily, that happened Monday with Marilyn Sultz, confirmed with 20 out of a possible 21 match points in the final round, lifting us to second East-West with 55.10%. 1.17 points. So there!  

Friday, May 19, 2017

Bridge Blog 954: On the verge

My partners have started winning again (ref. Blog 945). Even Marietta Kalman, who took regrettable dives on at least two hands Thursday at the Airport Bridge Club where she should have cruised to game. Alas, if she had only (1) exploited a long Club suit in dummy in a 3 No Trump contract – everybody else made it and one of them took 12 tricks, despite missing two Aces – and (2) ignored the possible ramifications of a 4-4-4-1 trump distribution in a 4 Spade attempt and ruffed her two minor suit losers to give herself an overtrick like the other South players did, instead of going down.
Yes, Marietta and I managed to scratch out a 51.96% effort, best game we’ve had together since a 63% in February, and that one was a major anomaly considering our history. Thursday was second overall in the B strat, rewarding us with 1.42 master points, thanks to the near-universal extra-point regimen in effect at the Airport Club.
That point bonanza has paid off to the tune of 7.97 points so far this month, despite the seven sessions I missed while I was away in New York City, where I had no bridge opportunities. Add that to what MyACBL says is my career total – 2,191.97 – and that's just 0.06 away from a milestone. If my partners can overcome the odds and continue their winning ways (Selina Volpatti today against that tough crowd in St. Catharines, Ont.; newbie Bert Freiman on Saturday at the Airport Club), I’m there. 

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Bridge Blog 953: Appraising April

