Monday, August 31, 2015

Bridge Blog 844: Bright day, dismal night

“I didn’t have you in my book,” partner Celine Murray said more than once Monday at the Airport Bridge Club.
“I didn’t either,” I explained. “(Club manager) Bill Finkelstein told me to call you.”
He also tracked her down after I left a message for her at 9 a.m. and didn’t get a reply. She’d been out. Still, she managed to arrive in time for us to play three of the four boards in our first round and was brilliant pretty much for the rest of the day. We were rewarded for an aggressive game with a 60.65% finish, best I’ve had in a while, and came in first overall, bagging 3.19 master points. A nice month-ending surprise.
Actually, my month had one more installment to go. I paired up with Judy Kaprove to play the newly-inaugurated Monday night game at the Bridge Center of Buffalo, part of my tour of night games in the area before I go back to working nights full time next week.

At any rate, words can hardly describe how miserably Judy and I fared. For instance, against master players Bud Seidenberg and Chris Urbanek, we managed just 1 match point out of a possible 24. With one round to go, we were dead last with 29%, not as pathetic as the all-time 24.48% low Judy and I registered once upon a time, but pretty darn close. A rally in the final three hands (17 out of a possible 24) perked us up slightly, but that could hardly compensate for six absolute bottom boards. Final score: 33.80%. 

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Bridge Blog 843: Not so August

I was back at the tables full time this month, but with one week to go, you’d never know it. The master points didn’t show it. Despite daily triple-point NAP qualifying games at the Airport Bridge Club, my take as of Aug. 24 was an anemic 6.65 points, 3.21 of them red.
Then, as luck is wont to do, it changed, beginning with a 54.49% game with Barbara Sadkin, fourth overall and good for 1.43 points. That was followed by a miraculous 54.50% effort with Celine Murray, third overall for 1.69 points; a 51.60% with Bill Boardman, rewarded with 0.89 of a point; and a 55.95% session with Selina Volpatti, third overall, second in our direction, first in B overall, for 1.97 points. All that almost doubled my point production for the month.

It also made me want to check the ACBL website to see where my career point count stands. 1,869.93 as of the end of July, 64.79 of them this year. With a reasonable amount of luck, I could hit 1,900 before the Buffalo Regional Tournament in October. 

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Bridge Blog 842: The many faces of defeat

The 43.65% in St. Catharines, Ont., on Friday with Selina Volpatti capped a series of sub-par games this week. The difference between this and the 45.88%, 44.64% and 38.14% efforts, however, is that the Bridge Centre of Niagara provides hand records. Not only did we do wrong, we can see where we went wrong and what the 16 other North-South pairs did right.
In all, there were nine boards out of 26 where we could have done better with just a little prudence and smart carding. Take Board 5, where we let Sharon Stevens and Kathy Morrison make four overtricks on a 1 No Trump contract. Or should I say that I let them. Had I possessed the brains to shift to Hearts, Selena could have cashed her Ace and King and we could have kept them two overtricks. That would have meant a 3.5 game point improvement.
Board 6 was even more egregious. Sharon and Kathy should have gone down one trick at 3 Clubs. The hand record says they can take only eight tricks. Not with us. We let them make their contract. Instead of collecting 11.5 game points on that hand, we tied for bottom.
In the very first round of the afternoon, on Board 8, not vulnerable, I went to 4 Diamonds to keep Allen Wirch and Suzanne Arnedt from playing the hand at 3 Spades, which they can make. Unfortunately, we could only make 1 Diamond. Letting them take the contract would have given us 4.5 more game points.
Nor should I have doubled Murrae Egnos and Danny Ioannidis (not Greek – Macedonian!) when Danny bid 5 Diamonds on Board 14. The hand record says it makes only 4 Diamonds, but half the East-Wests made 5. Without the double, we would have improved by 3 game points.
Then on Board 15, where I opened 1 No Trump, instead of passing, Selina should have transferred me to Spades, even though the highest of her five Spades was a 7. Turned out that 2 Spades made an overtrick. Only one other pair played it at 1 No Trump, making it. I didn’t. At Spades, we would have been 7.5 game points better.
Come Board 24, I was at 5 Clubs doubled, not vulnerable. The better player would have gone down two, but not me. Down three. Tie for a bottom board. Down two would have given us 3.5 more game points.
Had we stopped at 3 Diamonds on Board 25, we would have been golden. That’s what it makes. But I jumped to 3 Diamonds (I had five of them) and Selina (who opened Diamonds and had five of them too) went to game. Down two. Absolute bottom board. At 3 Diamonds, we would have collected 4.5 game points.
And lastly, there was Board 26, where we set Denyse Brochu and Raymonde Bennitz by one trick at 3 Clubs. Had we persevered to 3 Diamonds (Selina had six of them to the 10), we would have made that (seven out of 10 pairs who bid Diamonds took nine tricks, as the hand record says they oughta). That would have netted us another 4.5 game points.

