Sunday, August 13, 2017

Bridge Blog 968: TWTWTW Aug. 7 to Aug. 12

Monday: Art Matthies and I salvage a shred of pride with a 50.46% and a sliver of a master point – 0.69. Two top boards – a double on an opponent's ill-advised 4 Diamond bid, down three; and a nicely executed 3 Club contract by Art. Two bottoms – a down-three sacrifice by me that goes down four instead and a 3 No Trump contract by the opponents which we can't figure out how to crack.
Tuesday: Not much luck with Usha Khurana. 47.10%. Mistakes by both of us. At least we're not last.
Wednesday: June Feuerstein and I have our usual loopy good time and manage to finish second East-West in a low-percentage six-table game. Our 53.75% is worth 1.27 points.
Thursday: No partner so club manager Bill Finkelstein offers me on Wednesday to the first available player who speaks up. That would be Eva Schmidt, a nonagenarian marvel and Holocaust survivor. We come in fourth North-South with 51.94% and earn 0.69 of a point.
Friday: Canadian partner unavailable, so no trip to St. Catharines. Myra Razik accepts Bill Finkelstein's general offer this time and we have a 50.84% game, third in B East-West, 0.75 of a point.

Saturday: Will my end-of-the-week date with the current August master point leader, Denise Slattery, depress her or lift me up? The latter. One of my best games of the year, in fact. 
When the results are posted, we're tied with Alan Greer and Nancy Wolstoncroft at the top with 65%. Then Shirley Cassety finds an incorrect score. Not the first time she gets a correction that bumps me back. 
Alan and Nancy stay at 65%, Denise and I drop to 64.17%, second overall, but still first in the B strat for 2.25 points. For the week: 6.65 points. For the month so far: 7.98. 

Monday, August 7, 2017

Bridge Blog 967: Goodbye to July

         Club points for the year, through July 31: 85.32, up 19.70 since June. I've passed David Millward, who was out of action all month, and moved ahead to second place in the Ace of Clubs race (club play only) among Ruby Life Masters (1,500 to 2,500 points) in Unit 116 (Buffalo only).                    Here's the Top 10: Mike Silverman, 120.13 (also first among all players in the unit); me, 85.32 (sixth overall); David Millward, 81.37 (tenth); Ken Meier, 80.72 (12th); Fred Yellen, 63.23 (22nd); Allen Beroza, 61.15 (25th); Gene Finton, 52.63 (29th); Dorothy May, 45.15 (38th); Chuck Schorr, 27.94 (77th); and Art Morth, 27.20 (82nd).
         Among all Unit 116 players in the Ace of Clubs race, the Top 10 looks like this: Mike Silverman still on top, 120.13; Jerry Geiger moving up from fifth to second, 99.71; Liz Clark, 98.16; Mike Ryan (ninth to fourth), 87.74; Meg Klamp, 87.30; me, 85.32; Judi Marshall, 81.64; John Ziemer, 81.59; Denise Slattery, 81.42; David Millward, 81.37. And let's add these folks nipping at our heels – Martin Pieterse, 81.08; Ken Meier, 80.72; Ron Henrikson, 80.28; and Sharon Benz, 78.91.
         Overall points for the year, as of July 31: 103.39. I've broken through the century mark and almost reached my 15-point-per-month goal. Here again I move up a notch in the Mini-McKenney race (all points earned everywhere) to third place among Ruby Life Masters in Unit 116, past inactive David Millward. 
         Here's how the leaders look: Ken Meier, 171.07 (sixth among all Unit 116 players, down from fourth); Mike Silverman, 125.58 (12th overall, up from 16th), me, 103.39 (22nd, up from 25th); David Millward, 95.63 (27th); Fred Yellen, 90.99 (28th); Allen Beroza, 86 even (33rd); then a big step down to Gene Finton, 59.65 (50th); Dorothy May, 50.69 (61st); Art Morth, 38.70 (78th) and Bill Rushmore, 30.36 (101st).
        Two of the Unit 116 Mini-McKenney leaders have broken through the 200 point mark. Here they are: Davis Heussler, 215.15; Mike Ryan, 200.12; John and Martha Welte, both with 196.91; Jay Levy, 174.02; Ken Meier, 171.07; John Ziemer, 148.58; Linda Burroughsford, 147.19; Christy Kellogg, 138.25; Bert Hargeshimer, 134.87; Liz Clark, 131.13; Mike Silverman, 125.58.
        
