Sunday, April 21, 2013

Bridge Blog 668: Buffalo Spring Sectional, Days 2 & 3

Seldom has one of my Swiss team experiences gotten off to such a solid start. Our Team 7 – myself, Selina Volpatti, Dave Donaldson and Linda Burroughsford – racked up a resounding 23-1 International Match Point margin against our first opponents on the final day of the Buffalo Spring Sectional Tournament on Sunday, giving us 28 victory points. In our half of the match, against Ginny Panaro and Dotty May, Selina and I had all the scores on our side of the plus-minus line.
In golf, there’s the awesome responsibility of a good  drive, the need to come up with another stellar shot. In Swiss teams, there’s the awesome challenge of facing the top players in the room if you succeed early. Round 2 put us up against two Rochesterians – Guy and Jerry – who were playing 2 over 1, a sure sign they might be sharks. They made one big slip-up, going down three vulnerable, which gave us 10 IMPs. Unhappily, we committed four smaller miscues, which aggregated to 14. Well, we may have lost that round, but we lost it well.
We followed that with a big romp – a 28-IMP victory over Elaine Kurasiewicz, Warren O’Connell and their teammates, good for 30 victory points. Then we went into the lunch break by holding a truly tough team – Brian Meyer was on it – to a 1 IMP margin over us. That left us fifth overall and we’d played two of the teams ahead of us already.
Play resumed against another veteran team – Stan Kozlowski and Alex Kowal were our opponents – and we thought we beat them until a scoring error turned up. They won instead by 2 IMPs.
We were still feeling glorious when we went up against the team that ultimately won the day – Chris Urbanek and Bud Seidenberg were at our table. “You guys killed us,” I declared after we finished our seven boards. And they truly did. 51 IMPs to 0. There was no single mistake we could point to, either. Sure, Selina shouldn’t have jumped to 5 Clubs, which went down two vulnerable after Bud doubled. But then they were making game where our partners were struggling to part-scores. In one case, they made game in a hand where their teammates also took the bid in the opposite direction.
Even so, we might have salvaged something in the final round against Paul and Barbara Libby, but we lost another squeaker, 14-11 IMPs. Had we won by 3 IMPs, we would have cashed in on bonus points. We needed 109 victory points overall to finish fifth in the B strat and we had only 100. And only two victorious rounds for .26 master points apiece. Nevertheless, we played remarkably well together. We came close.
There was nothing close about the pairs games with Celine Murray on Saturday, however. In the morning session, we were bidding fools, taking 16 of the 24 bids, and I confess that I was the bigger fool, going down on two-thirds of my contracts. Dead last North-South, we were lucky to come out on the sunny side of 40%.
I wanted to pull in my horns in the afternoon session, but the cards wouldn’t let me. At least not at first. Until we hit the halfway point, I had a succession of big hands and long suits. This time, though, the results were better – 48%, a couple percentage points away from scratching.
Random notes: The sectional seemed a little small. There were few outside players. A handful from Rochester. A few from Canada. The Sunday Swiss session had just 21 teams. By comparison, the St. Catharines Sectional in February had 46 Swiss teams. When I mentioned our sectional to the folks at the Bridge Centre of Niagara in St. Catharines a week ago, they were largely unaware of it.
Director Mike Roberts seems to keep growing in everybody’s estimation. He ran quiet, polite and steady games all weekend and there were nothing but good things said about him.
Ditto for the venue – the social hall at the Main-Transit Fire Hall. Modern, well-lit, easily accessible. Only drawback this time around – they apparently banned anything from being taped to the walls, so the scores were pasted onto upended tables.
When the hospitality was good, it was very, very good. The baked goods Friday, lots of cookies and coffee cake, were a big hit, so big that they pretty much disappeared. Maybe they should have lasted a little longer. It seemed like Saturday’s morning pickings were slim.
Sunday brought abundant bagels from Panera’s and plenty of cream cheese (a feature which unit president Sue Neubecker made sure to call to my attention, a reference to the cream cheese shortage at a previous sectional, which I remediated by going out and buying some at the deli next door). Sunday coffee – big urns from Tim Hortons – came a little late, but not overly so, arriving just as the first hands were played. No inconvenience for me. I come with my own Starbucks Via instant.


  1. Dale,
    This is the second straight sectional that your blog says how we beat your team 50-0 or so but you couldn't find any mistakes you made. I think you need to analyze the results a little more closely, you won't improve your game otherwise!

    Best wishes,

    Dave H.

    1. dave, guess i was unclear. we certainly made mistakes (bud seidenberg even pointed out a trick that i should have made), but what i meant to express was that there was no single mistake that, if corrected, would have turned back the tsunami of bridge expertise that inundated us. i thought we held our own with everybody else, but you guys outplayed us from start to finish. congratulations on your win.