Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Bridge Blog 906: Fall Sectional Redux

Friday – I wracked my brain all week trying to remember who I’d promised to play with on opening day. I asked every likely suspect at the Airport Bridge Club, but no luck. Then I’m greeted as I arrive at the director’s table by Denise Slattery, who I haven’t seen in weeks. I’m greatly relieved. Denise is a fun player and I like her sense of humor. We also did well together at the Airport Club. Not well enough this time, though.
Chairwoman Betty Metz announced that there was record turnout for the morning game. Proof was in the parking lot. More cars than usual. 24 tables in the two-session pairs, 10½ tables for single-session pairs in the morning, 6 tables in the afternoon. An improvement on last September, when there were 20 tables for the two-session pairs on Friday, 13 tables for single-session morning pairs and 5 tables in the afternoon.
Saturday – Almost as big as Friday: 22 tables in two-session pairs, 11 in morning single-session, just 4 in the afternoon. Last September it was 17, 12 and 4. A few more out-of-towners from Rochester and Canada.
Sunday – The big experiment in Dupli-Swiss, in which boards were pre-shuffled and everybody played the same ones, had its ups and downs.
Ups: Hand records. You could review what you just played and have discussions about it, like partner Judie Bailey and I did for two days. (See Blog 906-A.)
Also no caddies. Tables were organized into groups of four and the eight boards each round were passed among them. I missed the caddies, though.
Downs: Confusion. People did not pass the boards clockwise, like director Brian Meyer requested, so sometimes we were left waiting for other tables to finish boards we still needed to play.
Also potential for overhearing other tables. We weren’t that far apart, although I didn’t pick up any revealing conversations about the hands myself.
Also the six-round format. Six rounds, eight boards, 48 hands. The old format of seven rounds, seven boards, 49 hands, offered teams that didn’t place among the leaders another chance to earn fractional points for winning rounds.
Winners in the Swiss teams were Rochester players and not familiar ones to me. Judie and I, unable to round up teammates from Buffalo, wound up playing with a couple I know from the Bridge Center of Niagara in St. Catharines, Ont. – John Marskell and Joan Soifert. John and Joan are ordinarily good players, but they seemed to be having an off day.
According to the ACBL live recaps, which were sent by e-mail a few hours after each day’s action, Judie Bailey and I supposedly earned 1.81 silver points for the weekend – 0.29 Saturday morning, 0.62 Saturday afternoon and 0.90 Sunday. When the tournament results were posted on acbl.com on Monday, however, our point count had shrunk. That total was 1.52. Did we lose that Saturday morning sliver of silver?  We wound up in a 4-way tie for 122nd with Barbara Kopko and Tim Anderson from Cattaraugus County, who we played on Saturday.
(Looking at the outcome, the thrill of sectional competition has to be weighed against the absolute wretchedness of the rate of return – $60 in entry fees for those 1.52 silver points. For $15, I earned nearly twice as many black points Wednesday by doing well in a two-session pairs game at the Airport Bridge Club.)
Sectional champ was Bud Seidenberg with 24.48 points, followed by Jay Costello, 22.99; Chris Urbanek, 22.94; and Mike Ryan, 21.91. Absent all weekend was perennial high-scorer Saleh Fetouh. He never misses these things. Wonder where he was. 
Still, four players over 20 points. Last September there were only two. Bud Seidenberg bagged an even 24 points then, but was second to Jay Levy (26.45). There were 12 players winning 10 points or more in 2015. This year 23 broke into double digits.
Four of them were the Rochester-area players who triumphed in the Swiss team game, which was worth 10.73 points. Out of a possible 180 victory points, they had 163 and were far ahead of the runners-up, who had 124. That second-place team included Bud Seidenberg and Chris Urbanek and it accounted for 8.05 of their points.

