The Niagara Falls, Ont., Regional Tournament felt bigger than the Buffalo Regional three weeks earlier. And it was. Buffalo attracted the Ohio and Rochester people. Niagara Falls drew them in from Burlington, Oakville, Toronto and points beyond.
Buffalo had 699 tables. Niagara Falls had 1,094 (down from 1,177 in 2013). A total of 732 players earned points in the Falls. Just 487 did in Buffalo.
In Niagara Falls, the big winner, Jack Shinehoft of Dundas, Ont., earned 76.60 points. In Buffalo, the couple tied at the top, Stephanie and Robert Alexander of Mentor, Ohio, took home 63.15.
In Niagara Falls, Buffalo’s leading point man was Saleh Fetouh, fifth overall with 67.77. He also was our biggest winner in Buffalo, 20th overall with 46.13.
In Buffalo, there were local players racking up impressive point totals who usually don’t do that sort of thing. In Niagara Falls, our representatives on the leaderboard were the people you expect to see there. To wit, Dian Petrov, 40.07 (27th), Jill Wooldridge, 36.37 (37th), Chris Urbanek, 32.72 (42nd), Bud Seidenberg, 26.91 (53rd), John Ziemer, 25.28 (60th), Shakeel Ahmad and Manju Ceylony, 25.23 (Sunday Swiss team winners once again and tied for 61st), David Hemmer, 25.14 (63rd) and Mike Ryan, 19.22 (87th).
Personally, I found Niagara Falls more rewarding. With 6.78 points, 1.67 of them gold, I was tied for 268th on the list, joined by Teri Ford of Amherstburg, Ont., and John Abbott of Windsor, Ont., neither of whom I recall meeting. In Buffalo, I earned 5.38 points, 2.65 of them gold, and was all by myself at 220th.
Other points of comparison:
Hospitality food. Better in Buffalo, a respectable hors d’oeuvre each evening, though not without a foul-up or two by the Adam’s Mark Hotel. In Niagara Falls, it was chips, popcorn, cheese and crackers.
Wine. Better quality in Niagara Falls, at least on Saturday evening, when they were pouring pinot noir and meritage from Between the Lines Winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Better quantity in Buffalo, where one of the committee got a deal on box wines and you could fill your own glass.
Parking. Easier in Buffalo, both in terms of finding a space (always got one near the elevator on the second level, sometimes had to go to the sixth level in the Falls) and quickness of exit.
Restaurant food. In the Falls, I hit the mini food court outside the Crowne Plaza Hotel twice for a Subway sandwich for lunch, then opted back to the buffet in the attached casino for more food, more variety, same price. Evening choices were Swiss Chalet, a retro trip since the chain no longer has an outpost in Buffalo, and Mandarin, a Chinese buffet bigger and better than what we have over here. Dinner Saturday night was back in Buffalo, actually Blasdell, at the Brick Iron Bystro, by far the best food I had all week.
Things also were better during the Buffalo Regional. Ventures outside the hotel were rewarded by lunches in great downtown places – Osteria 166 (twice), Merge and the Allen Burger Venture. Wait’ll next year.