We haven’t seen David Millward in Buffalo yet this year, but he’s on top of Ace of Clubs list (club play only) for Unit 116 Ruby Life Masters in the latest update of the master point races on the ACBL website. Amongst us folks with 1,500 to 2,500 points, David makes his first appearance of 2017 with 68.50 points, all earned in Florida, apparently. Must not have been a great winter for golf, which often draws him away from the tables when he’s up North.
David’s sudden materialization at the head of the list demotes Mike Silverman, who was away for half of April, to second place. And now I’m third, thanks to another wretched month, though not quite as wretched as March. I added 10.36 club points, bringing my total to 37.55 and lifting me out of a tie with another snowbird who’s still in Florida – Gene Finton. Here’s the new lineup:
David Millward, 68.50; Mike Silverman, 57.43; me, 37.55; Gene Finton, 35.78; Ken Meier, 35.58; Fred Yellen, 31.92; Dorothy May, 27.43; Allen Beroza, 25.53; Vince Pesce, 17.30; and Chuck Schorr, 15.91.
David Millward is second overall among all Unit 116 players and Mike Silverman is third. Me, I’m lagging way behind in 15th place, but that’s one notch higher than a month ago. The Unit 116 leader is Meg Klamp, another snowbird, who’s on top with 68.55, just barely ahead of David Millward’s 68.50.
Then it’s Mike Silverman with 57.43; Liz Clark, 55.12; John and Martha Welte, tied with 44.15; Jay Levy, 42.63; Jerry Geiger, 42.03; Martin Pieterse, 41.84; Sharon Benz, 41.10; John Ziemer and Bud Seidenberg, tied with 40.84; soon-to-depart Tom Koralewski, 39.79; Joyce Greenspan, 39.04; then my 37.55, which is the barest fraction ahead of Ron Henrikson’s 37.51.
Moving on to the Mini-McKenney race, which includes all points in tournament competition and everywhere else, once again David Millward muscles onto the top rung among Ruby Life Masters with 81.58 points, though that places him only 12th among all Unit 116 players. I’m in fifth place, 30th overall, still sinking. Last month I was fourth and 26th. Here’s the rundown:
David Millward, 81.58 (12th); Ken Meier, 77.30 (13th); Mike Silverman, 58.37 (21st); Fred Yellen, 56.55 (24th); me, 47.55 (30th); Allen Beroza, 45.64 (32nd); Gene Finton, 35.78 (42nd);  Dorothy May, 28.73 (54th); Bill Rushmore, 24.06 (63rd); and Art Morth, 20.81 (73rd).
Overall Unit 116 Mini-McKenney leaders are John and Martha Welte (!), tied for first with 120.27, boosted by that 33.50-point showing in the Toronto Easter Regional. Third is the player they displaced, Davis Heussler, the only other Unit 116 player who’s surpassed the century mark. He has 114.81.
Other leaders: Mike Ryan, 97.89; Tom Koralewski, 96.30; Meg Klamp, 92.08; Christy Kellogg, 87.16; Saleh Fetouh, 86.80; Bert Hargeshimer, 86.54; Linda Burroughsford, 86.32; John Ziemer, 84.54; and David Millward, 81.58.
 Moving on to District 5 (Buffalo, Cleveland, Pittsburgh), Ace of Clubs. Ruby Life Masters. David Millward has reclaimed top spot for Unit 116, displacing last month’s usurper – Susan Konig of Bridgeville, Pa. I’ve slipped from a sixth place tie to ninth place. Here’s the list.
David Millward, 68.50; Susan Konig, 63.87; Mike Silverman, 57.43; Chantal Whitney of Bratenahl, Ohio, 52.71 (Bratenahl, we discover via Wikipedia, is a rich little lakefront village that’s completely surrounded by the City of Cleveland and which gets 10 percent of its municipal income from speeding tickets on the I-90); Allen Selling of Erie, Pa., 49.92; Nancy Steele of Bridgeport, W.Va., 40.60; William Lindgren of Slippery Rock, Pa., 38.36; Sandra Brand of Pittsburgh, 37.85; me, 37.55; and Annemarie Gordon of Sewickley, Pa., 37.15.
In the overall District 5 Mini-McKenney standings, David Millward is fifth, Susan Konig is ninth, Mike Silverman is 12th and I’m 51st, which is actually an improvement. A month ago, I was tied for 62nd. Here’s that list:
Richard Katz of North Versailles, Pa., 83.97: Patricia Katz of Pittsburgh, 80.96 (is there a catfight in the Katz house?); D. Pierce of Parkersburg, W. Va., 70.71; Meg Klamp, 68.55; David Millward, 68.60; W. (William, I just looked it up) Tordella of Bemus Point, 67.50; Reanette Frobouck of Pittsburgh, 65.77; S. Ruskin of Pittsburgh, 64.50; Susan Konig, 63.87; and Arlene Port of Pittsburgh, 60.53.
District 5, Mini-McKenney, Ruby Life Masters. Sue Lan Ma of Kirtland Hills, Ohio, continues on top with 241.27. Then it’s Craig Biddle of Pittsburgh, 175.52; William Lindgren of Slippery Rock, Pa., 88.65; David Millward, 81.58; Ken Meier, 77.30; Susan Konig, 75.26; Jean Picone of Pittsburgh, 67.34; Mike Silverman, 58.37; Fred Yellen, 56.55; Chantal Whitney of Bratenahl, Ohio, 54.70. My 47.55 puts me at 14th.
District 5, Mini-McKenney overall. Sue Lan Ma still on top with 241.27, followed by the Sulgroves of Twinsburg, Ohio, Kathleen and Don, tied for second with 210.66. Then it’s Richard Katz with 191.27; Reanette Frobouck with 177.68 (a slow year for her); Craig Biddle of Pittsburgh with 175.52; and Patricia Katz, 161.15. Unit 116’s Weltes are tied for 11th. Davis Heussler is 16th. I’m 122nd.
Now let’s go nationwide. Ace of Clubs. Ruby Life Masters. Leader is Gary Waldron of Laguna Beach, Calif., who must spend all his time indoors. He has 103.84. Then it’s Barry Nish of Little Neck, L.I., 101.22; George Wood of Gulfport, Fla., 100.69; Robert Shearer of Diberville, Miss., 99.53; Sidney Perutz of Dallas, 99.51; Mohan Bali of Columbia, S.C., 97.39; Russ Pearly of The Villages, Fla., 96.37; Michael Boreson of Kalispell, Mont., 95.42; Dennis Harms of Corvallis, Ore., 95.17; and Paul Hassett, also of The Villages, 94.01.
Unit 116 and District 5 leader David Millward is 77th. Mike Silverman is 165th. I’m not among the big 500 anymore. The list cuts off at 43.04.
And now all the Ace of Clubbers. Omigod. Bill Kulbersh of Atlanta is up to 219.19. Also over the double-century mark is Bella Ionis-Sorren of Fort Lauderdale, Fla, with 211.29. Then it’s Irva Neyhart of Corvallis, Ore., 185.33; Key Schulle of Purchase, N.Y., 181.91; Neil Silverman of Fort Lauderdale, 169.67; and Mason Barge of Atlanta, 169.27. No Unit 116ers on this list. District 5’s Richard Katz is 254th. This list cuts off at 71.02.
Nationwide Mini-McKenney. Ruby Life Masters. District 5’s Sue Lan Ma has moved up. Seventh last month. Now she’s third. The two leaders are still solid. Gillian Miniter of New York City, 405.71; Sudhakar Divakaruni of Scottsdale, Ariz., 334.55; Sue Lan Ma, 241.27; Jeff Edelstein of Riverview, Fla., 228.59; Mark Blanchard of Bay Shore, L.I., 221.25; and Arti Bhargava of Mill Valley, Calif., 202.49. District 5’s runner-up Craig Biddle is 12th. Unit 116 also is represented, albeit well down the list. David Millward is 340th. Ken Meier is 411th. The list stops at 72.03.
Nationwide Mini-McKenney. All players. Chris Compton of Dallas has cracked the 1,000 mark. He has 1,016.02, well out in front of Mark Itabashi of Murrieta, Calif., with 890.03; the legendary Jeff Meckstroth of Clearwater Beach, Fla, with 848.62; Eddie Wold of Houston with 838.83; Kevin Dwyer of Melbourne, Fla., with 811.38; and Mike Passell of Plano, Texas, with 806.66.

