Monday, October 6, 2014

Bridge Blog 799: Small September harvest

My prolonged slump after the Buffalo Fall Sectional Tournament has stunted my showing in the monthly master point standings, which the ACBL just posted for September. My haul for the month was just 6.44 club points and 2.90 tournament points. 9.34. Not even double digits.
In the Ace of Clubs (club play only) race for Unit 116 (Buffalo), I’m lodged in sixth place in the 1,000 to 2,500 point division with 82.72 for the year, with more than six points separating me from the players on either side.
John Ziemer continues on top with 148.47. Ken Meier is a distant second with 115.07. Then come Mike Silverman, 99.42; Fred Yellen, 92.99; Chuck Schorr, 89.54; myself, 82.72; Vince Pesce, 70.22; Barbara Pieterse, 68.21; Gene Finton, 65.13; and Dorothy May, 49.50. In the whole unit, only Jerry Geiger has more club points than John Ziemer – 165.57 – and he’s in the 5,000 to 7,500 point division.
In the Unit 116 Mini-McKenney race, which counts all the points earned, John Ziemer also is on top of the 1,000 to 2,500 point division. His full total is 212.17. Ken Meier is second with 132.25, followed by Fred Yellen, 130.69; David Hemmer, 124.08; Mike Silverman, 109.03; myself, 107.20; Chongmin Zhang, 98.51; Chuck Schorr, 91.81; Barbara Pieterse, 83.92; and Gene Finton, 83.64.
Biggest overall point winner in the Unit is Saleh Fetouh with 217.86. Then comes Jerry Geiger with 214.80. Nobody else but John Ziemer is over 200.
Onward to the District 5 standings, which include Buffalo, Cleveland and Pittsburgh. Here Unit 116 routinely dominates whatever division I'm in and we’ve done it once again. We hold down the top six places, with me barely edging out Peggy Shivetts of Greensburg, Pa., who has 81.60. After me, only Vince Pesce makes this Top 25 list. He’s 19th. It cuts off at 68.33 points, just ahead of Barbara Pieterse.
Over on the District-wide Mini-McKenney, we’re not so lucky. Our John Ziemer is fourth, trailing three Ohio players by more than 100 points. Michael Craeger of Brecksville continues as leader with 359.39, followed by Fleur Howard of Gates Mills, 321.34; and Peter Merker of Mentor, 312.94.
We’re further represented by Ken Meier, 10th; Fred Yellen, 11th; David Hemmer, 13th; Mike Silverman, 17th; and me in 19th place. The list cuts off at 98.90 points.
Nationwide? Don’t know. Can’t bring it up on the ACBL website tonight.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Bridge Blog 798: Nada

I’ve been in a slump of monumental proportions ever since the sectional tournament two weekends ago. Indeed, I have not collected any fragment of a master point since Saturday, Sept. 20. I keep expecting to snap out of it, but all I’ve done is add to my succession of sorry finishes.
This past week included a 42.26% with Usha Khurana last Monday and a 38.09% today (barely escaping last place), a 44.26% with Marietta Kalman last Tuesday (after which she suggested I cut down on overbidding), a 38.19% with Celine Murray on Wednesday (cut down, but it didn’t help), a 46.73% with Dianne Bloom on Thursday, and a 43.81% on Saturday with Alice Bragg (paired up at the last minute).
Closest I came to success was Friday in St. Catharines, Ont., with Selina Volpatti in an 18-table game where we were 2½ match points away from placing fourth in the B strat. All we had to do to improve upon our 48.87% was avoid those three train-wreck hands – two minus 1,100s and a minus 1,700 (on the very first board of the day, a very ill-advised 5 Spade sacrifice, down seven doubled) – and that would have done it.

Bridge Blog 797: High water

Individual game results from the Buffalo Fall Sectional Tournament back on Sept. 12 to 14 were posted right away, but not the tabulation of all the master points. The ACBL, at its new headquarters in northern Mississippi, got flooded out in the big rains early that weekend. Time to move back to higher ground in Memphis, folks.
At any rate, the ACBL finally reopened last week and added up all those points and now, nearly a week later, I’ve finally found a moment to acknowledge them.
Big winner was somebody who usually isn’t the big winner – Kathy Pollock – who played as good as she looked that weekend. She brought home 15.67 points, 8.75 of them as part of the winning Swiss team on Sunday. She also was third overall in the two-session game on Friday.
Second was a guy who’s always in the running, Bud Seidenberg, with 12.79. He earned 6.56 of them as part of the second-place Swiss team on Sunday. Third and fourth were two of Kathy Pollock’s Swiss teammates, Fred Yellen and Chongmin Zhang, with 12.61 and 11.75, respectively.
Fifth and sixth were two perennial winners, Chris Urbanek with 10.62, and Saleh Fetouh, with 10.58. They were on Bud Seidenberg’s Swiss team.
Me? I was 74th, right behind a six-way tie for 68th, with 2.90.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Bridge Blog 796: The "Moonraker" hand


