Sunday, August 13, 2017

Bridge Blog 968: TWTWTW Aug. 7 to Aug. 12

Monday: Art Matthies and I salvage a shred of pride with a 50.46% and a sliver of a master point – 0.69. Two top boards – a double on an opponent's ill-advised 4 Diamond bid, down three; and a nicely executed 3 Club contract by Art. Two bottoms – a down-three sacrifice by me that goes down four instead and a 3 No Trump contract by the opponents which we can't figure out how to crack.
Tuesday: Not much luck with Usha Khurana. 47.10%. Mistakes by both of us. At least we're not last.
Wednesday: June Feuerstein and I have our usual loopy good time and manage to finish second East-West in a low-percentage six-table game. Our 53.75% is worth 1.27 points.
Thursday: No partner so club manager Bill Finkelstein offers me on Wednesday to the first available player who speaks up. That would be Eva Schmidt, a nonagenarian marvel and Holocaust survivor. We come in fourth North-South with 51.94% and earn 0.69 of a point.
Friday: Canadian partner unavailable, so no trip to St. Catharines. Myra Razik accepts Bill Finkelstein's general offer this time and we have a 50.84% game, third in B East-West, 0.75 of a point.
Saturday: Will my end-of-the-week date with the current August master point leader, Denise Slattery, depress her or lift me up? The latter. One of my best games of the year, in fact. 
When the results are posted, we're tied with Alan Greer and Nancy Wolstoncroft at the top with 65%. Then Shirley Cassety finds an incorrect score. Not the first time she gets a correction that bumps me back. 
Alan and Nancy stay at 65%, Denise and I drop to 64.17%, second overall, but still first in the B strat for 2.25 points. For the week: 5.65 points. For the month so far: 6.98. 

Monday, August 7, 2017

Bridge Blog 967: Goodbye to July

         Club points for the year, through July 31: 85.32, up 19.70 since June. I've passed David Millward, who was out of action all month, and moved ahead to second place in the Ace of Clubs race (club play only) among Ruby Life Masters (1,500 to 2,500 points) in Unit 116 (Buffalo only).                    Here's the Top 10: Mike Silverman, 120.13 (also first among all players in the unit); me, 85.32 (sixth overall); David Millward, 81.37 (tenth); Ken Meier, 80.72 (12th); Fred Yellen, 63.23 (22nd); Allen Beroza, 61.15 (25th); Gene Finton, 52.63 (29th); Dorothy May, 45.15 (38th); Chuck Schorr, 27.94 (77th); and Art Morth, 27.20 (82nd).
         Among all Unit 116 players in the Ace of Clubs race, the Top 10 looks like this: Mike Silverman still on top, 120.13; Jerry Geiger moving up from fifth to second, 99.71; Liz Clark, 98.16; Mike Ryan (ninth to fourth), 87.74; Meg Klamp, 87.30; me, 85.32; Judi Marshall, 81.64; John Ziemer, 81.59; Denise Slattery, 81.42; David Millward, 81.37. And let's add these folks nipping at our heels – Martin Pieterse, 81.08; Ken Meier, 80.72; Ron Henrikson, 80.28; and Sharon Benz, 78.91.
         Overall points for the year, as of July 31: 103.39. I've broken through the century mark and almost reached my 15-point-per-month goal. Here again I move up a notch in the Mini-McKenney race (all points earned everywhere) to third place among Ruby Life Masters in Unit 116, past inactive David Millward. 
         Here's how the leaders look: Ken Meier, 171.07 (sixth among all Unit 116 players, down from fourth); Mike Silverman, 125.58 (12th overall, up from 16th), me, 103.39 (22nd, up from 25th); David Millward, 95.63 (27th); Fred Yellen, 90.99 (28th); Allen Beroza, 86 even (33rd); then a big step down to Gene Finton, 59.65 (50th); Dorothy May, 50.69 (61st); Art Morth, 38.70 (78th) and Bill Rushmore, 30.36 (101st).
        Two of the Unit 116 Mini-McKenney leaders have broken through the 200 point mark. Here they are: Davis Heussler, 215.15; Mike Ryan, 200.12; John and Martha Welte, both with 196.91; Jay Levy, 174.02; Ken Meier, 171.07; John Ziemer, 148.58; Linda Burroughsford, 147.19; Christy Kellogg, 138.25; Bert Hargeshimer, 134.87; Liz Clark, 131.13; Mike Silverman, 125.58.
         District 5 (Buffalo, Cleveland, Pittsburgh) Ace of Clubs. Ruby Life Masters. I’m third in my division, up from fifth, and 17th overall, up from 28th. We Buffalo players have four of the top five spots, starting with Mike Silverman at 120.13. He's fourth among all District 5 Mini-McKenney players.
         Second is Allen Selling of Erie, Pa.; 87.50 (14th overall); me, 85.32 (17th); David Millward, 81.37 (23rd); Ken Meier, 80.72 (25th); Susan Konig of Bridgeville,Pa., 78.33 (31st); Chantal Whitney of Bratenahl, Ohio, 78.16 (32nd); Patrick Slaven of Mogadore, Ohio, 69.01 (49th); Doris Kirsch of East Springfield, Pa., 66.98 (57th); Fred Yellen, 63.23 (64th); and Allen Beroza, 61.15 (70th).
         District 5 Ace of Clubs overall. Here the leader continues to be Robert Alexander of Mentor, Ohio, with 136.44; followed by Arlene Port of Pittsburgh, 122.97; Stephanie Alexander of Mentor, 120.60; Mike Silverman, 120.13; Patricia Katz of Pittsburgh, 104.66; Richard Katz of North Versailles, Pa., 103.09; Asim Ulke of Monroeville, Pa., 101.99; Jerry Geiger, 99.71; Barbara Belardi of Pittsburgh, 98.28; and Liz Clark, 98.16.
         District 5 Mini-McKenney. Ruby Life Masters.  Sue Lan Ma of Kirtland Hills, Ohio, continues on top by a wide margin. She’s got 507.18. First in the division and first in the district overall. The rest of the Top 10: Craig Biddle of Pittsburgh, 335.34 (seventh overall); William Lindgren of Slippery Rock, Pa., 191.10 (23rd); Ken Meier, 171.07 (33rd); Russell Sheldon of Pittsburgh, 132.81 (51st); Mike Silverman, 125.58 (59th); Charles Ladiha of Vermillion, Ohio, 125.25 (60th); Jean Picone of Pittsburgh, 111.38 (78th); Jayne Stahr of Stow, Ohio, 107.30 (86th); and me! 103.39 (up from 15th, also 94th overall, up from 109th).  
         District 5 Mini-McKenney overall. Sue Lan Ma, 507.18; Reanette Frobouck still second, but only advancing about 15 points to  438.32; Kathleen and Don Sulgrove of Twinsburg, Ohio, 376.62 and 372.06, respectively; with Craig Biddle of Pittsburgh coming between them with 284.66. Then Bernie Greenspan of Beachwood, Ohio, moves up to fifth with 362.90; followed by Philip Goulding of Wexford, Pa., 347.76; Craig Biddle of Pittsburgh, 335.34; Robert and Stephanie Alexander of Mentor, Ohio, 315.27 and 299.43; and Brian Ellis of Beachwood, 263.61.

