Monday, August 29, 2016

Bridge Blog 902: Obsessive Compulsive

Some of the cards at my usual haunt, the Airport Bridge Club, have illustrations on the back and, because there’s a part of me that thinks they look better if they’re all pointing in the same direction (i.e., upright) I’ve taken to sorting them out that way.
That’s gotten me wondering about the faces of the cards. In practice, they’re practically palindromic – pretty much the same no matter which end is up. It’s certainly the case with the face cards. All the Kings, Queens and Jacks can be flipped and it makes no difference. They look the same either way.
But on many of the other cards, not so. Look at the Aces. Except for the Diamond, they can be right side up or upside down. The Spade, Heart and Club symbols all have tops and bottoms.  
Among the even-numbered cards, only the 2, 4 and 10 are palindromes in Spades, Hearts and Clubs. In the design of the 6 – two vertical lines of three symbols – the middle ones point up. Same with the 8, which has two more spots in the center of the card, one up, one down. With the Diamonds, of course, it doesn’t matter.
When it comes to the odd-numbered cards, all the Spades, Hearts and Clubs have a definite upside and downside. Two of spots on the 3 point one way, the third points in the other direction. Same situation with the single center spot on the 5, 7 and 9.

You’d think the Diamonds once again would the exception, but not this time. It’s that center spot. Did you ever notice that it’s not always in the middle? It’s offset toward the top on one of the Diamonds – the 7. Pick up some cards and see for yourself. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Bridge Blog 901: 50-50

At last! I think I might have advanced to a better plateau of mediocrity. Instead of peeking up occasionally from the low 40% range, lately my games have been hovering around 50%. Here’s August so far:
Aug. 1. 49.77% with Barbara Sadkin. 0.44 of a point.
Aug. 2. 48.84% with Marilyn Sultz.
Aug. 3. 57.08% with Pawan Matta. First in the B strat. 2.25 points.
Aug. 4. 50.49% with Usha Khurana.
Aug. 5 morning. 52.17% with Bill Boardman. 0.55 of a point.
Aug. 5 afternoon. 47.18% with Art Matthies.
Aug. 6. 53.33% with Elsie Rogers. Second in B. 1.48 point.
Aug. 8. 51.28% with Tish Schiffman.
Aug. 9. 50.12% with Barbara Sadkin.
Aug. 10. 56.85% with June Feuerstein. 0.61 of a point.
Aug. 11. 47.02% with Elsie Rogers.
Aug. 12. 48.76% with Selina Volpatti in St. Catharines, Ont.
Aug. 15. 50.74% with Art Matthies. 1.17 point.
Aug. 16. An even 45% with Eva Schmidt. 

Bridge Blog 901-A: Fault Lines

Shoulda done better than 48.76% Friday in St. Catharines, Ont., with Selina Volpatti. Where did we go wrong?
Well, here we’re in the A strat. Top seven pairs win master points. To finish seventh, we need better than 53.05%, another 20 match points. On my score sheet, I marked only two hands where we underachieved, but clearly there’s more than that.
Board 4. Bid and made 2 Spades, but shouldn’t I get an overtrick? Not so, say the hand records. Should be down one, despite the eight-card fit. Got 7 match points. A couple Norths make 3 Spades, 11.5 match points. Best outcome, however, is if East-West overcalls 3 Diamonds, down two vulnerable, but they don’t.
Board 14. Selina’s a trick short on a 2 Heart contract. Hand record says it makes 2 Hearts, but nobody does. They all go down. We get 10 match points. Our shortcomings are elsewhere, like those three bottom or near-bottom boards.  
Like Board 17 against two top players, Brian Macartney and George Morrissey. In a competitive auction, Selina winds up playing 4 Spades, down two, only 0.5 of a match point. Hand record says down one. It’s only a seven-card fit. Best (and most common) bid is 3 Diamonds. Nine-card fit, taking 11 tricks, for 13.5 match points. Should I have persevered with my five-card Diamond suit despite only 7 high card points? Or should partner bid 3 Diamonds? Or did Brian and George go 3 Hearts before she could bid 3 Diamonds and I supported Spades? Yes, that was it. Doubling 3 Hearts (it makes only 1 Heart) would be a top board. Undoubled it’s worth 6 match points. They bamboozled us in the bidding.
Board 24. Our only absolute bottom – down four on my impulsive bid of 4 Clubs, doubled (not vulnerable, thankfully) by Ed Hills and George Vaccaro, the East-West winners. Hand record says down three. Why didn’t I let them play it at 3 Diamonds? They make it, but that’s 11 match points for us. Even if they get an overtrick, as several do, we’d get 7 match points.
Board 25. Against Pat Reading and Malcolm Ross, I double Malcolm at 5 Spades vulnerable and he nails it. Hand record says he ought to. Hey, I have Ace-King of Diamonds and the Ace of Hearts (partner has the King). Down two, right? But they have singletons in each of the red suits and our black cards are worthless. The only North-South that does worse takes the bid at 5 Hearts doubled vulnerable. Down five. As it turns out, five of the 16 East-Wests who play it in Spades take only 10 tricks and one of them takes only nine. Not doubling? Not much better – just 3.5 match points.

Turn around those four hands and we’d have our 20 match points. And a few more. We’d be fourth North-South, not 11th. For hand records, click this link and see the results calendar for the afternoon of Aug. 12. 

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Bridge Blog 900: How hot was July?

