Thursday, November 29, 2012

Bridge Blog 606: Out of clock

Looks like the calendar has run out on my 20-point ambitions for November. One day left. Still 3.5 points short, since Florence Boyd and I were unsuccessful Thursday in the triple-point game at the Amherst Bridge Club. We seemed to play well, though we spent two-thirds of the session on defense, but I think we missed reaching the lower ranks of the winners because of a certain mindless error on my part.
We’re North-South at Table 1 in a 9 ½ table game. Three hands per round. Top score on a board is 8.
Pair 1 (Marilyn Sultz – my Friday partner -- & Ruth Wurster): 8, or 33.33%. We probably get 50% if I make an early Club lead in the first hand and hold them to just 2 Spades. My 1 Spade contract, bid and made, is a high middle board, but we should have let them play for a part score instead of bidding 4 Hearts, doubled, down two.
Pair 9 (Art Schumaker & Barb Multerer): 14, or 58.33%. I make a tough 3 NT bid, tie for a top board.
Pair 8 (Judi Marshall & Ed Drozen): 8, or 33.33% again. Good: Keeping Judi from making an overtrick on a 3 NT contract. Bad: Letting her play a makeable 3 Spades on a hand where we can make 4 Clubs. At the one-third mark, we’re an anemic 41.67%.
Pair 7 (Florence Notto & Janet Frisch): 7, or 29.17%. They just plain nail us. Florence leads a Spade against my initial 3 NT contract, taking out our only stopper and I have to rake in my winners immediately. A different lead and we make three overtricks. Janet finds a fruitful 2 Heart contract where every other East-West bids NT and hands us a bottom board. And then she cruises to a middle board with an overtrick at 2 Spades.
Pair 6 (Bruce Burr & Ross Markello): 7.5, or 31.25%. We register the first of the day’s two pass-outs when Florence passes on a hand where she could have opened 1 Club. It doesn’t make Clubs, but it’s good for 2 NT. Then Bruce and Ross proceed to make three overtricks on a 3 NT contract and send me down two on a 3 NT hand where Ross, on my right, opens a weak 2 Diamonds that’s not so weak and I overcall 2 NT with a 1 NT opener. Ross gets in when I eventually go to knock out the Ace of Clubs and runs five carefully-preserved Diamonds.
Pair 5 (Paul & Barbara Libby): 4, or 16.67%. Here’s that big mistake – reaching for an Ace of Hearts that would have defeated Barb’s 2 Spade contract and putting down a Jack of Hearts instead, which allowed her to make it. But we miss our chances on the other two hands, as well. Paul goes 2 Spades and comes two tricks short, but we can make 2 NT. And then a well-considered hold-up play by Barb keeps me from making 4 Spades. At the two-thirds mark, we’re truly pathetic – 33.68%.
Pair 4 (Nancy Kessler & Carlton Stone): 17, or 70.83%. We start getting cards. Flo plays her first contract, 3 NT making five. I make an overtrick at 4 Spades. Nancy and Carlton make 3 NT, but only bid 2.
Pair 3 (Jan Hasselback & Linda Wynes): 14.82, or 61.75%. That’s despite my daily minus 800, down four doubled on a 6 Club sacrifice bid. I make an improbable 4 Spade contract with a 7-point hand for out topmost board of the day and Flo caps it with a bold 5 Clubs, bid and made.
Pair 2 (Helen Panza & Mike Silverman): 15.5, or 64.58%. Flo makes an overtrick at 1 NT for a tie for top and we finish the day with another pass-out, this time for a near top. We’re 65.72% on those last three rounds. Overall, we bounce back to 44.36%. Too bad our good play didn’t kick in sooner.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Bridge Blog 605: B-keeping