Nationwide. Ace of Clubs. Ruby Life Masters. Thomas Roberg, Raleigh, N.C., 202.79; Dennis Harris, Corvallis, Ore., 193.43; Gary Waldron, Laguna Beach, Calif., 192.53; Ben Franz, Edgewood, N.M., 191.02; Mohan Bali, Columbia, S.C., 188.84. Mike Silverman is 76th. I just missed the list last month, now I'm 320th. David Millward is tied for 386th. Ken Meier is 394th. The list cuts off at 75.82.
Nationwide. Ace of Clubs overall. Top three are repeaters. Bella Ionis-Sorren, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., 378.82; Bill Kulbersh, Atlanta, 377.21; Kay Schulle, Purchase, N.Y., 332.12; Sheila Gabay of Newton, Mass., 306.15; Irva Neyhart of Corvallis, Ore, 303.71. No Unit 116 players here and only Robert Alexander from District 5. He's 356th. The list cuts off at 126.20.  
Nationwide. Mini-McKenney. Ruby Life Masters. Here it's Gillian Miniter of New York City, 681.05; Sudhakar Divakaruni of Scottsdale, Ariz., 570.12; District 5's Sue Lan Ma, 507.18; Jeff Edelstein of Riverview, Fla., 427.03; and Layne Noble of Ottawa, Ont., 410.41. Unit 116's Ken Meier is 181st. Mike Silverman is 473rd. The list stops at 123.96.

Nationwide. Mini-McKenney overall. Now there are 27 players with 1,000 points or more. Leader is still Chris Compton of Dallas, 1,812.91; then it's Kevin Dwyer of Melbourne, Fla., 1,563.46; Mike Passell of Plano, Texas, 1,557.61; Jeff Meckstroth of Clearwater Beach, Fla., 1,472.94; and Greg Hinze of San Antonio, Texas, 1,436.35. Former Buffalonian Joel Wooldridge is 20th with 1,106.32. Sue Lan Ma is 133rd. Reanette Frobouck is 193rd. Eight District 5 players make the list before the it ends at 301.84. 

Bridge Blog 966: TWTWTW: July 31 - Aug. 5

Monday: Three top boards, four bottom boards, but Art Matthies and I manage to rise above the 50% mark. 51.53%, to be exact. Fourth North-South. 0.93 of a master point is not enough to break the 20-point mark for the month, but it's close.
Tuesday: I neglect to tell club manager Bill Finkelstein that I don't have a partner until 9 a.m. I think he pairs me with novice Ted May as punishment. He also makes us the bumping pair in a 9½ table game. But I stick to a basic game with Ted, don't take too many chances and we bring it home at 53.25%. First in B. 1.33 points. Only August points this week.
Meanwhile, on Board 12, I pick up what may be my worst hand ever. An ultra Yarborough.
Spades: 7-3; Hearts: 8-6-2; Diamonds: 8-6-4-2; Clubs: 8-4-3-2. 
(The odds of picking up a Yarborough turn out to be pretty slim [see the mathematical formula for it here]. One in which the highest card is an 8 must be even more rarified.) 
Ted, on the other hand, has a 19-pointer. He bids the opponents up to 3 Spades, they go down one, it's an average board.
Wednesday: June Feuerstein and I always have a good time, but we don't always have a good game. 43.92%. Almost, but not quite, last.
Thursday: Like my partnership with Art Matthies, my games with Marietta Kalman never quite live up to their potential. This time we come close to 50%, but fall short at 48.38%.
Friday: A change of pace over at the Bridge Centre of Niagara in St. Catharines, Ont., at the start of their civic holiday weekend. Sometimes Selina Volpatti and I are up, sometimes we're down. This time we take the bid on 17 of the 26 hands, but we go down on 13 of them and most of the scores are on the opponents' side of the line. We finish 15th out of 17 North-Souths with 44.59%.
Worst moment: An ill-advised 3 Heart bid where I go down 5 vulnerable and should have gone down 2, according to the hand record. Miraculously, it's not a bottom board. Three other pairs went to 4 Hearts, got doubled. Two of them went down 3, one went down 6. Best moment: Doubling the opponents' 4 Spade bid and seeing them go down 4 vulnerable. That one was a top. We needed more of those. 
In retrospect, a downer kind of week. I'll need better real soon to reach that 15-point-per-month goal.  

Monday, July 31, 2017

Bridge Blog 965: The weather in my head

Monday's partner Art Matthies is distressed with me and I can't blame him. After Buffalo Garden Walk weekend, I'm in a fog. I don't have game. I go down on a 4 Spade contract everybody else makes because I fail to draw the last trump. I go down two, vulnerable, on a 3 Heart contract where I should have been down one.
One hand that Art is particularly distressed about is this one, the second hand of the day. Board 14. Nobody vulnerable. East is dealer.

East (Nancy Kessler)
Spades: J-5; Hearts: Q-8-6-2; Diamonds: A-8-6-4-3; Clubs: K-2.

South (Art)
Spades: A-10-7-4; Hearts: 7-3; Diamonds: 10-9; Clubs: A-Q-J-7-6.

West (John Kirsits)
Spades: Q-9-8-3; Hearts: A-J-9-4; Diamonds: 7-5-2; Clubs: 8-4.

North (moi)
Spades: K-6-2; Hearts: K-10-5; Diamonds: K-Q-J; Clubs: 10-9-5-3.

Amazingly, the bidding starts with three passes. I'm sitting with 12 high card points. We're not vulnerable. Maybe my partner has a long suit. I bid a Club. Nancy goes 1 Diamond. Art offers 1 Spade. I'm ready to do a 1 No Trump-new minor forcing bid, but John raises to 2 Diamonds.
So do I bid 2 NT, perhaps showing more strength than I've got?  No, I support Art's bid by going 2 Spades, knowing full well that we may only have seven Spades between us. Art, revaluing his hand, jumps to 4 Spades. I smell disaster.
And it is. Though the hand record says North-South could make nine tricks in Spades, we make only eight. It's a bottom board. According to the hand record, we also can make 4 Clubs or 3 NT.
This hand haunts Art for several rounds. He concedes that he maybe should have opened. He contends that I never should have raised his Spades with only three of them in my hand. Given that a No Trump bid would have been more successful, he's got a point. Given that he passed, then bid a Spade, that made me think 2 Spades was a safe destination. And so it would have been.
Such are the perils of partnership. Fortunately, Art wasn't in a fog and plays pretty darn well as declarer when I don't screw him up. And we both have a knack for defense. Those three top boards of ours are all defensive. We manage a 51.53% game, fourth North-South, 0.93 of a master point. In this birthday month, that's icing on the cake. 

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Bridge Blog 964: High point

July is my favorite month. And why shouldn’t it be? It’s my birth month. Moreover, here in Buffalo, it’s the height of summer, the best weather anywhere in the U.S., 31 glorious days that make up for all those bleak times at the other end of the calendar.
This July has been particularly glorious. I turned 75. Three-quarters of a century and very glad to have made it this far, a point that is driven home to me with every obituary I write for The Buffalo News.
As a bridge month, it peaked with not one, but two birthday celebrations, in which I bought a free game for the first time for everyone at The Bridge Centre of Niagara in St. Catharines, Ont., on my customary Friday visit July 14, and repeated my annual freebie at the Airport Bridge Club in Cheektowaga on the evening of my actual birthday July 18.
In Canada, they trotted out a terrific marble cake, accented with a layer of custard and hands of cards drawn into the frosting. At the Airport Club, it was a big old potluck dinner, but no cake, which is just as well. By then, I was caked out. Also part of the celebration was another player whose birthday is July 18. Val Derenda. He turned 90. I’d already given him a present back on June 27 when we were paired at the last minute and had a 62.81% game, to the great surprise of both of us (see Blog 960).
St. Catharines had 17½ tables, 70 players, which at $6 a head cost $420 Canadian. I asked the internet what that would be in U.S. funds and it came out to around $330. The Airport Club had 11½ tables, 46 players, which at $7.50 a head cost $345.
Across the table from me at both games was my Canadian partner, Selina Volpatti. In St. Catharines, we turned in a respectable 53.97% game, seventh North-South, fourth in the B strat, fifth in B overall, 0.34 of a master point. At the Airport Club, not so good. 47.53%. At least we weren’t last. 