         District 5 (Buffalo, Cleveland, Pittsburgh) Ace of Clubs. Ruby Life Masters. I’m third in my division, up from fifth, and 17th overall, up from 28th. We Buffalo players have four of the top five spots, starting with Mike Silverman at 120.13. He's fourth among all District 5 Mini-McKenney players.
         Second is Allen Selling of Erie, Pa.; 87.50 (14th overall); me, 85.32 (17th); David Millward, 81.37 (23rd); Ken Meier, 80.72 (25th); Susan Konig of Bridgeville,Pa., 78.33 (31st); Chantal Whitney of Bratenahl, Ohio, 78.16 (32nd); Patrick Slaven of Mogadore, Ohio, 69.01 (49th); Doris Kirsch of East Springfield, Pa., 66.98 (57th); Fred Yellen, 63.23 (64th); and Allen Beroza, 61.15 (70th).
         District 5 Ace of Clubs overall. Here the leader continues to be Robert Alexander of Mentor, Ohio, with 136.44; followed by Arlene Port of Pittsburgh, 122.97; Stephanie Alexander of Mentor, 120.60; Mike Silverman, 120.13; Patricia Katz of Pittsburgh, 104.66; Richard Katz of North Versailles, Pa., 103.09; Asim Ulke of Monroeville, Pa., 101.99; Jerry Geiger, 99.71; Barbara Belardi of Pittsburgh, 98.28; and Liz Clark, 98.16.
         District 5 Mini-McKenney. Ruby Life Masters.  Sue Lan Ma of Kirtland Hills, Ohio, continues on top by a wide margin. She’s got 507.18. First in the division and first in the district overall. The rest of the Top 10: Craig Biddle of Pittsburgh, 335.34 (seventh overall); William Lindgren of Slippery Rock, Pa., 191.10 (23rd); Ken Meier, 171.07 (33rd); Russell Sheldon of Pittsburgh, 132.81 (51st); Mike Silverman, 125.58 (59th); Charles Ladiha of Vermillion, Ohio, 125.25 (60th); Jean Picone of Pittsburgh, 111.38 (78th); Jayne Stahr of Stow, Ohio, 107.30 (86th); and me! 103.39 (up from 15th, also 94th overall, up from 109th).  
         District 5 Mini-McKenney overall. Sue Lan Ma, 507.18; Reanette Frobouck still second, but only advancing about 15 points to  438.32; Kathleen and Don Sulgrove of Twinsburg, Ohio, 376.62 and 372.06, respectively; with Craig Biddle of Pittsburgh coming between them with 284.66. Then Bernie Greenspan of Beachwood, Ohio, moves up to fifth with 362.90; followed by Philip Goulding of Wexford, Pa., 347.76; Craig Biddle of Pittsburgh, 335.34; Robert and Stephanie Alexander of Mentor, Ohio, 315.27 and 299.43; and Brian Ellis of Beachwood, 263.61.

Nationwide. Ace of Clubs. Ruby Life Masters. Thomas Roberg, Raleigh, N.C., 202.79; Dennis Harris, Corvallis, Ore., 193.43; Gary Waldron, Laguna Beach, Calif., 192.53; Ben Franz, Edgewood, N.M., 191.02; Mohan Bali, Columbia, S.C., 188.84. Mike Silverman is 76th. I just missed the list last month, now I'm 320th. David Millward is tied for 386th. Ken Meier is 394th. The list cuts off at 75.82.
Nationwide. Ace of Clubs overall. Top three are repeaters. Bella Ionis-Sorren, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., 378.82; Bill Kulbersh, Atlanta, 377.21; Kay Schulle, Purchase, N.Y., 332.12; Sheila Gabay of Newton, Mass., 306.15; Irva Neyhart of Corvallis, Ore, 303.71. No Unit 116 players here and only Robert Alexander from District 5. He's 356th. The list cuts off at 126.20.  
Nationwide. Mini-McKenney. Ruby Life Masters. Here it's Gillian Miniter of New York City, 681.05; Sudhakar Divakaruni of Scottsdale, Ariz., 570.12; District 5's Sue Lan Ma, 507.18; Jeff Edelstein of Riverview, Fla., 427.03; and Layne Noble of Ottawa, Ont., 410.41. Unit 116's Ken Meier is 181st. Mike Silverman is 473rd. The list stops at 123.96.

