Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Bridge Blog 901: 50-50

At last! I think I might have advanced to a better plateau of mediocrity. Instead of peeking up occasionally from the low 40% range, lately my games have been hovering around 50%. Here’s August so far:
Aug. 1. 49.77% with Barbara Sadkin. 0.44 of a point.
Aug. 2. 48.84% with Marilyn Sultz.
Aug. 3. 47.08% with Pawan Matta. First in the B strat. 2.25 points.
Aug. 4. 50.49% with Usha Khurana.
Aug. 5 morning. 52.17% with Bill Boardman. 0.55 of a point.
Aug. 5 afternoon. 47.18% with Art Matthies.
Aug. 6. 53.33% with Elsie Rogers. Second in B. 1.48 point.
Aug. 8. 51.28% with Tish Schiffman.
Aug. 9. 50.12% with Barbara Sadkin.
Aug. 10. 56.85% with June Feuerstein. 0.61 of a point.
Aug. 11. 47.02% with Elsie Rogers.
Aug. 12. 48.76% with Selina Volpatti in St. Catharines, Ont.
Aug. 15. 50.74% with Art Matthies. 1.17 point.

Aug. 16. An even 45% with Eva Schmidt. 

Bridge Blog 901-A: Fault Lines

Shoulda done better than 48.76% Friday in St. Catharines, Ont., with Selina Volpatti. Where did we go wrong?
Well, here we’re in the A strat. Top seven pairs win master points. To finish seventh, we need better than 53.05%, another 20 match points. On my score sheet, I marked only two hands where we underachieved, but clearly there’s more than that.
Board 4. Bid and made 2 Spades, but shouldn’t I get an overtrick? Not so, say the hand records. Should be down one, despite the eight-card fit. Got 7 match points. A couple Norths make 3 Spades, 11.5 match points. Best outcome, however, is if East-West overcalls 3 Diamonds, down two vulnerable, but they don’t.
Board 14. Selina’s a trick short on a 2 Heart contract. Hand record says it makes 2 Hearts, but nobody does. They all go down. We get 10 match points. Our shortcomings are elsewhere, like those three bottom or near-bottom boards.  
Like Board 17 against two top players, Brian Macartney and George Morrissey. In a competitive auction, Selina winds up playing 4 Spades, down two, only 0.5 of a match point. Hand record says down one. It’s only a seven-card fit. Best (and most common) bid is 3 Diamonds. Nine-card fit, taking 11 tricks, for 13.5 match points. Should I have persevered with my five-card Diamond suit despite only 7 high card points? Or should partner bid 3 Diamonds? Or did Brian and George go 3 Hearts before she could bid 3 Diamonds and I supported Spades? Yes, that was it. Doubling 3 Hearts (it makes only 1 Heart) would be a top board. Undoubled it’s worth 6 match points. They bamboozled us in the bidding.
Board 24. Our only absolute bottom – down four on my impulsive bid of 4 Clubs, doubled (not vulnerable, thankfully) by Ed Hills and George Vaccaro, the East-West winners. Hand record says down three. Why didn’t I let them play it at 3 Diamonds? They make it, but that’s 11 match points for us. Even if they get an overtrick, as several do, we’d get 7 match points.
Board 25. Against Pat Reading and Malcolm Ross, I double Malcolm at 5 Spades vulnerable and he nails it. Hand record says he ought to. Hey, I have Ace-King of Diamonds and the Ace of Hearts (partner has the King). Down two, right? But they have singletons in each of the red suits and our black cards are worthless. The only North-South that does worse takes the bid at 5 Hearts doubled vulnerable. Down five. As it turns out, five of the 16 East-Wests who play it in Spades take only 10 tricks and one of them takes only nine. Not doubling? Not much better – just 3.5 match points.

Turn around those four hands and we’d have our 20 match points. And a few more. We’d be fourth North-South, not 11th. For hand records, click this link and see the results calendar for the afternoon of Aug. 12. 

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Bridge Blog 900: How hot was July?

