Monday, August 31, 2015

Bridge Blog 844: Bright day, dismal night

“I didn’t have you in my book,” partner Celine Murray said more than once Monday at the Airport Bridge Club.
“I didn’t either,” I explained. “(Club manager) Bill Finkelstein told me to call you.”
He also tracked her down after I left a message for her at 9 a.m. and didn’t get a reply. She’d been out. Still, she managed to arrive in time for us to play three of the four boards in our first round and was brilliant pretty much for the rest of the day. We were rewarded for an aggressive game with a 60.65% finish, best I’ve had in a while, and came in first overall, bagging 3.19 master points. A nice month-ending surprise.
Actually, my month had one more installment to go. I paired up with Judy Kaprove to play the newly-inaugurated Monday night game at the Bridge Center of Buffalo, part of my tour of night games in the area before I go back to working nights full time next week.

At any rate, words can hardly describe how miserably Judy and I fared. For instance, against master players Bud Seidenberg and Chris Urbanek, we managed just 1 match point out of a possible 24. With one round to go, we were dead last with 29%, not as pathetic as the all-time 24.48% low Judy and I registered once upon a time, but pretty darn close. A rally in the final three hands (17 out of a possible 24) perked us up slightly, but that could hardly compensate for six absolute bottom boards. Final score: 33.80%. 

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Bridge Blog 843: Not so August

I was back at the tables full time this month, but with one week to go, you’d never know it. The master points didn’t show it. Despite daily triple-point NAP qualifying games at the Airport Bridge Club, my take as of Aug. 24 was an anemic 6.65 points, 3.21 of them red.
Then, as luck is wont to do, it changed, beginning with a 54.49% game with Barbara Sadkin, fourth overall and good for 1.43 points. That was followed by a miraculous 54.50% effort with Celine Murray, third overall for 1.69 points; a 51.60% with Bill Boardman, rewarded with 0.89 of a point; and a 55.95% session with Selina Volpatti, third overall, second in our direction, first in B overall, for 1.97 points. All that almost doubled my point production for the month.

It also made me want to check the ACBL website to see where my career point count stands. 1,869.93 as of the end of July, 64.79 of them this year. With a reasonable amount of luck, I could hit 1,900 before the Buffalo Regional Tournament in October. 

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Bridge Blog 842: The many faces of defeat

The 43.65% in St. Catharines, Ont., on Friday with Selina Volpatti capped a series of sub-par games this week. The difference between this and the 45.88%, 44.64% and 38.14% efforts, however, is that the Bridge Centre of Niagara provides hand records. Not only did we do wrong, we can see where we went wrong and what the 16 other North-South pairs did right.
In all, there were nine boards out of 26 where we could have done better with just a little prudence and smart carding. Take Board 5, where we let Sharon Stevens and Kathy Morrison make four overtricks on a 1 No Trump contract. Or should I say that I let them. Had I possessed the brains to shift to Hearts, Selena could have cashed her Ace and King and we could have kept them two overtricks. That would have meant a 3.5 game point improvement.
Board 6 was even more egregious. Sharon and Kathy should have gone down one trick at 3 Clubs. The hand record says they can take only eight tricks. Not with us. We let them make their contract. Instead of collecting 11.5 game points on that hand, we tied for bottom.
In the very first round of the afternoon, on Board 8, not vulnerable, I went to 4 Diamonds to keep Allen Wirch and Suzanne Arnedt from playing the hand at 3 Spades, which they can make. Unfortunately, we could only make 1 Diamond. Letting them take the contract would have given us 4.5 more game points.
Nor should I have doubled Murrae Egnos and Danny Ioannidis (not Greek – Macedonian!) when Danny bid 5 Diamonds on Board 14. The hand record says it makes only 4 Diamonds, but half the East-Wests made 5. Without the double, we would have improved by 3 game points.
Then on Board 15, where I opened 1 No Trump, instead of passing, Selina should have transferred me to Spades, even though the highest of her five Spades was a 7. Turned out that 2 Spades made an overtrick. Only one other pair played it at 1 No Trump, making it. I didn’t. At Spades, we would have been 7.5 game points better.
Come Board 24, I was at 5 Clubs doubled, not vulnerable. The better player would have gone down two, but not me. Down three. Tie for a bottom board. Down two would have given us 3.5 more game points.
Had we stopped at 3 Diamonds on Board 25, we would have been golden. That’s what it makes. But I jumped to 3 Diamonds (I had five of them) and Selina (who opened Diamonds and had five of them too) went to game. Down two. Absolute bottom board. At 3 Diamonds, we would have collected 4.5 game points.
And lastly, there was Board 26, where we set Denyse Brochu and Raymonde Bennitz by one trick at 3 Clubs. Had we persevered to 3 Diamonds (Selina had six of them to the 10), we would have made that (seven out of 10 pairs who bid Diamonds took nine tricks, as the hand record says they oughta). That would have netted us another 4.5 game points.

