Saturday, March 21, 2015

Bridge Blog 826: Incremental

I’m not sure if it’s much of an improvement, but this middle week of chemo in March has allowed a little more time at the tables than the middle week in February did. Then again, I probably shouldn’t have played in a daze on Monday, but I was beguiled by Barbara Sadkin’s promise that “we’ll have our usual shitty game.” How bad could it be? Turns out it was better than usual, 52.38%, third in the A strat in a four-table game, 0.40 of a point.
Then I was in no shape to return until spring was in the dank, chilly air on Saturday, the 21st, and then after I felt unaccountably good on Friday. Better than I did on Saturday, to tell the truth. But I wanted to catch the first lessons on bidding and playing slams and, by sticking around and playing with Paula Salamone, I helped complete a perfect five-table Howell game – being perfect in that you play three hands against all nine of the other pairs.
We were far from perfect. Not even half perfect with our 45.61%. but thanks to the miracle of stratification (anyone with fewer than 1,900 points was in the C strat), we finished second in C in an extra-point game, earning more than I did on Monday – 0.89 of a point.
In the club’s March master point race, this elevated me from 19th place to 17th, with 4.77. On top of the race is John Ziemer, with 8.11, followed by Bill Boardman with 7.80, Ron Henrikson with 7.02, Martin Pieterese with 6.76, Jerry Geiger with 6.38 (he’s been playing the other clubs, though), Mike Ryan (ditto) with 6.33 and Mike Silverman with 5.72.

 To my total we can add that 0.98 from St. Catharines a few weeks ago. With extra-point games all next week and with any luck at all, this might turn into a 10-point month.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Bridge Blog 825: Unstuck

Having reduced my expectations to almost nothing, even my expectations of playing at all, I’m here to report a surprisingly satisfactory week at the tables.
Not for a week ago Saturday, when Wednesday partner Celine Murray and I posted a miserable rock-bottom 35%, but for Monday, Thursday and this Saturday. (Little needs to be said about Tuesday’s 43.21% with Barb Sadkin and Friday’s 46.52% with Dotty May.)
Monday, however, found me partnerless and paired up with Bob Forster, a veterinarian from Fort Erie, Ont., whom I’ve seen in St. Catharines, but never played with. After going through an endless series of convention checks before we even played a card, we settled into a game that required few fancy conventions and a lot of solid play. The results: 59.72%, second overall for 1.64 master points. Without a couple glaring misplays on both sides for us, we would have been first.
Wednesday was chemotherapy, the double treatment, and Thursday looked doubtful, despite being pumped up on steroid pills. Unattached again, I got to play with Florence Boyd, Thursday’s substitute player and a delightful partner, though we don’t often score well. This proved to be an exception to the rule, even though we were on defense for 16 of the 24 boards. Our 56.85% was first North-South, fourth overall, and good for 1.24 master points.

Saturday found me playing with director Bill Finkelstein, whose constant criticisms often prove to be inhibiting. This time I may have been a little too foggy-brained to faze. In a three-table game, we finished far ahead with a 65%, which I believe is my highest score of the year so far, and earned another 0.60 of a master point. Point total for the week: 3.48, more in a week than all of February. 

Friday, March 6, 2015

Bridge Blog 824: Stuck

Ever since I got back to the bridge tables last week, I’ve been mired in the low to mid 40s, percentage-wise. Last Friday with Celine Murray, it was dead last with 42.28%, but hey, I hadn’t played in more than weeks. Monday with Usha Khurana, just back from vacation in Florida, it was an almost respectable 47.11%, eighth among 11 pairs.

        High hopes weren’t enough for deliverance with Barbara Sadkin on Tuesday. Our 45.24% was seventh out of nine North-Souths. Wednesday saw Celine Murray and me improving, but 46.79% was not enough to scratch. Thursday, arriving without a partner, my hopes rose again as I was paired with Bill Boardman, with whom I sometimes excel. Not this time. 43.98%, eighth out of 10 pairs.

I needed to leave the country and go to St. Catharines, Ont., on Friday to break out of the 40s. Selina Volpatti and I, together for the first time in a month, played our usual aggressive game and finished with a 56.89%, second East-West for 0.98 of a master point, my first point earnings of the month. O, Canada! Thank you.