Bridge Blog 964-A: But how high?

There were peak bridge moments in July, even though they didn’t coincide with the birthday moments.
Best game of the month came the day after my birthday, on July 19. My scheduled partner Barbara Sadkin canceled and I was paired at the last minute with Dr. Brian Block (his daughter, Sandra, is a neurologist – my sleep doctor – and a novelist – I’m in the middle of her third book). Brian has gotten to be a good player, maybe from his winters in Florida, and we put together a 60.71% game, second overall, first in B, 2.39 master points.
I also had a long overdue breakthrough with Art Matthies. We finally lived up to our potential on July 13 by coming in first overall with a 59.63% game. 3.94 points. Since then, we’ve been back in the doldrums – 45.11% on July 17; 45.32% on July 24.
What I’m wondering, though, is if I’ve lived up to my monthly goal of 15 master points, which amounts to a little less than four per week. Let’s break it down:
July 3 with Usha Khurana. 52.94%. 0.19 point.
July 5 with Bill Regan, 55.23%. 1.58 points.
July 6 with Art Matthies, 53.28%. 0.94 point.
July 7 in St. Catharines with Selina Volpatti, 55.13%. 0.84 point.
July 8 with Denise Slattery, 53.17%. 1.97 points.
July 10 with Marilyn Sultz, 53.37%. 0.48 point.
July 12 with Marilyn Sultz, 51.28%. 1.19 points.
July 13 with Art Matthies, 59.63%. 3.94 points.
July 14 in St. Catharines with Selina Volpatti, 53.97%. 0.34 point.
July 18 (day) with Dorothy May, 49.77%. 0.44 point.
July 19 with Brian Block, 60.71%. 2.39 points.
July 22 in St. Catharines with Selina Volpatti, 55.36%. 0.82 point.
July 26 with June Feuerstein, 55.42%. 1.69 points.
July 27 with Marietta Kalman, 53.01%. 1.25 points.
Missed July 28 and July 29 getting ready for the Buffalo Garden Walk and our annual Garden Walk porch pary.
OK, let’s do the math.
Week 1. 5.52.
Week 2. 5.95.
Week 3. 3.65.
Week 4. 2.94.
If my calculations are correct, the early half of the month was my salvation. Total is 18.06. Nothing too special, but perfectly acceptable. And there’s still July 31 to go.Who’s my partner? Art Matthies. Hey, maybe this will be another bounce back for us. 

Friday, July 7, 2017

Bridge Blog 963: 2017 midpoint (completed)

Club points for the year, through June 30: 65.62.
That puts me third in the Ace of Clubs race (club play only) among Ruby Life Masters (1,500 to 2,500 points) in Unit 116 (Buffalo only), well behind the leaders, but with a little breathing room between me and the man in fourth place. Here’s the Top 10:
Mike Silverman, 95.36 (first overall among all players in the unit, as well); David Millward, 81.37 (third overall); me, 65.62 (seventh); Ken Meier, 61.95 (12th); Fred Yellen, 46.95 (26th); Allen Beroza, 45.83 (28th); Gene Finton, 42.02 (31st); Dorothy May, 41.13 (33rd); Chuck Schorr, 23.51 (69th); Vince Pesce, 21.93 (80th).
Among all Unit 116 players in the Ace of Clubs race, the Top 10 looks like this: Mike Silverman, 95.36; Liz Clark, 86.62; David Millward, 81.37; Meg Klamp, 77.85; Jerry Geiger, 67.70; Sharon Benz, 65.78; me, 65.62; John Ziemer, 64.25; Mike Ryan, 64.08; and Judi Marshall, 63.33.

Overall points for the year, as of June 30: 83.69.
That places me fourth in the Mini-McKenney race (all points earned everywhere) among Ruby Life Masters in Unit 116. Here’s how the leaders stack up:
Ken Meier, 152.30 (fourth among all Unit 116 players); Mike Silverman, 100.81 (16th overall); David Millward, 95.63 (20th); me, 83.69 (25th); Fred Yellen, 74.71 (31st); Allen Beroza, 70.68 (33rd); Gene Finton, 49.04 (53rd); Dorothy May, 46.67 (55th); Art Morth, 31.75 (81st); and Bill Rushmore, 29.26 (88th).
And how many Unit 116 Mini-McKenney leaders have hit the century mark at midyear? Turns out there are 16:
Davis Heussler, 166.03; John and Martha Welte, both with 157.24; Ken Meier, 152.30; Mike Ryan, 144.79; Jay Levy, 134.22; Christy Kellogg, 126.92; Bert Hargeshimer, 123.97; John Ziemer, 121.67; Liz Clark, 115.93; Linda Burroughsford, 112.05; David Hemmer, 111.98; Saleh Fetouh, 104.71; Meg Klamp, 101.38; Dian Petrov, 101.12; and Mike Silverman, 100.81.

(to be continued with notations on District 5 and national leaders)