Without all of our miscues and missed opportunities, we might have collected 42.5 more game points, bringing us to 224.09 for the session, or 53.87%. Nothing stellar, but that would have gotten us from 14th place up to sixth, good for at least a small fraction of a master point. Oh well, wait’ll next time. 

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Bridge Blog 841: July roundup

The elves at ACBL center have been busy tonight. When I checked in about 10 p.m., the website still was displaying last month’s master point races. Now, shortly after midnight, the new totals are posted. Did my 10 points in July move me up? Let’s take a look.
In the Ace of Clubs race, for points earned in club play, the pecking order in the 1,000 to 2,500 point category for Unit 116 (just Buffalo) seems relatively unchanged. My new total of 45.11 still puts me in 12th place, albeit a little more securely than a month ago. My closest pursuers, Elaine Kurasiewicz (42.43) and Gene Finton (42.05), are no longer right on my heels.  
Leader continues to be John Ziemer, with 114.57 points, followed by Ken Meier, 110.82; Mike Silverman, 108.56; Fred Yellen, 98.37; Martin Pieterse, 93.29; David Millward, 83.84; then a big step down to Allen Beroza, 58.93; Bill Finkelstein, 56.95; Walt Olszewski, 54.12; Barbara Pieterse, 52.27; and Dorothy May, 50.65.
As for the Unit 116 Mini-McKenney race, which counts all points earned everywhere, I’ve moved up a rung, from 11th to tenth place, with an overall total of 64.79 points.
John Ziemer has taken over the lead on this list with 141.01 points, while last month’s frontrunner, Martin Pieterse, has fallen to third with 133.03. Slipping in front of him is Ken Meier with 134.28. The rest of the top 10 includes Fred Yellen, 122.53; Mike Silverman, 122.32; David Millward, 115.74; David Hemmer, 111.92; Barbara Pieterse, 82.72; and Allen Beroza, 66.91.
Overall point leader in all Unit 116 player categories for Ace of Clubs is Jerry Geiger with 146.24, followed by Meg Klamp with 139.45 and then John Ziemer. The overall Mini-McKenney king is Saleh Fetouh with 205.32, followed by Meg Klamp with 196.82 and Jerry Geiger with 174.77. John Ziemer is eighth overall.
Moving on to District 5 (Buffalo, Cleveland, Pittsburgh), the Buffalo players dominate the 1,000 to 2,500 Ace of Clubs point list, holding the top five positions. I sit in 45th place.
Ohio players rule the upper reaches of District 5 Mini-McKenney race. Sue Lan Ma of Kirtland Hills leads with 369.92, followed by Fleur Howard of Gates Mills with 330.74, Peter Merker of Mentor with 220.23 and Charles Ladiha of Vermilion with 173.05. Buffalo’s leaders are sixth, seventh and eighth. I’m 65th on this list.
Nationally, the 1,000 to 2,500 Ace of Clubs roster is topped by Sanford Robbins of Pompano Beach, Fla., with 299.52, followed by Edward Rauch of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., with 280.94. Unit 116 leader John Ziemer is 108th.

