It took an hour-long drive to Lockport Tuesday night to change my luck after dark. I thought I knew where the Lockport Duplicate game would be – the appealingly-named Dale Center had to be downtown somewhere – but it took a bit of driving around before I tracked it down a little north of the Erie Canal and a run around the block to find the parking lot.
The high-ceilinged hall was bright, but relatively plain and unadorned aside from a big bingo scoreboard and hand-lettered signs about food and drink offerings. The banquet tables were cleared from the east side of the room to make way for battered card tables, to which the bidding boxes were attached with handyman’s clamps.
In all, there were 6.5 tables, the field of Lockport seniors swelled by half a dozen Buffalo players – Joyce Kindt and Judie Bailey, Jeff Bender and Gabe Tannenbaum among them – along with some of the Lockport-based Indian couples – the Deshmukhs and Makhijas – who occasionally venture down to the city.
As a free agent without a partner, I got to play with the wryly humorous director Mark Pascale, whose favorite phrase seemed to be “Here’s a match point bid.” His match point bids, however, usually were astute. The most memorable of them was a plunge to 7 No Trump after I opened 3 Spades with a seven-card suit. He saw the opening lead and pronounced a lay-down.
That was a top board and, although it seemed like we were racking up a succession of top boards, it was a bit of an illusion. We finished with 58.80%, second overall behind Violet and Jessie Makhija, but good nevertheless for 1.86 master points.
My final nighttime visit to the Bridge Center of Buffalo on Thursday found me playing once again with the director, in this case the venerable Chris Urbanek, who’s one of the most knowledgeable players in town. Indeed, when I arrived, she was teaching a lesson on Roman Key Card bidding.
Needless to say, playing with her was like riding in a Rolls Royce. Everything was smooth and perfectly executed. For my part, I made fewer than my usual allotment of mistakes. It was my best game since before the surgery – 64.06%, first overall – and netted us 1.10 master points.It was the high point of my last week of extended sick leave freedom. And it was a very good week. After August finished on Monday with a first-place finish with Celine Murray for 3.19 points, September started with a 51.16% daytime game for 0.61 of a point with Dr. Brian Block at the Airport Bridge Club, then those 1.86 points at Lockport, another 1.31 points at the Airport Club on Thursday morning, thanks to a 59.23% game with Eva Schmidt; that 1.10 game Thursday night, and finally a 55.34% game Friday in St. Catharines, fifth in our direction, which netted 0.38 of a point for Selina Volpatti and me. 8.45 points for the week overall, 5.26 of them in September.