Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Bridge Blog 775: STaC fade-out finale

STaC Week peaked for me on Wednesday with that 61.04% game with Celine Murray. Sure, Dianne Bloom and I picked up 0.74 of a point with a 52.50% game Thursday morning and I added another 0.93 with Selina Volpatti with a 51.25% Friday afternoon.
My hopes were high for Saturday’s games with Marietta Kalman, with whom I notched my highest-ever score, 74.40%, on April 19 (see Blog 757). But some early mistakes foretold that we were not destined for greatness or much of anything else – 43.86% in the morning, 39.86% in the afternoon.
Playing the Swiss teams game on Sunday smacked of desperation for points, since in Swiss you can get points even if you don’t win overall. And so it was and so we did. Expecting to play with Nancy Littenberg, who didn’t show up, I was paired instead with Wednesday partner Celine Murray, who was not at her best. Mike Kisiel and Rich Cramer-Benjamin rounded out our team. In the four-team matches, we won one round in the morning, one round in the afternoon, for a grand total of 0.49 of a point.
The biggest beneficiary Sunday turned out to be John Ziemer, whose team won the morning and afternoon sessions. It gave him just enough points to win first place in the district for the STaC.
John finished with 27.23 points, outpacing Gerrie Littman of Pittsburgh, who had 24.38. Liz Clark was third with 23.49. Jerry Geiger, who was John’s Sunday partner, was sixth with 19.09. After that, Harry Cheung was 14th with 13.42, Martin Pieterse was 20th with 12.39 and I was 22nd with 11.60. In the 2013 Summer STaC, I earned 11.61.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Bridge Blog 774: The wow factor

Wow! That 61.01% finish Wednesday morning paid off in the Sectional Tournament at the Clubs (STaC). Worth 1.5 points at the club level, it tied Celine Murray and me for first in the B strat on the District 5 level, which bumped the reward up to 4.19 silver points. Point count for the first 11 days in June – a whopping 16.09.
There’s another wow in the District 5 tally, where I’m sitting eighth out of 711 players in the STaC totals with 9.44 silver points as of Wednesday. Top bananas are our own John Ziemer with 15.45 and Liz Clark with 13.59, followed by four Pittsburgh people.
All this comes from victories in the morning sessions at the Airport Bridge Club, but not in the afternoons, a pattern that continued Thursday. After several Thursdays of terrible games, the lovely Dianne Bloom and I turned our luck around in the morning session with a 52.50% game, second in the B strat for 0.74 of a silver point. Not likely to register at the district level, but worth noting for the doubled and redoubled 4 Spade contract that I made with an overtrick for a plus 1,080. Wow again! In the afternoon, however, no wow. Our fortunes fell to 43.37%, 11th out of 13 pairs.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Bridge Blog 773: Bonus checks

It’s true that it takes a least a 60% game to earn district-wide bonus points in the Sectional Tournament at the Clubs (STaC), but sometimes there’s a reward for the high 50s, too.
That’s happened twice so far this week. On Monday morning, my 59.07% with Marilyn Sultz was worth 1.42 silver points at the club level, but now that the District 5 tallies are up, we’re fifth in the district-wide B stratification. That 1.42 points has turned into 2.58.
Tuesday morning’s 58.60%  game with Eva Schmidt, which gave us 0.99 of a point at the club level, got an even bigger bump from District 5. We were fourth in the B strat, getting 2.67 points. Readjusted point count for the first 10 days of June – 11.93.
Something extra is sure to come from that wonderful Wednesday morning game with Celine Murray, where we tied for first overall with 61.03%. Already it’s good for 1.5 silver point at the club. But for the third day in a row, the hot morning session gave way to a lackluster afternoon – 45.46% – not helped by the fact that my partner reneged not just once, but twice. Ouch!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Bridge Blog 772: Half a loaf

How high are my hopes for major master points during the District 5 STaC (Sectional Tournament at the Clubs) this week? Pretty darn high. Two sessions daily. Two chances for extra points at the club and major bonus points at the district level. To get those bonus points, however, you need to score better than 60 percent. Sometimes a lot better.
So I was gratified when partner Marilyn Sultz and I finished first in our direction in Monday morning’s STaC game at the Airport Bridge Club. It earned us 1.42 silver points. But we had only 59.07%, which isn’t usually enough for district bonuses. Let’s check the website. Shucks, still preliminary results, but 10 pairs are listed and we aren’t among them.
I also was gratified when partner Eva Schmidt and I finished second North-South in the B strat in the Tuesday morning game at the Airport Club. Our 58.60% got us 0.99 of a silver point, but isn’t going win anything more.
As for the afternoon games, they found us among the cellar dwellers. Marilyn Sultz and I registered 38.33%, dead last. Eva Schmidt and I did a little better Tuesday afternoon, 45.50%, fourth out of six pairs.