The national Mini-McKenney list for 1,000 to 2,500 point players is headed by Peter Gelfand of Corralitos, Calif., with 750.34; Edmund Wu of San Francisco with 647.78; and Aaron Jones of Orange, Calif., with 628.05. No Unit 116 players here. The list cuts off at 143.97. 

Friday, July 31, 2015

Bridge Blog 840: 40% miracles

I wish I could say playing prowess elevated my master point total into double digits for July, but it didn’t. Credit goes instead to a spate of 40% games during the final week of the month.
It began with 47.5% Monday with Celine Murray. Second in the B stratification, 0.69 of a point, half red. Tuesday with Paula Kotowski should have been better than 41.96%, but nevertheless gave us second place in the B strat, fractionally ahead of the two pairs who tied for first in the C strat. Another 0.69 of a point, half red. On Wednesday, Celine and I failed to improve on Monday. Just 44.4%, but second in B again, this time good for 1.28 points, half red.

The 40% curse finally was broken Thursday in a tune-up game with Barbara Libby in preparation for the Eight Is Enough Swiss team match on Aug. 9. Despite my glaring bidding mistakes, we turned in a respectable 53.2%. The reward, however, paled next to the payoffs from those 40% games. Sixth in the A strat, we collected just 0.39 of a point. Not that I'm complaining. It put me over the hurdle. My final total for the month – 10.36. 

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Bridge Blog 839: Halfway Point

Since I only played twice in June before I underwent major surgery, I should have plunged precipitously in the master point races for players with 1,000 to 2,500 points. After all, I only picked up 1.33 points in club play.
But now that the ACBL point tabulations are posted online, I find myself still sitting in 12th place on the Ace of Clubs list for Unit 116 (Buffalo only) with 34.75 points, albeit by a razor thin margin over Gene Finton (34.64) and Elaine Kurasiewicz (34.52).
At the top of the heap, it’s a three-way race, with Fred Yellen (86.29) displacing John Ziemer (86.04), and Mike Silverman (84.24) not far behind.
After them come Martin Pieterse, 75.43; Ken Meier, 72.11; David Millward, 69.48; Walt Olszewski, 48.53; Bill Finkelstein, 48 even; Barbara Pieterse, 47.83; Allen Beroza, 47.34; Dorothy May, 38.33; and then me.
Among all Unit 116 players in all divisions, the leader is Meg Klamp with 110.95, followed by Jerry Geiger with 110.16 and Judi Marshall with 88.52. Fred Yellen is fourth on the overall list. I’m 41st.
Over on the Mini-McKenney list, which includes all points earned in everywhere, my midyear total stands at 54.43, putting me in 11th place.
Martin Pieterse leads this list with 115.17 points, followed by John Ziemer with 112.48. After them are Fred Yellen, 110.45; David Hemmer, 108.90; David Millward, 101.38; Mike Silverman, 98 even; Ken Meier, 95.57; Barbara Pieterse, 78.28; Walt Olszewski, 56.72; Allen Beroza, 55.32; then me.
Overall Unit 116 point leader is Saleh Fetouh with 186.57, followed by Meg Klamp with 168.32; Dan Gerstman, 152.08; Mike Ryan, 142.36; and Jerry Geiger, 138.69. Martin Pieterse is ninth overall. I’m 44th.
Moving on to the races in District 5 (Buffalo, Cleveland, Pittsburgh), Buffalo players occupy the top four places in the 1,000 to 2,500 point Ace of Clubs category and six of the top seven. I’m 53rd on this list.

The Mini-McKenney once again is dominated by Ohio players. Sue Lan Ma of Kirtland Hills continues on top with 329.57, followed by Fleur Howard of Gates Mills with 313.18, Peter Merker of Mentor with 201.98 and Charles Ladiha of Vermilion with 153.80. Unit 116 players hold down the seventh through tenth positions. On this list, I’m 63rd.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Bridge Blog 838: Way back, May back