Not very. My point total for the month was 12.34, all club points. I lost ground in the master point races for Ruby Life Masters (1,500 to 2,500 points) at all levels.
In the Unit 116 (Buffalo only) Ace of Clubs race (club points only), my year-to-date total as of July 31 is 84.12, which drops me from third to fourth place. Mike Silverman is the leader with 105.21, followed by Ken Meier, 90.45; and David Millward, 90.26.
After me comes Gene Finton, 70.03; Fred Yellen, 61.69; Vince Pesce, 57.91; Allen Beroza, 52.74; Bill Finkelstein, 49.93; Carolyn Syracuse, 30.99; and Chuck Schorr, 30.98.
Among all Unit 116 players, Mike Silverman is second to Jerry Geiger, who has a whopping 137.12. Ron Henrikson is third with 101.56, followed by Judi Marshall, 95.92; Liz Clark, 95.53; Tom Koralewski, 93.59; Ken Meier, 90.45; David Millward, 90.26; Mike Ryan, 84.62; John Ziemer, 84.49; and me in 11th place, down from seventh last month, with 84.12. The eminent Meg Klamp is 12th with 82.50.
Over in the Unit 116 Mini-McKenney race, which counts all points earned everywhere, I’ve slipped from fourth to fifth among Ruby Life Masters and from 22nd to 23rd among all Unit 116 players. The Ruby Life Master list looks like this:
David Hemmer, 144.98 (ninth overall in the unit); Ken Meier, 131.29 (13th); Mike Silverman, 112.24 (19th); David Millward, 105.52 (22nd); me, 101.64 (23rd); Fred Yellen, 100.13 (24th); Gene Finton, 72.99 (35th); Allen Beroza, 65.46 (39th); Vince Pesce, 61.57 (42nd); and Bill Finkelstein, 50.98 (57th).  
No surprise to see Saleh Fetouh leading the entire list for Unit 116. Hitting tournaments in retirement, he’s amassed 358.90 points so far this year. Second and third place belong to the Weltes, John with 229.25 and Martha with 228.29. I heard something about them winning 50 points or so at a national event last month.
Then comes Jerry Geiger, 171.95; Mike Ryan, 163.30; Tom Koralewski, 158.50; Davis Heussler, 157.69; Ron Henrikson, 147.23; David Hemmer, 144.98; and Dan Gerstman, 138.96.
At the District 5 level, which includes Buffalo, Cleveland and Pittsburgh, the Unit 116 Ruby Life Masters lead the pack in the Ace of Clubs race, holding down the first four places. Fifth, after me, is Jayne Stahr of Stow, Ohio, with 71.48, barely ahead of Gene Finton. After that, our presence fades. We have only four more players in the Top 30.
Among all district players, Unit 116 Ruby Life Master leader Mike Silverman is seventh and Ron Henrikson, tops in the 300-500 point division, is eighth. Ken Meier is 14th. David Millward is 15th. I’m 21st. Overall district Ace of Clubs leader is Jerry Geiger’s 137.12. He’s followed by Patricia Katz and Arlene Port, both of Pittsburgh, with 123.86 and 113.83, respectively.  
As for the District 5 Mini-McKenney, Sue Lan Ma of Kirtland Hills, Ohio, continues on top of the Ruby Life Masters with 251.93. Charles Ladiha of Vermilion, Ohio, is a distant second with 158.39, followed by David Hemmer’s 144.98 and Ken Meier’s 131.29. Mike Silverman is ninth, David Millward is 12th, I’m 15th and Fred Yellen is 17th.
Among all District 5 players, I’m 105th in the Mini-McKenney and the rest of us Ruby Life Masters are similarly low. Sue Lan Ma is only 13th. David Hemmer is 48th.
The overall leader is good old Reanette Frobouck from Pittsburgh. She’s got 471.68 points. Next is Philip Becker from Beachwood, Ohio, with 367.17. Then it’s our Saleh Fetouh with 358.90, Kathleen Sulgrove of Twinsburg, Ohio, with 340.42; Robert Alexander of Mentor, Ohio, with 322.89; and Don Sulgrove of Twinsburg with 301.13.
Nationwide, the Ace of Clubs leaders among Ruby Life Masters are Robert Shearer of D’Iberville, Miss. (Where’s that, you ask? Just north of Biloxi), with 207.51; Ed Rauch of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., with 201.80; and Ariel Liebovitz of Houston, Texas, with 190.47. Mike Silverman is 137th. I’m 357th.
Overall national Ace of Clubs champs are Bill Kulbersh of Atlanta, Ga., with 444.67, and Bella Ionis-Sorren of Fort Lauderdale, with 354.03; and Kay Schulle of Purchase, N.Y., with 347.10. The aforementioned Robert Shearer is 47th. Unit 116 leader Jerry Geiger is 359th. The list stops at 125.33.
As for overall national Mini-McKenney leaders, the Ruby Life Masters are headed by Oren Kriegel of Chicago with 642.51, Cookie Potter of Sunset Beach, Calif., with 534.46; and Mary Jane and Michael Gladfelter of Columbus, Ohio, with 499.64. District 5’s Sue Lan Ma is 51st. Unit 116 leader David Hemmer is 338th. Ken Meier is 458th. The list cuts off at 126.55 points.
Overall overall national Mini-McKenney guys are way up there. Chris Compton of Dallas, Texas, with 2,012.14 (wow!) Kevin Dwyer of Melbourne, Fla., with 1,732.09. The inimitable Jeff Meckstroth of Clearwater Beach, Fla., with 1,670.90. District 5’s Reanette Frobouck is 176th. Unit 116’s Saleh Fetouh is 347th. This list of 500 names ends at 302.97 points.