Other notables: David Sabourin of Ottawa, Onto, 666.90 (14 th); former Buffalonian Joel Wooldridge, now of Astoria, Queens, 407 even (41st); Ruby Life Master leader Gillian Miniter, 405.71 (42nd); Sally Meckstroth of Clearwater Beach, Fla., 383.07 (54th); District 5 leader Sue Lan Ma, 241.27 (201st). No Unit 116 players here, either. List ends at 164.21. 

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Bridge Blog 952: Not So Merrie Month of May

          How much did I look forward to the return of the Rochester Regional Tournament, just an hour or so away down the Thruway? Ever since they announced the dates nearly two years ago.
During the tournament’s first revival in Rochester in 2015, I was facing cancer surgery in a few weeks and only managed to make it to the RIT Inn and Conference Center in Henrietta for two days. Very valuable days as it turned out, since partner Judie Bailey and I hooked up with a hot pair from Central New York and won our knock-out game.  
This year, family matters have intervened. A tombstone unveiling on the last day of the tournament Sunday. A drive to New York City two days before that. A week of work to do in advance so I can take time off from my newspaper gig. Top that off with that miserable cold that’s been going around, which twice forced me back to bed in the middle of the afternoon. Propped up with decongestants all week, I wouldn’t have been able to keep my head up in Rochester.
It was hard enough here in Buffalo. I brought my foggy brain and runny nose to the Airport Bridge Club on Monday and discovered partner Carolyn Siracuse to be among the missing. Didn’t answer her phone. Didn’t see her all week so don’t know what happened to her.
Club manager Bill Finkelstein called in a sub – a very good sub, Tom Koralewski, departing next week for the next stage in his retirement in Indianapolis – and it turned out to be one of my best games all year. Our 63.89% tied us for second overall and brought in 1.44 points.
I was still in a fog Tuesday with Usha Khurana, but we had what felt like one of our better games. Not spectacular, but 51.85%, third North-South, 0.70 of a point.
Wednesday’s turnout at the club was so sparse that we would up playing home-style pairs – two tables, three rounds, 10 boards a round. I have one of my rare games with Chuck Schorr, who’s a seasoned player. I fully expect that we’ll blow away this diminished field, but we wind up in a three-way tie for top. Not very rewarding, but any fraction of a master point, even this 0.30, adds up.
Thursday found me partnerless once again. Thrown together with the agreeable Burt Freiman, a newbie who makes his fair share of mistakes, we steered ourselves to 50.30%, good enough for second in the B strat North-South and 0.86 of a point. How miserable a week is it if it yields up 3.30 points? 

