Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Bridge Blog 999: Slivers of Silver

We can dream of silver points in the STaC, the Sectional Tournament at the Clubs, but unless we have a 60% game or better and rank well on the district level, we won't get too many of them.
The first two days of the District 5 Winter STaC have yielded only slivers of silver. Fortunately, the 0.56 of a point that Denise Slattery and I earned with a 51.49% game Monday morning was enough to lift her up to NABC Master, since she needed only 0.51. The afternoon, however, was a 44.44% letdown.
Dotty May said Monday she had to go to a funeral Tuesday, so Paul Zittel picked me up on the rebound. Paul and I have hardly ever played together, but he has a happy-go-lucky approach to things which is easy to take.
The morning session, however, was more happy than lucky, even though we were taking most of the bids. 46.13%. Had we capitalized on two underbid hands, however, we might have topped 50%. The afternoon found us mostly on defense. Paul played no hands at all. Still, we notched 55.83%, first in the B strat east-west, for 0.92 of a point in the club, then an upgrade on the district level to 1.11 points, where we were third in B. Most anybody earned on a district level in open games Tuesday afternoon was an even 3 points.
How have I done in previous STaCs? Here's a quick check of the past few years:
Spring 2017 – 8.07.
Winter 2016 – 9.74.
Spring 2016 – 11.57.
Winter 2015 – 7.77.
Spring 2015 – hospitalized.
Winter 2014 – 3.88.

Spring 2014 – 11.20. 

Bridge Blog 998: No-No-November

It was bad. Surrounding my worst-ever regional tournament point performance is this sad litany.
Nov. 1 with June Feuerstein. 48.61%
Nov. 2 with Eva Schmidt, 41.07%, but still second in the B strat. 0.22 of a point.
Nov. 3 with Selina Volpatti in St. Catharines, Ont., for a District 2 STaC game, 51.52%, seventh in A, third in B, 0.79 of a silver point.
Nov. 4 with Denise Slattery. 47.02%.
Nov. 6 with Marilyn Sultz. 45.54%.
Nov. 7 with Carolyn Siracuse. 47.02%.
Nov. 13 with Art Matthies, 50.80%, third in B, 0.85 of a point.
Nov. 14 with Dotty May, 57.74%, high water mark for the month, first in B, 1.60 points.
Nov. 15 with June Feuerstein. 48.66%. Are we in a rut or what?
Nov. 16 with Elaine Kurasiewicz after Marietta Kalman canceled. 54.46%, second in A, 1.11 points.
Nov. 17 with Selina Volpatti in St. Catharines, 48.77%., nevertheless fourth in B, 0.40 of a point.
Nov. 18 with Denise Slattery. 46% even. Another rut.
Nov. 20 with Carolyn Siracuee. 51.49%.
Nov. 21 with Usha Khurana. 42.86%.
Nov. 27 with Marilyn Sultz. 38.49%, low water mark.
Nov. 28 with Barbara Sadkin, 57.87%, new high water mark, second in A, 1.17 points.
Nov. 29 with June Feuerstein, 48.81%, third in B, 0.28 of a point.
Nov. 30 with Marietta Kalman. 41.52%.

5.23 points at the Airport Bridge Club, 1.19 at Bridge Centre of Niagara in St. Catharines. At this rate, no Gold Life Master for me in 2018. 

Monday, November 13, 2017

Bridge Blog 997: Niagara Falls Regional Wrap-Up

Almost twice the size of the Buffalo Regional (1,166 tables vs. 628) with nearly twice as many players earning points (821 vs. 431). Point collection at the top wasn't as big, though (115.31 in Buffalo vs. 75.82 in Niagara Falls).
Niagara Falls was better for the top Buffalo player – Saleh Fetouh, who earned 60.63 points (fifth overall), vs. 52.34 in his home town (ninth overall). What made the difference were 18.64 points from a second-place finish in the Sunday Swiss team game with some top-flight teammates – David Hemmer, Chris Urbanek and Bud Seidenberg. (The same team was third in the Buffalo Swiss, earning 10.04.) Chris was second-best Buffalo player and eighth overall with 58.41 points.
What's also impressive is that they came so close to first, only 2 victory points behind the team of Jonathan Steinberg, Alex Hudson, Mark Itabashi and July Ratley. Three pros! Until John Ziemer mentioned it at the club game on Monday, I didn't realize that Jonathan Steinberg is a pro, too. A full recap of the week's games and winners can be found here

I looked at that Swiss team game as my last hope for being among those 800-plus point winners, albeit winning maybe only one round, like Judy Padgug or District 5 Ruby Life Master Mini-McKenney leader Sue Lan Ma. 
Next time I'm lining up partners early, not relying on last-minute twists of fate. And then there's that suggestion from David Hemmer, who follows this commentary. His comment after Blog 996: "Dale, have you considered some lessons?" 

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Bridge Blog 996: Niagara Falls Regional Sunday

I pull past the entrance to the Crowne Plaza Hotel on Falls Street en route to the parking garage and who’s out there smoking? Amir Farsoud! He’s recovered from the back problems he told me about on Saturday? He’s playing with us?
In the hotel lobby, I find partner Selina Volpatti sitting across from the partnership desk. No, we do not have teammates. The partnership chairwoman, Janice Upenieks, is sympathetic. She joins us in hoping someone will show up at the last minute. But no.
Meanwhile, Amir is playing. According to the Janice, he hooked up with a woman he played with on Saturday – Suzanne Kosky from Toronto – and she found them teammates (a couple from Latham, N.Y.) at the partnership desk. They’re in. We’re out. (They go on to finish fifth in B and earn 3.26 gold points. Meanwhile, Saturday partner David Monro, playing with his wife, ties for fifth in the X strat – 4.60 gold points.)
Selina says now she can go help out at the fashion show her daughter is running that afternoon in Niagara-on-the-Lake. 
Me? Back across the bridge to Niagara Falls USA. The car is spattered with salt from Friday’s snow and low on gas. Very low on gas. I find the Delta Sonic in Niagara Falls and set the car straight, do some shopping at the nearby Target and come home to a strenuous afternoon of cleaning up leaves after confirming my original suspicion that the Bills-Saints football game won’t be worth watching.