Bridge Blog 906-A: Pre-emptive strike

           Sometimes you wish there you had a mind-meld with your partner, a sympatico so strong they could sense the true meaning of an uncommon bid and begin a march to the most effective contract.
That wish arose during the Swiss team game at the Buffalo Fall Sectional Tournament on Sunday at the sight of a hand that featured six Clubs – A-K-Q-J-x-x – four Diamonds headed by the King, two worthless Spades and a singleton Heart. I could take six sure tricks in Clubs or No Trump, barring a truly awful split, but how best to exploit it?
Also I was dealer. It’s an opening hand, so I should bid at least 1 Club. But that, I reckoned uncertainly, is hardly descriptive. So I pre-empted with 3 Clubs. Judie Bailey responded 3 Hearts. I passed.
Judge Judie gave me a stern look and proceeded to make 4 Hearts. She had a seven-card Heart suit. Her bid was forcing. I had to respond. Needless to say, it did us no good in our team match – according to the hand records, it could make 4 Hearts, 4 No Trump and 5 Clubs – and she took me to task for it.
Mea culpa, mucho mea culpa, I conceded after consulting the internet, namely rpbridge.com, which was the first thing that came up on Google. It set me straight. 
The pre-empt in the first seat is a no-no – 1 Club should have been the bid. A third-seat pre-empt might have been OK, though.
Judie’s 3 Heart bid was absolutely forcing and I should have bid 4 Hearts if I had two or more Hearts. With my singleton, I should have rebid my Clubs.
As our conversation about this hand continued into Monday, Judie eventually allowed that, although she was short on Diamonds, a No Trump bid on her part might have been appropriate. That was what I hoped my 3 Club bid would suggest. At any rate, now I’m hip to the rules. No ESP required. 

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Bridge Blog 905: Buffalo Fall Sectional: Short Version

Played every session at the Main-Transit Fire Hall. But didn’t score big.
Friday with Denise Slattery, it was 47.19% in the morning, 45.20% in the afternoon (not bad as they look, either time – seven or eight match points more, one more good hand – and we’d scratch in the B strat).
Saturday with Judie Bailey stepped things up a notch. Not much, but just enough – 48.59% for 0.29 of a master point in the morning, 49.67% for 0.62 of a master point in the afternoon.  
Percentagewise, Sunday with Judie was better, too. One Victory Point better than an even 50-50, and we were contenders in the B strat right up until the last round of the Swiss team competition. We tossed it instead to our final opponents, the Kaprove team, losing to them by a 27-3 VP margin. They finished second in B. We were 3 VPs short of sixth in B. For winning three rounds, we got 0.90 of a silver point. Total for the tournament: 1.81. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Bridge Blog 904: How low can you go?

Lower than you ever expect to go. I used to think it was 24.48% or something like that. That was my all-time worst game, shared with Judy Kaprove two or three years ago, and that was a record that was certain to stand eternal.
But noooo. Even record lows are made to be broken and pickup partner Tish Schiffman and I managed to do a limbo walk under that 24% on Saturday. Bad right from the start, we knew it was, and it kept getting worse. The final tally – a new milestone in misery: 22.02%.
Fifteen bottom boards out of 28 hands, one of them an ill-considered pass-out on a hand that could have made 3 Spades. Another three ties for bottom. Only one top.   
Worst of all were the hands where Tish had six-card or seven-card suits opposite my voids. Of course, she rebid them. Of course, she wound up playing them. And of course, she went down. Hard. Board 4 was such a hand. Tish is South and Liz Clark and Jerry Geiger catch her in a wicked cross-ruff.

South
Spades: K-Q-J-8-6-5-2; Hearts: Q-3; Diamonds: J-9; Clubs: 10-2.
West
Spades: 10-7-4; Hearts: 8; Diamonds: A-8-6-5-4-3; Clubs: 7-5-4.
North (me)
Spades: None; Hearts: J-10-7-5-2; Diamonds: Q-10-7-2; Clubs: A-K-J-3.
East
Spades: A-9-3; Hearts: A-K-9-6-4; Diamonds: K; Clubs: Q-9-8-6.

Tish only managed to take five tricks, thanks to over-ruffs by the opponents. Hand record says she should have taken seven.
It happened again on Board 18 against two more good players, Alan Greer and Nancy Wolstoncroft. East opened. Tish overcalled a Spade. I bid a No Trump, but probably should have bid 2 Diamonds and followed up with 3 Clubs after she bid 2 Spades. Hand records says it makes 3 Clubs and 3 Diamonds. Tish should have taken six or seven tricks, but captured only five.

South (Tish)
Spades: J-10-8-7-6-2; Hearts: A-Q; Diamonds: Q-10-8; Clubs: J-7.
West
Spades: K-Q-4-3; Hearts: 8-7-6-5-4-3; Diamonds: 2; Clubs: Q-4.
North (me)
Spades: None; Hearts: J-9-2; Diamonds: K-J-5-4-3; Clubs: A-10-8-5-2.
East
Spades: A-9-5; Hearts: K-10; Diamonds: A-9-7-6; Clubs: K-9-6-3.

