Saturday, June 11, 2011

Bridge Blog 426: Not watching the odometer

          I’d expected to hit the 1100-point mark lifetime during May, but things were so pathetic, it didn’t happen. However, at the end of the month, I was very, very close – like 1097.31, according to the ACBL. Which means that while I wasn’t paying attention to it, I passed the milestone sometime since the beginning of June. But when was it?
          Lessee, .39 points on June 1, .56 on June 2, .65 on June 3. That was 1.6, putting me at 1098.91. And then off for the weekend and back on Monday with Sharon Chang. But that wasn’t it. We were last, or close to it, with 40.23%. No, but was it Tuesday with Helen Panza? We had a 53.17% game, fifth in A, third in B North-South for .45 red point and .44 black point. I forget whether red points count for this race. Either way, it wasn’t enough.
          Wednesday, however, was the charm with Celine Murray, with whom I probably play the most. We had a 58.84% game, best I’ve done in a while, which was good for third in A, second in B East-West, and .75 red points and .75 black points. That DID it! And I didn’t even notice.
          Sorry to say, I didn’t do much to distinguish myself for the rest of the week. With the exemplary Christine Pesce, wife of Vince, on Thursday, we had a 47% game, which didn’t even beat Vince and was thoroughly out of the money, even though we had a very good time. With Ruth Wurster on Friday, we kept thinking we weren’t having a very good time, but we got away with a few things (including my best move of the week – preempting with a six-card Heart suit, 9-high, keeping the opponents out of a sure 3 Spade contract and making 5 Hearts (thanks to a superb dummy hand). We wound up with a 51.65% game, fourth in A, third in B among East-Wests, yielding .32 red and .32 black.
          A now-rare Saturday appearance (Monica’s playing volleyball in the Empire State Senior Games in Cortland) paired me with Mike Silverman for what should have been an excellent game. But after the first two rounds, in which we underbid No Trump games and a Spade slam, we got more adventurous and got slapped down accordingly. We wound up at 40.43%, dead last, and were one of only three teams that didn’t beat club manager Bill Finkelstein in his “Beat Bill” game. So the tally so far this month is 3.11 black points, 1.52 red points. Not good. Hopefully things will improve next week. It’s STaC week – Sectional Tournament at the Clubs.

Bridge Blog 425: The monthlies

          After the rotten, miserable May I had, I was in no hurry to check out the monthly masterpoint races on the ACBL website, but one can only ignore these things for so long. So let’s take a peek at those leaders in the 1000 to 2500 point division.
First, the Unit 116 races, which are just for Buffalo. In the Ace of Clubs race, which is just for club play, I’m not lowdown as I thought. Fifth with 56.05 points. Ahead of me – Mike Kisiel, 92.37; John Ziemer, 77.28; Carlton Stone, 64.58; Elizabeth Clark, 64.19; then me. Rounding out the top 10 – Vince Pesce, 50.42; Jim Gullo, who doesn’t play the Airport Bridge Club, 47.68; Judy Padgug, 44.57; Carolyn Siracuse, 40.34; and Paul Libby, 37.43.
          In the Mini-McKenney race, which includes all the points you earn, clubs and tournaments altogether, I sit much lower on the list – 10th with 61.49. The nine in front of me look like this – Dian Petrov, 171.11, thanks to that big tournament win back in March; Judy Padgug, 103.66; John Ziemer, 93.33; Mike Kisiel, 93.06; Kathy Pollock, 73.20; Carlton Stone, 69.96; Jim Gullo, 68.22; Elizabeth Clark, 65.98; and Mike Ryan, 62.33. I need to step up my game, that’s for sure.
          On the District 5 level (Buffalo, Cleveland, Pittsburgh), I’m 11th on the Ace of Clubs list. Kisiel is tops, Ziemer is third, Carlton is fifth and Liz Clark is sixth. On the Mini-McKenney, I’m not among the Top 25. I’d need at least 81.52 points to make it. Dian Petrov is second, behind Hao Ge of Bay Village, Ohio, who has 190.59.
          In the national races, you need at least 73.56 to make the Ace of Clubs Top 100. Kisiel is 23rd. Top is Zita Lechter of Sunny Isles, Fla., with 172.35, followed by Ronald Andrews of Vero Beach, Fla., with 145.54. As for the Mini-McKenney Top 100, cutoff point is 147.90. Dian Petrov is 60 th. Hao Ge is 37th. Leader is Louise Clark of Glencoe, Ill., with 469.70, followed by last month’s leader Geeske Joel of Palo Alto, Calif., at 427.20, and Allison Howard of Cookeville, Tenn., with 376.43.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Bridge Blog 424: Sour notes