So there it is – eight sessions of open or A/X pairs, $128 invested, no master points whatsoever. Three weeks after my best tournament ever in Buffalo, I have my worst ever in Niagara Falls

Bridge Blog 995: Niagara Falls Regional Saturday

         Will playing with an unfamiliar, but experienced, partner change my fortunes in the open pairs game? David Monro of Peterborough, Ont., and I will find out. He has 2,400 points. I have 2,300.
          We’re the last to sign up for the morning session and instead of an open pairs game, it’s an A/X pairs game. All heavy hitters.
Our morning opponents include top-notch Torontonians Rashid Khan and Vera Carpenter, the bodacious Buffalo pair of David Colligan and Davis Heussler, and Phyllis Jones of Brampton, Ont., who I’m seeing among the winners a lot this week. She’s a winner again Saturday morning.
          The other East-Wests, meanwhile, include Chris Urbanek and Saleh Fetouh, two of the best Buffalo players, paired today with savvy Canadians; four dominant St. Catharines players, Brian Macartney, Jeremy Smee, Clyde Paul and George Morrissey, plus Torontonian Jonathan Steinberg and his young pro from North Carolina, the sullen Alex Hudson.  
We are assigned to Table J-19, which doesn’t exist at first and which doesn’t have bidding boxes or a Bridge Mate scoring gizmo for a while either.
          Eventually, it all settles down. We finish with 49.04%, tied for 12th out of 19, my second-best score of the week, despite a few misunderstandings that lead to minus 1,100 scores, but at least there are no recriminations. One of those 1,100s was a 7 Diamond sacrifice that kept opponents Margaret and Paul MacFarlane from succeeding at 6 Hearts. Plus 3 match points.    
Nevertheless, David gives me pause when he’s late coming back from lunch (he was at the next table with a couple senior ladies at the buffet in the casino). While he tarries, director Martin Hunter, no slouch himself, sits in for the first two boards of the afternoon session. He gets weak hands, though, and has no impact. We have a near top and a near bottom. And, after David arrives, another near top.  
Our afternoon effort fades after that, though. We finish with 41.97%. No points again. None at all so far for eight sessions of the tournament. 
My hopes now rest with the big Sunday Swiss team game, where partner Selina Volpatti and I will have to compete again in the A/X division because it’s stratiflighted, not stratified, and any player with more than 2,000 points is barred from the B/C/D division.

But we don’t have a team. I collar Amir Farsoud, who Selina lined up to play with us, and he says his back is bothering him. Look how I’m standing, he says, hunched. He won’t play Sunday. I put our names on the bulletin board opposite the partnership desk. We’ll come up with something. 

Friday, November 10, 2017

Bridge Blog 994: Niagara Falls Regional Friday

          Omigod! Not only am I late getting on the road, like after 9:05 a.m., but that sunshine and those clear streets at my house disappear in a cloud of snow flurries minutes later as I pass Buffalo State College.
          Worse yet, they start to accumulate on the Niagara Thruway. Flat-out speeding to pick up partner Helen Panza at her home on Grand Island is out of the question. Nobody’s daring more than 60 or 65 mph.
          Exit on Whitehaven Road and the pavement is actually slippery. There’s an oncoming salt truck. Can this really be ... winter? And, more immediately, can we get to the Crowne Plaza hotel in Niagara Falls, Ont., before the 10 a.m. game starts?
          Well, the sun returns as we zip along the Niagara River on the former Robert Moses Parkway, the mist of the Falls colluding into a huge clump in front of us. There’s no wait at the toll barrier (thank you, EZ-Pass!) and no wait at the border checkpoint, either.
I drop Helen at the front door of the hotel with Canadian cash for the entry fee. Despite the time it takes to park in the hotel/casino ramp (sixth floor, I was fourth floor Thursday), Helen is still at the registration desk when I rush into the Grand Ballroom. We’re in. We’re C strat, East-West, Table 16, which turns out to be a late addition in the front of the room near the desk. So late it has no bidding boxes. Big turn-out today.
Our section of the open pairs is 16½ tables, a little serpentine after the first 15. I feel more at home with Helen as a partner, but the final results aren't much better. Our 42.82% establishes a new midpoint in my scores, but it’s also my first last-place finish. However, the race for the bottom in the J Section is so tightly packed that one percentage point better – another 5 match points – would put us in 12th place.
Where could we make up those 5 match points? Perhaps in my misplay in the next-to-last hand in the final round against Ranald Davidson and Susan Cooper (who’s wearing a cap and clearly undergoing cancer treatments. Been there, I tell her.).
Anyway, as I yank out a pass card, all the auxiliary cards in my bidding box come out with it. They’re wet! While I spend the next couple minutes drying them with Starbucks napkins from my pocket, play commences and I pull a wrong card. Instead of taking a trick with the Ace of Spades, as I intended, I inadvertently pull a low Spade.  
So Susan makes an overtrick. Then Ranald takes the pile of cards I’ve been drying and gives them the finishing touch on the leg of his jeans.
If I play the right card, Susan makes 3 Clubs instead of 4. The 2 match point difference would lift us out of last place. To earn gold or red master points, however, we need to be over 50%. If there’s any comfort, it’s knowing that better Buffalo players than us – John and Martha Welte, John Ziemer and Vic Bergsten, John Kirsits and Ken Meier  also miss out on points in the morning. They rebound in the afternoon. We do, too, but not enough. 
After lunch in the Hard Rock Café with Canadian partner Selina Volpatti and her partner, Chris the priest, we return to find ourselves assigned to the same Table 16 where we began five hours earlier, this time as North-South.
I win a lot of auctions in the afternoon session, but it’s not necessarily a good thing. When we finish, the Bridge Mate scoring gizmo shows that both we and our opponents, St. Catharines heavyweights Brian Macartney and Clyde Paul, have 44%, but they’re 12th and we’re 14th!
The actual tally moves us up. We’re 13th, with an even 45%, still pathetic, but it’s my second-best game of the week.
When East-Wests skip a table in the afternoon, we avoid playing the pro, Mark Itabashi, and his lovely partner, July Ratley. Is she paying for him to be here, I ask someone who might know. Sure, she is, they say.