Nationwide. Mini-McKenney overall. Now there are 27 players with 1,000 points or more. Leader is still Chris Compton of Dallas, 1,812.91; then it's Kevin Dwyer of Melbourne, Fla., 1,563.46; Mike Passell of Plano, Texas, 1,557.61; Jeff Meckstroth of Clearwater Beach, Fla., 1,472.94; and Greg Hinze of San Antonio, Texas, 1,436.35. Former Buffalonian Joel Wooldridge is 20th with 1,106.32. Sue Lan Ma is 133rd. Reanette Frobouck is 193rd. Eight District 5 players make the list before the it ends at 301.84. 

Bridge Blog 966: TWTWTW: July 31 - Aug. 5

Monday: Three top boards, four bottom boards, but Art Matthies and I manage to rise above the 50% mark. 51.53%, to be exact. Fourth North-South. 0.93 of a master point is not enough to break the 20-point mark for the month, but it's close.
Tuesday: I neglect to tell club manager Bill Finkelstein that I don't have a partner until 9 a.m. I think he pairs me with novice Ted May as punishment. He also makes us the bumping pair in a 9½ table game. But I stick to a basic game with Ted, don't take too many chances and we bring it home at 53.25%. First in B. 1.33 points. Only August points this week.
Meanwhile, on Board 12, I pick up what may be my worst hand ever. An ultra Yarborough.
Spades: 7-3; Hearts: 8-6-2; Diamonds: 8-6-4-2; Clubs: 8-4-3-2. 
(The odds of picking up a Yarborough turn out to be pretty slim [see the mathematical formula for it here]. One in which the highest card is an 8 must be even more rarified.) 
Ted, on the other hand, has a 19-pointer. He bids the opponents up to 3 Spades, they go down one, it's an average board.
Wednesday: June Feuerstein and I always have a good time, but we don't always have a good game. 43.92%. Almost, but not quite, last.
Thursday: Like my partnership with Art Matthies, my games with Marietta Kalman never quite live up to their potential. This time we come close to 50%, but fall short at 48.38%.
Friday: A change of pace over at the Bridge Centre of Niagara in St. Catharines, Ont., at the start of their civic holiday weekend. Sometimes Selina Volpatti and I are up, sometimes we're down. This time we take the bid on 17 of the 26 hands, but we go down on 13 of them and most of the scores are on the opponents' side of the line. We finish 15th out of 17 North-Souths with 44.59%.
Worst moment: An ill-advised 3 Heart bid where I go down 5 vulnerable and should have gone down 2, according to the hand record. Miraculously, it's not a bottom board. Three other pairs went to 4 Hearts, got doubled. Two of them went down 3, one went down 6. Best moment: Doubling the opponents' 4 Spade bid and seeing them go down 4 vulnerable. That one was a top. We needed more of those. 
In retrospect, a downer kind of week. I'll need better real soon to reach that 15-point-per-month goal.  

Monday, July 31, 2017

Bridge Blog 965: The weather in my head

Monday's partner Art Matthies is distressed with me and I can't blame him. After Buffalo Garden Walk weekend, I'm in a fog. I don't have game. I go down on a 4 Spade contract everybody else makes because I fail to draw the last trump. I go down two, vulnerable, on a 3 Heart contract where I should have been down one.
One hand that Art is particularly distressed about is this one, the second hand of the day. Board 14. Nobody vulnerable. East is dealer.

East (Nancy Kessler)
Spades: J-5; Hearts: Q-8-6-2; Diamonds: A-8-6-4-3; Clubs: K-2.

South (Art)
Spades: A-10-7-4; Hearts: 7-3; Diamonds: 10-9; Clubs: A-Q-J-7-6.

West (John Kirsits)
Spades: Q-9-8-3; Hearts: A-J-9-4; Diamonds: 7-5-2; Clubs: 8-4.

North (moi)
Spades: K-6-2; Hearts: K-10-5; Diamonds: K-Q-J; Clubs: 10-9-5-3.

