Saturday, January 29, 2011

Bridge Blog 375: Mustard round

          That’s what Bill Rieker called it when he wanted a slow game to catch up – i.e., ketchup – to the place in time where it should be. I’ve been so busy that the blog has fallen behind, so here’s getting back on pace with highlights of the past week or so – masterpoints, the Airport Bridge Club eighth anniversary weekend, things like that.
          Let’s start with the anniversary weekend, which was last Saturday and Sunday, the 22nd and 23rd. For Saturday, director Bill Finkelstein decided to do a morning pairs game and, for the afternoon, revive his old individual game with cash prizes. The afternoon game went past 5 p.m., which made it a long day, but everyone stuck around to see if they beat Bill in head-to-head play, thereby winning a buck for each time they did it. It took what seemed like forever to tabulate and he wound up overpaying a few people by a dollar, myself among them. No, he said, he won’t take the dollar back. I love the individual game, but didn’t do very well – 12th out of 17 players with a 44.45%.
          Sunday featured a pot luck luncheon and rather than be my usual freeloading self, I thought I’d bring something. But what? They’d have too many desserts. They’d have too much in the way of nibbles and appetizers. I needed an inspiration and I got one as I woke up to Weekend Edition on NPR that morning. It was National Pie Day. And what would be a main dish that was like a pie? A quiche. I found a lovely one at the Lexington Co-op, cheddar and broccoli. Looking for a meaty one to go with it, I wound up in Wegmans, picking up a smaller and somewhat less wonderful quiche lorraine. Popped them into the microwave at the club and voila! They turned out to be a big hit. Nothing left over. Indeed, it was fine pot luck. Kudos to partner Judy Kaprove’s spicy Thai noodle salad and Barbara Sadkin’s sinful chocolate cake. To top it off, Judy and I managed to squeak into the points with a 50.93% game.
          OK, points. Not a happy subject. I’ve been picking up fractions here and there all week. With Marilyn Sultz last Saturday morning, it was 52.98% and .76 point. Judy and I got .25. And all week long I’ve been bumping along a few percentage points on either side of 50%. Point total for the month at the club is a little over 7. I’ll need a good showing in the last two games of January just to get into double digits.
          Paired up today, Saturday the 29th, with Dottie May, we coulda been contenders and, indeed, if we hadn’t been so boneheaded, we probably would have come in third. Here’s a partial litany of our sins. I doubled Carlton Stone in a competitive 4 Heart contract, then saw him drop a King as Dottie’s second Spade winner cleared out my doubleton. She led a third Spade and, figuring Carlton to be out of Spades, too, I pitched a Diamond. Carlton, however, was not out of Spades. So instead of winning that trick and setting him, he went on to draw trump and make the contract.
In other places, there were sins of omission. Once I set up an entry to the dummy with the Queen of Diamonds so that I could cash a couple high Spades and get rid of losing Hearts, but then didn’t call from the Queen when I played toward it. Argh-h-h! Down three instead of down one. And then Dottie, as she was running a long Spade suit against a No Trump contract, pulled out a Club instead and set the opponents by only one trick instead of two. Despite half a dozen of these, we wound up with 48.52%, but we should have been well over 50%.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Bridge Blog 374: Potholes

It’s been a bumpy road to masterpoints the past few days. One day I’m up – an all-around first in some careful play with Mike Silverman on Friday, yielding a 64.17% game and 1.87 points. The next few days I’m down. On Saturday, partner Fenton Harrison and I traded minus 1100 games and had a good time, but not good results. On Sunday, the game ran a little late and I left without even seeing what Lorna Brewer and I had accomplished – the incomplete dead last score was enough for me.
With Marie Suprinick in Monday’s double-point double session and chicken barbecue, I wasn’t sure what to expect. A double win would brighten things up considerably, but that hope dimmed in the morning as we continually turned in bad boards and wound up dead last with 34.82%. Marie, I realized, is even more of a compulsive overbidder than I am. In the afternoon session, we seemed to find a balance and the cards seemed more agreeable. Sure enough, it was a 54.38% effort, second North-South in a five-table game, bringing home 0.65 point. Total for the month now – 4.57 black points, 2.13 silver.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Bridge Blog 373: I need a miracle every day