In that case, she does not get her money’s worth Friday morning. They’re ninth East-West in the I Section, earning 0.82 of a red point with a 52.17% game. In the afternoon, they come in second North-South with 61.85%, copping 5.01 points. Good, but nothing like our friends Rashid Khan and Vera Carpenter from Toronto, who are second overall for the day. They rake in 13.46 points. 

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Bridge Blog 993: Niagara Falls Regional Thursday

June Feuerstein and I follow up Wednesday's deep mediocrity by sinking to a new low in the morning open pairs session Thursday – 39.74%. Only two other pairs go lower, Susan Barreca of Dundas, Ont., and Keith Coutlee of Hamilton, with 38.83% among us East-Wests and, in the North-Souths, Ruth Kozower and Ed Drozen with 35.49%. When the movement requires us to skip a table, Ruth and Ed are the ones we skip. (Susan and Keith, meanwhile, were knock-out finalists Tuesday and Wednesday on a team with my Buffalo Regional Swiss team partners, Usha Khurana and Joe Miranda, and won 7.76 gold points.)
High point in the morning session is making what seems to be an ill-advised, sacrificial 4 Diamond contract doubled and redoubled (by June). I set up a vicious cross-ruff to nail it, then see later in the hand records that I should have taken 11 tricks. Here's the hand:

South (Waclaw Grin) dealer
Spades: K-7-6-5; Hearts: J-9-8-7-5; Diamonds: A-9; Clubs: 10-3.

West (me)
Spades: 10; Hearts: 2; Diamonds: K-Q-6-4-2; Clubs: Q-J-9-8-6-4.

North (Steve McGrahan)
Spades: A-9-2; Hearts: Q-10-6-3; Diamonds: 3; Clubs: A-K-7-5-2.

East (June)
Spades: Q-J-8-4-3; Hearts: A-K-4; Diamonds: J-10-8-7-5; Clubs: none.

Not sure how things get started, but since June and I don't employ the unusual 2 No Trump convention, and since we have the advantage in vulnerability, I ignore my lack of high cards and jump right in with a 1 Diamond opening bid, intending to rebid my Club suit. Waclaw and Steve find their Heart suit and push the bidding up to the 3 level. When they double our 4 Diamond bid, June pulls out the blue card and redoubles.
Steve leads the Ace of Clubs. I trump it in the dummy, get rid of my singletons on the Ace-King of Hearts and commence the cross-ruff. It's exhilarating, to say the least, and we're sure it's a top board. Turns out, it isn't. At another table, against Bing and Mary Wong, somebody makes a doubled 6 Diamond slam.
We play the Wongs later and get our only top game of the morning there. We cross-ruff Mary mercilessly and she goes down three on a 4 Spade contract. The hand record says it could be a grand slam, but nobody takes more than 11 tricks.   
Meanwhile, still high from the redouble, we sit down next with California pro Mark Itabashi and partner July Ratley (See Wednesday's blog). Today June's complement to July is about her dress, a simple black knit with a tasteful little blue accent at the neck. It looks terrific.
Do we fare any better against them than we did on Wednesday? Not really. On Board 19, I miss a chance to beat Mark on a 4 Heart contract when I fail to return my singleton Diamond to set up a ruff after I take June's opening Spade lead. Hand record says he only makes 3 Hearts. They get 12.5 match points, we get 4.5. Setting him would be a 7 match-point swing.
On Board 20, Mark bids 4 Clubs, makes an overtrick, as the hand record says he should. (He deliberates a couple minutes, a pro at work, counting cards in his mind, before he decides to ignore my pitch of the Queen of Clubs and not to take a finesse, thereby catching the second half of my Queen-Jack doubleton). They get 10 match points, we get 7, our best result against them so far. Board 21 finds me at 4 Hearts doubled, but not vulnerable. I'm down for sure, but it should have been down one, not down two. They tie for a top board, 15 out of 17 match points. Down one would have been 6 match points better. Against us this time, they're 73.53% in three hands. Wednesday they were 71.74% in two hands. Gee, we're good to them.
The afternoon feels better. When we check the electronic Bridge Mate scoring gizmo after the last hand, it says we're fourth North-South with 51%. At last, a breakthrough! But it doesn’t hold up. Although our final 49.13% is our best effort, we're fifth (only three pairs out of 12 are over 50%), missing a fourth-place finish (and a fractional master point) by only 0.11%.

Offsetting our disappointment as the afternoon results are posted is the joy of Saleh Fetouh and Glenn Milgrim, who end their nail-biting when they narrowly win the overall open pairs, collecting a magnificent 31.06 gold points. Saleh is such a seasoned player that it's a surprise to see him so genuinely excited. Clearly, no matter how many you have, points are still good when you get them. And lots of points are better. 