Bridge Blog 904-A: Redemption

Fortunately, I’ve found resurrection in the games surrounding my all-time low on Saturday.
Against that tough bunch in St. Catharines on Friday, Selina Volpatti and I mustered 52.87%, fifth overall North-South, 0.34 of a point.
Despite a few misunderstandings with Judie Bailey at the start on Monday at the Airport Bridge Club, we came through at 57.76%, second in the A strat, first in B, 1.97 points.
And good fortune continued in Tuesday’s doubleheader, when I was paired with Christine Malarkey after Marilyn Sultz had to stay home with her sick husband. Morning session: 56.13%, third North-South, 1.17 points. Afternoon: 56.67%, third East-West, second in the B strat, 1.31 points.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Bridge Blog 903: All About August

Hottest August on record in Buffalo, the National Weather Service says. Not my hottest August at the bridge tables, but at least the 14.91 points I earned, all of them at the Airport Bridge Club, marked an improvement over July.
Totals for the year now stand at 99.03 in club play through Aug. 31 and 116.55 in all venues. In the Unit 116 (Buffalo) and District 5 (Buffalo, Cleveland, Pittsburgh) master point races, I suspect that I’m treading water.
Sure enough, among Ruby Life Masters (1,500 to 2,500 points), I’m still fourth in Unit 116, and clearly in the upper echelon. Heading the list is Mike Silverman with 119.68 (fourth overall in the unit), followed by David Millward, 105.85 (eighth in the unit); and Ken Meier, 105.60 (ninth in the unit). I’m tenth among all players in the unit.
Far behind in fifth place is Gene Finton, 80.79; then Fred Yellen, 71.75; Vince Pesce, 65.43; Allen Beroza, 62.59; Bill Finkelstein, 52.18; and Carolyn Siracuse, 36.24.
Overall unit leader is Jerry Geiger with 170.55, followed by Judi Marshall, 126.75; and Ron Henrikson, 121.76. After Mike Silverman, there’s Liz Clark, 115.48; Tom Koralewski, 107.64; and John Ziemer, 105.87. After me, there’s Mike Ryan in 11th place with 98 points even; Martin Pieterse, 95.81; John Welte, 94.42; Martha Welte, 93.47; and Meg Klamp, 83.27.
In the Mini-McKenney race, which measures all points, I’m still fifth among Ruby Life Masters. Ken Meier, with 169.02 points, has overtaken David Hemmer, 149.70, for the lead. Mike Silverman remains third with 126.71 and David Millward continues in fourth place with 121.11.
After my 116.55, there’s Fred Yellen with 110.19, then a big step down to Gene Finton, 83.75; Allen Beroza, 75.31; Vince Pesce, 69.09; and Bill Finkelstein, 53.23.
Overall in Unit 116, Ken Meier is 11th, David Hemmer is 13th, Mike Silverman is 20th, David Millward is 22nd and I’m 23rd. Here are the Top Ten:
Saleh Fetouh (of course), 393.47; John Welte, 259.41; Martha Welte, 258.46 (both buoyed by their big win at the Summer North American Bridge Championships (NABCs) July 20 to July 30 in Washington, D.C., where they brought home a total of 65.93 gold points and 23.64 red points); Dian Petrov, 240.15; Jerry Geiger, 238.72; Tom Koralewski, 210.52; Mike Ryan, 210.02; John Ziemer, 187.45; Davis Heussler, 178.68; and Jay Levy, 171.91.
Moving right along to the District 5 level, we Unit 116 players hold the top four spots among the Ruby Life Masters in the Ace of Clubs race. James Quigley of Pittsburgh slips into fifth place ahead of Gene Finton with 86.23. Overall in the district, Mike Silverman is 11th, David Millward is 19th, Ken Meier is 20th and I’m 27th.
Overall District 5 Ace of Clubs leader is Unit 116’s Jerry Geiger with 170.55, followed by Arlene Port and Patricia Katz, both of Pittsburgh, with 159.18 and 144.23, respectively. Next is Robert Alexander of Mentor, Ohio, with 138.18, and Judy Haffner of Pittsburgh with 128.75. Our Judi Marshall’s 126.75 puts her sixth. Ron Henrikson’s 121.76 makes him tenth.
As for the Mini-McKenney, the Ruby Life Masters again are topped by Sue Lan Ma of Kirtland Hills, Ohio, who’s way ahead with 325.78. Next is Peter Merker of Mentor, Ohio, with 191.49; Charles Ladiha of Vermilion, Ohio, with 182.42; our Ken Meier with 169.02; and a pair of Pittsburghers, Christopher Wang and Jean Picone, with 154.12 and 153.26 respectively. David Hemmer is seventh, Mike Silverman is 12th, down from ninth; David Millward is 14th, down from 12th; and I’m 16th, down from 15th.  
Overall in the district, Sue Lan Ma is tenth. Ken Meier is 55th, David Hemmer is 73rd, Mike Silverman is 104th, David Millward is 110th and I’m 117th.
Among all District 5 players, the leader is Reanette Frobouck of Pittsburgh with 674.06; followed by Philip Becker of Beachwood, Ohio, with 502.15; Kathleen Sulgrove of Twinsburg, Ohio, with 421.20; Robert Alexander of Mentor, Ohio, with 402.25; and Unit 116 leader Saleh Fetouh with 393.47. Unit 116’s John and Martha Welte hold down the 19th and 20th spots. Dian Petrov is 23rd. Jerry Geiger is 24th.
Nationwide, Unit 116 Ruby Life Masters hardly make a ripple in the upper reaches of the Ace of Clubs race. Top dogs are Edward Rauch of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., with 227.57; Robert Shearer of Diberville, Miss., with 220.57; and Richard Fronapfel of Danbury, Conn., with 219.98. Our leader, Mike Silverman, is 139th. I’m tied for 311th with Stacy Jacobs of Hinsdale, Ill.
Nationwide Ace of Clubs leaders in all divisions are Bill Kulbersh of Atlanta, Ga., with 498.85; Kay Schulle of Purchase, N.Y., with 401.60; and Bella Ionis-Sorren of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., with 401.46. Ed Rauch is 64th. Jerry Geiger is 258th and he’s the only Unit 116 player on it. The list of 500 cuts off at 143.52.
Nationwide Mini-McKenney Ruby Life Masters? Leader is Oren Kriegel of Chicago with 732.47. Tied for second are Mary Jane and Michael Gladfelter of Columbus, Ohio, with 615.64; followed by Cookie Potter of Sunset Beach, Calif., with 535.96. District 5’s Sue Lan Ma is 29th. Unit 116’s Ken Meier is 332nd. Our David Hemmer also makes the list at 453rd. It cuts off at 144.34 points.
And the overall national Mini-McKenney champs? They would be Chris Compton of Dallas, Texas, with 2,282.59; Kevin Dwyer of Melbourne, Fla., with 2,116.25; Shan Huang of Toronto with 1,833.27; Mike Passell of Plano, Texas, with 1,802.23; Joe Grue of New York City with 1,724.40; the legendary Jeff Meckstroh of Clearwater Beach, Fla., with 1,703.78; and Mark Itabashi of Murrieta, Calif., with 1,702.18.