Me and my Wednesday partner, Celine Murray, didn’t make any major mistakes in this week’s post-lesson game at the Airport Bridge Club. On a couple hands, we even exploited what we’d learned in the lesson about preemptive bidding. When the winners were announced, we were more than happy to have a 56.58% game, third overall, for 0.50 point. No miracles of stratification here. We’re in the A strat. The cutoff was at 1,000 points and I’ve got more than that.
I’m going to have to get used to the idea that, for the most part, the easy points are no longer there. Which means that last year’s figures are going to be tough to match. So far I’ve had no big winning games, just fractions of points here and there. And since club manager Bill Finkelstein hasn’t posted tallies for this month’s masterpoints yet, guess I’ll have to tote them up myself.
Lessee. Last week I squeaked through twice for 0.91 point. Then came the sectional, which was good for 2.13 silver points. And since then, I’ve collected 0.25 on Monday with Celine (50.93% after I found an error in our favor), 0.39 on Tuesday with Judy Kaprove (46.88%) and Wednesday’s 0.50. OK, that’s 2.05 black points to go with the silver – 4.18 overall. Maybe I need to start speaking to the bridge gods.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Bridge Blog 372: 2010 Revisited

Tonight the announcement on the home page of the ACBL website says the office will be closed Monday because of bad weather where they are down South. But they’ve finished tabulating the masterpoint races for 2010. Let’s have a look at the Ace of Clubs (for club play only).
Good news for Bill Boardman. He’s first in the nation in the 5-20 point division with 183.02 points. And there’s Selina Volpatti in 56 th place with 55.19. Paul Zittel’s 24th in the 20-50 point division with 82.69. June Feuerstein’s 46th with 73.06. Paula Salamone’s 31st in the 200-300 division with 120.85. Ross Markello and Cleveland Fleming are 48th and 50th, respectively in the 300-500 division, with 131.12 and 131.04.
And now – drum roll – the 500-1000 point division. Damn! Eighth place with 240.25. And there’s Mike Silverman in 12th place with 222.97. Here’s the top 10:
Charles Christmas, Tallahassee, Fla., 322.50.
Sam Borenstein, West Orange, NJ, 288.34.
Garry Williams, Roswell, Ga., 255.19.
James Weeks, Irvine, Calif., 249.16.
Robert Walters, San Diego, Calif., 248.84.
Steven Andrews, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., 245.87.
R. Philip Johnsen, Tallahassee, 245.21.
Dale Anderson, Buffalo, 240.25.
Vivian Wu, Cos Cob, Conn., 236.91.
Ricky Dashefsky, Lake Worth, Fla., 232.76.
Now let’s check out the Mini-McKenney, which is for overall points, clubs and tournaments rolled together. Last month I was 76th. In the final tally, I haven’t slipped too much – just to 78th with 287.02 overall points, right between Gary Carey of Coppell, Texas, with 287.74 and Steven Reichek of Houston with 286.43. Still first is Sankar Reddy of Cerritos, Calif., with 604.69. Of the big Ace of Clubs guys, the highest one on this list is Sam Borenstein with 453.20. He’s sixth. Charlie Christmas is 20th with 383.02.
And then there’s the overall point champ – Jeff Meckstroth of Tampa. 2755.13. Amazing. At the rate I’m going, it would take me 10 years to get that many points.