Wednesday partner Celine Murray and I thought we had our A game, but when the final results were posted, what we had was our B game – first in B North-South with 52.68%, second in A in our direction, fourth overall, for 1.21 points. Total for the month is now 16.70 with two days to go.
So how did we fall short? Let’s go again to round-by-round analysis. It was a seven-table game, four hands per round, top score on a board was 6. We’re North-South at Table 4.
Pair 4 (Janet Frisch & Nancy Torrell): 11.5 out of 24, or 47.92%. We’re dragged down by my two game attempts, each falling one trick short, although they pushed us into game on one of them.
Pair 3 (Mike Silverman & Carlton Stone): 17.5, or 72.92%. The overall winners, but Mike acknowledged afterward that we totally demolished them, even though they took three of the four bids. On one, however, they allowed themselves to be pushed to 5 Spades, down two, where all the others stopped at 4 Spades. On our contract, I played 3 Diamonds making two overtricks, where one overtrick was pretty much the rule.
Pair 2 (Diane Bloom & Jerry Geiger): 12.5, or 52.08%. I’m watching newbie Diane Bloom carefully here, not because she’s lovely, but because before the game started she asked to pair up for three dates in January. I’m heartened by the way she took Jerry to 6 No Trump on the first hand, bid and made, for a top board. We recover when Celine bags 3 NT after I push her there on an iffy hand and when D&J stop at 3 Spades on a hand that’s good for game. What to watch for when playing with Diane in January? That not-going-to-game problem. I have that with some other partners, too.
Pair 1 (Don Grant & Linda Wynes): 10.5, or 43.75%. Don and Linda finished out of the points, but not because of this round. My proudest piece of strategy is a dud. I quietly let Linda play at 1 Diamond when I’m holding a 23-point hand (including A-K of Diamonds) and it goes down two, but it’s just an average board. Just past the halfway mark, we’re 54.16%.
Pair 7 (Florence Notto & Dottie May): 13.5, or 56.25%. I make the mistake of opening the first non-vulnerable hand with 10 high card points and a five-card Heart suit and things get competitive. It ends with me playing 5 Hearts doubled. Down 4. Minus 800. Zero. Fortunately, we catch a couple near-tops, defending 2 Diamonds, held to just one overtrick, and playing 3 Diamonds, bid and made.
Pair 6 (Jan & Carl Hasselback): 8.5, or 35.42%. So here’s our downfall. The hands started feeling dull at this point, too. Still we might have had 50% without my big mistake – giving Carl an extra trick by leading blindly into his big Diamond holding instead of forcing him to trump.
Pair 5: (Marty & Barb Pieterse): 14, or 58.33%. Our only absolute top board of the day comes against the second-place E-W pair, Celine leaping to 5 Clubs and making it. Everybody else stops short of game.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Bridge Blog 604: Sputtering back to life

        Can I reach 20 points for the month in this week of triple point games at the Airport Bridge Club? Starting out with 14.37, it shouldn’t be hard. Or should it?
        My first opportunity on Monday with Alicia Kolipinski found us on offense for most of the session, but the only thing that let us rise to a poor but dignified 45.46% was a top board on the final hand.
        Tuesday with Marietta Kalman felt better. We made solid top boards on five occasions, the best of them being a plus 1070 when Marietta scored two overtricks on a 2 Spade doubled vulnerable contract. Two of our top boards came in the final round (alas, against my upcoming Wednesday partner, Celine Murray) and lifted us to 50.26%, earning us 1.12 master points.
        Total for the month now is 15.49 with three days to go. I hope Celine is on her game. Meanwhile, I’ve slipped to third in club’s November master point derby. Mike Kisiel, who trailed me with 13.98 points when the game started, was overall winner and got 3.50 more.

