Sunday, October 23, 2016

Bridge Blog 912: Buffalo Regional Days 4, 5 & 6

         After a while, the Buffalo Regional Tournament and the Adam's Mark Hotel turn into a blur. Casting my fate to the Partnership Desk, I hook up Friday with Teresa Jackson, a winsome Polish-born Canadian who wishes I could play the two-over-one convention. We have two dismal rounds – 45.96% in the morning, 47.95% in the afternoon. No master points.
I’m available Saturday and when I run into Rex Ryan’s mom in the line for Friday evening hospitality, she says she’d love to play with me (she had a bad day Thursday too), but she’s leaving in the morning.
The phone rings at 9 a.m. Saturday. 585 Area Code. It’s Dolores Schwartz from Rochester. Well, actually Pittsford. She played with Rex Ryan’s mom on Friday. She and her friends need a fourth for the compact knock-outs.
The first K.O. round is a round robin, three teams, two winners, and we narrowly miss winning against both opponents. In the second part, a round robin consolation round, we beat both teams and collect 0.64 of a red point.
We regroup for the single session Swiss teams in the afternoon – Art Morth, who’s also playing in them, calls them “Loser Swiss” – but we’re not entirely losers. We win one of the four rounds and tie another, which gives us 0.38 of a red point.
The Sunday finale is the traditional monster Swiss team game – seven rounds, seven boards per round, 42 teams playing – and I’m attached again with Joe Miranda and Usha Khurana. This time John Marvin is with Usha.
We get off to a roaring start, a 30-0 victory point sweep of Ron Henrikson’s team, which includes a pair of Canadians. This, unfortunately, throws us up against some really good players – hard-of-hearing Jonathan Steinberg from Toronto and young Alex Hudson from Raleigh, N.C.
Joe asks Alex what he does in North Carolina and Alex taps the table. “Oh,” Joe says. “Bridge.”  He’s a pro.
Nevertheless, we manage to edge them, 24-23 International Match Points, thanks to an outrageous piece of luck. Alex doubles my 2 Hearts vulnerable overcall of his opening Spade bid, I redouble, expecting to get overcalled, but the redouble stays in. I make two overtricks, which prompts considerable discussion between our opponents. It also gives us a plus 1,640 score and 17 of those IMPs. The Hudson-Steinberg team recovers later, however, and finishes eighth overall.
That puts us up against an even better team, David Hemmer and Saleh Fetouh, who finish fourth for the day. They put us in our place, 22-8, with a few playing tips along the way. We bounce back with a 2 IMP victory before lunch. If we can win two more rounds, we’ll be rolling in gold points.
But we only win one. First we lose, 23-13, to John Welte (without wife Martha, who was concertizing on her violin) and Ten-Pao Lee, who go on to be first in the B and C stratifications. We recover against Canadians David Eddy and Ann Shaw, 27-18 IMPs, thanks to some serious luck in a series of three straight 6 No Trump contracts, setting them on one and succeeding on another which should have gone down. They nevertheless finish third in B.
We might have eclipsed them if we didn’t crash to a 30-0 IMP defeat in the final round against cheerless Canadians John Moser and David Baker. That helps them tie for sixth overall.
Our final IMP total is 106, short of what I thought it would take to win gold points. But I’m wrong. We’re fifth in B – earning 2.65 gold. It’s enough to put Usha over the top. She’s now a Life Master. Mission accomplished.
As for my personal mission, this is one of my better tournaments. Overall winnings, near as I can figure – 15.66 points, 13.78 of them gold. 

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