Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Bridge Blog 729: Stuck on STaC

I’m still recovering from the STaC (Sectional Tournament at the Clubs). Two games a day for seven days seemed like tournament regimen, except in a real tournament I would have taken the nights off from work. When it’s over, there’s laundry to do, plants to water, mail to open and loose ends to tie up.
Loosest end was the final District 5 tally for the STaC and my personal reckoning for the week. You’d think all that bridge and nearly $100 in entry fees would have been massively rewarding, but noooooo.
I had one big score – that 61.93% game Monday afternoon with Barbara Sadkin – fourth in the district-wide B strat, 4.09 silver points. After that, it was dribs and drabs. First overall with 57% in a three-table game Wednesday afternoon with Celine Murray, which gave us 1.33 points. Second in B with 51% with Dotty May Friday afternoon, winning 0.69 of a point. And a single-round victory in Sunday’s Swiss team match with Beverly Dale, good for another 0.26 of a point (after Beverly and I came in dead last twice on Saturday – 42.26% and 35.40%).
Total for the week: 6.37. That puts me in a tie for 104th in the district with the lovely Linda Milch. I won’t complain, even though more points were there for the taking. The overall master point winner, Kathleen Sulgrove of Twinsburg, Ohio, had 30.69.
Top Unit 116 (Western New York) player was Harry Cheung. Fourth overall, he had 25.37. Next local player was John Ziemer, seventh with 23.33. After them come Jerry Geiger (15.12, 22nd), Vince Pesce (14.79, 23rd), Judy Padgug (11.86, 32nd), Mike Silverman (10.81, 40th), Stan Kozlowski (10.35, 44th) and partners John Fiegl and Joanne Lafay (8.72, tied for 56th, all from one 63.22% game Monday morning).
How does this compare with my previous STaCs? Summer 2013 was 11.61, 24th overall. Winter 2012 was 10.37 (36th). Summer 2012 was 9.28 (48th). Winter 2011 was 13.91 (29th). To find a less productive STaC than this one, we have to go back to Summer 2011, when I got a miserable 1.92 points.  

Friday, December 13, 2013

Bridge Blog 728: What is wrong with these people?

I just checked the District 5 website to see what Celine Murray and I collected on the district level for winning our small game STaC session Wednesday afternoon and the results are incomplete. Nothing, in fact, from the Airport Bridge Club. One day late I can understand, but two days???


Sunday, December 8, 2013

Bridge Blog 727: Unitary

Foolish me for not lining up a partner for the annual Unit 116 meeting and game Sunday. When I called Kathy Pollock and told her of my shortcoming, she said Ted Kahn needed someone and, not having played with Ted in two or three years, I figured it would be a good chance to get reacquainted, even though someone told me he opened four-card major suits.
Ted put that rumor to rest when I brought it up. He doesn’t open four-card majors. In fact, he plays a pretty basic game and I was quite comfortable playing it with him. In our opening round against Joan Rose and her husband, she noted that Ted might have picked up an extra trick here or there when he was declarer, but otherwise he was fine. In fact, I tripped him up a couple times myself, the worst being a bad weak 2 Diamond bid that encouraged him to head for 3 No Trump, down four vulnerable (it made 3 Diamonds instead).
On other hands, though, I did my best to bring us up. In successive rounds, I beat doubles against us – once when Paul Zittel’s son-in-law let Paul’s take-out double ride at 1 Heart vulnerable (two overtricks, plus 560, second best board behind a plus 800, the details of which are fearsome to contemplate) and then when Paula Kotowski and John Kirsits doubled my 5 Heart bid after a competitive auction and failed to get the third trick they should have gotten. That was plus 650, an absolute top.
We finished with the bridge equivalent of a gentleman’s C – 48.78%. In the C strat, that would have earned us a gentlemanly fraction of a point, but we were in the B strat and well short of the lowest B pair that scratched. They had 52.19%, earning a whopping 0.23 of a point.
Meanwhile, the lunch was terrific. Catered by Charlie the Butcher, it featured a green salad, potato salad, pickles and tons and tons of beef on weck, so much that the crowd didn’t finish it off even though they had a chance to nibble at it all afternoon.
In the business meeting, Sue Neubecker noted that our $13 tickets for the event were paying for the meal, not the bridge game. This was after a treasurer’s report that showed a $426.15 profit for the unit during the past 12 months, allowing the unit to maintain a balance of about $10,000, and a question from Paul Libby wondering why the unit needed to carry such a big balance.
Joan Rose, having a long memory and having been treasurer for 14 years, knew exactly why. They lost more than $4,000 once when a snowstorm kept everyone away from a sectional tournament. Two setbacks like that in one year and somebody would have to make things up out of their own pocket, she said.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Bridge Blog 726-A: Mustard round