Bridge Blog 604-A: The big breakdown

        Speaking of Mike Kisiel, the day after my game with him earlier this month he showed me a sheet on which he broke down our scores table by table, noting that we did very well after the first two, when we were getting used to each other. So let’s apply that to my Monday and Tuesday games.
        Monday we played 27 boards, three per table. Top score on a board was 8. Here’s how we went:
        Table 6: (Dottie May & Carolyn Siracuse) 12, or 50%. Starting out even.
Table 7: (Ruthie Kozower & Sandy Scheff) 12.5 or 52.08%. Feeling better. Table 8: (Barbara Sadkin & June Feuerstein) 14.19, or 59.125%. At the one-third point, we’re 53.74%. This is a decent start, but …
        Table 9: (Janet Frisch & Frank Schlehr) 7.0, or 29.16%, thanks to a bad discard that let Frank make a 4 Spade contract. Otherwise we might have been near 50% with them.
        Table 1: (Mike Kisiel & Paul Ganley) 14.5, or 60.42%, a good round against a tough pair.
        Table 2: (Judy Kaprove & Nadine Stein) 10, or 41.67%. At the two-thirds mark, we’re not so hot – 48.74%.
        Table 3: (Allan Beroza & Doug Dean) 13.5, or 56.25%, even Doug’s 6 Heart slam gave us 3 game points. We’re almost at 50% again.
        Table 4: (Barbara Libby & Jim Mathis) 4.0, or 16.67%. Here’s where the roof caved in. They were the overall winners Monday and we helped. I went down one on a 4 Clubs doubled vulnerable bid, hoping to either sacrifice successfully or push them to 4 Spades, which they couldn’t make. And then I failed to take a sure trick against Barbara’s 3 NT contract, allowing her to make 5 NT. And then Jim brought home a 5 Diamond contract where everyone else lost three tricks on it. Take away this round and we’re at 49% for the day.  
Table 5: (Isabelle Banas & Linda Wynes) 10.5, or 43.75%. Alicia was the only one to bid and make 4 Spades for a top board on the final hand, but that was to make up for not bidding the 4 Spade contract on the next-to-last hand and for getting a bottom board on a down-4 contract where I bid too enthusiastically.

        OK. Here’s Tuesday. It’s 24 boards with a sit-out for us East-Wests. Top on a board is 9.
        Table 8: (Pat Lakeman & Mary Terrana) 5.0 or 18.52%. Pat bids and Mary makes a 6 Heart slam to open the action, then we play a couple ill-advised minus 100 sacrifices.
        Table 9: (Pat Kilbury & Marilyn Sultz) 19.0 or 70.37%. Two top boards here – Pat goes down two at 3 Hearts doubled vulnerable and Marietta makes two overtricks on that 2 Spades doubled vulnerable contract.
        Table 10: (Mike Silverman & Judi Marshall) 13.0 or 48.15%.
        Table 1: (Bob Linn & Mike Kisiel) 12.56 or 46.52% after our sit-out. At the halfway point, we’re 45.89%.
        Table 2: (Bill Boardman & Joe Rooney) 9.5 or 35.19%. Marietta’s top board with 3 NT (bid and made) is erased by two bottoms, including a 5 Hearts doubled down-one defense where we could have bid 5 Spades and made it.
        Table 3: (Paula Kotowski & Carlton Stone) 11.5 or 42.59%.
        Table 4: (Barbara Libby & Jim Mathis) 11.0 or 40.74%, not great, but at least a better effort against Monday’s winners.
        Table 5: (Janet Frisch & Celine Murray) 24.5 or 90.74%. We finish with two tops – another 3 NT bid-and-made by Marietta and a down-three defeat of Celine’s ill-advised 3 Heart contract. Without this round, we’re 45.19% instead of 50.26%.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Bridge Blog 603: Off days