OK, many days later, let’s finish this off while the June results are still up.
District 5 (Buffalo, Cleveland, Pittsburgh) Ace of Clubs. Ruby Life Masters. I’m fifth in my division, 28th overall. We Buffalo players have four of the top six spots, starting with Mike Silverman, 95.36 (seventh overall). Then it’s David Millward, 81.37, 12th overall; Susan Konig of Bridgeville, Pa., 74.48; 17th; Allen Selling of Erie, Pa., 69.36, 21st; me, 65.62 (28th); and Ken Meier, 61.95 (33rd). Then we Buffalonians thin out. There’s only four more in the Top 30.
District 5 Ace of Clubs overall. Here the leader is Robert Alexander of Mentor, Ohio, with 111.50, followed by Arlene Port, Patricia Katz and Richard Katz, all of Pittsburgh (though Richard is officially from North Versailles, Pa.), with 105.04, 100.56 and 99.19. Then it’s Asim Ulke of Monroeville, Pa., 98.48; and Stephanie Alexander of Mentor, Ohio, 95.66; before we get to Mike Silverman’s 95.36, followed by another Buffalonian, Liz Clark with 86.62. Rounding out the Top 10 are Barbara Belardi and good old Reanette Frobouck, both Pittsburghers, with 85.59 and 84.78. Bubbling under are W. (for William) Tordella of Bemus Point, 83.77; and our David Millward, 81.37.
District 5 Mini-McKenney. Ruby Life Masters. No change in leadership here. It’s Sue Lan Ma of Kirtland Hills, Ohio, by a country mile. She’s got 443.82. First in the division and first in the district overall. The rest of the Top 10: Craig Biddle, Pittsburgh, 284.66, sixth overall; William Lindgren, Slippery Rock, Pa., 187.97 (15th); Ken Meier, 152.30 (28th); Charles Ladiha, Vermilion, Ohio, 109.02 (59th); Jean Picone, Pittsburgh, 103.31 (65th); Mike Silverman, 100.81 (71st); David Millward, 95.63 (80th); Jayne Stahr, Stow, Ohio, 91.46 (90th); and Monica Early, Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, 87.99 (97th). I’m 15th, 109th overall in the district.
District 5 Mini-McKenney overall. Sue Lan Ma, 443.82; Reanette Frobouck on the rebound, 423.47; Kathleen and Don Sulgrove of Twinsburg, Ohio, 361.07 and 355.84; Robert and Stephanie Alexander of Mentor, Ohio, 290.33 and 274.49, with Craig Biddle of Pittsburgh coming between them with 284.66. Then it’s three guys from Beachwood, Ohio – Bernie Greenspan, 254.63; Phillip Becker, 240.48; and Brian Ellis, 239.33.
Nationwide. Ace of Clubs. Ruby Life Masters. Thomas Robert, Raleigh, N.C., 171.41; Paul Hassett and Russ Pearly, both of The Villages, Fla, 168.05 and 165.76; Barry Nish, Little Neck, L.I., 164.17; and Robert Shearer of Diberville, Miss., 164.11. Unit 116 and District 5 leader Mike Silverman is 103rd. David Millward is tied for 205th with someone named Lee Maddocks from Modesto, Calif. The list of 500 cuts off at 65.69. I’ve got 65.62.
Nationwide. Ace of Clubs overall. Totally stratospheric. Bella Ionis-Sorren of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., 349.95. Bill Kulbersh of Atlanta, 311.56. Then there are 28 more with 200 or better, led by Kay Schulle of Purchase, N.Y., 279.54; Gail Wells of Dallas, 262.04; and Irva Neyhart of Corvallis, Ore., 252.96. No District 5 players on this list. It cuts off at 107.43.
Nationwide. Mini-McKenney. Ruby Life Masters. District 5’s Sue Lan Ma is third. It’s Gillian Miniter of New York City, 587.13; Sudhakar Divakaruni of Scottsdale, Ariz., 469.63; Sue Lan Ma, 443.82; Layne Noble of Ottawa, Ont., 391.75; and Jeff Edelstein of Riverview, Fla., 387.53. Eight players in all have more than 300 points. Unit 116’s Ken Meier is 164th and he’s our only representative. The list stops at 105.99.
Nationwide Mini-McKenney overall. Seventeen players with more than 1,000 points at midyear, led by Chris Compton of Dallas, 1,492.10; followed by Mike Passell of Plano, Texas, 1,324.96; the legendary Jeff Meckstroth of Clearwater Beach, Fla., 1,296.02; Eddie Wold of Houston, 1,213.76; and Kevin Dwyer of Melbourne, Fla., 1,190.96. Former Buffalonian Joel Wooldridge, now of Astoria, Queens, is 43rd with 621.49. District 5’s Sue Lan Ma is 118th. To earn a spot on this list, you need at least 252.61 points. 

Bridge Blog 962: Frisky over 50

     June’s funky finale oozed over into July. The month started with a mediocre 47.69% game with Denise Slattery last Saturday, not miserable enough for last place, but far from winning points.
     Usha Khurana and I overcame our point drought together on Monday, but our seemingly respectable 52.94% was just sixth overall in a 13-pair one-winner game and yielded only 0.19 of a point.
     I took the holiday off on Tuesday for gardening, then had Wednesday’s partner call late Tuesday night to cancel. Arriving at the Airport Bridge Club as a free agent, I was paired with Bill Regan, a player admirable for his agreeability, and diminished my expectations. 
     I shouldn’t have. It felt like we were having a good game. Over 50%, I predicted as I ran out before results were announced (hair appointment). I didn’t learn until the next morning just how much over 50% we finished. It was 55.23%, first in B in our direction, 1.58 points. 
     Thursday gave Art Matthies and me another chance to see if we could live up to our potential. Though Art found plenty to inspire his impatience, it turned out to be one of our better efforts – third in the B strat in our direction, 53.28%, 0.94 of a point.
     Friday took me back to St. Catharines feeling frisky from the 50%-plus week so far, despite a severe sleep deficit (too late at work Thursday night, cranking out not one, but two feature obituaries). 
     This time Selina Volpatti and I mostly kept our heads about us (despite the minus 1,100 from an ill-advised 5 Clubs doubled sacrifice that I pushed her into). We wound up with 55.13%, third out of 17 North-Souths, fourth overall, collecting 0.84 of a master point. 

Bridge Blog 961: Bright point

     I would chalk up June 30 as an undistinguished Friday at the Bridge Centre of Niagara in St. Catharines, Ont., except for all the high hopes I carried into the game. It was the last chance to pile on master points for the month. Those points would be amplified by the fact that it was a North American Pairs qualifier.
     And then there was Board 10, which Selina Volpatti and I encountered in the second round of the afternoon. It looked like this:

North (me)
Spades: A-K-Q-9; Hearts: Q-4; Diamonds: A-K-5-3; Clubs: A-Q-6.

Spades: J-8-7-2; Hearts: 5-2; Diamonds: Q-J-10-9-2; Clubs: 10-7. 

South (Selina)
Spades: 10-4; Hearts: A-K-J-8-6; Diamonds: 7-6-4; Clubs: K-9-3.

Spades: 6-5-3; Hearts: 10-9-7-3; Diamonds: 8; Clubs: J-8-5-4-2.

     Everybody’s vulnerable. South is dealer. Selina shrugs off the weakness of her holding and opens 1 Heart. I add up my high cards. Then I add them up again. Yes, it’s really a 24-point hand. Twenty-four points opposite an opener? We’ve got a slam. A grand slam.
     I bid 4 No Trump, key card Blackwood, asking for Aces and the King of Hearts. Selina’s 5 Hearts says she has two. The top two Hearts. I pause to ponder. Do we make 7 Hearts? Without a doubt. Or do we score a little higher with 7 No Trump? Well-l-l-l, OK. 7 No.
     Soon as East makes his natural lead –Queen of Diamonds – it’s a lay-down: Two Diamond tricks, three Spades, five Hearts, three Clubs. Plus 2,200. That, I declare as I punch the data into the Bridge Mate scoring gizmo, will be an average board.
But is it? The summary sheet at the end of the game and shows that out of a possible 15 match points, we got 14.5. Only one other pair (Bob Forster and Bob Starfield) bid it.
     What happened to the others? Eleven stopped at 6 NT. All but one of them made an overtrick. Two others wound up at 6 Hearts, also making overtricks. And one unfortunate pair played it at 3 NT. Theirs was the bottom board. That partnership, however, finished the day above 50% and won a fraction of a master point. Selina and I wound up at 41.41%, 14th out of 16 North-South pairs.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Bridge Blog 960: Clean swoop

Announcing the winners Tuesday in the biggest game of the year – 13 tables – at the Airport Bridge Club, director Bill Finkelstein is incredulous. First east-west, first in A, first in B, with 62.81%, earning 4.31 master points, half of them red, Val Derenda and Dale Anderson!
Though Val and I share a birthday, we play together rarely and haven't had much success together, so this was totally unexpected, even though I felt like we were having better than a 50% game.
What helped it along were some well-placed doubles, three of them, which earned us two top boards. What also helped were no bottoms.
This just might be the most points I've ever earned in a regular club game and it's certainly cause for celebration. What's more, it pops me past 20 points for the month all in one fell swoop. Hallelujah!