Bridge Blog 371: Buffalo Winter Sectional Day 3

It was bad, bad right from the beginning. It took our Swiss team of Faith Perry, Ginny Panaro, Flo Boyd and me four rounds to break into victory point double digits. At that point, some of the leaders were in triple digits. Nevertheless, we were a C team and after lunch we rebounded, winning two straight rounds and reaching a somewhat respectable position. “You guys are doing goood,” Judy Kaprove cooed, coming back from a glance at the scoreboard.  Not really, but better than her team, I guess.
We lost our final round, though. Even if we won, we’d have been about 20 points short of coming in third in C. Even if I hadn’t screwed up those four hands that cost us about 15 International Match Points, we still wouldn’t have cut it. To match the team that actually did come in third in C (1.96 points) – Paul and Linda Zittel, Joe Rooney and Bill Boardman – we needed 111 points. As it was, we collected .52 silver points for our two victorious rounds. Total for the tournament – 2.13.
“Who’s that woman?” somebody asked during the lunch break, indicating a rather trim and attractive brunette in a purple sleeveless vest. Dunno, I said, but I think she’s Canadian. Sure enough, there she is in the picture of the winning A team on the Unit 116 website. The Gordon team. Her team. She’s Diane K.M. Gordon from St. David’s, Ont.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Bridge Blog 370: Buffalo Winter Sectional Day 2

The rich definitely get richer at these sectionals. And why not? The superior players rise to the top. Friday’s leading pair – Bud Seidenberg and Jay Levy, who had 8.38 first day points – added 3.88 more Saturday morning by coming in second overall. Saleh Fetouh, who’s played with more than one partner, has two seconds Friday and a first and a fifth place finish Saturday for a total of 13.93. Jim Mathis, who has more than 10,000 points lifetime, has added 9.19.
We lesser mortals settle for crumbs from the table. Celine Murray and I managed a 56.75% game in the morning session Saturday, mostly by playing defense, and wound up fifth overall in the B strat, but got better points (1.33) by being second East-West in our section. There were two sections in the morning – 21 tables.
In the afternoon, we took more chances and paid for it by finishing out of the points with a 49% score in a single section 15-table game. So here I am with 1.61 points after two days. To match the 3.68 points I got in last year’s winter sectional, our Swiss team on Sunday will have to come in at least second in the C strat. Yes, C strat. Faith Perry and I are paired with Flo Boyd and, I believe, Ginny Panaro. Despite my 1,000 points, we’ll still add up to just a C.
Meanwhile, hospitality Saturday matched hospitality Friday. More yummy cranberry bread. There was still some confusion about table arrangement, but not as much. Our lunch party at Le Metro in Williamsville included two players from the St. Catharines, Ont., club who suggested that so few Canadians were playing because there was so little publicity about the tournament. The ACBL website didn’t have anything more than a phone number for the longest time, they said, and nobody from Unit 116 sent any info over to them. Note to Unit board: Get some fliers and e-mails and web posts out for these things.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Bridge Blog 369: Waiting for a train

Here it is, the seventh of the month, and the ACBL hasn’t posted the final results for the 2010 Ace of Clubs and Mini-McKenney races. They've even put vague little notes on the website saying it's "being slightly delayed." Did the holiday mess things up or is there a glitch in the system? 

Bridge Blog 368: Buffalo Winter Sectional Day 1

          All the usual suspects were among the leaders after the morning session – Dan Gerstman, Jim Mathis, Bud Seidenberg, Saleh Fatouh, Chris Urbanek. They all were there and they certainly showed their superiority to us mere mortals. Aside from Chris Urbanek, Judy Kaprove and I didn’t run into the big guns in our 13-table section of the 25.5 table game, but we didn’t do much anyway – 47%, well below where we could get points. Looking over our successes and failures, I concluded that what hurt us most were those hands we overbid. There were quite a few of them.
          The afternoon found us slowed down by our wonderful lunch at the Falafel Bar and making mistakes. In my dozy condition, I mistook an Ace of Diamonds for an Ace of Hearts on one hand and steered us into a Heart contract that was way inferior to the Spade game we should have made. Despite all that, we had a better round – 49.29%. “Hey,” one of our East-West opponents, Dian Petrov, announced, “you won .28 of a point!” And he was right. We were sixth in the B strat in our direction in the combined scores for the two sections. Well, better than no fraction of a point at all.
          The winter tournament’s traditional site, the big upstairs meeting room in the Wick Center at Daemen College, is in the final stages of a between-semesters painting project, which means no curtains on that wall of windows. It was glare city during the sunny early round. Bob Andersen, who recently had cataract surgery, was wearing sunglasses.
          Aside from a shortage of places to hang coats in the morning, all the arrangements seemed in order. The cranberry bread on the breakfast snack table was especially good – no need to stop for my morning cowboy cookie if this keeps up. For the afternoon – a tray of cut-up fruit, which disappeared almost completely.
New unit president Betty Metz – a less authoritative figure than her predecessor, Judie Bailey – kept her remarks brief and to the point. Tournament director Dick Rasmus did his usual job without any hitches that I noticed. Well, one – the serpentine arrangement of the tables in our section, which caused some confusion in passing the boards and consternation among East-Wests wondering where they should go next.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Bridge Blog 367: Where's our results?

