The annual summer picnic may be my favorite Western New York Unit 116 event. It’s a double game and the food is, well, picnic fare and I never can get enough of that. Since Paul Zittel, the agricultural magnate from Eden, has been in charge of the vittles, they’ve been fabulous and this year’s edition again met those high standards – Wiedner’s incomparable roasted chicken, fresh-picked sweet corn that was really, really sweet, and the usual potato and vegetable trimmings.
When Tova Reinhorn, the unit treasurer, was at our table, she rolled her eyes in alarm at how much money they lose on the picnic. Tickets are just $10 for ACBL members and I can imagine that it comes nowhere near covering the costs of hiring a director, paying for the food and renting the facility – the Carousel Room under the Grandstand at the Erie County Fairgrounds in Hamburg. This would be our last party in the Carousel Room, someone (Tova?) said. The rent’s going up. Next year the unit will be looking for a new venue.
This picnic was further notable for attendance – 25 tables for the morning session, 23 in the afternoon – which unit officers said was a record. The morning session was split into three sections. The afternoon had two. Organizing it proved cumbersome. As a result, the 11 a.m. morning game started late and director Eugene Harvey couldn’t seem to catch us up. We were eating lunch at 3 p.m. and the afternoon game dragged on until 7. I’m glad I had the foresight to take the evening off from work. It was a loooonnng day.
I never seem to earn more than a fraction of a master point at the picnic, although significant points can be won if you’re good enough. Ken Meier and Penny Shui came in first overall in the morning with 72.57% and were rewarded with 5.25 points, then notched 63.05% to finish in a tie for second in the afternoon and reaped another 3.16 points.
Meanwhile, I kept my expectations low and was not disappointed. Having not lined up a partner, I was paired with Ted Kahn, who has his ups and downs. I hadn’t played with him for quite a while and had forgotten how disastrously enthusiastic his bidding can get.
Between the two of us, he played the majority of the hands – 11 of the 26 in the morning (I was declarer four times, but my North cards seemed singularly dismal) and nine of 24 in the afternoon (my cards improved – I was declarer on six, three in a row right before the final board. On the first of those three, Ted pushed me to 6 No Trump, down one to tie for a next-to-bottom board – leaving the bid at 3 NT would have tied us for top and given us an extra 15.5 match points).
I thought our morning game of 49.75% was respectable, given the circumstances. We were ninth out of 13 pairs and if a couple more hands had gone our way, we would have beaten the eighth place finishers – Pat Lakeman and Mary Terrana, with 50.89% -- and collected a fraction of a point.
The afternoon felt better, but turned out worse – 46.60%, eighth out of 12 pairs. Nevertheless, we were only one spot away from scratching. Seventh in B were Paul Zittel and Bill Feasley with 48.25% and they won a magnificent 0.16 of a point. Had that 6 NT bid stopped at 3 NT, we would have been sixth for an even more stupendous 0.19 of a point.