District 5’s Reanette Frobouck is 92nd. Unit 116’s Saleh Fetouh is 372nd. Buffalo native Joel Wooldridge, who now calls Astoria, Queens, home, is 28th with 1,097.22. I imagine we’ll see him at the Buffalo Regional in October. 

Monday, August 29, 2016

Bridge Blog 902: Obsessive Compulsive

Some of the cards at my usual haunt, the Airport Bridge Club, have illustrations on the back and, because there’s a part of me that thinks they look better if they’re all pointing in the same direction (i.e., upright) I’ve taken to sorting them out that way.
That’s gotten me wondering about the faces of the cards. In practice, they’re practically palindromic – pretty much the same no matter which end is up. It’s certainly the case with the face cards. All the Kings, Queens and Jacks can be flipped and it makes no difference. They look the same either way.
But on many of the other cards, not so. Look at the Aces. Except for the Diamond, they can be right side up or upside down. The Spade, Heart and Club symbols all have tops and bottoms.  
Among the even-numbered cards, only the 2, 4 and 10 are palindromes in Spades, Hearts and Clubs. In the design of the 6 – two vertical lines of three symbols – the middle ones point up. Same with the 8, which has two more spots in the center of the card, one up, one down. With the Diamonds, of course, it doesn’t matter.
When it comes to the odd-numbered cards, all the Spades, Hearts and Clubs have a definite upside and downside. Two of spots on the 3 point one way, the third points in the other direction. Same situation with the single center spot on the 5, 7 and 9.

You’d think the Diamonds once again would the exception, but not this time. It’s that center spot. Did you ever notice that it’s not always in the middle? It’s offset toward the top on one of the Diamonds – the 7. Pick up some cards and see for yourself.