Bridge Blog 951: Long Look Back at the Sectional

          I could only play one session Saturday in the Buffalo Spring Sectional Tournament two weeks ago with Art Matthies, but it turned out to be time well spent. It accounted for most of my silver points – 2.61 out of a tournament total of 3.51. That figure landed me in 42nd place among the 151 players who collected points.  
          Point leader was Chris Urbanek with 18.71 – 9.29 for second place in the Saturday two-session pairs and 7.70 as part of the first place foursome in the Sunday Swiss team competition. Second was her Swiss teammate Bud Seidenberg with 17.29, which included 9.02 for second place in the Friday two-session pairs.
          Other point leaders – Judy Graf, 15.57, 12.03 of them from winning two-session pairs Friday; Saleh Fetouh, another Chris teammate Sunday, 14.78; and Fred Yellen, Judy Graf’s Friday partner, 14.78. No question about which path is paved with the most silver points. 

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Bridge Blog 950: Buffalo Spring Sectional

To make a long story short, here’s the summary:
Two sessions Friday with Florence Boyd. One of the few pairs who struck out entirely. Morning session: 45.42%. Afternoon session: 49.46%. Interesting hands, though. See Blog 950-A on what seemed at the time like a brilliant maneuver.
Only one session Saturday because of an obligation to go to Rochester and visit distressed friends, but it counted. Art Matthies and I pulled off a 59.22% game, which I thought was tops East-West until I saw the final results. But second was good, too. 2.61 silver points. See Blog 950-B on the sudden departure of Rita Sofia.
Uncertain arrangements for Sunday’s Swiss teams fell apart, as I suspected they would, but I was lucky enough to pick up Rita Sofia’s partner, Anne Watkins, and the two of us were lucky enough to team with some very good players, Christy Kellogg and Bert Hargeshimer.

We win the first round, but according to Christy, this is not her finest day. We needed to win four rounds to collect extra points in the A strat, but we win only three and wind up with .90 of a silver point. See Blog 950-C to see why this will may have been the final Dupli-Swiss game. 

Bridge Blog 950-A: Brilliant?

Friday afternoon. Board 5. Jim Gullo and Donna Steffan are East-West and work their way up into slam territory, where Jim plants the flag at 6 Clubs. Not what I expected with these hands, but it’s odd enough to turn into a winner. Partner leads the 5 of Spades.

East (Jim)
Spades: 8-2; Hearts: A-Q-J-4; Diamonds: 3; Clubs: K-9-8-5-4-2.

South (Art Matthies)
Spades: Q-J-6-5-3; Hearts: 7-6-3; Diamonds: Q-J-4-2; Clubs: 7.

West (Donna)
Spades: A-7-4; Hearts: K-10-6; Diamonds: A-K-10-6; Clubs: A-J-10.

North (moi)
Spades: K-10-9; Hearts: 9-5-3; Diamonds: 9-8-7-5; Clubs Q-6-3.

What seemed brilliant at the time was not only the offbeat Club bid, but Jim’s preservation of a low card in his hand to reach the dummy late in the play. Turns out it wasn’t quite that brilliant. The hand should make 7 Clubs and Jim made only 6. Plus it’s good for grand slams in No Trump and Hearts, as well as Clubs.

It’s still good for them, though. They’re tied for second with another pair at 6 Clubs, just short of the people who bid and make 6 No Trump. Meanwhile, four of the pairs take 13 tricks in Hearts and No Trump, but they don’t bid the slams.