Sunday, July 20, 2014

Bridge Blog 778: Picnic

Everybody at the Unit 116 picnic Sunday was saying this is their favorite unit event. How come? It has to be the food. Wiedner’s chicken. Paul Zittel’s corn salsa. And Zittle’s corn on the cob, fresh picked that morning. It doesn’t get any better than that.

So credit the food with bringing a huge crowd to the Grandstand Casino Room under the race track grandstand at the Erie County Fairgrounds in Hamburg. They were running races outside during the afternoon. 26 tables in the morning session. 24 in the afternoon. Pretty much the same food as last year. Bigger crowd.
What made it notable, however, was the debut of the unit’s new electronic scoring devices. Identical to the ones I’ve come to know and admire at the Bridge Centre of Niagara in St. Catharines. The only difference is that the folks in St. Catharines have worked with it enough to make it run smoothly. Setting up the devices created delays at the start of the morning and afternoon sessions, which stretched the day out well past 7 p.m. Good thing I took the night off from work. My plans for twilight gardening, however, were cut pretty short.
I’m not sure if the electronic devices also were responsible for the delays in posting scores, but it seemed to take longer. In the morning session, scores were posted and then revised to combine the two sections of players. Partner Myra Razik and I finished with 52.62%, fourth in A and third in B for 0.77 of a master point, then got revised to 52.42% and 0.44 of a master point. In the afternoon session, we nearly made up for that subtraction. Our 50.96% game placed us eighth in the B strat overall for 0.28 of a master point. We were low enough so that we don’t show up in the results posted on the Unit 116 website.
          Unexpected big winners, near as I can tell, are Carl and Jan Hasselback, who were first in B and C in the morning for 4.21 points and first in C in the afternoon for 1.70 points. Only team to outdistance them was Jay Levy and Bud Seidenberg, second overall in the morning (3.83 points) and second overall in the afternoon (2.34 points).

Monday, July 14, 2014

Bridge Blog 777: Everybody wins


          Although the e-mail from the Airport Bridge Club announced it as Dale Anderson’s Totally Unorganized Birthday Party, it turned out to be just unorganized enough.
Though it wasn’t orchestrated, the potluck food was fine – lovely pasta and noodle salads, meatballs, an asparagus quiche that I bought at the Lexington Co-op, some fried chicken, even some deli stuff that my partner Selina Volpatti had enough to time to pick up en route from her 4 p.m. meeting in Hamilton, Ont. No birthday cake, but then again, it wasn’t really my birthday. That won’t come until Friday.
Just like when I turned 70 and 71, I treated everyone to a free game. But this time with a bonus. A cash jackpot. Any pair who beat me and Selina would share a $72 kitty. And any pair who beat us by more than 5% would share another $72. To make it even more of a special occasion, club manager Bill Finkelstein broke out some brand new cards.
As for the game itself, with nine full tables, I had high hopes after finishing second overall in the daytime game. But Selina and I struggled sitting North-South at Table 1. We were getting set on contracts where other pairs were making two and three overtricks. It wasn’t until the third round that we even got a number on our side of the scoring sheet.
I have a tradition of doing badly at my birthday game, but this was way beyond badly. It may have been the worst game Selina and I have ever had – 34.29%. We were dead last by a long shot. More than 5%. Everybody got a piece of the $144 jackpot – $4.23.
For good measure, it was the first time EMTs have been called to my birthday game. Midway through, at the other end of the room, Alan Greer apparently had some diabetic dizziness and it took 10 minutes or so before the Rural Metro paramedics straightened him out. And what did he do? Like any passionate bridge player, he picked up his cards and started right in playing again.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Bridge Blog 776: Not quite yet

I know, I know, I'm way, way neglectful of keeping up this blog. Blame my desperate need to bring my yard up to full flower for the annual Buffalo Garden Walk. Blame my editors at The Buffalo News for not giving me enough leisure at night. Blame my own dreary and depressing times at the tables at the end of June. At any rate, there are things to say about The Longest Day, the midyear point standings and the suddenly high body count among bridge players. Maybe this weekend.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Bridge Blog 775: STaC fade-out finale

