Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Bridge Blog 720: Niagara Falls Regional, Part I

Fresh from earning my first fraction of a point for November on Tuesday in a 53% game with Ruth Wurster at the Airport Bridge Club, I was primed for the Niagara Falls Regional.
I was further encouraged by the prospect of good teammates – Ruthie Kozower and Judy Kaprove – for me and Usha Khurana in the knock-outs.
And I figured our fortunes were pretty much assured when we were put in a three-way round robin match in the first round, since the best two of the teams advance to the next round.
Aside from a slip by Usha on the first board – she opened 2 Clubs instead of 1 Club and we wound up in a bad contract going down two vulnerable – we proved ourselves to be the roundest of the round robins, scoring solid wins in all four rounds against a St. Catharines team headed by Dennis Glazebrook (15-4 and 24-18 IMPs) and a team of little old ladies from the Rochester area (39-5 and 27-9 IMPs).
After lunch, we also started out strong against the Marlene Benny team from London, Ont., all the while chatting them up. Marlene was a retired public health nurse and her partner Cora was traffic manager at the radio station owned by the London Free Press, the local newspaper.  
By the halfway point, we’d scored modest victories, 17-12 and 25-13, but I reminded our team that this was not an insurmountable lead.
Indeed, it vanished in the next round. Usha and I stopped getting the good cards and our opponents stopped giving us breaks. They beat us 24-8, reducing our 17 IMP margin to a single point, then ran away with the final six boards, 26-2, the face-saving 2 IMPs coming on the final hand when Marlene and Cora failed to tap my weak suit in a 1 No Trump contract and I made three overtricks.
Had we won, it would be meant 5-plus gold points, plus a chance to win more in the final two knock-out sessions Thursday. As it was, for our first round victory, we collected 0.96 of a red point. Usha, who needs at least 10 gold points for Life Master, was disappointed. I was encouraged, however, by our good play together. Perhaps we can strike gold in the pairs Thursday.
Random notes: The morning knock-out session was delayed 15 minutes because players coming down from the Hamilton-Burlington area were hung up by an accident on the Queen Elizabeth Way near the Glendale Road exit in St. Catharines.
The registration desk was selling red poppy pins for Armistice Day (Veterans Day to us Yanks) and, wishing to do in Canada as the Canadians do, I donated a blue $5 bill and got one each for me and Usha. The pin didn’t hold it in place very well on my sweater vest, however, and by lunch time it had disappeared. Usha’s fared better. It lasted until the ride home. I found it on the passenger seat of the RAV-4.
I thought that the parking in the hotel ramp had been free at previous Niagara Falls regionals if you flashed a Player Card from the adjacent casino. It got us into the ramp just fine when we arrived, but the attendant on the way out said that parking wasn’t free any more until the card showed that you spent money at the casino. If not, it’s $20. Guess I’ll have to hit the buffet or pump some coins into the slot machines if I want free parking for the rest of the week.

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