Without all of our miscues and missed opportunities, we might have collected 42.5 more game points, bringing us to 224.09 for the session, or 53.87%. Nothing stellar, but that would have gotten us from 14th place up to sixth, good for at least a small fraction of a master point. Oh well, wait’ll next time. 

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Bridge Blog 841: July roundup

The elves at ACBL center have been busy tonight. When I checked in about 10 p.m., the website still was displaying last month’s master point races. Now, shortly after midnight, the new totals are posted. Did my 10 points in July move me up? Let’s take a look.
In the Ace of Clubs race, for points earned in club play, the pecking order in the 1,000 to 2,500 point category for Unit 116 (just Buffalo) seems relatively unchanged. My new total of 45.11 still puts me in 12th place, albeit a little more securely than a month ago. My closest pursuers, Elaine Kurasiewicz (42.43) and Gene Finton (42.05), are no longer right on my heels.  
Leader continues to be John Ziemer, with 114.57 points, followed by Ken Meier, 110.82; Mike Silverman, 108.56; Fred Yellen, 98.37; Martin Pieterse, 93.29; David Millward, 83.84; then a big step down to Allen Beroza, 58.93; Bill Finkelstein, 56.95; Walt Olszewski, 54.12; Barbara Pieterse, 52.27; and Dorothy May, 50.65.
As for the Unit 116 Mini-McKenney race, which counts all points earned everywhere, I’ve moved up a rung, from 11th to tenth place, with an overall total of 64.79 points.
John Ziemer has taken over the lead on this list with 141.01 points, while last month’s frontrunner, Martin Pieterse, has fallen to third with 133.03. Slipping in front of him is Ken Meier with 134.28. The rest of the top 10 includes Fred Yellen, 122.53; Mike Silverman, 122.32; David Millward, 115.74; David Hemmer, 111.92; Barbara Pieterse, 82.72; and Allen Beroza, 66.91.
Overall point leader in all Unit 116 player categories for Ace of Clubs is Jerry Geiger with 146.24, followed by Meg Klamp with 139.45 and then John Ziemer. The overall Mini-McKenney king is Saleh Fetouh with 205.32, followed by Meg Klamp with 196.82 and Jerry Geiger with 174.77. John Ziemer is eighth overall.
Moving on to District 5 (Buffalo, Cleveland, Pittsburgh), the Buffalo players dominate the 1,000 to 2,500 Ace of Clubs point list, holding the top five positions. I sit in 45th place.
Ohio players rule the upper reaches of District 5 Mini-McKenney race. Sue Lan Ma of Kirtland Hills leads with 369.92, followed by Fleur Howard of Gates Mills with 330.74, Peter Merker of Mentor with 220.23 and Charles Ladiha of Vermilion with 173.05. Buffalo’s leaders are sixth, seventh and eighth. I’m 65th on this list.
Nationally, the 1,000 to 2,500 Ace of Clubs roster is topped by Sanford Robbins of Pompano Beach, Fla., with 299.52, followed by Edward Rauch of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., with 280.94. Unit 116 leader John Ziemer is 108th.

The national Mini-McKenney list for 1,000 to 2,500 point players is headed by Peter Gelfand of Corralitos, Calif., with 750.34; Edmund Wu of San Francisco with 647.78; and Aaron Jones of Orange, Calif., with 628.05. No Unit 116 players here. The list cuts off at 143.97.