Friday, June 23, 2017

Bridge Blog 959: STaC and back

Two games a day for the six days of the Sectional Tournament at the Clubs (STaC) last week pretty much assured that regular players at the Airport Bridge Club would figure prominently in the final standings.
Nevertheless, our leading contender, Nancy Wolstoncroft, is way back in 12th place with her 16.14 points. Tied at the top with more than twice as many points are Stephanie and Robert Alexander of Mentor, Ohio. They won 33.81.
What Buffalo has is an ample supply of second-tier finishers. After Nancy comes her frequent partner, Alan Greer, with 14.77 (16th), and Denise Slattery, 14.52 (17th). A little further back in the double digits are Jerry Geiger, 11.28 (25th); Judi Marshall, 11.13 (26th); Ken Meier, 11.04 (29th); and Jay Levy, 10.82 (30th). I’m down in 58th place with 8.07.  In all, 1,061 players earned points.
I’m not sure why, but the post-STaC week began with a big head of steam. Partnerless on Monday and Tuesday, I’m paired both days with Carolyn Siracuse, a very good player but somewhat scattered at times.
On Monday, I arrive late and we don’t even consult on conventions. It doesn’t matter. We cruise to a 61.32% game, first in our direction, second overall, 2.19 master points. Tuesday we get to go over the basics before play begins and we diminish accordingly. This time we’re 55.08%, third in our direction, 0.50 of a point.
Wednesday is The Longest Day, the summer solstice and the occasion for the ACBL to celebrate by encouraging marathon games to benefit the Alzheimer’s Association. The Airport Bridge Club schedules three games, beginning at 10 a.m. Because I have to be at work in the 4 o’clock hour, I get to play only the first two of them with June Feuerstein.
To fit three of them in between 10 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., they’re short games, but director Bill Finkelstein insures they’re long enough to award extra points. For June and me, that turns out to be a bonanza. In the morning, we’re second in the B strat in our direction, earning 0.67 of a point. In the game that begins shortly after noon, we romp to 62.50%, first in our direction, second overall, for 1.31 points.
The hot streak ends Thursday with a 48.21% game with Dottie May, but bubbles up again on Friday with Denise Slattery, finishing with 54.17%, second North-South, fourth overall, for 1.05 point. No game Saturday so I can help Monica and her bicycle get back home from the University at Buffalo after the Ride for Roswell, but it’s been a full week anyway – 5.72 points.
Add that to the 4.01 from early in the month and the 8.07 from STaC Week and June starts to look like it might bust 20 points. And it's about time! That still leaves me short of my goal – shooting for 15 points per month, I should have 90 by midyear and I’ll only have about 80 – but nevertheless it’s a big step ahead. 

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Bridge Blog 958: Triple Play

I wrap up STaC week with two games at the Airport Bridge Club with Denise Slattery. Our payoff, such as it is, comes in the six-table game in the morning. 53.58%. 1.05 silver points. First in the B strat, but way too low for a bonus on the district level.
Afternoon is a five-table Howell and, stricken with that after-lunch letdown, we struggle. At one point, I start dozing. At another point, I lurch into a down-four-doubled minus 800 contract. We’re lucky to register 49.55%.
Then, since my other half is over in Cortland playing volleyball in the Empire State Senior Games, I nip home briefly, feed the cat, then zip across the Peace Bridge. At the Bridge Centre of Niagara in St. Catharines, Ont., it’s their monthly Saturday evening social – an open pairs game with dinner. This time around, it’s Friendly Fred’s Barbecue, dedicated to a beloved club director who’s passed on.
The trip to St. Catharines is a lot easier in the 5 o’clock hour on a Saturday than it is during the noon hour on Friday, when I usually run this route. There’s only one car in front of me at the checkpoint and traffic is so light I knock five minutes off my normal running time.
They’ve only just begun to eat when I get there at 5:45. There’s steak, chicken and sausage off the grill, plus a long table full of picnic side dishes, plus beer and wine for $2.50 a pop, which makes for a very jolly evening. Converting the club from dining room to game room is a flurry of confusion, but a quick one. And it’s a big game – 22 tables.
Selina Volpatti and I have a seriously good time, I’m declarer on 11 of the 26 hands and it’s my best effort of the day. 59.17%. Tied for fourth overall, third in the B strat. 2.22 master points. Selina messages me later to apologize for messing up the response on my 2 Club opener on one of our poorer hands, but no matter. I’m feeling so much afterglow that I hardly mind getting pulled over by the Border Patrol at the Rainbow Bridge for a random search of the car. 

Friday, June 16, 2017

Bridge Blog 957: STaCked Against Me

The Sectional Tournament at the Clubs (STaC) should be like taking silver points from a baby. Play at your home club, have a good game, rake in the bonus points at the district level. The Airport Bridge Club even provides us with extra rakes – two STaC games every day.
So on an ideal STaC week, I’d have 12 to 14 silver point opportunities. In previous years, I would attempt all of them. But not this year. My employer, The Buffalo News, wants me an hour earlier – 4 p.m. instead of 5 – and that rules out the second game. At best, I’d show up well after 5.
Luckily, 9 out of the 12 games can be salvaged. No work Friday and Saturday. And I plead for a dispensation for Thursday, so Selina Volpatti won’t have to come over from Canada for just one session.
Plus – to diminish our STaC expectations further – nobody wins all the time. Even if you scratch on a club level in a STaC game, it usually takes 60% or better to break into those fat bonus points.
And one final reality check – STaC history. I managed 9.74 back in December, but I played 13 games. My best STaC ever was last June – 11.57. So let’s set a reasonable goal – two-thirds of last December. 6.5 or so. 

Bridge Blog 957-A: Living It Up, Living It Down

Stumble at the start Monday with Art Matthies. 46.04%. Art’s a good player, a serious player. We should have done better. Immediately regret not being able to stay for the afternoon session.
Better with Dorothy May on Tuesday. 53.12%. Third East-West in a 12-table game. 1.03 silver points. Not enough for district bonus points, though.
Back Wednesday morning with Art, who admonishes me for my freewheeling bidding. “No more 800s,” he says. Whereupon I engineer an 1,100. Plus 1,100. I double opponents (I'm keeping my promise that they go unnamed) after they stumble into a 3 Diamond contract on a difficult hand to bid. They go down 5.

Board 17. I’m North. I’m dealer. Nobody vulnerable.

Spades: 10-9-4; Hearts: none; Diamonds: K-J-5-2; Clubs: A-J-10-9-5-2.

Spades: K-Q-5; Hearts: Q-9-7-5; Diamonds: Q-10-8-7; Clubs: Q-6.

South (Art)
Spades: A-J-2; Hearts: J-8-6-4-3-2; Diamonds: A-9-3; Clubs: 8.

Spades: 8-7-6-3; Hearts: A-K-10; Diamonds: 6-5; Clubs: K-7-4-3.

