I was especially pumped for the Rochester regional tournament when I heard about it last summer. Just an hour down the Thruway. I’m there. In a major way. Every day. Then along came my bladder cancer. Surgery was set for May 4. Arrivederci, Rochester.
But then along came my heart problems. Four stents installed at the end of April. A month on blood thinners while they heal in. Bladder surgery is postponed until June. Suddenly, Rochester is a reality again, except I have no plans, no partners.
So thank heaven for Judie Bailey, my partner in the Syracuse regionals. She was available Friday and Saturday to play the knock-outs, the head-to-head team games. Friday morning I hit the Thruway for the RIT Inn & Conference Center, which I’ve often spotted from the highway but never experienced up close.
It turns out to be a 1970s-modern place – dark brick, dim hallways that feel tight, big bright public rooms, a lot like buildings from that era on the college campuses here. One bad design feature, the main entrance off the west parking lot. Smokers congregate there just outside the automatic doors and the wind fills the long main corridor with the smell of cigarettes.
At any rate, the tournament organizers had the essential elements well marked. There was a big banner over the Partnership table, which is where I met Judie. She also was looking for our teammates, acquired for us by the Partnership people – a guy from Ithaca named Courtnay Footman, who became our captain, and a guy from Syracuse named Gary Amundson. It turns out that they’re fairly regular partners, perhaps more so than me and Judie, since we almost never play together in Buffalo.
There were 13 teams in our knock-out section, so to whittle it down to eight for the second round, the directors set up two head-to-head matches and three three-way round-robin games. Our team was in one of the round-robins, a great advantage since two of the three teams advance to the next stage.
Our Round One opponents were Roy and Patricia from Binghamton and Jim and John from Ottawa. We beat the both narrowly in the first set of six hands, 11-6 and 22-15 International Match Points, respectively. Not enough to rest easy for the second set of hands, though. There Roy Noonan and Patricia Jardin made a pair of 3 No Trump contracts on which our teammates failed and that lifted them to a 19-10 win. As for Jim and John, we shut them down, 25-0. We survived to pay another $13 and play Round Two.
This time we were head-to-head against a Rochester team – Dolores Toohey, who was volunteering at one of the tournament info tables, and Suzanne Powell. They were good company. Nevertheless, the long day began taking its toll on us – the other team more than us, as it turned out. Courtnay and Gary bid and made slam on a hand where Dolores and Suzanne only made game. Then Dolores and Suzanne bid a 7 Spade slam and lost a trump trick (Judie had four Spades to the Jack), while our guys stopped at 6 Spades. We won by a lot, 74-16. On to the semifinals on Saturday. Even if we lose, we earn something like six gold points.