Friday, May 18, 2018

Bridge Blog 1027: Hitting my marks

     When people ask lately how I’m doing, I have a new answer. Not “hanging in there,” which were my winter watchwords. Instead, I’m “hitting my marks.”
     In this pre-vacation week, there have been a lot of marks to hit. Going to the bank. Stopping the mail. Mowing the lawn. Wrapping up advance work at the office.
     Then there’s the mark I want to hit at the bridge table. Missing one-third of May means I need to step up my game enough to hit my 15-point-per-month goal. Failing that, I’d settle for 66 percent of 15.
     At the start of pre-vacation week, however, the count for May stood just short of 6 points.
     And instead of hitting marks, I was missing them. Sometimes it was a near miss, like that 48.51% on Monday with Judie Bailey and the 48.61% on Wednesday with June Feuerstein. Sometimes it missed by a mile, like Thursday’s 43.29% with Marietta Kalman.
     For the marks I actually did hit, I have to thank Michael Kozower. He was the last-minute replacement Tuesday after my pre-arranged partner, Usha Khurana, called in sick. We managed 51.89%, third in the B strat in our direction, 0.57 of a point.
     Then, since my Canadian partner, Selina Volpatti, was away in Florida, I made another date with him for Friday. This time was better yet – 55.09%, second east-west, first in B overall, 1.84 points. Closing in on double digits now. I have two more chances to hit that mark.
     The biggest mark I hit in Friday’s game involved John and Martha Welte, a formidable pair.
     John doubles me at 3 Diamonds vulnerable. Hand record says it’s supposed to make 3 Diamonds, but it still looks scary when Michael lays down the dummy. It looks even scarier when I discover how the trump suit breaks.

Board 26.
Dealer is east, me. Everybody’s vulnerable. John leads the six of Hearts.

East (me)
Spades: A-8-7; Hearts: 9-5-4; Diamonds: Q-10-9-5-2; Clubs: Q-J.

South (John Welte)
Spades: K-10-9-6; Hearts: 6; Diamonds: K-J-7-4-3; Clubs: 5-3-2.

West (Michael Kozower)
Spades: 5-3-2; Hearts: A-J-10; Diamonds: A-8-6; Clubs: A-K-9-8.

North (Martha Welte)
Spades: Q-J-4; Hearts: K-Q-8-7-3-2; Diamonds: none; Clubs: 10-7-6-5.

     Michael opens the bidding with a Club. Martha passed. I bid a Diamond. Michael bid a Spade. Martha bid 2 Hearts. I pass, but Michael goes 3 Diamonds, whereupon John doubles. I would, too.
     The hand also is good for 3 No Trump, which a few east-wests bid and make. But that’s only a 600 score. Three Diamonds doubled vulnerable is 670. Top board!