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Bridge Blog 992: Niagara Falls Regional Wednsday

A beautiful frosty morning it is, Wednesday, and I get to Niagara Falls, Ont., so early by taking the Peace Bridge that I exit the Queen Elizabeth Way early on McLeod Road and pick my way through the deserted tourist town streets to the Crowne Plaza Hotel, the former Sheraton Brock, overlooking the Falls and the Rainbow Bridge.
Lots of familiar faces in the lobby on my first day at the tournament, which got started without me Tuesday. At a table in the Grand Ballroom sits my every-Wednesday partner, June Feuerstein, whose ride has gotten her there early, too.
We settle in at East-West in a 12-table section of open pairs for what seems a pretty happy game – we're hardly fatigued at all when it ends after 27 boards shortly after 1 p.m. – but the Bridge Mate scoring gizmo tells another tale.
So does the final tally. We're not last, thanks to a couple pairs from St. Catharines, Ont., but we're a sorry tenth with a 40.10%. Only Buffalo players to win points in our section – Jim Easton and Dennis Clary – were fourth with a mere 50% even.
After lunch at the buffet in the adjoining casino, we return as North-Souths in a 13-table section, two boards a round. We vow to improve – and we do – but not nearly enough. Missing a grand slam against eventual East-West winners Max Rutherford and Dennis Glazebrook doesn't help. We're up to only 43.30%, which puts us next to last.
Winners in our section, morning and afternoon, are Ranald Davidson of Montreal and Susan Cooper of Thornhill, Ont., who follow up their 72% morning effort with 59.15%. They collect 31.06 gold points. Our good friend from St. Catharines, the broodingly handsome Amir Farsoud, and long-bearded partner Peter Kosacky are third, taking 10.49 gold points. My Canadian partner, Selina Volpatti, has attempted to hook us up with Amir for the Sunday Swiss teams event, but apparently that's off.
Highlight of sorts for the afternoon is a round with two outstanding players from California – Mark Itabashi, a pro written up in the now-defunct bridge column in the New York Times for winning the Summer North American Championships in 2013, and July Ratley, a professor at Shasta College who teaches bridge and plays a lot of tournaments.
June complements July on her figure. I'd been struck by her abundant waves of auburn hair and her sprightly youthfulness. She's clearly one of the most attractive women in the room. They're a pleasant pair as they pretty much nail us, taking a full complement of 11 tricks in a 4 Spade contract, then snatching a hand for 2 Spades, down just one, where we should have bid up further in Clubs or Diamonds. Despite our help, they finish only at 46.94%. They'd got their points in the morning.


Sunday, November 5, 2017

Bridge Blog 991: Another regional already?

Just three weeks after the annual Buffalo Spooktacular Regional Tournament, we have the biennial Niagara Falls Regional Tournament, starting Tuesday in the Crowne Plaza Hotel overlooking the great natural wonder.
How much do I adore the Niagara Falls Regional? Let me count the ways:
I scored my Life Master hat trick there in 2011. Missing a handful of gold points, I hit Life Master, Bronze Life Master and Silver Life Master all at once as part of a victorious team in the knock-outs.
It’s Canada. Friendly, familiar, foreign and near, as the tourist slogan used to go.
The hotel, which everyone of a certain age (including me) wants to call by its former name, the Sheraton Brock. Lots of free parking. That terrific dining room on the upper floor overlooking the Cataract. A pair of Starbucks coffee shops almost next door to each other at street level. And, as a fallback, the city’s old casino next door has a very nice buffet.
          Drawbacks?
          Getting there and crossing the border. Making the 10 a.m. start for the morning game means getting up early, leaving the house by 9 and paying tolls for the Grand Island and Rainbow bridges. At least EZ-Pass makes it quicker.
          It starts on Election Day, so I’m missing the first day. I feel honor bound to be in the newsroom Tuesday night to help handle the returns, even though this is an off-year.
          The prospect of really late nights Wednesday and Thursday. My plan is to play three sessions both days, but I feel obliged to check into the newsroom on my way home to tie up loose ends and make sure nothing urgent has popped up. Plus blogging. Although arrival home should be in the 1 o’clock hour, the early wakeup means a couple days with high potential for sleep deprivation.
          (Sudden thought a few hours later: Am I out of my mind? Let's just skip those evening sessions, take care of business at the office, get home relatively early and pick up some zzzs.)
          Plus I don’t have partners lined up for all 11 sessions I hope to play – there’s June Feuerstein for the daytime pairs on Wednesday and, if she can find a ride, on Thursday; Helen Panza, with whom I’ve played infrequently, for pairs on Friday; and Selina Volpatti for an incomplete Swiss team on Sunday. Nobody for Wednesday and Thursday nights, nor for the pairs on Saturday. Nevertheless, there’s always a chance of getting lucky at the partnership desk.
          Finally, despite my affection for this tournament, does it really love me? Let’s go to the history books.
          2006 – 2.32, thanks to coming in second in the C strat in the senior pairs on Friday with pickup partner Brian Bretzlaff, who was impressively good back then and still is.
          2008 – 1.50, no big score, just bits and pieces.
          2011 – 13.67, mostly as part of the team – Selina Volpatti, Helen Panza and Mike Silverman – that won the Whirlpool Bracketed Knock Outs B section. 12.07 gold points for that alone.
          2013 – 2.02, nothing special this time, either.

          2015 – 6.78, thanks to low-ranking success in Swiss team games Wednesday with Barbara Sadkin and pickup teammates, and again Sunday with Selina Volpatti, Marilyn Sultz and Ruth Wurster. 

