Monday, August 8, 2011

Bridge Blog 437: July's big picture

          The ACBL has posted the tallies for its master point races on the local, district and national levels over the weekend and, although I don’t expect great things, I’m wondering if I moved up a notch or two on the local and district levels. Let’s take a look.
          For Unit 116 (Buffalo), my division (the 1,000 to 2,500 point level) in the Ace of Clubs race (club points only) continues to be led by Mike Kisiel. He’s got 136.89. I’m sixth with 84.80, trailing John Ziemer (104.99), Liz Clark (103.65), Vince Pesce (87.76) and Carlton Stone (86.16), and leading Carolyn Siracuse (81.51), Judy Padgug (69.34), Jim Gullo (62.80) and Paul Libby (60.86).
          Go to District 5 (Buffalo, Cleveland, Pittsburgh) and I’ve nudged back up to eighth place. The group in front of me includes two Pittsburgh players, but Kisiel is still on top.
          The Mini-McKenney, which includes all points earned, club and tournaments both, is a different story. I’m ninth at the unit level with 92.46. First is Dian Petrov, with 233.20, followed by Judy Padgug (148.33), John Ziemer (147.12), Mike Kisiel (146.98), Kathy Pollock (114.32), Liz Clark (114.26), Carlton Stone (100.52) and Mike Ryan (94.90). Rounding out the list of 10 is Jim Gullo (91.63).
          At the District 5 level, I don’t even register. I’d need 112.25 to make the Top 25. Leader is that Hao Ge person from Bay Village, Ohio, with 431.53. Dian Petrov is second.
          Nationwide, I’m still nowhere. I’d need 104.16 to make the Ace of Clubs Top 100 list (led by Zita Lechter of Sunny Isles, Fla., with 241.44). Kisiel is 16th nationally. To reach the Top 100 on the Mini-McKenney nationally, I’d need 202.28. Top is Louise Clark of Glencoe, Ill., with 601.41, followed by Geeske Joel of Palo Alto, Calif., with 506.04. Hao Ge is sixth. Dian Petrov is 64th.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Bridge Blog 436: Summering up

The ACBL has my July points pending, all 16.61 of them, which will bring my total for the year to 92.46. Unsure how many of them will be Ace of Clubs points, though.
As for August, I got .48 with Lorna Brewer on Monday (48.79%, fourth in B) and then there was that paltry 1.19 (estimated) in Syracuse. I actually earned more points than that (1.40) on Friday at the Airport Bridge Club.
Paired at the last minute with Marilyn Sultz due to a Nancy Littenberg calendar malfunction (she thought we had a date for Thursday), we played mostly defense and finished with 54.76%, second in A, first in B East-West. Total for the first five days of August – 3.07.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Bridge Blog 435: Syracuse 2