Monday, May 14, 2018

Bridge Blog 1026: April takes a shower

The latest monthly ACBL master race tallies have been up for more than a week and I didn't even have to look at them to know that I’d lost my place atop the Ruby Life Masters in the Unit 116 Ace of Clubs derby.
All through April, I had my eye on Allen Beroza, who was fractionally behind me a month ago, and he pulled ahead in the final week. What I didn’t realize is that he wasn’t the only horse on the track.
Unit 116 (Buffalo only), Ace of Clubs (club play only), Ruby Life Masters (players with 1,500 to 2,500 points). In January, I was first. In February, I slipped to fifth. In March, I narrowly climbed back to the top. Now I’m not second, not third, but fourth. Here are the top 10:
         First is David Millward, 79.13, still down in Florida apparently, but making himself felt up North. He’s third among all players in the unit. Martin Pieterse, the dark horse here, is up from fourth place with an 18-point month, 48.03. Allen Beroza retreats to third with 47.41. Then there’s me with 44.64. I’ve also slipped from sixth overall in the unit down to 12th.
         Ken Meier moves up one notch to fifth place with 43.42. Mike Silverman, tied for second with Allen Beroza a month ago, spent a few weeks in Florida and now is sixth with 39.66.
Gene Finton, also still down South, is seventh with 35.90, while Fred Yellen slips from fifth to eighth with 35.76. Rounding out the Top 10 are Dorothy May, 30.76; and Elaine Kurasiewicz, 24.01.      
Unit 116, Ace of Clubs overall. Airport Bridge Club manager Bill Finkelstein arranged for veteran expert players Alan Greer and Nancy Wolstoncroft to renew their long-dormant memberships in the ACBL, predicting that they would lead the pack among club players. He’s right, though it’s still a jolt to see them on top of the list.
Alan Greer has 120.77 points, Nancy Wolstoncroft has 83.47. Then comes Ruby Life Master leader David Millward with his 79.13.
Last month’s leader John Ziemer, now fourth with 74.28, still has a commanding lead over the next bunch of players. Bud Seidenberg, third last month, is fifth with 50.56. Barbara Libby, previously second, is sixth with 50.43.
The next group has shuffled since last month. Seventh is Martin Pieterse, 48.03; then it’s Allen Beroza, 47.41; Gay Simpson, 46.60; Liz Clark, 45.50; Jim Easton, 44.66; me, 44.64; John and Martha Welte, 43.55; Ken Meier, 43.42; Jay Levy, 43.28; Mike Ryan, 42.34; Judi Marshall, 40.97; Mike Silverman, 39.66; and Marilyn Wortzman, 39.10. 
Moving on to the Mini-McKenney races, which count all points earned everywhere, I have 63.10, up 16.82 from March. But I’m no longer second among Ruby Life Masters in Unit 116. I’m fifth.
Continuing way out in front is Davis Heussler, adding another 63+ points to register 164.05. He's also tops among all Unit 116 players. I'm 24th overall, down from 19th. 
Second is the newly-materialized David Millward with 105.47 (seventh overall). Then it's Ken Meier, third with 83.74 (up from 20th to 14th overall, thanks to that trip to the Gatlinburg Regional); Fred Yellen, 63.92 (up from 35th to 23rd); and me with 63.10.
The next fivesome includes Allen Beroza, 50.62 (38th); Martin Pieterse, 49.40 (40th); Elaine Kurasiewicz, 41.29 (43rd); Mike Silverman, 39.66 (44th); and Gene Finton, 35.90 (49th).  
Among all players in Unit 116, the Mini-McKenney leader once again is Davis Heussler with 164.05, far surpassing the man who temporarily displaced him a month ago, Saleh Fetouh, who is second with 131.89.
Alan Greer, who has only club points, is third with 120.77, followed by Linda Burroughsford, 115.11; Jay Levy, 114.10; John Ziemer, 109.74; David Millward, 105.47; and Sandi England, 104.77. The Weltes round out the top 10 with 97.12.
Now let’s widen our horizons.
District 5 (Buffalo, Cleveland, Pittsburgh) Ace of Clubs, Ruby Life Masters. I'm a yo-yo on this list. Third in January, ninth in February, third in March, eighth in April.
David Millward, still down in Florida with 79.13 points, has knocked off the February-March leader, Philip Goulding of Wexford, Pa., who has 57.75. Millward is fourth among all District 5 players. Goulding has fallen from eighth to 12th.
Chantal Whitney of Bratenhahl, Ohio, (interesting municipality, look it up), leaps to third with 53.19 (is she another snowbird accumulating big points in Florida?), bumping Susan Konig of Bridgeville, Pa., to fourth with 50.45. They're 17th and 21st overall in the district.
Then the Unit 116 players start popping in. It's Martin Pieterse, 48.03 (27th overall); Allen Beroza, 47.41 (28th); Joane D'Antonio of Sewickley, Pa., 46.67 (31st); moi, 44.64 (down from 28th to 39th); Ken Meier, 43.42 (43rd) and Garnet Depner of Jeannette, Pa., 41.71 (48th).
Overall Ace of Clubbers in District 5 look like this: Buffalo's Alan Greer rules with 120.77. Reanette Frobouck of Pittsburgh has a good month (35 points) and holds onto second place with 99.60. Then it's two more new arrivals from Buffalo – Nancy Wolstoncroft, third with 83.47, and David Millward fourth with his 79.13. Last month's leader, Richard Katz of North Versailles, Pa., falls to fifth with 76.43.
Those three new additions drop Unit 116’s John Ziemer from third to sixth with 74.28. Then it's Pittsburghers Arlene Port with 71.21 and Barbara Belardi with 68.38. Patricia Katz of Pittsburgh, fourth last month, now is tenth with 64.80, edged out of ninth by D. Pierce of Parkersburg, W. Va., with 64.88.