I just checked the ACBL website for scores in the Inter Club Championship Game on Monday (Blog 365) and the Airport Bridge Club isn’t there. Club manager Bill Finkelstein must have submitted them. Did they reject him because he played Boards 13 to 36 instead of starting with Board 1? There are no scores at all for Boards 35 and 36 in the tabulation tables.
Out of curiosity, I looked up the scores we would have gotten and added them up. Sure enough, there were a couple tops where I expected them, but our overall percentage is just a hair over 50% without Boards 35 and 36.

Bridge Blog 366: New Year's resolutions

Four things that I promise not to do the next time I play with Judy Kaprove, which will be on Friday in the Buffalo Winter Sectional Tournament.

1.                          Don’t pre-empt if you’re the dealer, especially if you have a seven-card Spade suit that starts out A-K-Q-J.
2.                          Don’t delay in leading a singleton Ace in defense.
3.                          Don’t forget how to signal point count when partner makes a take-out double. 
4.                          Don’t push to 3 No Trump when partner is showing 10 points or less.

       I did all of these things when I played with Judy at the Airport Bridge Club on Tuesday, but it was good to get them out and identified. All of them resulted in bottom boards, or near bottoms. Without those mistakes, we would have broken over 50%. As it was, we were 45.64%, 10th out of 12 North-Souths.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Bridge Blog 365: Out with the old

          Looks like all the Buffalo clubs I played at in December have shipped their results off to ACBL Central down South. Everything seems to be accounted for in my list of pending points – all 17.63 of them. That would bring my 2010 total to 287.02, with about 240 for the Ace of Clubs race, down from 309.90 (261.53 Ace of Clubs) in 2009.
          So I enter the brand new year with a career total of 1,035.52 masterpoints, which elevates me to a much tougher division in the national Ace of Clubs and Mini-McKenney races. My end of November totals, which got me fifth in Ace of Clubs and 76th in Mini-McKenney, would have put me in 39th place in Ace of Clubs in the 1,000-2,500 point division and off the list entirely in Mini-McKenney.
          I’d no longer be the top dog on the District 5 or Unit 116 levels, either. I’d be 10th in Mini-McKenney in the district, fourth in the unit. Ace of Clubs would be better – second to Mike Kisiel in the unit and the district.
          At least 2011 is off to a decent start. First game was Sunday. Arriving at the Airport Bridge Club without a partner, I was paired with Judie Bailey, with whom I came in first in the B stratification last Monday at the Whist Club. We made some great top boards and some grievous errors for bottoms and wound up with 54.17%, good for second North-South and .49 of a point.
Back on Monday with Usha Khurana in her last game before she goes home to India for month, we played in the Inter Club Championship game and registered 52.08%, good for second North-South and .42 of a point. Perhaps our score will perk up when it’s compiled nationally. We scored a couple tops that nobody else should touch – two overtricks that we didn’t deserve on a 4 Spade contract and a successful 4 Diamond doubled vulnerable contract (plus 710) that should have gone down one.