Sunday, November 23, 2014

Bridge Blog 810: Absentia

Third anniversary of my life master hat trick – life master, bronze life master, silver life master, all in one fell swoop at the Niagara Falls, Ont., Regional on Nov. 10, 2011 – I’m out cold for a TURBT “procedure” to remove a growth from my bladder.
When I wake up enough to understand what’s going on, it’s bad news. Bladder cancer. Good-bye, hopes for gold life master. Good-bye to lots of things I know and love.
But wait, there’s hope, even when the skies turn black, the temperature falls from 70 to 30 and you’re plugged into a catheter and gobbling antibiotics and anti-spasm pills. Bladder cancer strikes five times as many people as it kills every year, I read on one of the cancer websites. It’s survivable.
What will it take to survive? The urologist isn’t optimistic about the lab results from the tissue samples. The bladder will have to go, she says. The top urological oncologist at Roswell Park Cancer Institute isn’t so certain. They interpreted the lab results a bit differently. First, they want to take another look in there after I’ve healed up. A second TURBT procedure. Mid-December. Then there will be a definite decision.
I went back to work for most of an evening on the fourth day after the procedure, but I fatigued easily. I still need a nap every day. And I have to hit the washroom every hour. It wasn’t until this past Friday, 11 days after the procedure and a night off from work, and three days after the big Buffalo snow disaster (which left only a couple inches at my house) that I felt ready to return to the bridge tables.
I used to pride myself on sitting through an entire game without heading off to take a leak. On Friday and Saturday, I made that dash to the men’s room before and after the game and twice between rounds of play.
Meanwhile, I didn’t forget everything I knew, not even my bad habits, but somehow the results were good anyway.
Friday with Celine Murray, our 54.20% put us third in a three-way scrum for the top in a three-table game at the Airport Bridge Club and gave us a master point.

Saturday with Beverly Dale, despite some unfortunate bids (See Blog 809-A and Blog 809-B), we finished second overall in a 4½-table game with 58.33% for 1.31 master points. Now my hopes are officially bolstered. That goal of 1,800 career master points by the end of the year is within reach.

Bridge Blog 810-A: Zig

Beverly Dale was disappointed. I should have given her a better bid, she said, and she would have gone to game on Board 25. As it was, we stopped at 3 Clubs and made three overtricks. Everything worked out right. Here’s the deal. I’m sitting North and I’m dealer. East-west is vulnerable. We’re not.
Spades: K-9; Hearts: 6-3; Diamonds: 10-4-3-2; Clubs: K-Q-10-3-2.
I pass and so does East. Beverly opens a Club. Since she will open a short Club and since she admonished me for bidding inverted minors when we played together two weeks ago, my response was 2 Clubs. I believe East bid 2 Spades. Beverly bid 3 Clubs and I passed. Here are the other hands:
Spades: A-7-6; Hearts: A-Q-8-2; Diamonds: None; Clubs: A-J-9-8-7-5.
Spades: Q-10-8-5-4; Hearts: J-9; Diamonds: A-K-9-7-5; Clubs: 6.
Spades: J-3-2; Hearts: K-10-7-5-4; Diamonds: Q-J-8-6; Clubs: 4.

The outcome was split on the four times it was played. Two North-Souths bid 5 Clubs for plus 420. Another one stopped at 3 Clubs, like us, for plus 170. Of a possible 3 game points, we earned 0.5. Bidding 5 Clubs would have gotten us 2.