East is declarer. Art leads his singleton Club and a cross-ruff ensues. Hand record says we should take eight tricks in Diamonds. We take nine. Otherwise, it’s our hand and we should make 2 Spades or 3 Clubs.
Hey, now that I look at my copy of the game summary, there’s an error in scoring this hand. We're credited with plus 100, only 3 match points instead of 4. OK, let's look at the posted scores (which I photographed Friday on my phone to transcribe into the newspaper bridge news column). It’s been corrected. We now have our extra match point, 50.52% instead of 49.52%. No silver points, but at least we salvage some pride.
No compunctions about wild bidding with Selina Volpatti on Thursday. The morning hands agree with our freewheeling style and we sail to a stellar 63.08%, second overall at the club and fourth overall in the district: 4.51 points.
The magnificent morning then turns sour in the afternoon. Our 46.14% is last North-South.
Friday morning begins with more high hopes for a partnership with Bob Linn, a far more experienced player than I am, but once again we fail to live up to our potential. 44.91%. Ninth out of 11 pairs.
Bob can’t stay for the afternoon and I wind up playing with director Bill Finkelstein, who is even less forgiving of my misplays that Bob is. Despite my duly noted bidding and defensive errors, we come in third overall, second in B, with a 53.85% game. 0.85 silver points.
A check just now with the e-mailed STaC summary (it’s pretty prompt) brings more good news. Third in the club also is third in the district for small games. That 0.85 is bumped up to 1.48.
Total for the week so far: 7.02. Hey, I’ve made my goal, and then some. The two Saturday sessions with Denise Slattery will be gravy. Or better yet, whipped cream on top.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Bridge Blog 956: Too soon, too soon, the First of June

Losing a week in May by being out of town didn't help. Nor did I rediscover the winning streak I enjoyed back in January, when I was monthly master point race leader at the Airport Bridge Club. No, in May I accumulated only 11.81 points, all in club play, well below my monthly goal of 15. On the bright side, I passed the 2,200 mark career-wise.
Underachievement like this doesn't compel me to do my monthly check of the ACBL master point races. But the calendar does. June is almost half over. Let's see where things stand.
Unit 116 (Buffalo only). Ace of Clubs (club play only). Ruby Life Masters (1,500 to 2,500 points). I have 49.36 points through May 31, which puts me in third place, ninth in Unit 116 overall, well behind the leaders. Here's the top 10.
David Millward, now back from Florida, 77.81 (first in Unit 116, too). Mike Silverman, 72.62 (second in the unit). Me, 49.36 (ninth). Ken Meier, 48.54 (11th). Gene Finton, also back from Florida, 38.01 (26th). Fred Yellen, 37.70 (27th). Allen Beroza, 37.52 (28th). Dorothy May, 34.05 (34th). Chuck Schorr, 21.95 (61st). Vince Pesce, 21.93 (62nd).
Unit-wide, the Top 10 Ace of Clubbers are: David Millward, 77.81; Mike Silverman, 72.62; Liz Clark, 72.56; Meg Klamp (still in Florida?), 68.55; John Ziemer, 55.22; Sharon Benz (!), 52.67; John and Martha Welte, both with 50.02; me, 49.36; Barbara Libby, 49.28.
Now the Unit 116 Mini-McKenney, which counts all points earned everywhere. I have 59.36 points overall, which puts me in fifth place among Ruby Life Masters, 31st in the unit.
Top Ruby Life Masters are Ken Meier, 127.85 (fourth in the unit); David Millward, 90.89 (16th); Mike Silverman, 73.56 (23rd); Fred Yellen, 62.33 (28th); me, 59.36 (31st); Allen Beroza, 57.63 (32nd); Gene Finton, 43.13 (48th); Dorothy May, 35.35 (64th); Art Morth, 27.03 (73rd); and Bill Rushmore, 24.83 (81st).
John and Martha Welte top the overall Unit 116 Mini-McKenney list. They've both got 146.33. Then comes Davis Heussler, 143.83; Ken Meier, 127.85; Mike Ryan, 123.02; Christy Kellogg, 188.70; Jay Levy, 118.68; Bert Hargeshimer, 188.08; John Ziemer, 107.98; and David Hemmer, 106.99. Also over the century mark are Linda Burroughsford, 101.42; and Saleh Fetouh, 100.06.
Now for District 5 (Buffalo, Cleveland, Pittsburgh). Ace of Clubs. Ruby Life Masters. Here I'm sixth, 34th overall in the district. The leaders are the top two Unit 116 guys: David Millward, 77.81 (sixth overall); Mike Silverman, 72.62 (ninth); Susan Konig of Bridgeville, Pa. 71.31 (11th); Allen Selling of Erie, Pa., 57.35 (19th); Chantal Whitney of Bratenahl, Ohio, 55.09 (24th); me, 49.36 (34th); Ken Meier, 48.54 (36th); Ronald Sain of Indiana, Pa., 48.04 (38th); William Lindgren of Slippery Rock, Pa., 45.40 (50th); and Patrick Slaven of Mogadore, Ohio, 44.24 (54th).  
Overall District 5 Ace of Clubbers are led by couples, or at least four people who share last names. Richard Katz of North Versailles, Pa., 95.09; Robert and Stephanie Alexander of Mentor, Ohio, 90.37 and 88.14; Patricia Katz of Pittsburgh, 85.03; W (William) Tordella of Bemus Point, 78.68; David Millward, 77.81; Arlene Port of Pittsburgh, 74.55; good old Reanette Frobouch of Pittsburgh, 73.92; and a pair of Buffalonians, Mike Silverman, 72.62; and Liz Clark, 72.56.
District 5 Mini McKenney Ruby Life Masters continue to be led by Sue Lan Ma of Kirtland Hills, Ohio, with 323.15. She's third overall in the district. Next is Craig Biddle of Pittsburgh, 268.94 (fourth), then William Lindgren of Slippery Rock, Pa., 161.28 (17th); a pair of Buffalonians, Ken Meier, 127.85 (31st) and David Millward, 90.89 (59th); Jean Picone of Pittsburgh, 88.41 (66th); Charles Ladiha of Vermilion, Ohio, 86.52 (69th) ; Monica Early of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, 84.77 (72nd); Susan Konig of Bridgeville, Pa., 82.70 (74th); and closing out the top 10, Unit 116's Mike Silverman, 73.56 (92nd).
Overall District 5 Mini-McKenney leaders are: Kathleen and Don Sulgrove of Twinsburg, Ohio, with 344.13 and 342.05, respectively. They've nudged Sue Lan Ma down to third with 323.15. After that, it's Craig Biddle, 268.94; Bernie Greenspan of Beachwood, Ohio, 240.97; the aforementioned Robert and Stephanie Alexander, 226.02 and 223.79; Richard Katz, also aforementioned, 217.96; and Brian Ellis and Phillip Becker, both of Beachwood, Ohio, with 212.60 and 195.09. Reanette Frobouck, often a leader here, is 11th with 185.83.
Nationwide Ruby Life Master Ace of Clubs leaders look like this: Russ Pearly of The Villages, Fla., 151.55 (45th overall); Barry Nish of Little Neck, L.I., 137.58 (77th overall); Paul Hassett of The Villages, 135.48 (83rd); Thomas Roberg of Raleigh, N.C., 133.83 (88th); and Robert Shearer of Diberville, Miss., 132.75 (90th). Among us Unit 116 people, David Millward is 123rd; Mike Silverman is 170th; and I miss the Top 500. It cuts off at 54.05.
Nationwide Ace of Clubs leaders among all players are Bella Ionis-Sorren of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., 271.50; Bill Kulbersh of Atlanta, 264.42; Kay Schulle of Purchase, N.Y., 244.08; Irva Neyhart of Corvallis, Ore., 221.59; and Mason Barge of Atlanta, 203.69. None of us Unit 116 players here.
In the Nationwide Mini-McKenney, District 5's Sue Lan Ma and Craig Biddle come in fourth and fifth among Ruby Life Masters, behind Gillian Miniter of New York City, 500.56 (Only 47th nationwide); Sudhakar Divakaruni of Scottsdale, Ariz., 410.90 (88th nationwide); and Jeff Edelstein of Riverview, Fla., 328.24 (170th).
Among all players, there are five who finished the month of May with more than 1,000 points so far this year. Leader is Chris Compton of Dallas with 1,269.13. Then it's the legendary Jeff Meckstroth of Clearwater Beach, Fla., 1,224.82; Kevin Dwyer of Melbourne, Fla., 1,072.10; Mark Itabashi of Murrieta, Calif., 1,044.12; and Eric Rodwell of Clearwater, Fla., 1,024.30. District 5's Kathleen and Don Sulgrove are 147th and 149th. District 5 Ruby Life Master leader Sue Lan Ma is 175th. 