          Out of action since June 2 because of major surgery (bladder cancer), I’ve been in recovery mode ever since. My energy level has been frustratingly low, so low that I’ve had no ambition to go after the monthly wrap-up for May. And it still is low today on this rainy June 27.
Nevertheless, there’s nothing like a deadline to stir the blood and since it’s almost time for the ACBL to start tabulations for June, May is crying out to be summarized, crying out in a voice not unlike Elvis. What’s that song I hear? It’s now or never.
OK, let’s break it out. In Ace of Clubs competition, which is just club play, my end-of-May total is 33.42, up 7.38 since April. For the Mini-McKenney, it’s 53.10, up 23.32 since April. That includes all points earned everywhere and is beefed up handsomely by my good fortune at the Rochester Regional.
Among Unit 116 (Buffalo only) players in the 1,000-2,500 point division, I once again miss the Top 10 for the Ace of Clubs. I’m still in 12th place.
Returning to the top spot on this list is John Ziemer, with 74.06, followed by Fred Yellen, 69.44; Mike Silverman, 63.69; Martin Pieterese, 62.32; David Millward, 61.53; Ken Meier, 59.02; Walt Olszewski, 47.22; Bill Finkelstein, 42.77; Barbara Pieterese, 39.17; Allen Beroza, 38.98; Dorothy May, 35.86; and then me.
Given my absence from the tables this month, I’m expecting to be overtaken in June by the players breathing on my heels – Gene Finton, 30.96; Elaine Kurasiewicz, 29.92; and Eleanor Whelan, 28.05.
Over on the Mini-McKenney list, where my standing is usually lower than it is on the Ace of Clubs, the opposite is in effect this month. I’m in tenth place.
Here David Hemmer rules the roost with 99.70 points, followed by John Ziemer, 95.68; Martin Pieterese, 92.77; Fred Yellen, 89.36; Ken Meier, 81.30; David Millward, 80.12; Barbara Pieterse, 69.62; Mike Silverman, 65.67; Walt Olszewski, 54.94; then me with 53.10.
Who are Unit 116’s overall champs in all divisions? In Ace of Clubs, it’s Meg Klamp (7,500-10,000) with 90.76 and Jerry Geiger (5,000-7,500) with 81.39. As for Mini McKenney, it’s Saleh Fetouh (2,500-5,000) with 155.18, then Dan Gerstman (over 10,000), 150.76; Meg Klamp, 135.92; Chris Urbanek (7,500-10,000), 123.36; and Mike Ryan (2,500-5,000), 120.07.
The District 5 (Buffalo, Cleveland, Pittsburgh) Ace of Clubs race finds Unit 116 players continuing to dominate the 1,000-2,500 point list. We hold down the top six positions and seven of the first eight. I’m 40th.
Over on the District 5 Mini McKenney, the Ohio players continue to rule. Sue Lan Ma of Kirtland Hills is first with 292.38, followed by Fleur Howard of Gates Mills with 270.54 and Peter Merker of Mentor with 190.03. Fourth is Francis Tseng of Erie, Pa., with 111.80. Fifth is Charles Ladiha of Vermillion, Ohio, with 109.70. David Hemmer is seventh and Buffalo players hold down the next three positions, as well.
Big guns nationally in Ace of Clubs, 1,000-2,500 division, are mostly Floridians, as usual. On top is Sanford Robbins of Miami Lakes, Fla., with 184.08; then Edward Rauch of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., 172.63; Lynn Fort III of Charlotte, N.C., 134.33; David Schapira of Delray Beach, Fla., 132.18; and Edward Maier of Sarasota, Fla., 131.74.
The Unit 116 leader, John Ziemer, is 171st. Fred Yellen is 227th, Mike Silverman is 332nd, Martin Pieterse is tied for 367th. David Millward is 396th. And Ken Meier is 488th.
Meanwhile, the Mini McKenney leaders all are from California – Aaron Jones of Orange, 501.41; Edmund Wu of San Francisco, 500.93; Peter Gelfand of Corralitos, 461.52; John Jefferson of Davis, 382.85; and Cookie Potter (love that name) of Sunset Beach, 360.30. District 5’s Sue Lan Ma is 13th. Unit 116’s David Hemmer doesn’t crack the Top 500.