The pall of Wednesday’s bankruptcy sale hung over the Grand Island Holiday Inn in many subtle ways as the Buffalo Spooktacular Regional Tournament opened Tuesday. Discarded paper towels decorated the washrooms. To get the only coffee available, you bought a cup at the front desk for $3 and got unlimited refills from the urn. The lights were dark in the parking lot. And word was that the entire staff had no idea how long they would have their jobs.
My personal pall began early, when I woke up to the rain. What a dark and dreary day. Celine Murray and I matched it by playing a dreary game in the afternoon half of the two-session open pairs game. On more than one occasion, Celine let my take-out doubles ride. Disaster ensued. On the worst one, where she opened 2 No Trump, the opponent bid 3 Diamonds and I doubled to indicate a transfer to Hearts, she left the double in and I compounded it by revoking. We could have made six Hearts, but instead we were on the short end of 3 Diamonds doubled vulnerable.
The preliminary results after 12 rounds found us in 25th place out of 29 North-Souths in two combined sections. The final tally found us tied for next-to-last North-South in our section with 41.03%.
The best part of the day turned out to be dinner at Dick & Jenny’s, recommended by final-round opponents Elaine Kurasiewicz and Carol Bedell. Dick and Jenny are refugee restaurateurs from New Orleans, wiped out by Hurricane Katrina and resettled on Grand Island. The food was inventive and first-rate. I went for the lingering $20.12 Restaurant Week taste-sized special, which included the Wild Louisiana Crawfish and Andouille Cheesecake with Grilled Wood Smoked Shrimp and Buffalo Fire Sauce Butter, a beautifully-plated and spicy dish with a name almost bigger than its portion. For the entrée – Bronzed Pork Tenderloin Stuffed with Goat Cheese and Basil over Mascarone Polen ta with Green Beans and Smoked Tomato Balsamic Vinegarette.
Then it was back to the tables with a vow to do better. Sitting East-West this time, we watched the good cards go to North-South. Celine played most of the East-West contracts – nine out 26, while I played three, including one where she boosted me into a 5 Heart doubled contract after bidding me out of a makeable 3 No Trump. Overall, it seemed as if we played better and made fewer mistakes, but when the preliminary results went up, there we were, 25th again. Our final position was slightly better – 10th out of 15 East-Wests in our section – with a better percentage, 46.75%. Out of those 15 East-Wests, 12 got master points. We were among the other three.