Not very. My point total for the month was 12.34, all club points. I lost ground in the master point races for Ruby Life Masters (1,500 to 2,500 points) at all levels.
In the Unit 116 (Buffalo only) Ace of Clubs race (club points only), my year-to-date total as of July 31 is 84.12, which drops me from third to fourth place. Mike Silverman is the leader with 105.21, followed by Ken Meier, 90.45; and David Millward, 90.26.
After me comes Gene Finton, 70.03; Fred Yellen, 61.69; Vince Pesce, 57.91; Allen Beroza, 52.74; Bill Finkelstein, 49.93; Carolyn Syracuse, 30.99; and Chuck Schorr, 30.98.
Among all Unit 116 players, Mike Silverman is second to Jerry Geiger, who has a whopping 137.12. Ron Henrikson is third with 101.56, followed by Judi Marshall, 95.92; Liz Clark, 95.53; Tom Koralewski, 93.59; Ken Meier, 90.45; David Millward, 90.26; Mike Ryan, 84.62; John Ziemer, 84.49; and me in 11th place, down from seventh last month, with 84.12. The eminent Meg Klamp is 12th with 82.50.
Over in the Unit 116 Mini-McKenney race, which counts all points earned everywhere, I’ve slipped from fourth to fifth among Ruby Life Masters and from 22nd to 23rd among all Unit 116 players. The Ruby Life Master list looks like this:
David Hemmer, 144.98 (ninth overall in the unit); Ken Meier, 131.29 (13th); Mike Silverman, 112.24 (19th); David Millward, 105.52 (22nd); me, 101.64 (23rd); Fred Yellen, 100.13 (24th); Gene Finton, 72.99 (35th); Allen Beroza, 65.46 (39th); Vince Pesce, 61.57 (42nd); and Bill Finkelstein, 50.98 (57th).  
No surprise to see Saleh Fetouh leading the entire list for Unit 116. Hitting tournaments in retirement, he’s amassed 358.90 points so far this year. Second and third place belong to the Weltes, John with 229.25 and Martha with 228.29. I heard something about them winning 50 points or so at a national event last month.
Then comes Jerry Geiger, 171.95; Mike Ryan, 163.30; Tom Koralewski, 158.50; Davis Heussler, 157.69; Ron Henrikson, 147.23; David Hemmer, 144.98; and Dan Gerstman, 138.96.
At the District 5 level, which includes Buffalo, Cleveland and Pittsburgh, the Unit 116 Ruby Life Masters lead the pack in the Ace of Clubs race, holding down the first four places. Fifth, after me, is Jayne Stahr of Stow, Ohio, with 71.48, barely ahead of Gene Finton. After that, our presence fades. We have only four more players in the Top 30.
Among all district players, Unit 116 Ruby Life Master leader Mike Silverman is seventh and Ron Henrikson, tops in the 300-500 point division, is eighth. Ken Meier is 14th. David Millward is 15th. I’m 21st. Overall district Ace of Clubs leader is Jerry Geiger’s 137.12. He’s followed by Patricia Katz and Arlene Port, both of Pittsburgh, with 123.86 and 113.83, respectively.  
As for the District 5 Mini-McKenney, Sue Lan Ma of Kirtland Hills, Ohio, continues on top of the Ruby Life Masters with 251.93. Charles Ladiha of Vermilion, Ohio, is a distant second with 158.39, followed by David Hemmer’s 144.98 and Ken Meier’s 131.29. Mike Silverman is ninth, David Millward is 12th, I’m 15th and Fred Yellen is 17th.
Among all District 5 players, I’m 105th in the Mini-McKenney and the rest of us Ruby Life Masters are similarly low. Sue Lan Ma is only 13th. David Hemmer is 48th.
The overall leader is good old Reanette Frobouck from Pittsburgh. She’s got 471.68 points. Next is Philip Becker from Beachwood, Ohio, with 367.17. Then it’s our Saleh Fetouh with 358.90, Kathleen Sulgrove of Twinsburg, Ohio, with 340.42; Robert Alexander of Mentor, Ohio, with 322.89; and Don Sulgrove of Twinsburg with 301.13.
Nationwide, the Ace of Clubs leaders among Ruby Life Masters are Robert Shearer of D’Iberville, Miss. (Where’s that, you ask? Just north of Biloxi), with 207.51; Ed Rauch of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., with 201.80; and Ariel Liebovitz of Houston, Texas, with 190.47. Mike Silverman is 137th. I’m 357th.
Overall national Ace of Clubs champs are Bill Kulbersh of Atlanta, Ga., with 444.67, and Bella Ionis-Sorren of Fort Lauderdale, with 354.03; and Kay Schulle of Purchase, N.Y., with 347.10. The aforementioned Robert Shearer is 47th. Unit 116 leader Jerry Geiger is 359th. The list stops at 125.33.
As for overall national Mini-McKenney leaders, the Ruby Life Masters are headed by Oren Kriegel of Chicago with 642.51, Cookie Potter of Sunset Beach, Calif., with 534.46; and Mary Jane and Michael Gladfelter of Columbus, Ohio, with 499.64. District 5’s Sue Lan Ma is 51st. Unit 116 leader David Hemmer is 338th. Ken Meier is 458th. The list cuts off at 126.55 points.
Overall overall national Mini-McKenney guys are way up there. Chris Compton of Dallas, Texas, with 2,012.14 (wow!) Kevin Dwyer of Melbourne, Fla., with 1,732.09. The inimitable Jeff Meckstroth of Clearwater Beach, Fla., with 1,670.90. District 5’s Reanette Frobouck is 176th. Unit 116’s Saleh Fetouh is 347th. This list of 500 names ends at 302.97 points.



Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Bridge Blog 899: Streak!

Two-thirds of the way through a middling game with Marilyn Sultz on Tuesday at the Airport Bridge Club, we suddenly caught fire. For nine boards in a row, every game was a top game. Or a near top. We had 51 match points out of a possible 54. Then we crashed for the final three hands.

When club manager Bill Finkelstein posted partial results for 22 of the 28 boards, we were tied for first North-South with something like 62%. But our sins weren’t entirely marked against us yet. The final tally saw us drop to 55.06%. Second North-South. First in the B strat. 1.58 points, half of them red since this was a North American Pairs qualifying game. Marilyn was overjoyed. Me too. 

Bridge Blog 898: Picnic

         The annual summer picnic may be my favorite Western New York Unit 116 event. It’s a double game and the food is, well, picnic fare and I never can get enough of that. Since Paul Zittel, the agricultural magnate from Eden, has been in charge of the vittles, they’ve been fabulous and this year’s edition again met those high standards – Wiedner’s incomparable roasted chicken, fresh-picked sweet corn that was really, really sweet, and the usual potato and vegetable trimmings.
         When Tova Reinhorn, the unit treasurer, was at our table, she rolled her eyes in alarm at how much money they lose on the picnic. Tickets are just $10 for ACBL members and I can imagine that it comes nowhere near covering the costs of hiring a director, paying for the food and renting the facility – the Carousel Room under the Grandstand at the Erie County Fairgrounds in Hamburg. This would be our last party in the Carousel Room, someone (Tova?) said. The rent’s going up. Next year the unit will be looking for a new venue.
         This picnic was further notable for attendance – 25 tables for the morning session, 23 in the afternoon – which unit officers said was a record. The morning session was split into three sections. The afternoon had two. Organizing it proved cumbersome. As a result, the 11 a.m. morning game started late and director Eugene Harvey couldn’t seem to catch us up. We were eating lunch at 3 p.m. and the afternoon game dragged on until 7. I’m glad I had the foresight to take the evening off from work. It was a loooonnng day.
         I never seem to earn more than a fraction of a master point at the picnic, although significant points can be won if you’re good enough. Ken Meier and Penny Shui came in first overall in the morning with 72.57% and were rewarded with 5.25 points, then notched 63.05% to finish in a tie for second in the afternoon and reaped another 3.16 points.
         Meanwhile, I kept my expectations low and was not disappointed. Having not lined up a partner, I was paired with Ted Kahn, who has his ups and downs. I hadn’t played with him for quite a while and had forgotten how disastrously enthusiastic his bidding can get.
Between the two of us, he played the majority of the hands – 11 of the 26 in the morning (I was declarer four times, but my North cards seemed singularly dismal) and nine of 24 in the afternoon (my cards improved – I was declarer on six, three in a row right before the final board. On the first of those three, Ted pushed me to 6 No Trump, down one to tie for a next-to-bottom board – leaving the bid at 3 NT would have tied us for top and given us an extra 15.5 match points).
I thought our morning game of 49.75% was respectable, given the circumstances. We were ninth out of 13 pairs and if a couple more hands had gone our way, we would have beaten the eighth place finishers – Pat Lakeman and Mary Terrana, with 50.89% -- and collected a fraction of a point.

The afternoon felt better, but turned out worse – 46.60%, eighth out of 12 pairs. Nevertheless, we were only one spot away from scratching. Seventh in B were Paul Zittel and Bill Feasley with 48.25% and they won a magnificent 0.16 of a point. Had that 6 NT bid stopped at 3 NT, we would have been sixth for an even more stupendous 0.19 of a point. 

Friday, July 8, 2016

Bridge Blog 897: Did the train leave the station?