Amazingly, the bidding starts with three passes. I'm sitting with 12 high card points. We're not vulnerable. Maybe my partner has a long suit. I bid a Club. Nancy goes 1 Diamond. Art offers 1 Spade. I'm ready to do a 1 No Trump-new minor forcing bid, but John raises to 2 Diamonds.
So do I bid 2 NT, perhaps showing more strength than I've got?  No, I support Art's bid by going 2 Spades, knowing full well that we may only have seven Spades between us. Art, revaluing his hand, jumps to 4 Spades. I smell disaster.
And it is. Though the hand record says North-South could make nine tricks in Spades, we make only eight. It's a bottom board. According to the hand record, we also can make 4 Clubs or 3 NT.
This hand haunts Art for several rounds. He concedes that he maybe should have opened. He contends that I never should have raised his Spades with only three of them in my hand. Given that a No Trump bid would have been more successful, he's got a point. Given that he passed, then bid a Spade, that made me think 2 Spades was a safe destination. And so it would have been.
Such are the perils of partnership. Fortunately, Art wasn't in a fog and plays pretty darn well as declarer when I don't screw him up. And we both have a knack for defense. Those three top boards of ours are all defensive. We manage a 51.53% game, fourth North-South, 0.93 of a master point. In this birthday month, that's icing on the cake. 

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Bridge Blog 964: High point

July is my favorite month. And why shouldn’t it be? It’s my birth month. Moreover, here in Buffalo, it’s the height of summer, the best weather anywhere in the U.S., 31 glorious days that make up for all those bleak times at the other end of the calendar.
This July has been particularly glorious. I turned 75. Three-quarters of a century and very glad to have made it this far, a point that is driven home to me with every obituary I write for The Buffalo News.
As a bridge month, it peaked with not one, but two birthday celebrations, in which I bought a free game for the first time for everyone at The Bridge Centre of Niagara in St. Catharines, Ont., on my customary Friday visit July 14, and repeated my annual freebie at the Airport Bridge Club in Cheektowaga on the evening of my actual birthday July 18.
In Canada, they trotted out a terrific marble cake, accented with a layer of custard and hands of cards drawn into the frosting. At the Airport Club, it was a big old potluck dinner, but no cake, which is just as well. By then, I was caked out. Also part of the celebration was another player whose birthday is July 18. Val Derenda. He turned 90. I’d already given him a present back on June 27 when we were paired at the last minute and had a 62.81% game, to the great surprise of both of us (see Blog 960).
St. Catharines had 17½ tables, 70 players, which at $6 a head cost $420 Canadian. I asked the internet what that would be in U.S. funds and it came out to around $330. The Airport Club had 11½ tables, 46 players, which at $7.50 a head cost $345.
Across the table from me at both games was my Canadian partner, Selina Volpatti. In St. Catharines, we turned in a respectable 53.97% game, seventh North-South, fourth in the B strat, fifth in B overall, 0.34 of a master point. At the Airport Club, not so good. 47.53%. At least we weren’t last. 

Bridge Blog 964-A: But how high?

There were peak bridge moments in July, even though they didn’t coincide with the birthday moments.
Best game of the month came the day after my birthday, on July 19. My scheduled partner Barbara Sadkin canceled and I was paired at the last minute with Dr. Brian Block (his daughter, Sandra, is a neurologist – my sleep doctor – and a novelist – I’m in the middle of her third book). Brian has gotten to be a good player, maybe from his winters in Florida, and we put together a 60.71% game, second overall, first in B, 2.39 master points.
I also had a long overdue breakthrough with Art Matthies. We finally lived up to our potential on July 13 by coming in first overall with a 59.63% game. 3.94 points. Since then, we’ve been back in the doldrums – 45.11% on July 17; 45.32% on July 24.
What I’m wondering, though, is if I’ve lived up to my monthly goal of 15 master points, which amounts to a little less than four per week. Let’s break it down:
July 3 with Usha Khurana. 52.94%. 0.19 point.
July 5 with Bill Regan, 55.23%. 1.58 points.
July 6 with Art Matthies, 53.28%. 0.94 point.
July 7 in St. Catharines with Selina Volpatti, 55.13%. 0.84 point.
July 8 with Denise Slattery, 53.17%. 1.97 points.
July 10 with Marilyn Sultz, 53.37%. 0.48 point.
July 12 with Marilyn Sultz, 51.28%. 1.19 points.
July 13 with Art Matthies, 59.63%. 3.94 points.
July 14 in St. Catharines with Selina Volpatti, 53.97%. 0.34 point.
July 18 (day) with Dorothy May, 49.77%. 0.44 point.
July 19 with Brian Block, 60.71%. 2.39 points.
July 22 in St. Catharines with Selina Volpatti, 55.36%. 0.82 point.
July 26 with June Feuerstein, 55.42%. 1.69 points.
July 27 with Marietta Kalman, 53.01%. 1.25 points.
Missed July 28 and July 29 getting ready for the Buffalo Garden Walk and our annual Garden Walk porch pary.
OK, let’s do the math.
Week 1. 5.52.
Week 2. 5.95.
Week 3. 3.65.
Week 4. 2.94.
If my calculations are correct, the early half of the month was my salvation. Total is 18.06. Nothing too special, but perfectly acceptable. And there’s still July 31 to go.Who’s my partner? Art Matthies. Hey, maybe this will be another bounce back for us. 