Bridge Blog 772-A: Happy days are here again

Once upon a time I had a goal of earning a master point a day. And I was making it. Or at least coming close. Well, guess what? Here it is, the 10th of June and the tally so far this month is 9.09. Hooray!

Bridge Blog 771: World class

Has the World Wide Bridge Contest lost its mojo in Buffalo? The first part of it certainly did on Friday night, June 6. The Airport Bridge Club could only muster a Howell movement, which doesn’t register in the international tally, so I’m told. At the Bridge Center of Buffalo, there weren’t even enough players to make a game. Hey, I missed it, too. My other half had been away all week. Breaking away for bridge would have been grounds for something drastic.
Part two on Saturday afternoon was better. The Bridge Center had a Howell game. At the Airport Club, where I played, there were six tables, enough to be official. I pretty much sank my chances on the first hand we played, Board 1, when I was doubled on a sacrifice bid and went down five. Minus 1,100. It was a bottom board at the club and almost a bottom around the world. Out of a possible 3,746 match points, it earned just 39.1. Actually, there were 18 pairs who also got minus 1,100 and 11 pairs who did worse – nine with minus 1,400 and one each at minus 1,700 and minus 2,000.
Partner Marietta Kalman and I rallied, however. One of our top boards, Board 18, a doubled contract that yielded a plus 800, was a top board at the club and as close to a universal top as you’ll see. It earned 3,694.9 match points – a score matched by 32 others and bettered by only one at 1,000, eight at 1,100 and one at 1,400.
In the end, we had a 55.42% game at the club, fourth overall, earning 1.13 master points, half red. Tallied against the rest of the world, however, we fell back to 51.37% and were 1,776th out of 4,164 pairs in 233 clubs in 26 countries. The winning pair, with 74.62%, was from Greece. Master player Jeff Meckstroth, who played in St. Petersburg, Fla., was first at his club with 65.16%, but was 186th in the world, with an adjusted score of 61.80%.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Bridge Blog 770: Not necessarily improved

The redesigned ACBL website now announces boldly that the master point races are updated on the sixth of each month. And so they have been. My anemic output during the month of May can’t have done much good. Let’s take a look.
The Unit 116 (Buffalo) Ace of Clubs race in my division (1,000 to 2,500 points) is headed by a guy we haven’t even seen in Buffalo so far this year – David Millward, an excellent player who has amassed 71.31 points somewhere else (Florida). I’m sixth with 38.63. The list:
David Millward, 71.31; John Ziemer, 57.33; Fred Yellen, 52.05; Mike Silverman, 45.87; Ken Meier, 43.78; moi, 38.63; Gene Finton, 36.28; Chuck Schorr, 34.56; Vince Pesce, 30.92; and Barb Pieterse, 29.38.
Liz Clark, who has 44.75, no longer appears on this list. She’s graduated to the 2,500 to 5,000 point division. Top Ace of Clubber in Unit 116, by the way, is another snowbird, Meg Klamp, who’s in the 7,500 to 10,000 point division and has been back in town for a few weeks. She’s got 84.68. Leading year-round resident is Jerry Geiger in the 5,000 to 7,500 division with 66.94.
Over in the Unit 116 Mini-McKenney race, which counts all master points, club and tournament together, I’m in eighth place. The list:
David Hemmer, 91.51; David Millward, 78.84; Fred Yellen, 69.49; John Ziemer, 65.44; Chongmin Zhang, 53.47; Ken Meier, 52.40; Mike Silverman, 48.84; moi, 45.17; Gene Finton, 43.33; and Barb Pieterse, 37.58.
Only three Unit 116 players have topped 100 points so far this year – Dan Gerstman (over 10,000 points) with 112.54, plus two players on the 2,500 to 5,000 point list, Saleh Fetouh with 107.49 and Kathy Pollock with 104.35.
Onward to the District 5 races (Buffalo, Cleveland, Pittsburgh). Thankfully, the lists here are 25 names long, because I’m 21st. Gene Finton is 25th. Unit 116 often dominates this race, but this year we’re so-so. David Millward is first, John Ziemer is second, Fred Yellen is fourth, Mike Silverman is eighth, Ken Meier is 13th.
As for the Mini-McKenney, the leaders are all Ohioans in triple digits – Michael Craeger of Brecksville, Ohio, 212.78; Fleur Howard of Gates Mills, Ohio, 205.74; Peter Merker of Mentor, Ohio, 183.84; Robert Dykes of Lakewood, Ohio, 117.92. David Hemmer is eighth. David Millward is 11th. Fred Yellen is 14th. John Ziemer is 19th. The list cuts off at 60.92 points.
Shall we check out the nationwide races to see if any Unit 116 names have made the grade? Oops, can’t find them. Plus I keep getting an error message. Still a few bugs in this new system.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Bridge Blog 769: Recalculating