A month ago Bill Finkelstein, director of the Airport Bridge Club, yelled foul when I accused him of being too late in submitting the club’s master points for the ACBL’s monthly tally. Although they were listed as pending, meaning they’d arrived after the deadline, he maintained that he had a receipt proving that he sent them in on the 6th, which is the cut-off date.

Well, just because you have a ticket, it doesn’t mean you caught the train. Bill contends that he forwarded the points just in time again this month. He tried to check during lunch Thursday afternoon at the Mexican restaurant, but he couldn’t bring up the ACBL website on his phone. Now that I’m home, hooked up to the Wi-Fi, let’s see if he made it or missed it. ... Hey, he made it! 

Bridge Blog 897-A: Midpoint

With the year half over, I can’t complain about my master point production. So far, it’s 89.30, with 71.78 club points. The belated May total was 17.03. June, fattened by 11+ points during STaC Week, registered 21.24.
Among Ruby Life Masters (1,500 to 2,500 points) in Western New York Unit 116, I’m third in the Ace of Clubs race, which just measures points earned in club play, behind David Millward with 89.15 and Mike Silverman with 77.73. The rest of the Top 10 – Ken Meier, 69.32; Gene Finton, 59.78; Vince Pesce, 50.44; Fred Yellen, 49.97; Allen Beroza, 49.37; Bill Finkelstein, 45.11; Carolyn Siracuse, 30.99; and a very close 11th, Chuck Schorr, 30.98.
          In the Ace of Clubs unit-wide, David Millward is second, Mike Silverman is fifth, I’m seventh and Ken Meier is eighth. Jerry Geiger is tops with a whopping 108.99. Liz Clark is third with 88.37, Meg Klamp is fourth with 81.73, Ron Henrikson (!) is sixth with 76.98, Mike Ryan is ninth with 68.90 and Judi Marshall is tenth with 68.81. Holding down 11th is John Ziemer with 66.94 (how strange to have more club points than him) and 12th is everybody’s favorite sub, Tom Koralewski, with 66.53.
          Moving along to the Mini-McKenney, which includes all points earned everywhere, the Unit 116 Ruby Life Masters line up like this – David Hemmer, 123.56 (eighth overall in the unit); Ken Meier, 110.16 (15th overall); David Millward, 104.41 (18th overall); me, 89.30 (22nd); Fred Yellen, 88.41 (23rd); Mike Silverman, 84.76 (27th); Gene Finton, 62.74 (34th); Allen Beroza, 62.09 (35th); Vince Pesce, 54.10 (41st); and Bill Finkelstein, 46.16 (52nd).
          The Mini-McKenney leader for the entire unit, far ahead of the rest of the pack, is Saleh Fetouh with 313.01. Then there’s Mike Ryan, 147.58; John Welte, 144.69; Jerry Geiger, 143.82; Martha Welte, 143.74; Tom Koralewski, 131.44; Jay Levy, 124.72; David Hemmer, 123.56; Ron Henrikson, 122.65; and Davis Heussler, 121.12. Meg Klamp is 11th with 120.39. Eighteen players in the unit have finished the first half of the year with more than 100 points.
          Moving up to the District 5 level, which includes Buffalo, Cleveland and Pittsburgh, on the Ace of Clubs list we Buffalo players hold the top four positions among Ruby Life Masters and five of the first seven.
Overall Ace of Clubs district leader is Patricia Katz of Pittsburgh with 119.48, followed by Jerry Geiger, 108.99; and Arlene Port of Pittsburgh with 104.09. David Millward is seventh, Liz Clark is eighth, I’m 24th, right behind former Buffalo player Bev Cohen.
Three Buffalo Ruby Life Masters show up in the Top 10 on the District 5 Mini-McKenney list. David Hemmer is fourth. Ken Meier is seventh. David Millward is ninth. I’m a distant 16th, 111th among all players in the district. Leaders once again are Ohio players – Sue Lan Ma from Kirtland Hills with 222.71 (just 11th among all players in the district), Charles Ladiha from Vermilion with 147.88 and Peter Merker from Mentor with 127.49.  
And who’s the biggest District 5 point winner at the year’s halfpoint? Good old Reanette Frobouck from Pittsburgh. She’s got 463.20. Second is Philip Becker of Beachwood, Ohio, with 329.06. Saleh Fetouh is third. Ohio players fill up the rest of the district-wide Top 10.

Nationwide, the top three are Chris Compton of Dallas with 1,494.72; Ken Dwyer of Melbourne, Fla., with 1,459.96; and the legendary Jeff Meckstroth of Clearwater Beach, Fla., with 1,435.78. Overall, 16 players have more than 1,000 points this year.