STaC Week peaked for me on Wednesday with that 61.04% game with Celine Murray. Sure, Dianne Bloom and I picked up 0.74 of a point with a 52.50% game Thursday morning and I added another 0.93 with Selina Volpatti with a 51.25% Friday afternoon.
My hopes were high for Saturday’s games with Marietta Kalman, with whom I notched my highest-ever score, 74.40%, on April 19 (see Blog 757). But some early mistakes foretold that we were not destined for greatness or much of anything else – 43.86% in the morning, 39.86% in the afternoon.
Playing the Swiss teams game on Sunday smacked of desperation for points, since in Swiss you can get points even if you don’t win overall. And so it was and so we did. Expecting to play with Nancy Littenberg, who didn’t show up, I was paired instead with Wednesday partner Celine Murray, who was not at her best. Mike Kisiel and Rich Cramer-Benjamin rounded out our team. In the four-team matches, we won one round in the morning, one round in the afternoon, for a grand total of 0.49 of a point.
The biggest beneficiary Sunday turned out to be John Ziemer, whose team won the morning and afternoon sessions. It gave him just enough points to win first place in the district for the STaC.
John finished with 27.23 points, outpacing Gerrie Littman of Pittsburgh, who had 24.38. Liz Clark was third with 23.49. Jerry Geiger, who was John’s Sunday partner, was sixth with 19.09. After that, Harry Cheung was 14th with 13.42, Martin Pieterse was 20th with 12.39 and I was 22nd with 11.60. In the 2013 Summer STaC, I earned 11.61.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Bridge Blog 774: The wow factor

Wow! That 61.01% finish Wednesday morning paid off in the Sectional Tournament at the Clubs (STaC). Worth 1.5 points at the club level, it tied Celine Murray and me for first in the B strat on the District 5 level, which bumped the reward up to 4.19 silver points. Point count for the first 11 days in June – a whopping 16.09.
There’s another wow in the District 5 tally, where I’m sitting eighth out of 711 players in the STaC totals with 9.44 silver points as of Wednesday. Top bananas are our own John Ziemer with 15.45 and Liz Clark with 13.59, followed by four Pittsburgh people.
All this comes from victories in the morning sessions at the Airport Bridge Club, but not in the afternoons, a pattern that continued Thursday. After several Thursdays of terrible games, the lovely Dianne Bloom and I turned our luck around in the morning session with a 52.50% game, second in the B strat for 0.74 of a silver point. Not likely to register at the district level, but worth noting for the doubled and redoubled 4 Spade contract that I made with an overtrick for a plus 1,080. Wow again! In the afternoon, however, no wow. Our fortunes fell to 43.37%, 11th out of 13 pairs.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Bridge Blog 773: Bonus checks

It’s true that it takes a least a 60% game to earn district-wide bonus points in the Sectional Tournament at the Clubs (STaC), but sometimes there’s a reward for the high 50s, too.
That’s happened twice so far this week. On Monday morning, my 59.07% with Marilyn Sultz was worth 1.42 silver points at the club level, but now that the District 5 tallies are up, we’re fifth in the district-wide B stratification. That 1.42 points has turned into 2.58.
Tuesday morning’s 58.60%  game with Eva Schmidt, which gave us 0.99 of a point at the club level, got an even bigger bump from District 5. We were fourth in the B strat, getting 2.67 points. Readjusted point count for the first 10 days of June – 11.93.
Something extra is sure to come from that wonderful Wednesday morning game with Celine Murray, where we tied for first overall with 61.03%. Already it’s good for 1.5 silver point at the club. But for the third day in a row, the hot morning session gave way to a lackluster afternoon – 45.46% – not helped by the fact that my partner reneged not just once, but twice. Ouch!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Bridge Blog 772: Half a loaf

How high are my hopes for major master points during the District 5 STaC (Sectional Tournament at the Clubs) this week? Pretty darn high. Two sessions daily. Two chances for extra points at the club and major bonus points at the district level. To get those bonus points, however, you need to score better than 60 percent. Sometimes a lot better.
So I was gratified when partner Marilyn Sultz and I finished first in our direction in Monday morning’s STaC game at the Airport Bridge Club. It earned us 1.42 silver points. But we had only 59.07%, which isn’t usually enough for district bonuses. Let’s check the website. Shucks, still preliminary results, but 10 pairs are listed and we aren’t among them.
I also was gratified when partner Eva Schmidt and I finished second North-South in the B strat in the Tuesday morning game at the Airport Club. Our 58.60% got us 0.99 of a silver point, but isn’t going win anything more.
As for the afternoon games, they found us among the cellar dwellers. Marilyn Sultz and I registered 38.33%, dead last. Eva Schmidt and I did a little better Tuesday afternoon, 45.50%, fourth out of six pairs.