          According to the monthly master point list at the Airport Bridge Club, I did a little better in May than I reckoned – 5.72 instead of 5.05. Add that 1.29 from St. Catharines and it’s 7 points for the month. Well, 7.01.
          June, however, is another story. Entirely. Four games in three days and already I have 5.55 points. North American Pairs qualifiers, with extra points. Club championships, also with extra points. And next week is STaC Week, the Sectional Tournament at the Clubs, two games daily at the Airport Bridge Club, with the possibility of district-wide bonus points. It’s catch-up time.

Bridge Blog 768: Director call

          Big night at the Airport Bridge Club. First of the new series of Monday night games coincides with manager/director Bill Finkelstein’s 57th birthday. So there’s potluck food galore. And to sweeten the occasion, Bill is offering $100 to any pair who finishes with a better winning percentage than him and his partner.
          Since he lined up bridge savant Alan Greer as his partner, chances were slim that he’d have to pay off. But Greer suddenly had to fill in for somebody else at work, so sitting opposite Bill was Jim Madan, a bright player from Niagara County, young enough to be kept from the daytime games by his job. They were Pair 8 and we kept a wary eye on how 8 did on the traveling score slips.
          When me and partner Florence Boyd (who had won the daytime game at the club) encountered them, they were well into a winning stride and seemed ready to increase their margin as they bid a small slam. But then, after we took the only Ace we had, Bill absently discarded on the next trick instead of trumping it. He immediately acknowledged his mistake, picked up the discard, but then said he’d make a ruling. The discard would stand. Down one. Top board for us, bottom for them.
          The ruling didn’t cost them the top score and the $100. Bill Boardman and Paula Kotowski were some 5% ahead of them at the end. But it gave Flo and me enough of a boost so that we also finished ahead of them, just by a fraction. So we shared in that $100 prize -- $25 for each of us. With me playing every day, he’ll have my $25 back by Saturday.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Bridge Blog 767: Too soon, too soon, the first of June

          Thirty-one days weren’t enough to muster a respectable number of master points during the merrie month of May, especially since I missed 10 of them on vacation. The final week was especially miserable:
          Memorial Day – Double session with a chicken barbecue at the Airport Bridge Club. Best deal in town for $14. Two chances to win. Usha Khurana and I were dead last with 39.33% in the morning, rallied to 53.63% in the afternoon, fourth overall, 0.36 of a point. That would be the last point, fractional or otherwise, that I would earn all week.
          Tuesday – With Florence Boyd. 47.92%.
          Wednesday – With Celine Murray, both of us off our game, 33.50%, dead last.
          Thursday – With Dianne Bloom, couldn’t quite put it together, 44%, not quite last.
          Friday – Selina Volpatti tied up in a political conference, so I stayed on this side of the border and played again with Celine Murray. Improved, but barely with 45.83%.
          Saturday – Marietta Kalman calls in sick, so I’m with Celine again and we always seem to do better after Bill Finkelstein’s lesson before the game. Sure enough, we’re 52.78%, but no points.
          The month? If my figures are correct, the totals were 5.05 at the Airport Bridge Club and 1.29 at the Bridge Centre of Niagara in St. Catharines, Ont. Aside from finally reaching the 1,700-point career milestone, this was my worst calendar page of the year.