          I think it was in the Martin Scorsese movie “New York New York.” At one point, the anti-heroic protagonist, the brash jazz saxophonist Jimmy Doyle, played by Robert De Niro, makes a philosophical declaration to his sweetie, a singer named Francine Evans, played by Liza Minnelli, about how a man’s life is like a major chord. If I recall correctly, he said something like how there are three notes – his home, his love life and his music – and when all those are in harmony, life is beautiful. Well, maybe he didn’t quite say it that way, but I still like the analogy.
          At any rate, my major chord hit sour notes in many ways in the month of May. My blood pressure needed extra medication, my personal arrangements hit more than one crisis point and my bridge game went to hell. Hopefully, the blood pressure and the personal stuff will work themselves into better places, but my miserable masterpoint production for the month will stand forever as a low point in my bridge-playing history.
          OK, a little overdramatic, but it was truly miserable. How miserable was it? I earned a mere 5.46 points for the month – 3.66 in club play, 1.8 at the sectional tournament – my worst month since May 2006. In the past, I could blame the advent of golf season for my decline. This time, with the home front keeping me away from the tables on the weekends, on Memorial Day and on a five-day trip to New England, plus the tournament, I missed 14 of a possible 31 days of Ace of Clubs action. And then there was my big mid-month slump. There’s no question that I’m about to sink deeper down the lists in the unit and district masterpoint races when the ACBL finishes its monthly tabulations.

Bridge Blog 423: So near, but yet so far

          One upshot of my slump in May is that, although I was so close to the 1,100 masterpoint mark I could taste it, it still remains tantalizingly out of reach. My career total at midnight May 31 stood at 1,097.31.
          June, however, is proving to be much more fruitful. On Wednesday, playing with Flo Boyd in place of my usual partner Celine Murray, who was unavailable, we surprised ourselves with a 50.60% result – fourth in the A strat, second in B, good for .39 point. Despite my missing the significance of 2 No Trump responses from Usha Khurana on Thursday, we emerged with a respectable 52.13% effort – third in A, second in B, .56 point.
On Friday, Judy Kaprove and I started out with a 6 No Trump slam, finished with a pair of average-plus games when our buddy Ruthie Kozower walked out in a snit over not wanting to switch chairs for the final round (her arthritis was hurting), and got ourselves a 55.42% game – third in A and second in B in a 14-pair three-quarters movement game, worth .65 point. So after earning only 3.66 club points for the entire month of May, I’ve accumulated 1.60 in the first three days of June. Add that to the lifetime total and we get 1,098.91.

Bridge Blog 422: Masterful

It was back on Monday when Judy Kaprove beamed at me and said, “Congratulate me!” She’d become a Life Master at the Cleveland Regional Tournament last week. So did Tova Reinhorn, she said.
And so it came to pass that Airport Bridge Club director Bill Finkelstein announced the new Life Masters, then noted that there was someone on the room with nearly 1,100 points who was NOT a Life Master. Guilty as charged.
All this Life Master talk has inspired people to start thinking about if and when they could get their necessary gold masterpoints, which are only available at regional tournaments. You need 25. I’ve got 20. We have regionals coming up in October on Grand Island and in November in Niagara Falls, Ont. And now Ruthie Kozower, who’s also a few gold points short, is talking about the Syracuse Regional in August and Bill F. is saying that there will be great gobs of gold given out at the North American Bridge Championships in Toronto in July.
And then today, Friday, Carlton Stone and Nancy Kessler step up and say they’d like to help me get the gold I need at the Grand Island Regional in October. They’d be glad to play knock-outs with me. All I need to do is find a partner.