Friday, October 24, 2014

Bridge Blog 804: Buffalo Regional Day 4

It was at the Buffalo Regional in June 2013 that Betty Metz, then Unit 116 vice president, and I were matched up for a pairs game and the results were unexpectedly fabulous. 60.50%. 2.27 red points. Now we’re trying to see if the magic will happen again, this time in the team games with some good players, Mike Silverman and Helen Panza, as our co-conspirators.
The magic wasn’t there Friday morning in the first section of the Friday-Saturday knock-outs, which began with our favorite format, round robin, in which two of the three teams advance. But this time we did not become one of the chosen two. Half of Thursday’s Canadian Bain team skunked us and so did the local team of John Kirsits, Ken Meier, Paula Kotowski and Bill Boardman. The cards in our direction were so poor that we couldn’t push the opponents to overbid, while Mike and Helen weren’t taking as many tricks as the other guys.
Things would have been closer, though not victorious, without some costly errors on my part and some missed No Trump games  that we wound up playing for part scores in minor suits. In a hand that involved a director call, I didn’t see an intervening pre-emptive bid by John Kirsits and underbid in a New Minor Forcing response to Betty’s 1 NT inquiry.
The director ruled that since I was going to give a cue bid, Betty would not be able to bid any further. I went straight to 4 Hearts (I had seven of them), then took all the tricks. Same thing happened at the other table, but had I bid the small slam, we would have picked up enough IMPs to lose by one instead of 14.  
We tried our luck at single-session Swiss teams in the afternoon, but fell short there too, winning only one of the four six-board rounds, beating a team that included a couple from Pennsylvania who came to our table bickering. Our total take for the day: 0.20 of a red point. For the session, we had 37 Victory Points. We needed 48 to tie the team that finished third in the B strat and won 1.45 points.
In the final round against John Ziemer and Liz Clark, I sacrificed at 4 Hearts doubled not vulnerable against what I thought would be a certain 3 No Trump vulnerable contract. I went down four for minus 800. Mike and Helen took the bid for 2 No Trump at their table and made just eight tricks for plus 120. So instead of gaining 6 IMPs, we lost 12 and lost the round, 20-12. Winning it 18-8 would have given us 24 victory points instead of the 7 we got. And that would have tied us for second in B.  
At any rate, there’s always Saturday. No teams this time. Betty and I will play pairs. Mike Silverman decided to take the day off and come back for the big Swiss team game Sunday.
Random notes: Playing with Betty Metz provided plenty of insights into the planning for these regional tournaments, specifically the 2015 edition, which is scheduled for the last full week of June. The tournament needs a big venue and only five places locally will fit the bill now that the former Grand Island Holiday Inn is unavailable – the Adam’s Mark, the Hyatt Regency Buffalo, the Buffalo Marriott Niagara in Amherst, the Millennium in Cheektowaga and the Seneca Niagara Casino in Niagara Falls.
Complicating things further is the June date. The Event Center at the Fairgrounds is booked that week and the hotels are full of wedding reservations.
Since the Cleveland people like the Fairgrounds location in Hamburg (I walked into the Event Center with Cleveland honcho Susan Stark and she thought it was fine) and the Canadians we talked with didn’t consider it too inconvenient, Betty thought the somewhat smaller Grange Center on the grounds might fill the bill, but she couldn’t get anybody from the District 5 tournament committee to take a look at it Friday.
Betty’s other thought was to permanently assign an October date for the Buffalo Regional, which she’d prefer. It’s off-season for the hotels and they’d be cheaper. By the end of the day, she said she’d convinced the tournament committee to agree to move next year’s date. Good-bye, June. Hello, October. But apparently early enough in October not to crowd the Niagara Falls Regional, which is the first full week of November.

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