Bridge Blog 823: The long and short of February

Sixth of the month and the ACBL computer elves have worked their magic. The master point totals are updated. My total for the year so far – 10.07 – doesn’t look like it will register in any of the bigger pictures, the Unit 116 Top 10s or the District 5 Top 25s.  

However, it appears that the Airport Bridge Club once again did not report its point counts on time. I didn’t win much in February club play – just 1.5 points – but they’re not included. So any look at the point totals for February will be inconclusive. Not just for me, but for everybody who plays at the club. 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Bridge Blog 822: February fadeout

Nothing to say about February. It seems like I hardly played, just eight times in 28 days.
Between the record cold weather and the snow, which canceled games left and right, and my chemo treatments, which flattened me completely from the 13th to the 24th, my opportunities were limited.
Seven of those games were in the first 12 days of the month, including a two sessions at the sectional in St. Catharines. Best of those efforts was a 60% with Dotty May on the 12th. My only other game the rest of the month was on the 27th with Celine Murray, a dismal 42% last-place finish. Master point total for February, something like 1.84, lowest since I started playing competitively in February 2005.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Bridge Blog 821: January redux

Leave it to the ACBL to mess with the format for their master point races. I checked the place I usually check all weekend, figuring the January totals would be posted by the sixth of the month, and there was nothing for 2015.
Just now, however, on a whim, I clicked the “new format” link and up come the January totals. All amalgamated in the different point divisions and then broken down if you click the one you want, in my case, the 1,000 to 2,500-point list. Needless to say, like all improvements, it’s a big pain in the ass.
Anyway, in the Ace of Clubs race for Unit 116, which is just Buffalo, I’m seventh with 8.70 points in the “filtered rank,” with a little notation under “overall rank” listing me 25th in the unit.
Leading the pack is Martin Pieterse with 15.50, followed by Mike Silverman with 13.65, 2014 champ John Ziemer with 13.06, Fred Yellen with 9.47, Walt Olszewski with 9.13 and Bill Finkelstein with 8.75. Behind me are Barbara Pieterse with 7.79, Dorothy May with 7.58 and Ken Meier with 6.98.
Unlike the previous master point listings, this one goes on forever, to include everyone in the division, all the way down to Harry Meyers in 40th place with 0.28 of a point.
Biggest Ace of Clubs point winner overall for January is Barbara Libby with 19.70, followed by Jerry Geiger with 18.21 and Meg Klamp, who’s in Florida, with 16.84. Martin Pieterse is fourth.
Moving on to the Unit 116 Mini-McKenney race, which includes all points earned in clubs and tournaments, my 9.73 puts me in tenth place, 51st overall. Ahead of me are:
David Hemmer, 46.53 (he’s first overall, too); Fred Yellen, 23.98; John Ziemer, 15.65; Mike Silverman, 15.63; Martin Pieterse, 15.60 (now that’s really tight!); Sharon Gerstman, 15.16; Art Morth, 14.35; Walt Olszewski, 12.60; and Bill Rushmore, 11.10. Harry Meyers is at the bottom of this list, too, which runs to 42 names.

Looking into the District 5 level, which includes Cleveland and Pittsburgh, Unit 116 holds down the top four places on the Ace of Clubs list. I’m 14th, 64th overall. Over on the Mini-McKenney, David Hemmer is third, behind Sun Lan Ma (a new name in this division) of Kirtland Hills, Ohio, who has 91.11, and good old Fleur Howard of Gates Mills, Ohio, who has 55.50. I’m 61st, 220th overall.

Bridge Blog 820: St. Catharines wrap-up

Visiting players were the top nine master point winners in the 61st Annual Niagara District Sectional Tournament over the weekend. David Baker of Kitchener, Ont., took home the biggest haul – 36.36 points.
Local players don’t check in until the 10th, 11th and 12th places – Jeremy Smee with 20.41, and George Morrissey and Brian Macartney, both with 19.43. Leading Buffalo player was Saleh Fetouh, tied for 14th place with partner Ringo Chung with 17.34 points.

Next Buffalo players on the list are Bert Hargeshimer and partner Christy Kellogg, tied for 92nd with 4.28, just behind my Sunday Swiss team partner Selina Volpatti, who had 4.29. Me, I’m in an eight-way tie for 361st with my measly 0.34. In all, 378 players earned points. Total tournament table count: 356.