Prior to these days off to tend to visiting family members over Thanksgiving was a week of off-days, marking the collapse of the point-per-day run I’ve enjoyed since September. Nothing seemed to break the gloom.
There was a 45.54% game with Nadine Stein, a 49.07% game with Alicia Kolipinski (0.34 point), a 46.10% with Celine Murray (0.35 of a point through the miracle of stratification), 50.31% in a last-minute pairing with Mike Kisiel after a visit to the dentist (no miracles here), 49.04% with Judie Bailey (none here either), a single win in finishing last in the Swiss teams match last Sunday (0.12 of a point), next-to-last with a 42.08% with Judy Zeckhauser last Monday and a ray of hope in a 47.97% game on Tuesday with Chuck Schorr, which yielded 0.44 of a point.
I had 12 points on Veterans Day Nov. 12. As of Tuesday Nov. 20 (I haven’t played since then), the total for the month is 14.37.  There will be triple points, however, at the Airport Bridge Club in the week ahead. Can I attain the magic 2-0 in five days? Has the slump gone away? We’ll see.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Bridge Blog 602: Overtaken

“How come you’re here on a Saturday?” Jerry Geiger asks as I arrive at the Airport Bridge Club Saturday morning. “Is it because I passed you?”
I haven’t been playing much on Saturdays, true, but I’m playing this day because, well, it’s too damp a day for yard work and my significant other is going to be doing her own thing for most of the day. As for being passed, I’m didn’t know. But there it is on the updated November master point race list. Geiger has 11.71 points (thanks to winning on Friday and collecting 2.67 of them), while I came in second North-South and fourth overall with Marilyn Sultz on Friday and have 11.42.
I’ve come to play Saturday without a partner and, in the end, I play with the sub, sweet little old Ruth Hnath, the very first person I played with at the club nearly eight years ago. But first I do four hands with director Bill Finkelstein, who critiques all my mistakes, of which there are plenty.
For example, on the first hand, where I have opening values but no long suit, I overcall opponent Ann Battaglia’s 1 Club opener by bidding my four-card Diamond suit. This is a no-no. When the bid gets back around to Bill, he bids 2 Hearts. Ann goes 3 Clubs – I’m holding Ace-King-Queen of that suit – and Bill bids 3 Diamonds. I think of correcting to 3 Hearts, and I should have since I have three of them, but I let the Diamonds stand. As it turns out, we have eight Diamonds between us, including the Ace-King, and eight Hearts, missing the Ace-King-Queen. It goes down one. It would go down one at 3 Hearts, as well. It gives us 2 out of a possible 5 game points. I shouldn’t have bid at all. In all, in our four hands together against Ann and Marilyn Sultz, we get 11.5 game points, or 57.5% (thanks mostly to making three overtricks on a 3 Club bid after a fortunate opening lead from Marilyn).
After Ruth arrives, my hands get poorer – it seems like I’m picking up more Clubs than usual (one hand had eight of them) – and she winds up doing the major share of declaring between us. I play only two more hands, mediocre ones at that. Nevertheless, we finish second overall with 53.75%, raking in 1.70 points. And Jerry Geiger? First overall for 2.27 points. He’s widened his lead.
Two questions: Did I achieve my point-a-day pace in September and October because Jerry was absent for about 10 days each month on his trip to China? Could be. And, although Jerry is a superior player, would he win as much if he paired with more players like Diane Bloom, who’s sort of a newbie, instead of masters like John Ziemer, who makes all of his partners look good? Just asking.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Bridge Blog 601: Monthly reckoning