First opponents in St. Catharines, Ont., on Friday included a player I hadn’t seen before who declined to enter his number into the Bridgemate gizmo. He said his name was Amir (Amir Farsoud, the results on the club website tell us) and that he was Iranian. Not Persian?, I inquired. No, he said, that’s a name given by the British and smacks of colonialism.
At any rate, Amir and his partner, Norm St. Denis, were adventurous convention hounds and he made it clear that he knew a lot about bridge. His main point was that point count means nothing and, as an example, he cited the “Moonraker” hand (actually the Duke of Cumberland hand), an outrageously distributional deal which author Ian Fleming incorporated into the James Bond novel of that name. The winning hand at 7 Clubs redoubled has only eight high card points. Google it and see. (Bond opened 7 Clubs, but now that I look at the hand, an astute opponent, holding 31 high card points, could make 7 Hearts or 7 Spades if his partner is sharp enough to bid one of the major suits over his double.)

Bridge Blog 795: Bottoms 'r us


What a week in the doldrums this has been. I’ve been brain dead, epitomized by my revoke in the first hand I played with Dianne Bloom on Thursday. It’s a sad succession, hitting the depths with 29.95% on Tuesday with Flo Boyd, who was a last-minute substitute for the last-minute cancellation by Barbara Sadkin. Even in St. Catharines today (Friday), hopes faded with a minus 800 and a minus 1,100, both misguided sacrifices inspired by favorable vulnerability.
The minus 1,100 was 5 Diamonds doubled, bid when I believed that the opponents could make 4 Hearts vulnerable, as indeed they can. Unfortunately, we North-Souths can take only six tricks in Diamonds, not eight. Allowing them to make 4 Hearts would have given us 5.5 more game points.
The minus 800 was 5 Hearts doubled on a hand where East-West can make 4 Spades vulnerable. According to the hand records, we can take only seven tricks, which we did. Allowing them to make 4 Spades would have given us an extra 4.5 game points. An extra 10 game points, however, would have only boosted from 13th place to 12th. Clearly, our distress was more widespread than these two hands. Our big problem: An abundance of 30% and 40% boards.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Bridge Blog 794: Buffalo Fall Sectional Finale

“Well, at least the Bills won,” teammate Michael Kozower said when the Swiss teams game finally ended Sunday afternoon. The past couple hours of bridge had seemed not only endless, but also fruitless. We managed to win only one round and tied another for a grand total of 0.39 of a silver point.
Since the game finished later than I expected, I bolted for work – I would be more than an hour late – and didn’t stick around to see if we were last. In the parking lot, I discovered that we weren’t. Somebody else reported that they’d won only one round. “At least the Bills won,” he said.

Bridge Blog 794-A: Random Notes

As of Monday night, the ACBL has yet to post a list of the master point winners from the tournament (could it be because ACBL headquarters is still closed because of last week’s heavy weather?), so a roundup of point winners will have to wait.
        After Friday morning’s big turnout, attendance settled down to normal levels. Friday afternoon had 30.5 tables. Saturday morning had 28. Saturday afternoon had 22. And there were 25 Swiss teams on Sunday.
        Having been asked by Pat Lakeman to bring cookies, I ordered 12 dozen from my neighborhood custom cookie purveyor, Barbara Keating of Sweet Temptations du Jour, and they were a hit. Betty Metz put half of them out on a tray at the start of Saturday afternoon’s game and they disappeared in a flash. In the middle of the session, she filled up a second tray, which met the same fate.
        Other hospitality was a mixed bag. Panera’s bagels Friday and Sunday mornings, plus some of Paula Kotowski’s blueberry bread on Saturday, that was good. Tim Hortons Tim Bits, not so good. Paul Zittel brought in fresh peppers, which he gave as prizes to winners, plus veggie platters which included a cross between cauliflower and broccoli that split the difference between their two flavors. It wasn’t until Sunday that he brought some of his fabulous corn salsa.
        I’ve rarely seen blood in a men’s room except in gangster movies, which made for an unsettling sight in one of the toilet stalls on Saturday – a raised toilet seat heavily splattered in red. Whoever it was should get that checked out, the janitor and I agreed as he scoured it up late in the day. Sunday someone mentioned that one of the players who had been there Friday and Saturday was in the hospital. Bleeding ulcer.