Friday, July 7, 2017

Bridge Blog 963: 2017 midpoint (completed)

Club points for the year, through June 30: 65.62.
That puts me third in the Ace of Clubs race (club play only) among Ruby Life Masters (1,500 to 2,500 points) in Unit 116 (Buffalo only), well behind the leaders, but with a little breathing room between me and the man in fourth place. Here’s the Top 10:
Mike Silverman, 95.36 (first overall among all players in the unit, as well); David Millward, 81.37 (third overall); me, 65.62 (seventh); Ken Meier, 61.95 (12th); Fred Yellen, 46.95 (26th); Allen Beroza, 45.83 (28th); Gene Finton, 42.02 (31st); Dorothy May, 41.13 (33rd); Chuck Schorr, 23.51 (69th); Vince Pesce, 21.93 (80th).
Among all Unit 116 players in the Ace of Clubs race, the Top 10 looks like this: Mike Silverman, 95.36; Liz Clark, 86.62; David Millward, 81.37; Meg Klamp, 77.85; Jerry Geiger, 67.70; Sharon Benz, 65.78; me, 65.62; John Ziemer, 64.25; Mike Ryan, 64.08; and Judi Marshall, 63.33.

Overall points for the year, as of June 30: 83.69.
That places me fourth in the Mini-McKenney race (all points earned everywhere) among Ruby Life Masters in Unit 116. Here’s how the leaders stack up:
Ken Meier, 152.30 (fourth among all Unit 116 players); Mike Silverman, 100.81 (16th overall); David Millward, 95.63 (20th); me, 83.69 (25th); Fred Yellen, 74.71 (31st); Allen Beroza, 70.68 (33rd); Gene Finton, 49.04 (53rd); Dorothy May, 46.67 (55th); Art Morth, 31.75 (81st); and Bill Rushmore, 29.26 (88th).
And how many Unit 116 Mini-McKenney leaders have hit the century mark at midyear? Turns out there are 16:
Davis Heussler, 166.03; John and Martha Welte, both with 157.24; Ken Meier, 152.30; Mike Ryan, 144.79; Jay Levy, 134.22; Christy Kellogg, 126.92; Bert Hargeshimer, 123.97; John Ziemer, 121.67; Liz Clark, 115.93; Linda Burroughsford, 112.05; David Hemmer, 111.98; Saleh Fetouh, 104.71; Meg Klamp, 101.38; Dian Petrov, 101.12; and Mike Silverman, 100.81.

(to be continued with notations on District 5 and national leaders)