Seventh day of the month and the ACBL has posted the updates on the master point races. My second straight 35-pointer in a row in October should have done me good, so let’s see how much.
My totals for the year now stand at 164.50 for the Ace of Clubs competition (just club play) and 202 even for the Mini-McKenney, which includes all the points earned everywhere. For Unit 116 (Buffalo area only), I’m on the threshold of taking the lead in the Ace of Clubs race, less than one point behind first-place Carlton Stone. In fact, I may have passed him already, having notched another 9.16 since Nov. 1 (including 2.25 today, Wednesday, when Celine Murray and I posted a 60.14% game, second overall and first in the B strat).
Here’s the top 10 for Unit 116 Ace of Clubs: Carlton Stone, 165.34; me, 164.50; Mike Silverman, 158.51; John Ziemer, 156.03; Vince Pesce, 141.97; Liz Clark, 140.80; Jim Gullo, 125.42; Barbara Libby, 110.79; Carolyn Siracuse, 102.60; and Michael Ryan, 102.24.
Now let’s go to the Mini-McKenney list for Unit 116. Here I’m fifth, trailing those tournament masters. John Ziemer is first with 292.74, followed by Judy Padgug, 276.07; Dian Petrov, 270.94; Mike Ryan, 233.18; then me with 202 even; Jim Gullo, 186.53; Carlton Stone, 183.52; Mike Silverman, 176.30; Liz Clark, 172.81; and Vince Pesce, with only the 141.97 from Ace of Clubs.
Onward to District 5 level, which encompasses Buffalo, Cleveland, Pittsburgh and surrounding areas. Ace of Clubs here includes some of those other players, but not many of them. Robert Maier of Morgantown, W.Va., is fifth with 144.79. Francine Feldman of Boca Raton, Fla., (but really from Pittsburgh), is eighth with 132.98. And James Quigley of Pittsburgh is 10th with 112.27. Once again, the list includes extra folks from Unit 116 – Judy Padgug (99.15, 15th), Paul Libby (96.44, 17th) and Gene Finton (85.07, 23rd).
That’s 13 of us in the top 25 in the 1,000-2,500 point division. The 500-1,000 shows similar Unit 116 dominance – seven of the top 10 (headed by Ken Meier with 148.90), and nine of the top 25, although only the top four have more than 100 points. The first eight players on the 300-500 point list are from Unit 116, headed by Bill Boardman with 155.52, the only one with more than 100 points. In all, 11 from Unit 116 are there.
The District 5 Mini-McKenney is a different story. The 1,000-2,500 division is topped by Michael Craeger of Brecksville, Ohio, who has more than twice as many points – 593.61 – than second-place John Ziemer. Robert Maier of Morgantown is third with 290.61. Judy Padgug and Dian Petrov are fourth and fifth, respectively. Sixth, with 269.10, is Marc Sylvester of Edinboro, Pa., who shows up regularly at tournaments here. Mike Ryan is eighth and I’m down in 16th place, between Lois Butler of Chagrin Falls, Ohio (204.64) and Ronald Franck of Pittsburgh (201.69). Jim Gullo is 19th, Carlton Stone is 20th, Mike Silverman is 22nd and Liz Clark is 23rd. Cut-off is at 165.88 points.
On to the national listings, 100 players in each division. In the 1,000-2,500 group, alpha dog is a familiar figure, good old Charlie Christmas of Tallahassee, Fla., with 292.37, followed by John Petrie of Long Beach, Calif., with 270.32. Carlton Stone is 54th, I’m 57th, between Robert Darling of Tallahassee (164.53) and Hugh Miller of Spring, Texas (163.99). The list cuts off at 148.99. Over on the Mini-McKenney, District 5 leader Craeger is fourth, eclipsed by Stephen Apodaca of Santa Fe, N.M. (610.68), Margaret Hart of Baton Rouge, La. (608.10), and James Gross of Lee’s Summit, Mo. (605.98). Cut-off is at 291.79 points. The only Unit 116 player on board is John Ziemer. He’s 99th.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Bridge Blog 600: Excelsior!

The ACBL has made all my pending points real here on the sixth of the month. Overall total for the year – 202 even. That’s better than 2011 already, when I amassed only 191.45 for the entire 12 months.
Total for October – 35.15, which includes those 12.12 from the regional. No such progress on the master point races, though. They’ll have to wait for another day.
Meanwhile, the point-a-day regime continues in November, though I hardly expect it to keep going through the Thanksgiving weekend layoff. Total after six days is 6.91, thanks mostly to the Swiss team game on Sunday, when our team finished third overall and first in B for 3.15 points, and my hookup with Ron Helfman on Monday, a dismal round spent mostly on defense, which surprised us when we came in first with 58.33% for another 2.13 points.