Had Bill Finkelstein not gone on the ailing list, I would have been severely conflicted about Sunday’s choice between the annual Unit 116 game and meeting and Bill’s competing holiday party. Without the holiday party, the unit affair was fine – a full house in the Bridge Center of Buffalo. They would have been hard pressed to hold more than 20 tables full of players. As it was, director Dian Petrov had to snake the two sections of tables through each other. Any bigger and maybe they should move it to St. Catharines.
At any rate, it ran smoothly and the food – roast beef sandwiches, salad, scalloped potatoes, a ton of desserts – was fine. The business meeting seemed pretty much to the point – it was especially sad to hear the list of bridge players who had passed away this year (so many of them). There was even a death on the board – Franklin Kidd, who was chairman of Sunday’s event.
When the winners in the election to the board were announced – Paul Zittel, Tova Reinhorn and Betty Metz – Betty, who is president, announced that the new board would name a replacement for Frank. Bill Finkelstein, when he heard about this, pulled out the unit by-laws and cited a paragraph that covers the filling of vacant seats on the board. The board used to make the appointments, but that led to a lot of cronyism and it’s no longer kosher. They have to take the next-highest vote-getter in the election.
A surprise to me was the presence of Joel Wooldridge – announced as the ACBL Player of the Year. He was unprepared to speak, but they pressed him to say a few unprepared words anyway. He went on to play with his mother, Jill (in the other section from Bob Kaprove and me), and cruised to the highest percentage – 70.16% -- in a room that included some of the best players in town (Jim Mathis, Saleh Fetouh, Bud Seidenberg and Dan Gerstman, to name some of them). Hmm, one top player missing was Chris Urbanek. And Bev Cohen, announced as a Diamond (5,000 point) Life Master, was out of town. Hmm again, no Judi Marshall or Jerry Geiger, either.
Gerstman, to whom I’d never before spoken, buttonholed me in the front hallway after the game and expressed the wish for a bridge hero in this town, preferably in the newspaper. I explained that I couldn't assume that role, even if I were qualified for it, because The News has many other things they want me to do and little interest in bridge (they rejected this blog for their website), despite owner Warren Buffett's fondness for the game. Gerstman, for his part, noted that he was one of the guys that the New York Times bridge columnist consults with. I’m impressed.