     Only other Unit 116 player in the Top 20 is Bud Seidenberg, in 20th place with 50.56. Three more – Barbara Libby, Martin Pieterse and Allen Beroza – come in between 21st and 30th.   
     Now for the District 5 Mini-McKenney, Ruby Life Masters. Here the leader continues to be our own David Heussler with 164.05. He's also bounced back from tenth to fifth among all players in the district.
     The other leaders include: Philip Goulding of Wexford, Pa., 140.71 (up from 13th to ninth overall); David Millward, 105.47 (23rd); Craig Biddle of Pittsburgh, 90.72 (37th); Ken Meier, 83.74 (44th); Wayne Heritage of North Olmsted, Ohio, 80.96 (50th); Leroy Hackenberg II of Pittsburgh, 78.05 (55th); Buffalo's Fred Yellen, 63.92 (84th); moi, 63.10 (85th); and Jack Hawthorne of Valencia, Pa., 62.08 (88th).
Mini-McKenney leader among all District 5 players continues to be Sue Lan Ma of Kirtland Hills, Ohio, adding 85 points in April to reach 319.68.
Then it’s Kathleen Sulgrove of Twinsburg, Ohio, with 195.02; Reanette Frobouck of Pittsburgh, 179.15; Bernie Greenspan of Beachwood, Ohio, 166.17; and Unit 116's Davis Heussler, 164.05.
After that, it's Don Sulgrove of Twinsburg, Ohio, 163.29; Robert Alexander of Mentor, Ohio, 142.98; William Lindgren of Slippery Rock, Pa., 142.49; Philip Goulding of Wexford, Pa., 140.71; and Buffalo's Saleh Fetouh, 131.89. In all, 27 players are in triple digits.
Ace of Clubs, Ruby Life Masters, nationwide.
Big month for Anna Maxcine Thacker of Palm Coast, Fla. She collected 50 and a fraction points to jump from sixth to first place with 126.18. Paul Hassett of The Villages, Fla., moves up from third to second with 115.27, while last month's leader, Russ Pearly, also The Villages, sits third with 112.44.
         Brian Breckenridge of Corvallis, Ore., tenth a month ago, is fourth with 105.53. Rounding out the top five and the last of the centarians is Michael Rosen of Freehold, N.J., down three places with 100.54.
After that, it's Richard Seidman of Orlando, Fla., a new entry to the top ten with 98.79; Mason Barge of Atlanta, 97.64; Michael Fishman of Great Neck, N.Y., 97.03; Bruce Ladin of Harwood Heights, Ill., with 96.83; and Michael Boreson of Kalispell, Mont., with 95.49.
Unit 116 leader David Millward is 32nd. Other local notables include Martin Pieterse, 320th; Allen Beroza, 335th; myself, moving up from a tie for 444th to 411th. Last Buffalo player is Ken Meier, 455th. The list cuts off at 42.39.
Ace of Clubs, all players, nationwide. Bill Kulbersh of Atlanta has a 60-point month to remain far ahead of the field with 260.43. Also enjoying a 60-point month is Bella Ionis-Sorren of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., now second with 183.32. A month ago she was seventh. She bumped Robert Epstein of Atlanta back to third with 177.45.
         Then come Irva Neyhart of Corvallis, Ore., 166.51; Roberta Trayman of Naples, Fla., 163.78; En Xie of St. Louis, 162.77; Diane Hurt and Edgar Hurt Jr., both of Laguna Woods, Calif., both with 158.97; James Rhoden of St. Augustine, Fla., 155.91; and Michael Dalton of Palm Coast, Fla., 153.47.
         Unit 116’s Alan Greer is 44th (and here in mid-May, he has 20+ more points this month). Nancy Wolstoncroft is 314th. David Millward is 403rd. And our lone representative a month ago, John Ziemer, who was in 336th place, now is a fraction below the cutoff point of 74.58 for this list of 500 names.
         Onward to Mini-McKenney, Ruby Life Masters, nationwide.
         Still way out in front is Robert L. McClendon of Ponte Vedra, Fla., adding 96 more points to reach 666.17. Mary Ose of Sacramento, Calif, who had an 81-point month, is a little more secure in second place this time.
Alex Khrakovsky of Columbus, Ohio, has an 85-point month and leapfrogs to third place with 297.65. Still sitting fourth is someone we’ve played against, Joel Wooldridge’s sometimes partner Junko Hemus of Windermere, Fla., who added only 35 points in reaching 258.33.
Then it’s Mason Barge of Atlanta, 244.42; Kevin Castner of Kentfield, Calif., 231.18; Sherry Spalding Fardie of Port Orange, Fla., 229.55; Sabrina Miles of Mansfield, Mass., 217.68; Ken Brinkman of Highland Village, Texas, 215.35; and Russ Pearly of The Villages, Fla., 214.44.
Unit 116’s Davis Heussler, who was 51st last month, bounces back to 30th with his 164.05. David Millward is 154th. Ken Meier is 318th. The list ends at 70.39. My 63.10 doesn't cut it.
     And now for the really heavy hitters, the Mini-McKenney leaders overall.
     This time there are four players in four figures. Joe Grue of New York City sits on top for the third straight month with 1,270.90. Mark Itabashi of Murrieta, Calif., continues second with 1,104.19.
Brad Moss of Denver pushes up from fifth to third with 1,019.81 and Kevin Dwyer of Melbourne, Fla., continues fourth with 1,005.08.
Then it's Shan Huang, also from Melbourne, with 901.13; January leader Geoff Hampson of Las Vegas, dropping from third to sixth with 894.62; John Hurd of New York City, 796.05; Alex Hudson of Raleigh, N.C., 709.12; Justin Lall of Charlotte, N.C., 671.15; and Robert L. McClendon of Ponte Vedra, Fla., 666.17.
     Familiar names: Former Buffalonian Joel Wooldridge slips from 30th to 41st with 459.34; District 5 leader Sue Lan Ma is up from 131st to 109th with her 319.68. No Unit 116 people here. This list cuts off at 170.62.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Bridge Blog 1025: Crawling from the wreckage