Bridge Blog 990: So near, but yet so unattainable

I emerge from my best-ever regional tournament on Oct. 22 with a career master point total of 2,299.02. Pushing past 2,300 would be simple, right? Wrong!
Monday, Oct. 23, with Marilyn Sultz. 46.17%. No points.
Tuesday, Oct. 24, with Barbara Sadkin, 35.42%. Ditto.
Wednesday, Oct. 25, with June Feuerstein, 55.75%. Second overall, first in the B strat. Should have put me over the top, but no extra points at the Airport Bridge Club that day. Just 0.42. Career total now 2,299.44. Should hit that milestone every more easily now.
Thursday, Oct. 26, with Marietta Kalman. 45.24%. Not this time.
Friday, Oct. 27, with Selina Volpatti at the Bridge Centre of Niagara in St. Catharines, Ont. 49.36%. Just missed earning a fractional point, although it wouldn’t have been enough.
Saturday, Oct. 28. Speaking engagement. Didn’t play.
Monday, Oct. 30, with Marilyn Sultz again. 48.83%. Better, but no cigar.
Tuesday, Oct. 31, no partner so paired up with the remarkable Eva Schmidt, nonagenarian Holocaust survivor and still pretty darn sharp. Neither of us was very sharp this day. 35.80%.
Wednesday, Nov. 1, with June Feuerstein again. Could we be lucky two weeks in a row? 48.61%. Noe.
Thursday, Nov. 2, should have been with Marietta Kalman, but she canceled. Director Bill Finkelstein says I’m paired with June again, but changes his mind. Eva Schmidt and I do better than last week – 41.07%. Through the miracle of stratification, we’re also second in the B strat. But it’s only 0.22 of a point. Now I stand at 2,299.66.
Friday, Nov. 3. It’s STaC Week in District 2 in Canada. Sectional Tournament at the Clubs. Extra points. Silver points. Can Selina Volpatti and I cash in? Yessssss! Despite stumbling in the final two rounds, we come in at 51.52%. Seventh overall in a 20-table game, third in B. 0.79 of a silver point.

Saturday, Nov. 4, with Denise Slattery. Bad luck returns. It seems like we’re having a great game, but the final results say something else. 47.02%. 

Friday, October 27, 2017

Bridge Blog 989: Buffalo Regional Wrap-Up

My best regional tournament ever, thanks to persistence. I played in every single session. But instead of one big piece of cake, it was a lot of little crumbs, accumulated in the side games. Twice I was a winner, for which I took home two bottles of Prosecco.
What else will I remember most? Probably the three glaring glitches.
1. The parking fiasco on Friday, when a big convention filled up the ramp behind the Adam’s Mark Hotel and forced players to find spots for $3 (later reimbursed) under the elevated section of the Niagara Thruway.
2. Friday partner Art Matthies bailing out on me, turning around and driving back home rather than parking under the Thruway and making the long trek to the front entrance of the hotel like me and everybody else.
3. Partner Cleveland Fleming’s cell phone singing out the William Tell Overture during Saturday afternoon’s single-session Swiss team game, which cost us 3 victory points, but thankfully didn’t affect our final standing.
My 16.68 points placed me 70th among the 431 players who earned points and 21st among players from Buffalo.  
The five people at the top of the winner’s list accumulated more than 100 points each, which could be the first time anybody has hit the century mark at the Buffalo Regional.
Tied for top were Shan Huang of Toronto and Kevin Dwyer of Melbourne, Fla., with 115.31. (They were tied for second last year with 66.45.) Tied for third were Kevin Bathhurst of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., and Joan Millens of Kingston, N.Y., with 107.46. Then there was Jianfeng Luo of North York, Ont., with 102.16.
Highest-ranking Buffalo player was in ninth place – Saleh Fetouh with 52.34 points. How did he do it?  Tied for third in the top bracket of the Wednesday-Thursday knock-outs (10.39 points), finished third in the Thursday open Swiss teams (14.68 points) and come in first in the Thursday evening side game (3.41 points) and the evening side series (another 7.44 points). Then he was fourth in the Friday open pairs (8.02) and third in the big Sunday Swiss team game (10.04).

The other leading Buffalo players – Bud Seidenberg, 43.05 points; Jay Levy, 41.07; Chris Urbanek, 41.05; Davis Heussler, 31.34; Judy Padgug, 30.31; Fred Yellen, 29.32; Linda Burroughsford, 27.85; Martha and John Welte, 26.53; Bill Rushmore, 22.93; Dian Petrov, 20.75; Jay Costello, 20.39; Kamil Bishara, 20.27; Marilyn Wortzman, 19.85; Donna Steffan, 19.23; Gay Simpson, 19.19; David Hemmer, 18.06; Elaine Kurasiewicz, 17.40; Amita Arora, 17.15; Chongmin Zhang, 17.10; MOI!, 16.68; Mike Ryan, 15.73; Gene Nowatniak, 15.58; Joan Rose, 13.56; Shakeel Ahmad and Manju Ceylony, 13.13; Ruth and Michael Kozower, 12.02; Usha Khurana, 11.93; Ethan Xie, 11.59; Rajat Basu, 10.79; Ed Morgan, 10.47; Art Morth, 10.46; and Glenn Milgrim, 10.40. 

Bridge Blog 989-A: Buffalo Regional Attendance

Attendance was way down at the Buffalo Regional, Wiebe Hoogland, who’s a Unit 166 board member, remarks Friday afternoon when he comes to play East-West at our table at the Bridge Centre of Niagara in St. Catharines, Ont..
He says that to be successful, a regional tournament should attract 800 tables. Buffalo, he notes, only had 600-some. Perhaps it was the location. Wiebe says he doesn’t like coming to downtown Buffalo and much preferred the tournaments in the former Grand Island Holiday Inn.
I suggest that it might have been hurt because it was so close to the Niagara Falls Regional. They’re only three weeks apart. It may have cut down on Canadian attendance. Wiebe thinks so, too.
The Falls regional is held only every second year and it used to be that the Buffalo tournament sometimes took place in June to avoid it. That was before Betty Metz, who runs the Buffalo tournament, went for a permanent October date.