OK, many days later, let’s finish this off while the June results are still up.
District 5 (Buffalo, Cleveland, Pittsburgh) Ace of Clubs. Ruby Life Masters. I’m fifth in my division, 28th overall. We Buffalo players have four of the top six spots, starting with Mike Silverman, 95.36 (seventh overall). Then it’s David Millward, 81.37, 12th overall; Susan Konig of Bridgeville, Pa., 74.48; 17th; Allen Selling of Erie, Pa., 69.36, 21st; me, 65.62 (28th); and Ken Meier, 61.95 (33rd). Then we Buffalonians thin out. There’s only four more in the Top 30.
District 5 Ace of Clubs overall. Here the leader is Robert Alexander of Mentor, Ohio, with 111.50, followed by Arlene Port, Patricia Katz and Richard Katz, all of Pittsburgh (though Richard is officially from North Versailles, Pa.), with 105.04, 100.56 and 99.19. Then it’s Asim Ulke of Monroeville, Pa., 98.48; and Stephanie Alexander of Mentor, Ohio, 95.66; before we get to Mike Silverman’s 95.36, followed by another Buffalonian, Liz Clark with 86.62. Rounding out the Top 10 are Barbara Belardi and good old Reanette Frobouck, both Pittsburghers, with 85.59 and 84.78. Bubbling under are W. (for William) Tordella of Bemus Point, 83.77; and our David Millward, 81.37.
District 5 Mini-McKenney. Ruby Life Masters. No change in leadership here. It’s Sue Lan Ma of Kirtland Hills, Ohio, by a country mile. She’s got 443.82. First in the division and first in the district overall. The rest of the Top 10: Craig Biddle, Pittsburgh, 284.66, sixth overall; William Lindgren, Slippery Rock, Pa., 187.97 (15th); Ken Meier, 152.30 (28th); Charles Ladiha, Vermilion, Ohio, 109.02 (59th); Jean Picone, Pittsburgh, 103.31 (65th); Mike Silverman, 100.81 (71st); David Millward, 95.63 (80th); Jayne Stahr, Stow, Ohio, 91.46 (90th); and Monica Early, Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, 87.99 (97th). I’m 15th, 109th overall in the district.
District 5 Mini-McKenney overall. Sue Lan Ma, 443.82; Reanette Frobouck on the rebound, 423.47; Kathleen and Don Sulgrove of Twinsburg, Ohio, 361.07 and 355.84; Robert and Stephanie Alexander of Mentor, Ohio, 290.33 and 274.49, with Craig Biddle of Pittsburgh coming between them with 284.66. Then it’s three guys from Beachwood, Ohio – Bernie Greenspan, 254.63; Phillip Becker, 240.48; and Brian Ellis, 239.33.
Nationwide. Ace of Clubs. Ruby Life Masters. Thomas Robert, Raleigh, N.C., 171.41; Paul Hassett and Russ Pearly, both of The Villages, Fla, 168.05 and 165.76; Barry Nish, Little Neck, L.I., 164.17; and Robert Shearer of Diberville, Miss., 164.11. Unit 116 and District 5 leader Mike Silverman is 103rd. David Millward is tied for 205th with someone named Lee Maddocks from Modesto, Calif. The list of 500 cuts off at 65.69. I’ve got 65.62.
Nationwide. Ace of Clubs overall. Totally stratospheric. Bella Ionis-Sorren of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., 349.95. Bill Kulbersh of Atlanta, 311.56. Then there are 28 more with 200 or better, led by Kay Schulle of Purchase, N.Y., 279.54; Gail Wells of Dallas, 262.04; and Irva Neyhart of Corvallis, Ore., 252.96. No District 5 players on this list. It cuts off at 107.43.
Nationwide. Mini-McKenney. Ruby Life Masters. District 5’s Sue Lan Ma is third. It’s Gillian Miniter of New York City, 587.13; Sudhakar Divakaruni of Scottsdale, Ariz., 469.63; Sue Lan Ma, 443.82; Layne Noble of Ottawa, Ont., 391.75; and Jeff Edelstein of Riverview, Fla., 387.53. Eight players in all have more than 300 points. Unit 116’s Ken Meier is 164th and he’s our only representative. The list stops at 105.99.
Nationwide Mini-McKenney overall. Seventeen players with more than 1,000 points at midyear, led by Chris Compton of Dallas, 1,492.10; followed by Mike Passell of Plano, Texas, 1,324.96; the legendary Jeff Meckstroth of Clearwater Beach, Fla., 1,296.02; Eddie Wold of Houston, 1,213.76; and Kevin Dwyer of Melbourne, Fla., 1,190.96. Former Buffalonian Joel Wooldridge, now of Astoria, Queens, is 43rd with 621.49. District 5’s Sue Lan Ma is 118th. To earn a spot on this list, you need at least 252.61 points.