Monday, May 22, 2017

Bridge Blog 955: Is I Is or Is I Ain't?

I asked myself that question all weekend. Just 0.06 of a point shy of 2,200 master points, I failed to pass that milestone Friday and again Saturday.
On the first four boards Friday, in St. Catharines, Ont., Selina Volpatti and I blew it and we knew it. Had we simply avoided our early mistakes and achieved average boards, we would have had a better-than-50% game and a milestone-passing quarter of a point, according to my review of the hands online that night.
On Saturday, it was over before it started. With a hair appointment running late, I arrived at the end of the first round to hear partner Burt Freiman confess that he was over-bidding when club manager Bill Finkelstein sat in for me. Burt was unable to correct it and I was unable to overcome whatever else came along. We barely made 40%. Dead last.
Nevertheless, when I checked the Airport Bridge Club master point race for May after Saturday's game, it showed me with 8.07 for the month, not the 7.97 that I tallied up. Math error? Belated recalculation? Who knew? 
To erase all doubt, what I needed was another trip to the winners' circle. Happily, that happened Monday with Marilyn Sultz, confirmed with 20 out of a possible 21 match points in the final round, lifting us to second East-West with 55.10%. 1.17 points. So there!  

Friday, May 19, 2017

Bridge Blog 954: On the verge

My partners have started winning again (ref. Blog 945). Even Marietta Kalman, who took regrettable dives on at least two hands Thursday at the Airport Bridge Club where she should have cruised to game. Alas, if she had only (1) exploited a long Club suit in dummy in a 3 No Trump contract – everybody else made it and one of them took 12 tricks, despite missing two Aces – and (2) ignored the possible ramifications of a 4-4-4-1 trump distribution in a 4 Spade attempt and ruffed her two minor suit losers to give herself an overtrick like the other South players did, instead of going down.
Yes, Marietta and I managed to scratch out a 51.96% effort, best game we’ve had together since a 63% in February, and that one was a major anomaly considering our history. Thursday was second overall in the B strat, rewarding us with 1.42 master points, thanks to the near-universal extra-point regimen in effect at the Airport Club.
That point bonanza has paid off to the tune of 7.97 points so far this month, despite the seven sessions I missed while I was away in New York City, where I had no bridge opportunities. Add that to what MyACBL says is my career total – 2,191.97 – and that's just 0.06 away from a milestone. If my partners can overcome the odds and continue their winning ways (Selina Volpatti today against that tough crowd in St. Catharines, Ont.; newbie Bert Freiman on Saturday at the Airport Club), I’m there. 

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Bridge Blog 953: Appraising April