So let’s go to the archives and look at attendance.
Oct. 2017 – 628 tables. Sunday Swiss – 41 tables.
Oct. 2016 – 718 tables. Sunday Swiss – 43 tables.
Oct. 2015 – 699 tables. Sunday Swiss – 41 tables.
Oct. 2014 – (Hamburg Fairgrounds). 671 tables. Sunday Swiss – 45 tables.
June 2013 – (Last year at Grand Island Holiday Inn). 886 tables. Sunday Swiss – 48 tables.
Oct. 2012 – 1,092 tables. Sunday Swiss – 67 tables.
Oct. 2011 – 918 tables. Sunday Swiss – 56 tables.
Oct. 2010 – 1,021 tables. Sunday Swiss – 62 tables.
Oct. 2009 – 1,047 tables. Sunday Swiss – 62 tables.
June 2008 – 1,032 tables. Sunday Swiss – 59 tables.
Oct. 2007 – 953 tables. Sunday Swiss – 71 tables.
March 2006 – No table total. Sunday Swiss – 51 tables.

And while we’re at it, let’s look at Niagara Falls.
Nov. 2015 – 1,094 tables. Sunday Swiss – 63 tables.
Nov. 2013 – 1,177 tables. Sunday Swiss – 76 tables.
Nov. 2011 – 1,001 tables. Sunday Swiss – 70 tables.
Nov. 2008 – 1,274 tables. Sunday Swiss – 81 tables.

Nov. 2006 – 1,255 tables. Sunday Swiss – 94 tables. 

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Bridge Blog 988: Buffalo Regional Day 6

The grand Swiss team finale. 41 teams. I’m with Joe Miranda, with whom I’ve had wonderful games in tournaments past. Also with Usha Khurana and John Marvin, usually a good combination.
And we are good, at least for a while, at least after we lose our first game to the Passer team (at our table, Elaine Kurasiewicz and Barry Passer, who passed my team in the final round of the single-session Swiss team game on Saturday).
We rise up in the second round to defeat the Florence Boyd team (my frequent club partners Marilyn Sultz and June Feuerstein at our table) and then face a top-ranked pair who apparently also are 1-1 at that moment, the Heckley team from Toronto, which includes two top-flight players, Martin Hunter and Keith Heckley. At our table, it's Jonathan Steinberg, with his paid pro, Alex Hudson from Raleigh, N.C., sitting sullenly South in a black San Antonio Spurs jacket.
Miraculously, we win that round, thanks to Martin overreaching at Usha and John’s table and going down a lot doubled.
But our luck ends there. We get stomped in round four by none other than Thom Burnett and his daughter, Miri Salamone-Burnett. Had Joe and I restrained ourselves and not overbid two times and not gone down way too much doubled, we would have prevailed.
Heaven knows which high-flying team we would have encountered if we won that round and were sitting 3-1 at midpoint, but we wind up facing a tough bunch anyway, Dian Petrov and Paul Janicki. They stomp us too. And so do our opponents in the last two rounds, even a team I thought we had a chance against, Linda and Paul Zittel.

We wind up with just our two winning rounds, nothing else, very close to the bottom of the heap (fifth from the bottom: the bottom, alas, being the Florence Boyd team, which only registered a single tied round). 
For our efforts, we win 0.72 of a point. Small, but it nevertheless pads my six-day total to 16.68, surpassing my till-now topmost tournament total ever – 16.44 – at Rochester in 2015. 

Bridge Blog 987: Buffalo Regional Day 5

         Cleveland Fleming and I try extend the good fortune we had Thursday night in the Saturday morning side game – me needing to play the next side game Saturday afternoon to preserve my gold points from way back on Wednesday.
But we blow a couple hands early in this four-table Howell arrangement and we just can’t recover. We're 45.83%, sixth out of the eight pairs. Our one bright moment was a 6 No Trump contract against the winners, Cleveland ladies Gladys Martin and Edia Shai (who sounds and looks middle European, but says she was born in Israel).
          However, for all my activity in the side games, I discover just now (as I’m belatedly reviewing my ACBL Live emails on Sunday night) that I’ve been rewarded for all the side games I played.
Turns out I’m fourth among all the side game players, behind the Cleveland ladies and Buffalonian Pat Lakeman. I get 2.95 gold points that I didn’t even know were there for the taking.
I’m also assured by the directors that I will get gold for the win Art Matthies and I had Wednesday afternoon. The points for Art, who has been absent since then, remain red.
Cleveland and I sign up to play the afternoon side game, but only one other pair is ready to join us. They put us into the single-session Swiss team game instead, all four of us, and that's not a bad thing. We win our first round, tie the second and win the third. Now sitting us second overall, we get to play the final round against the first-place team, the one that slam-dunked my people in the single-session Swiss game on Friday – the Costello team: Jay Costello, Donna Steffan, Chongmin Zhang and Glenn Milgrim.
This time we play Jay and Donna. Interrupting the first board are the faint strains of the William Tell Overture. Cleveland’s cell phone. He forgot to silence it. There’s a penalty for that. Donna calls the director. The penalty, he says, will be determined when we finish.
After they whup us soundly, the penalty is decided – 3 victory points. Although it makes our defeat more emphatic, there's no impact on the final outcome. We fall back to third place overall, second in the B strat. 2.09 red points.
Meanwhile, my second-best Buffalo Regional has gotten even better. 15.96! A new high, 0.30 better than my previous best last year.
That makes me only 67th among all players at this affair. The daily bulletin (wonderfully compiled by Andrei Reinhorn, to whom a few hats should be doffed) shows the leaders – Kevin Dwyer of Melbourne, Fla., and Shan Huang of Toronto – tied for the top with 97.46 points. Best Buffalo player, Saleh Fetouh, has 42.30 points. He’s tenth.


