Thursday finally gave us our breakthrough in the Buffalo Spooktacular Regional Tournament, thanks to a miracle of stratification. Our team – me, Joe Miranda, Usha Khurana and Elaine Kurasiewicz – played the one-session Swiss team game and because all the novices were skimmed off into a gold rush Swiss team session, we wound up in the C stratification instead of B, where we normally belong.
As a result, our less-than-stellar showing – three wins in seven sessions – bought us a tie for third place in the C strat, winning 2.65 gold points. And here I thought we were coming up empty again, especially after we lost our first three rounds.
That gave me higher hopes for Friday, when I would play knock-outs again, this time with Selina Volpatti and the rest of a team to be determined by the partnership desk. We landed one prospect – a Chinese woman named Won who lives in Orlando, Fla., and who is playing bridge while her husband reunites with his old buddies up here – and had one of the partnership chairmen, Jim Gullo.
“Do you know who we’re playing against?” Jim said more than once. Due to another quirk in stratification, we were in the top group, albeit the team with the fewest master points in the top group. Some of our opponents, he noted, had team totals of tens of thousands of points.
Fortunately, we started out in a round robin match, which accommodates three teams in split competition instead of going one vs. one. That’s because the odds for survival are better – two of the three teams go to the next round, while only one advances in the head-to-head game.
We were trailing both of our opponents at the halfway point in the morning game, but rallied to defeat the tough Davis Heuessler-David Colligan team. The other people, Toronto folks, drubbed us badly.
The male half of the Toronto pair had perplexed us by taking long pauses to contemplate his next card during the play, but that was nothing next to the pair of twenty-something guys we played against in the afternoon round robin.
The young-un from Montreal (the other was from Atlanta) took fully five minutes to put down a card against a 4 Spade contract Selina was playing. She was ready to strangle him. Since the knock-out games aren’t timed, like Swiss teams and pairs games are, I doubted that objections could be raised to this. Later, however, I was told that we could have called the director. Next time this happens, I will.
Nevertheless, we fell way behind during the first 12 boards against both afternoon pairs and further behind in the second batch of 12. Not only were we knocked out, but we were beaten up and dragged out. Even so, the day wasn’t a total loss. For winning one round in the first round robin, we earned 1.34 red points.