We haven’t seen David Millward in Buffalo yet this year, but he’s on top of Ace of Clubs list (club play only) for Unit 116 Ruby Life Masters in the latest update of the master point races on the ACBL website. Amongst us folks with 1,500 to 2,500 points, David makes his first appearance of 2017 with 68.50 points, all earned in Florida, apparently. Must not have been a great winter for golf, which often draws him away from the tables when he’s up North.
David’s sudden materialization at the head of the list demotes Mike Silverman, who was away for half of April, to second place. And now I’m third, thanks to another wretched month, though not quite as wretched as March. I added 10.36 club points, bringing my total to 37.55 and lifting me out of a tie with another snowbird who’s still in Florida – Gene Finton. Here’s the new lineup:
David Millward, 68.50; Mike Silverman, 57.43; me, 37.55; Gene Finton, 35.78; Ken Meier, 35.58; Fred Yellen, 31.92; Dorothy May, 27.43; Allen Beroza, 25.53; Vince Pesce, 17.30; and Chuck Schorr, 15.91.
David Millward is second overall among all Unit 116 players and Mike Silverman is third. Me, I’m lagging way behind in 15th place, but that’s one notch higher than a month ago. The Unit 116 leader is Meg Klamp, another snowbird, who’s on top with 68.55, just barely ahead of David Millward’s 68.50.
Then it’s Mike Silverman with 57.43; Liz Clark, 55.12; John and Martha Welte, tied with 44.15; Jay Levy, 42.63; Jerry Geiger, 42.03; Martin Pieterse, 41.84; Sharon Benz, 41.10; John Ziemer and Bud Seidenberg, tied with 40.84; soon-to-depart Tom Koralewski, 39.79; Joyce Greenspan, 39.04; then my 37.55, which is the barest fraction ahead of Ron Henrikson’s 37.51.
Moving on to the Mini-McKenney race, which includes all points in tournament competition and everywhere else, once again David Millward muscles onto the top rung among Ruby Life Masters with 81.58 points, though that places him only 12th among all Unit 116 players. I’m in fifth place, 30th overall, still sinking. Last month I was fourth and 26th. Here’s the rundown:
David Millward, 81.58 (12th); Ken Meier, 77.30 (13th); Mike Silverman, 58.37 (21st); Fred Yellen, 56.55 (24th); me, 47.55 (30th); Allen Beroza, 45.64 (32nd); Gene Finton, 35.78 (42nd);  Dorothy May, 28.73 (54th); Bill Rushmore, 24.06 (63rd); and Art Morth, 20.81 (73rd).
Overall Unit 116 Mini-McKenney leaders are John and Martha Welte (!), tied for first with 120.27, boosted by that 33.50-point showing in the Toronto Easter Regional. Third is the player they displaced, Davis Heussler, the only other Unit 116 player who’s surpassed the century mark. He has 114.81.
Other leaders: Mike Ryan, 97.89; Tom Koralewski, 96.30; Meg Klamp, 92.08; Christy Kellogg, 87.16; Saleh Fetouh, 86.80; Bert Hargeshimer, 86.54; Linda Burroughsford, 86.32; John Ziemer, 84.54; and David Millward, 81.58.
 Moving on to District 5 (Buffalo, Cleveland, Pittsburgh), Ace of Clubs. Ruby Life Masters. David Millward has reclaimed top spot for Unit 116, displacing last month’s usurper – Susan Konig of Bridgeville, Pa. I’ve slipped from a sixth place tie to ninth place. Here’s the list.
David Millward, 68.50; Susan Konig, 63.87; Mike Silverman, 57.43; Chantal Whitney of Bratenahl, Ohio, 52.71 (Bratenahl, we discover via Wikipedia, is a rich little lakefront village that’s completely surrounded by the City of Cleveland and which gets 10 percent of its municipal income from speeding tickets on the I-90); Allen Selling of Erie, Pa., 49.92; Nancy Steele of Bridgeport, W.Va., 40.60; William Lindgren of Slippery Rock, Pa., 38.36; Sandra Brand of Pittsburgh, 37.85; me, 37.55; and Annemarie Gordon of Sewickley, Pa., 37.15.
In the overall District 5 Mini-McKenney standings, David Millward is fifth, Susan Konig is ninth, Mike Silverman is 12th and I’m 51st, which is actually an improvement. A month ago, I was tied for 62nd. Here’s that list:
Richard Katz of North Versailles, Pa., 83.97: Patricia Katz of Pittsburgh, 80.96 (is there a catfight in the Katz house?); D. Pierce of Parkersburg, W. Va., 70.71; Meg Klamp, 68.55; David Millward, 68.60; W. (William, I just looked it up) Tordella of Bemus Point, 67.50; Reanette Frobouck of Pittsburgh, 65.77; S. Ruskin of Pittsburgh, 64.50; Susan Konig, 63.87; and Arlene Port of Pittsburgh, 60.53.
District 5, Mini-McKenney, Ruby Life Masters. Sue Lan Ma of Kirtland Hills, Ohio, continues on top with 241.27. Then it’s Craig Biddle of Pittsburgh, 175.52; William Lindgren of Slippery Rock, Pa., 88.65; David Millward, 81.58; Ken Meier, 77.30; Susan Konig, 75.26; Jean Picone of Pittsburgh, 67.34; Mike Silverman, 58.37; Fred Yellen, 56.55; Chantal Whitney of Bratenahl, Ohio, 54.70. My 47.55 puts me at 14th.
District 5, Mini-McKenney overall. Sue Lan Ma still on top with 241.27, followed by the Sulgroves of Twinsburg, Ohio, Kathleen and Don, tied for second with 210.66. Then it’s Richard Katz with 191.27; Reanette Frobouck with 177.68 (a slow year for her); Craig Biddle of Pittsburgh with 175.52; and Patricia Katz, 161.15. Unit 116’s Weltes are tied for 11th. Davis Heussler is 16th. I’m 122nd.
Now let’s go nationwide. Ace of Clubs. Ruby Life Masters. Leader is Gary Waldron of Laguna Beach, Calif., who must spend all his time indoors. He has 103.84. Then it’s Barry Nish of Little Neck, L.I., 101.22; George Wood of Gulfport, Fla., 100.69; Robert Shearer of Diberville, Miss., 99.53; Sidney Perutz of Dallas, 99.51; Mohan Bali of Columbia, S.C., 97.39; Russ Pearly of The Villages, Fla., 96.37; Michael Boreson of Kalispell, Mont., 95.42; Dennis Harms of Corvallis, Ore., 95.17; and Paul Hassett, also of The Villages, 94.01.
Unit 116 and District 5 leader David Millward is 77th. Mike Silverman is 165th. I’m not among the big 500 anymore. The list cuts off at 43.04.
And now all the Ace of Clubbers. Omigod. Bill Kulbersh of Atlanta is up to 219.19. Also over the double-century mark is Bella Ionis-Sorren of Fort Lauderdale, Fla, with 211.29. Then it’s Irva Neyhart of Corvallis, Ore., 185.33; Key Schulle of Purchase, N.Y., 181.91; Neil Silverman of Fort Lauderdale, 169.67; and Mason Barge of Atlanta, 169.27. No Unit 116ers on this list. District 5’s Richard Katz is 254th. This list cuts off at 71.02.
Nationwide Mini-McKenney. Ruby Life Masters. District 5’s Sue Lan Ma has moved up. Seventh last month. Now she’s third. The two leaders are still solid. Gillian Miniter of New York City, 405.71; Sudhakar Divakaruni of Scottsdale, Ariz., 334.55; Sue Lan Ma, 241.27; Jeff Edelstein of Riverview, Fla., 228.59; Mark Blanchard of Bay Shore, L.I., 221.25; and Arti Bhargava of Mill Valley, Calif., 202.49. District 5’s runner-up Craig Biddle is 12th. Unit 116 also is represented, albeit well down the list. David Millward is 340th. Ken Meier is 411th. The list stops at 72.03.
Nationwide Mini-McKenney. All players. Chris Compton of Dallas has cracked the 1,000 mark. He has 1,016.02, well out in front of Mark Itabashi of Murrieta, Calif., with 890.03; the legendary Jeff Meckstroth of Clearwater Beach, Fla, with 848.62; Eddie Wold of Houston with 838.83; Kevin Dwyer of Melbourne, Fla., with 811.38; and Mike Passell of Plano, Texas, with 806.66.
Other notables: David Sabourin of Ottawa, Onto, 666.90 (14 th); former Buffalonian Joel Wooldridge, now of Astoria, Queens, 407 even (41st); Ruby Life Master leader Gillian Miniter, 405.71 (42nd); Sally Meckstroth of Clearwater Beach, Fla., 383.07 (54th); District 5 leader Sue Lan Ma, 241.27 (201st). No Unit 116 players here, either. List ends at 164.21. 

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Bridge Blog 952: Not So Merrie Month of May

          How much did I look forward to the return of the Rochester Regional Tournament, just an hour or so away down the Thruway? Ever since they announced the dates nearly two years ago.
During the tournament’s first revival in Rochester in 2015, I was facing cancer surgery in a few weeks and only managed to make it to the RIT Inn and Conference Center in Henrietta for two days. Very valuable days as it turned out, since partner Judie Bailey and I hooked up with a hot pair from Central New York and won our knock-out game.  
This year, family matters have intervened. A tombstone unveiling on the last day of the tournament Sunday. A drive to New York City two days before that. A week of work to do in advance so I can take time off from my newspaper gig. Top that off with that miserable cold that’s been going around, which twice forced me back to bed in the middle of the afternoon. Propped up with decongestants all week, I wouldn’t have been able to keep my head up in Rochester.
It was hard enough here in Buffalo. I brought my foggy brain and runny nose to the Airport Bridge Club on Monday and discovered partner Carolyn Siracuse to be among the missing. Didn’t answer her phone. Didn’t see her all week so don’t know what happened to her.
Club manager Bill Finkelstein called in a sub – a very good sub, Tom Koralewski, departing next week for the next stage in his retirement in Indianapolis – and it turned out to be one of my best games all year. Our 63.89% tied us for second overall and brought in 1.44 points.
I was still in a fog Tuesday with Usha Khurana, but we had what felt like one of our better games. Not spectacular, but 51.85%, third North-South, 0.70 of a point.
Wednesday’s turnout at the club was so sparse that we would up playing home-style pairs – two tables, three rounds, 10 boards a round. I have one of my rare games with Chuck Schorr, who’s a seasoned player. I fully expect that we’ll blow away this diminished field, but we wind up in a three-way tie for top. Not very rewarding, but any fraction of a master point, even this 0.30, adds up.
Thursday found me partnerless once again. Thrown together with the agreeable Burt Freiman, a newbie who makes his fair share of mistakes, we steered ourselves to 50.30%, good enough for second in the B strat North-South and 0.86 of a point. How miserable a week is it if it yields up 3.30 points? 

Bridge Blog 951: Long Look Back at the Sectional

          I could only play one session Saturday in the Buffalo Spring Sectional Tournament two weeks ago with Art Matthies, but it turned out to be time well spent. It accounted for most of my silver points – 2.61 out of a tournament total of 3.51. That figure landed me in 42nd place among the 151 players who collected points.  
          Point leader was Chris Urbanek with 18.71 – 9.29 for second place in the Saturday two-session pairs and 7.70 as part of the first place foursome in the Sunday Swiss team competition. Second was her Swiss teammate Bud Seidenberg with 17.29, which included 9.02 for second place in the Friday two-session pairs.
          Other point leaders – Judy Graf, 15.57, 12.03 of them from winning two-session pairs Friday; Saleh Fetouh, another Chris teammate Sunday, 14.78; and Fred Yellen, Judy Graf’s Friday partner, 14.78. No question about which path is paved with the most silver points.