Friday, October 20, 2017

Bridge Blog 986: Buffalo Regional Day 4

Is this Friday the 20th or Friday the 13th all over again? Why are the upper levels of the parking garage closed at the Adam’s Mark Hotel? We last-minute arrivals need them desperately. Next best option: Under the Thruway overpass for $3. Then walk around the outside of the hotel to the front.
Where’s my partner? Art Matthies always gets to the game before I do, but he’s nowhere to be found. I scan the scene anxiously during the minutes that the start of the game is delayed because of the parking. Finally, I look up his number in my datebook – his home number – and call. His wife says he got to the hotel, saw what was happening with the parking, turned around and came back home.
So the man who filled in with me on Tuesday, partnership co-chairman Jim Gullo, is pulled off caddy duty in the Swiss team game. We get such a late start that we leave two out of the four boards unplayed in the first round and have to make them up at the end of the session.
Jim and I make some terrible mistakes in the beginning – I mislead him into a slam on a hand that makes only 10 tricks, he misses rising with the winning King of Diamonds on my opening lead against an opponent’s No Trump contract and blows our chance of defeating it – but we rally to 53.47% in this six-table single-session side game. Third overall, second in the B strat, 1.85 red points.
I really need to play the afternoon side game to preserve the gold points I earned Thursday afternoon. The directors assure me that even though my Thursday partner is missing, I can collect the gold even if I play another side game with a different partner. In this case, it’s the book-selling lady, Rose Cassmer.
But only two pairs sign up for the side game. They need us and the other folks – Frank Henriques and Suzanne Nunn, from Newmarket, north of Toronto – to fill out the single-session Swiss team game as the 14th team. 
We have great success in the first round, winning by 28-2 victory points. Unfortunately, that puts us up against a really good team in the second round – Chongmin Zhang and Glenn Milgrim, who are playing with Jay Costello and Donna Steffan – and they drub us accordingly on their way to becoming overall winners. We get nailed again in the third round by two Cleveland ladies – Gladys Martin and Mina Ronen.
Now that we’re out of running for bonus points, we rebound in the fourth round. Two rounds won, two rounds lost. Award for winning each round – 0.25 of a point.
But what I don’t know until I check the emailed results from the ACBL just now is what our 54 victory points did for us. We’re ninth out of 14 teams overall, but we’re second in the B strat. Instead of just 0.50 of a point, we won 1.84.

So, with two days to go, this already ranks as my second-best-ever Buffalo Regional (see previous totals in Blog 985). Total points so far: 12.77. 

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Bridge Blog 985: Buffalo Regional Day 3

Thursday I have partnership nailed down for a change. Art Matthies is my guy, though he certainly regrets it during the morning single-session pairs side game. Five out of the six East-Wests are under 50% and we're last among them with an even 40%. Way out front are Junko Hemus and Joel Wooldridge at 77.50%. If I ever have time, I want to do a comparison of them vs. us in this game to see what they did right.  
We fare better in the afternoon side game. Way better. 63.49%. Better than Joel and Junko, who are tops North-South with 57.14%. 3.60 points, of which some will convert to gold when we play again Friday afternoon.
En route to the men's room during the dinner break, I run into Cleveland Fleming, who's dropped in to play the evening pairs game. Partnership chairman Dian Petrov is there and pairs us up immediately. I like playing with Cleveland at lot and we fare fairly well. Despite a weak-looking 51.95%, we're third North-South and pick up 1.05 red points. We agree to play pairs again on Saturday.
Total for the day is 4.65 points, which doubles my take for the tournament so far. At this midway point, I'm at 9.08.
How does this compare? Last year I got 15.66, best I've ever done at the Buffalo Regional. 
Going back even further: 
2015 – 5.38.
2014 – 9.77 (Hamburg Fairgrounds).
2013 – 4.59 (last year on Grand Island).
2012 – 12.12.
2011 – 6.97.
2010 – 7.59.
2009 – 4.15.
2008 – 12.70.
2007 – 5.44.
2006 – 1.94 (held in March!!!).
2005 – 2.73. 


Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Bridge Blog 984: Buffalo Regional Day 2

Turns out Tuesday night partner Rose Cassman, the book-selling lady in the lobby, wants to play the two-session pairs game, not another night game. So we do. And, given room for improvement from our 41% effort Tuesday night, we improve.
In the morning, we bring a 52.73% game, earning 1.18 red points. We're seventh among North-Souths in the B strat overall, third in our section.
Our best moment: Making a 4 Spades doubled contract against Dian Petrov and Kamil Bishara for an outright top board.
Our worst: Watching Fred Yellen and Bud Seidenberg make a 6 Heart slam. Five East-Wests bid it, all should have made it, but only three did (the other two also were top-of-the-line players – Vera Carpenter and Rashid Kahn, who were the overall winners, and Bill Rushmore and Art Morth).
And then there was the one that could have been a top or a bottom, but turned out somewhere in between: 4 Hearts redoubled vulnerable against Sandi England and Ken Meier, a good bet except their Hearts split 5-0. That minus 400, however, still gave us 7 out of 19 match points. Every North-South is in Hearts (we South players have eight of them), 12 get doubled and only one of them beats it.
The afternoon finds me taking most of our bids, but doing not as well – 51.15%. Biggest missed opportunity – not bidding slam on the hand that makes 7 Clubs or 7 No Trump, this one:

South (me)
Spades: 4; Hearts: A-K-J-4; Diamonds: 8-4; Clubs: A-K-Q-10-6-2.

