Monday, February 27, 2012

Bridge Blog 506: M.I.A.

   Apologies are in order, dear readers, for my long absence from this space. I've been on vacation (Arizona and California). I've been out sick (that nasty head cold that's been going around -- it fairly flattened me for a couple days). I've been preoccupied and distracted.
   But now that I've been reminded how much I've been out of action by a friend who hadn't seen my name on the winners' lists in the paper for a while, it's time to declare I'm alive and well (except for a nagging sniffle) and playing bridge almost every day, though not brilliantly.
   The result is that I have missed mucho days this month -- 16 out of 29 (thank god for Leap Day) and I'll be lucky to match even my pathetic January point count. The current February total is somewhere between 7 and 8. More soon. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Bridge Blog 505: Barely registering

          Just like clockwork, it’s the seventh of the month and the ACBL has posted its master point race results for January.  Given my pathetic performance so far in 2012, I wasn’t expecting to see much of my name, if at all. So in the spirit of taking joy in small pleasures, I’m happy to find myself clinging to 10th place in the 1000-2500 point division of the Unit 116 (Buffalo) listings for the Ace of Clubs competition (club play only). It only goes to 10 places. Here’s the Top 10: Judy Padgug, 14.48; Carlton Stone, 10.96; Vince Pesce, 9.55; Jim Gullo, 8.29; Barbara Libby, 8.22; Anne Watkins, 8.22; Gene Finton, 8.13; Pat Rasmus, 8.03; Luke Danielson, 7.33; myself, 7.11. I suspect that this list would look a bit different if the Airport Bridge Club hadn’t been closed all month. For one thing, there would be at least twice as many points up for grabs in Buffalo.
          At any rate, my 7.11 wasn’t enough to reach the Top 25 for District 5 (Buffalo, Cleveland, Pittsburgh), where the bottom rung required 7.61. And my overall total of 8.04 is well short of the Mini-McKenney (club plus tournament play) on the local level (11.84 needed), where Judy Padgug leads with 27.82, and in the district (18.64 needed), where the top player – Michael Creager of Brooksville,Ohio – has 58.10 points. Judy Padgug is in 10th place.  

Friday, February 3, 2012

Bridge Blog 504: Singles

January usually gets me off to a jackrabbit start, point-wise. Not this year. No extra-point games at the Airport Bridge Club, which was closed every day but one. Tougher competition, too, in the other clubs, although occasionally there would be a day like the one where Bob Padgug and I managed to come in 13th, ahead of Dan Gerstman and Christine Urbanek,  in one of the worldwide games.
So let’s look at the ACBL website to see if my January points have been submitted. Sure enough, there they are. All of them. And the grand total is …. 8.04. Single digits. Also my lowest January total since 2007. Last year I had 11.94.

Bridge Blog 503-A: Gypsy life

          It felt like coming home, that ACBL-wide game last Saturday at the Airport Bridge Club – the first game there since mid-December, when club manager Bill Finkelstein underwent abdominal surgery. Home to the picture-backed cards. Home to a few players like Ruth Hnath whom I hadn’t seen in six weeks because they won’t play at the other clubs. Home to the manager’s kvetching. Yes, we missed that, too.
          Bill was grumpier than usual. Three days after the tube draining his abdomen was removed, he wasn’t feeling good down there. (Barely an hour into the game he announced that he was not resuming his every-day schedule after all, but would be open Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.) And then there was the condition of the club itself, which substitute director Mike Silverman had left in less than perfect order.
          But he had the pre-dealt hands ready (I’d brought the cards over to his house the previous day) and the hand records printed and off we went, more or less on time, with 7½ tables, eight after the first round when a pair from Toronto wandered in late after their GPS got them lost.
          Marilyn Sultz and I played them on the third round and that was when we started thinking we wouldn’t have a good day. Vera and Ali, I think those were their names, trounced us thoroughly – in four hands, we got just 4 game points out of a possible 24, capped by a doubled 6 Spades-down-three sacrifice bid to foil their certain 5 No Trump – and they sailed to first by a wide margin – 10 % or so – collecting the big 15 master point bonanza, since this was the only club in the district hosting the special ACBL game. Marilyn and I finished with 47.32%, which sounds respectable, but was actually last in the tightly-clustered East-West scores until Bill made a correction and another pair dropped 1/100 of a percent behind us.
          So much for the golden opportunity to make up for my January point shortage. But not the only one. The Airport Club would be holding an extra-point game on Tuesday. Atonements could be made. But then Bill Finkelstein went back into the hospital Sunday. After delays in the hospital, he canceled Tuesday’s game on Monday afternoon.

Bridge Blog 503-B: Painting my wagon

          I couldn’t believe it. Not only were the double-point games at the Airport Bridge Club canceled, but my partners for the last two days of January – Marie Suprinick on Monday and Celine Murray on Tuesday, both of whom had reserved the dates way back before the Airport Bridge Club closed in December – had double- booked on me. Would I mind if … ? Of course not. Besides, I told myself, it could be a chance to hook up with one of the stronger players.
So I ask Carolyn Siracuse during the Saturday game and yes, she’s free Monday. We’ve done well together in the past, but not this time at Bridge Club Meridian. 40.46%. Not last, but not far from the bottom.
          Come Tuesday, I had no partner at all. Meridian director Dian Petrov surveyed the crowd and pointed me to Gene Finton, he of the generous mustache and quirky sense of humor. I’d played against him – he’s a savvy guy, but a little unpredictable sometimes – but I’d never played with him. What are we playing, I ask. He holds up a blank convention card. This, he said.
Finton sometimes provokes great frustration in his partners, notably Judi Marshall, who rags on him constantly, but I found him to be pleasant enough once I accustomed myself to his oddball wit and realized we’re not that far apart style-wise. (For instance, he calls Cappeletti “cacciatore.” I call it “cappuccino.” We met in the middle.)  Our game felt like a good one – we were on offense a lot and he played most of the hands. And it was – 59.52%, first North-South, 0.90 master point. Bring out those gypsy violins. Let’s have a last dance for January.