My Tuesday-Wednesday teammates are agents of the unexpected. Instead of signing up for the stratified pairs, like they should have on Wednesday morning, they signed up for the Wednesday-Thursday knockout series.
As we saw on Tuesday, the knockouts can leave lesser players with nothing to show for their $12 entry fee but a bunch of shoulda-woulda-couldas at the end of the first round.
Plus, in the unlikely event that we survive that first morning round, and in the even unlikelier event that we succeed in the afternoon round, we’d be obliged to play in the third round Thursday morning, which we hadn’t arranged to do. I, for one, am supposed to play with my Syracuse Regional partner, Judie Bailey, on Thursday.
But, lo and behold, instead of a head-to-head match, our morning game was a round robin – three teams competing, every team playing the others for 12 boards apiece, 24 total. So instead of just one team going on to the next round, the two winningest teams advance.
This format has been beneficial to my teams in the past and it was again Wednesday morning. Team 6, which included the highly competent Bob Padgug and Linda Burroughsford, skunked us in International Match Points, 54-0. It was a different story with Team 5, which included our buddies Barbara Sadkin and June Feuerstein. We beat them by 21 IMPs. Coming in second, we paid another $12 and advanced to the afternoon session and another round robin.
There were no Buffalo people among our afternoon opponents. First team included a brother and sister, Mike from Raleigh, N.C., and Mary Jo from Whitney Point, N.Y., who grew up in Niagara Falls. Second team was a pair of Canadian guys, one named Bob from Hamilton, the other named Dave from Oakville. At the break after 12 boards, we were trailing both of them – Mike and Mary Jo by 15 IMPs, Bob and Dave by 4 IMPs.
After the break, our fortunes turned. We overtook Mike and Mary Jo’s team, 23-6, beating them overall by just 2 IMPs. Bob and Dave, on the other hand, took us to the woodshed, 24-3. With the director standing over us, we were the last pair to finish tallying our totals. Yes, we’re playing Thursday morning, he told us. Another $12 apiece, please.
Advancing to the third round means that, win or lose Thursday morning, we will collect the master points allotted for third and fourth place – 2.64 gold, 1.32 red, 3.96 total. Hooray! But we have to play the round, the director informed us. If not, we don’t get the points.
Random notes: Attendance was not so dismal Wednesday, although I won’t see the count until the daily bulletin comes out Thursday. I didn’t notice as many St. Catharines players as I did on Tuesday. According to the Wednesday bulletin, the Tuesday evening stratified pair series had only five tables. There were three tables of stratified morning pairs, 14 tables of Tuesday stratified open pairs, 15 tables for the afternoon stratified pair series and 20 tables of knock-outs. It didn’t have any results for the 299er single session games scheduled at 10 a.m., 3 p.m. or 7:30 p.m. That big barn must have been lonely Tuesday evening.
Also improved Wednesday was hospitality, although teammate Mona Karna was complaining that she had to pay $1 for a cup of coffee from the Event Center Café. The smell of spaghetti sauce invaded the room at the end of the afternoon session, and there was egg salad, cheese, cut-up fruit and crackers, plus three boxes of Franzia wine. Nothing during the long lunch break, however. I revisited the place where I ate at the end of the game Tuesday – the buffet at the Buffalo Raceway casino next door.