Bridge Blog 810-B: Zag

You don’t often get a chance to repeat a bid twice in a row, but it happened Saturday with Beverly Dale. After aforementioned Board 25 (Blog 809-A), Beverly opens one Diamond, guaranteeing at least four of them, on Board 26 after a pass by East, the dealer. West doubles, if I remember correctly, and I bid 2 Diamonds.
Spades: 6-5; Hearts: J-10; Diamonds: K-Q-J-6-3; Clubs: Q-8-5-2.
Beverly pushes to 4 Diamonds in competitive  bidding and I, not wanting to miss game twice in a row, bid 5 Diamonds. I should have known better. West, Ron Henrikson, doubles. We go down two for minus 500 and a bottom board. Here are the other hands:
Spades: K-10-4-3; Hearts: A-4; Diamonds: A-10-9-8-5; Clubs: 7-3.
Spades: J-9-8; Hearts: 9-8-6-5-3-2; Diamonds: 7; Clubs: K-10-4.
Spades: A-Q-7-2; Hearts: K-Q-7; Diamonds: 4-2; Clubs: A-J-9-6.

At the other tables, 4 Diamonds doubled went down one and two East-Wests were allowed to take the bid for 2 Hearts, making three overtricks. 

Bridge Blog 809: Unfinished October business

Better late than never. In the master point races through Oct. 31, I have 97.82 club points and 132.07 overall for the year. On the Unit 116 (Buffalo only) Ace of Clubs list, I’m fifth. Here’s the lineup:
        John Ziemer still first, 164.82; Ken Meier still second, 126.34; Mike Silverman, 125.41; Fred Yellen, 105.30; me, 97.82; Chuck Schorr, 94.52; Vince Pesce, 80.46; Barbara Pieterse, 76.85; Gene Finton, 71.47; Clare Gareleck, 53.05.
        Now for the Unit 116 Mini-McKenney race, which counts all points earned everywhere, including the Buffalo Regional. On this list, I’m sixth. Here’s the tally:
        John Ziemer first again, 246.64; Ken Meier, 162.37; Fred Yellen, 161.08; David Hemmer, 145.47; Mike Silverman, 139.85; me, 132.07; Chongmin Zhang, 125.38; Chuck Schorr, 101.42; Barb Pieterse, 95.46; Gene Finton, 94.23.
        Let’s go now to the District 5 level, which includes Cleveland and Pittsburgh as well as Buffalo and the list is 25 names long.
        Unit 116 continues its dominance of the top of the Ace of Clubs list. We occupy the top five spots. Sixth is Peggy Shivetts of Greensburg, Pa., with 95.36. Chuck Schorr is seventh. Vince Pesce is 19th. The list cuts off at 76.89 points.
        On the Mini-McKenney, the Ohioans rule. Here John Ziemer is fourth, after Michael Creager of Brecksville with 372.50, Fleur Howard of Gates Mills with 364.21 and Peter Merker of Mentor with 357.47. But we’re still quasi-respectable. Ken Meier is eighth, Fred Yellen is ninth, David Hemmer is 12th and Mike Silverman is 13th, I’m 17th, Chongmin Zhang is 20th. The list cuts off at 110.88.
                Amongst the nationwide leaders in my division – 1,000 to 2,500 points – the top dog is Vinita Gupta of Woodside, Calif., with 842.58 in the Mini-McKenney, followed by Robert Micone of Tustin, Calif., with 755.80, and Jay Barron of Tulsa, Okla., with 753.45. Michael Creager is 41st. John Ziemer is 223rd. The list cuts off at 195.13.
        In the nationwide Ace of Clubs in my division, the leader is Sanford Robbins of Miami Lakes, Fla., with 362.71; followed by Larry Lazarow of Highland Beach, Fla., with 345.67; Kenneth Wagner Jr. of Hollywood, Fla., with 315.37; and Judy Zhu of Naperville, Ill., with 272.77. John Ziemer is 68th. Ken Meier is 270th. Mike Silverman is 283rd. The list cuts off at 110.82.

None of us make the Barry Crane Top 500 nationwide. Neither Unit 116 nor District 5. The list cuts off at 395.06. Top is perennial champ Jeff Meckstroth of Clearwater Beach, Fla., with 2,519.61, followed closely by Eric Rodwell of Clearwater, Fla., with 2,504.91 and Chris Compton of Dallas, Texas, with 2,473.46.