     Allen Beroza poured it on in the last week in April, while I crashed and burned. We'd been neck and neck all month. The upshot – he finished with 15.06 points at the Airport Bridge Club, well ahead of my 11.90. 
     The larger upshot – he'll displace me on top of the Unit 116 Ruby Life Masters Ace of Clubs list when the ACBL updates the master point races in a few days.
     Too bad I couldn't come up with a few sessions like I had with Nadine Stein on the first day of the new month – a satisfying 55.09%, first in the B strat North-South, good for 0.97. 
     A good start, but I'll need plenty more of these to make up for the days I'll miss on vacation later in May.

Bridge Blog 1025-A: Mayday! Mayday!

     Some hands are just plain ridiculous. They should work, but they don't. Or they shouldn't work, but they come through. Board 20 at the Airport Bridge Club on Tuesday, May 1, was one of the latter.
     West is dealer. All are vulnerable.

West (Linda Zittel)
Spades: 10-8; Hearts: A-9-7-6-3; Diamonds: K-Q-J-7; Clubs: J-10.

North (me)
Spades: A-K-9-6-4; Hearts: 5-4; Diamonds: 10-9-8-6-4; Clubs: 5.

East (Jan Hasselback)
Spades: Q-7; Hearts: K-Q-2; Diamonds: A-5-3-2; Clubs: K-Q-4-2.

South (Nadine Stein)
Spades: J-5-3-2; Hearts: J-10-8; Diamonds: None; Clubs: A-9-8-7-6-3.

     As I dimly recall the bidding, Jan opens 1 No Trump, Linda bids 2 Diamonds to transfer to Hearts. Having passed originally, I jump in at 2 Spades. Jan, undeterred, bids 3 Hearts. Nadine goes to 3 Spades. When Linda plops down the 4 Hearts card, I figure they'll make it and just maybe we can take eight tricks in Spades. 4 Spades! Linda makes what feels like a perfectly reasonable double. I brace myself for a noble sacrifice.
    Jan leads the King of Hearts and they take two Heart tricks. I ruff the third Heart in the dummy. Then the great cross-ruff begins. Linda overruffs me on the third Club lead, but that's their last trick. Plus 790.
     According to the hand record, we should make only 3 Spades, while they're good for 3 Diamonds or 1 No Trump. For some reason, it doesn't display a result for East-West in Hearts, although five of the six East-Wests who win the auction wind up at 4 Hearts. They have 27 High Card Points between them, but they don't make it. Two are down one, two are down two, one is down three. The most successful East-West plays it at 3 No Trump and makes an overtrick.
     Then there are those three North-Souths who are allowed to play it in Spades. One stops at 2 Spades and somehow makes three overtricks. Then there's the two of us at 4 Spades, both doubled, both taking 10 tricks. Go figure!