            Thursday was promising at the start. Ruthie and Judy and I did an early lunch at L’Adour – the French restaurant next to City Hall in downtown Syracuse where we ate Wednesday night – and it continued to be wonderful. Bottles of mineral water. Checkered napkins. Frenchy waiters with accents. Great frites. This time I had the croque madame, being a croque monsieur with a sunny-side-up egg on top. Excellent.
            And when I checked in at the partnership desk at the tournament, they had a partner for me for the Swiss teams – Jerry Minucci, a Rochester lawyer who said he had 1,900 master points and, as we filled out the convention card, seemed to be a more copacetic partner than the two I’d had already.
            The afternoon session started out with double confusion. First we went to our assigned tables and discovered they were right next to each other. We informed one of the directors, who flew out into the room and started switching around table cards, moving a section of people who were just settling down to play. Properly separated, we found ourselves in another round robin, playing against two other teams, but we were called aside after the first round (which we won handily) and were told we’d been assigned to the wrong group. We weren’t a B team after all, but part of the A/X group – one of the X teams. We were given a new number and sent back into the fray.
            In our seven rounds on the X level, we won one, lost five and tied one, hardly the sort of thing that earns gold points. (The overall A winners, incidentally, getting something like 10 gold points, were the Buffalo team of Meg Klamp, Joan Rose, Bev Cohen and Judi Marshall.) People asked me how my partner was and I said, “Grumpy.” The Rochester people who knew him seemed think that was an apt description, but he was good company nonetheless and resisted most of my efforts at post-hand analysis by saying, “That hand’s over.”
            Biggest disappointment of the game was in round seven, where we were up against some guys from St. Catharines who had spent the interval between the afternoon and evening sessions drinking at the bar of the restaurant where we had dinner (The Retreat in Liverpool, where Ruthie, Judy and I had absolutely the cutest waitress we’ve ever experienced – the divine Miranda).
            Anyway, on the hand in question, Jerry opened 2 Spades and I’m sitting with a 17-point hand, including an Ace doubleton in Spades. The St. Catharines guys jump into the bidding and hit 3 No Trump, whereupon I double them and we nail them big. Jerry runs his Spades. I pick up a gang of tricks. They’re down five, not vulnerable. Plus 1,100 for us. At Judy and Ruthie’s table, however, the other St. Catharines guys, equally loopy and charming, went 2 Spades-6 Spades and made the damn vulnerable slam for a plus 1,430 on their side and minus International Match Points for us. Amazing. I had another successful double come up short in the scoring department earlier in the day and I’m beginning to think that this doubling stuff is not a good strategy for Swiss teams.
            So what was my reward for two days of tournament bridge in Syracuse? Well, as one of our final opponents said, “If it feels good, it must be all right.” And it did feel good, despite the setbacks, and my range of experience has expanded. Not only that, I made it back safely to the Buffalo News in 2 hours and 15 minutes.
But pointwise, not so good. Wednesday’s Swiss play apparently yielded .20 points per winning round, which added up to .40. And Thursday’s was peculiar, due to our mixup at the beginning of play. Our victory in the B/C/D division was worth .22 points, whereas wins in the A/X group were worth .38. With a win and a tie, that was .57, plus .22. So .79, which gives me 1.19 for the tournament. No gold. But, hey, we have two more regionals this year – Grand Island and Niagara Falls, Ont. There’s hope.

Bridge Blog 434: Syracuse 1

            Let’s be honest. I didn’t really expect to win gold points in Toronto. Would have been nice, but I figured the competition would be pretty stiff. But Syracuse  is another story. Playing knock-outs with Bob and Judy Kaprove and Ruthie Kozower last year, we came in second and earned half a dozen gold. This year Bob is unavailable and after much contemplation, I lined up someone who had shown up without a partner last year – Debra Glamack, from Rochester.
            Debra’s a strong player, albeit a bit harsh (she e-mailed me an apology after a particularly awful session in a regional on Grand Island), and I had hopes for the knockouts. But we weren’t quite understanding one another and, after losing the first two rounds of a round robin by small margins, we won the next round by a small margin and lost the last one large. That large one hurt. Of the three round robin teams, we had the lowest Victory Point score. We were out.
            Which left us adrift for the evening. A youngish guy named Chris from Mississauga, with whom Debra plays bridge online, showed up and she said she wanted to play with him. They weren’t at the evening session, so perhaps they were reviewing their conventions. Best bet for the evening was Swiss teams, so I stepped over to the partnership table and immediately was teamed up with a guy named Peter Clark from Ottawa.
            Peter Clark should need no introduction, because everybody seems to know him and he seems to know everybody. How many points did he have? Doesn’t matter, he says. (I learn later that he has nearly 7,000.) What conventions does he play? What do you play, he says, he’ll do it. He played with 70 different partners so far this year. He said something about how he was late arriving because he had to attend a meeting about what to do with the ballpark in Ottawa. Turns out he’s a former reeve, i.e., city councilman. Or perhaps a current one. He's got a page on Wikipedia that says he's currently in office.
            Peter Clark also turned out to be an excellent bridge player, although I wasn’t reading him right all the time. My fault. But we won the first two rounds in the Swiss teams game by good margins (16-4 VPs both times) and were second going into the third round. Then we ran into the first place team, which beat us, 13-7, when Ruthie and Judy had a meltdown on a sure 4 Heart contract. And we butchered the final round, the most shameful moment being a mismatch (and a weak one, at that), where we went down four vulnerable at 3 No Trump. We were shut out on VPs entirely and sank to a tie for third in a six-team field. No points.
            Today, Thursday, we try again playing Swiss teams. And once again I’m looking for a partner. I ran into Buffalo players Meg Klamp and Joan Rose in the breakfast room at the Knights Inn here (across the street from the tournament site, the Holiday Inn in Liverpool) and they said they’d seen Debra this morning and rolled their eyes.