Have you stopped writing in your blog, Judy Kaprove wondered Monday. Well, ain’t been much to report. Plus I missed eight straight days at the tables over Thanksgiving. But now that December’s here, it’s time for a four-part catch-up (see Blogs 726-B, C, D and E).

Bridge Blog 726-B: Thanks for nothing

That week off from bridge over Thanksgiving sealed November’s fate as a single-digit month for master points, first single-digit month I’ve had since March 2012.
At the Airport Bridge Club, I earned a measly 5.02 points. It took a search to find my name down around 33rd on the list in the most recent update of November master point race.   
To that I can add 2.02 from the Niagara Falls, Ont., Regional and another point, well, 1.05, from a couple scratches at the St. Catharines club on Fridays. Hardly blog-worthy.

Bridge Blog 726-C: Extended outlook

Awful thought – my slump, now three months long, could derail my plans for Gold Life Master by 2017. I need 200 points per year to get me there. So far this year I have about 170.
My last hope for reaching the double-century mark will come next week – StaC Week, the Sectional Tournament at the Clubs – when the Airport Bridge Club will be hosting two sessions each day. My best previous STaC silver-point stack-ups have been mid-teens, but you never know …

Bridge Blog 726-D: Dismal December debut

Then again, my game will have to step up a couple notches if I hope to stack up any silver points. I haven’t disgraced myself at the tables since I returned to play on Monday, but I haven’t won anything either.
Monday’s session with Marilyn Sultz was a perfectly respectable 51.69%, but we needed to pass two other pairs and get better than 54% for points. Tuesday’s pairing with Marietta Kalman had a promising start (Marietta and I were on offense for 18 of the first 21 hands), but deflated to 49.50%, one place short of earning points in a 10 1/2-table game.

Bridge Blog 726-E: Wham bam thank you slam

Airport Bridge Club manager Bill Finkelstein introduced a new set of cards for Tuesday’s game which he said were pre-shuffled, but later conceded that they might have been arranged by the guy he bought them from.
Could be. Two players pointed out that the North hands on Boards 1 and 17 were identical. And then there was Board 22, where almost everybody bid to a grand slam and a good many of them were doubled.
East, Nancy Kessler, opened a Heart. Marietta, sitting South, bid the unusual 2 No Trump, showing long suits in Diamonds and Clubs. West, John Kirsits, went to 4 Spades. I’m sitting with five low Hearts, A-K-x-x-x in Diamonds, A-x-x in Clubs and no Spades whatsoever. We’re not vulnerable, so I don’t hesitate to bid 5 Diamonds, figuring we can cross-ruff our way to 10 tricks at least.
Anyway, Nancy bids 5 Spades, Marietta bids 6 Diamonds, John doubles, Nancy bids 6 Hearts, I bid 7 Diamonds and Nancy bids 7 Hearts, which I double.
As it turns out, East-West have all the Spades and South and West are void in Hearts. West, with eight Spades and five Clubs, is void in Diamonds. Nancy trumps Marietta’s lead, the King of Clubs, then goes on to make a grand slam doubled vulnerable for 2470 match points.
We’re the only table to play it in Hearts. Almost everybody else makes the grand slam in Spades. But 2470 is not a top score. At one table, the grand slam is redoubled. Marietta, meanwhile, wishes we could have bid 8 Diamonds. At the table where East-West let North-South take the bid in Diamonds, they won all 13 tricks.