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Bridge Blog 1024: The Race Is On

         First, there's the race against the calendar. Can I get to Gold Life Master (2,500 points) before New Year's Eve? According to MyACBL, my career total now stands at 2,372.52, which includes points from the Buffalo Spring Sectional. If I can do a little better than my 15-point-per-month goal, I might even get there by Thanksgiving.
         The second is a race against Allen Beroza and Mike Silverman – the two players who are nipping at my heels in the Ace of Clubs race (club points only) among Unit 116 Ruby Life Masters. They're tied for second place. At the end of March they were only about a third of a point behind me.
         So far this month, I'm still in the lead, at least temporarily. At the Airport Bridge Club, my point count is 8.21. Allen has 7.49, too close for comfort. And although Mike is on vacation at the moment, his vacations in previous years haven't kept him from becoming the local Ruby Life Master Ace of Clubs champ.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Bridge Blog 1023: Buffalo Spring Sectional Recap

         The sleet and freezing rain didn't ice the tournament. Director Brian Meyer, who announced Saturday that Swiss teams would play on Sunday regardless of the weather, was pleased to note that there actually were more tables at Swiss than last year. There were 160 tables for the three days, 25 tables on Sunday. Last year? 133 and 18. A lot more Rochester people. Torontonians too.
         Food trucks once again dished out lunch between sessions Friday and Saturday and they were OK, I guess. I left at the break Friday and didn't get to try the soup truck's wares. Saturday brought the truck from that Buffalo icon, Chef's. They were efficient. I had the chicken parm with extra mushrooms. As for snack table items, I've come to expect bagels, but they only showed up on Sunday. Didn't seem to be Panera's bagels this time, either.
         Temperature was an issue once again in the Main-Transit Fire Hall social hall. Mostly it was too cold. Women wore their jackets. There were many requests to keep the doors closed.
         In all, 159 players earned 620.22 points. Last April it was 151 players earning 509.30 points. The difference could be seen in the totals for the leaders. Top player in 2017, Chris Urbanek, earned 18.71. This year's champ, Davis Heussler, won 27.97.
         How'd he do it? He started on Friday, winning the 22-table two-session pairs with Fred Yellen for 12.72 of those points. He followed that up by winning the two-session pairs on Saturday with David Colligan, 23 tables this time, 13.06 points. Sunday, playing with Linda Burroughsford in a team with John and Martha Welte, he was fourth in the B strat, gathering another 2.19 points.
         Other big winners: Bud Seidenberg, 23.40; Fred Yellen, 21.83; Saleh Fetouh, 17.04; David Colligan, 15.97; Judy Padgug, 14.21; Kathy Pollock, 11.92; Jay Costello, 11.21; and Chris Urbanek, 10.10.
         Me? Way down in 38th place with 4.92 points. Last year? 42nd with 3.51.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Bridge Blog 1022-A: Buffalo Spring Sectional Day 1

Friday the 13th. How bad could it be?
Well, first bad, I’m relegated to playing in the side game because I’ll have to pick up my other half from the airport after the morning session ends at 2 p.m. or so.
Not so bad, though. It fulfills the Art Matthies strategy. Play against the less experienced pairs in the single-session side game and have a better chance of winning than you will in the big double-session open pairs game.
But wait, bad again. They have a half table in the side game and a half table the big game. Director Brian Meyer comes to me and Denise Slattery and asks if we’d play the big game. We acquiesce. We’re up against the big guys.
But not so bad. We have what seems like a pretty decent round. Seems even more decent when the electronic scoring devices show us in fourth place with 53% after we finish the last hand.
The final tally is better yet. 56.64%. First in the B strat, third overall, 2.01 master points. I feel lucky enough not to fret about not playing the afternoon game.