West (Walt Olszewski)
Spades: J-9-3; Hearts: Q-10-8-7-5-2; Diamonds: K-7-6-3; Clubs: none.

North (Rose, the dealer)
Spades: A-K-Q-6; Hearts: none; Diamonds: A-Q-J-9; Clubs: 9-8-7-4-3.

East (Martin Pieterse)
Spades: 10-8-7-5-2; Hearts: 9-6-3; Diamonds: 10-5-2; Clubs: J-5.

Rose opens a Diamond, I bid 2 Clubs, she bids 2 Spades, I jump to 3 NT. Bidding closed. Guilty as charged. I feel my slam-sense tingling, Spider-man style, but decide to ignore it. We pay the price.
Five pairs bid 7 Clubs and make it. Two bid 6 NT and make an overtrick. Eight bid 6 Clubs and get an overtrick. Three of us unfortunates stop at 3 NT. And three even more unlucky pairs stop at 5 Clubs. Going to 6 Club slam would get us an extra 5 match points. Going to 6 NT would yield an extra 10. Amazingly, it would not get us any more master points.
We’d still be first in the B strat in our section, of course. (Plus, as Rose reminds me when it's over, we get a prize for being first.) We'd still be seventh in B overall. And we'd still collect 3.53 points, 1.18 red and 2.35 gold.
In the evening, in the severe air-conditioned chill in the main ballroom, they need another pair to fill out the fifth table in a five-table Howell game. None other than Mike Ryan agrees to play with me and they waive the $12 fee for each of us.

Mike is good, a true A player, but the Howell seems to work against us. Our cards suck. The only stationary North-South pair – John and Diane Bielinski – are the winners. Somehow we make a respectable 52.91% showing (my highest percentage of the day), but we're fifth overall. Only the top four get points. 

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Bridge Blog 983: Buffalo Regional Day 1

I could've been in Las Vegas on Tuesday to see Sabres battle the Golden Knights expansion team on the only ice in town that isn't cooling cocktails. That was the plan until a couple months ago. (Note after midnight, they battle back to send the game into overtime, then lose 5-4.)
Then I could've been on cat caretaking duty. Fortunately, our kitty Boris is recovering well from the amputation of his back leg and the cat oncologist says he seems to be cancer free, at least for the next few months. Thank goodness!
So I show up at the Adam's Mark Hotel in downtown Buffalo without a partner, which is not necessarily a bad thing. I'm paired with one of the partnership chairmen, Jim Gullo, a seasoned player who has about 1,000 more master points than I do, enough to put us in the top stratification in the open pairs game.
In the morning session, I have trouble picking up Jim's bidding and discarding cues. Plus I throw in a few boneheaded moves for good measure, like one against major master Joel Wooldridge. His 3 No Trump contract on Board 16 should have gone down, but I didn't hold back my Ace of Spades on this deal:

West (dealer/me)
Spades: A-8-2; Hearts: 10-9-8-2; Diamonds: J-8; Clubs: K-10-8-2.

North (Joel)
Spades: J; Hearts: A-K-7-4; Diamonds: A-K-7-5-2; Clubs: Q-J-4.

East (Jim)
Spades: 10-9-7-4; Hearts: Q-J; Diamonds: Q-10-9-3; Clubs: 9-7-5.

South (Junko Hemus)
Spades: K-Q-6-5-3; Hearts: 8-6-5; Diamonds: 6-4; Clubs: A-6-3.

Since Joel had been bidding Diamonds, Jim leads a Club, which my King takes. I return a Club, taken by Joel, leaving the Ace as an entry to the dummy. At some point after this, Joel leads his singleton Jack of Spades, which is where I fail to hold back on playing the Ace. 
I know I've blown it as soon as I consider what to lead next. Diamond? Whatever. The entry to the dummy is still good and the Spades bring home the 3 NT contract. Joel suggests that Junko should have put the contract in Hearts – it makes 3 Hearts for sure.
The post-game summary gives them 16.5 out of a possible 22 match points. All but three of the 23 tables play it in No Trump. A few North-Souths even take 10 tricks, but half of them make fewer than nine.  
At any rate, that's one of the reasons why Jim and I wind up with a 44.41% game. I'm more attuned to him in the afternoon and we're rewarded with 55.58% finish, fifth overall, but not enough carryover from the morning to win gold points. We get only 0.90 of a red point.
Big daytime winners are Chris Urbanek and Joan Rose, as might be expected. They collect 13.56 gold points. Surprise is the second-place pair, who also win the B and C stratifactions – relative novices Marilyn Wortzman and Amita Arora. They have a 68.27% game in the afternoon and earn 10.17 points. Bravo!

I stick around for the evening session and get paired with the woman from the Cleveland area who runs the table selling bridge books, Rose Cassman. In a 6½ table game, we're the bumping pair, hopping around as everyone takes a two-board sit-out. Our 41.37% ties us for 11th among 13 pairs. Rose is willing to pair up again Wednesday night. Well, I tell her, we've got plenty of room for improvement. 

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Bridge Blog 982: September Swan Song

Club points for the year through Sept. 30: 114.99, up 13.55 from August. 
     Just barely good enough to cling to third place in the Ace of Clubs race (club play only) among Ruby Life Masters (1,500 to 2,500 points) in ACBL Unit 116 (Buffalo only).
Here are the leaders: Mike Silverman, 151.21, Ken Meier, 129.27, me, 114.99, and Allen Beroza, 113.75.
David Millward, fifth among Unit 116 Ruby Life Masters last month, has been transferred by the ACBL to Vero Beach, Fla., allowing Fred Yellen to move up to fifth place with 88.08. Then it’s Dorothy May, 74.47, and Gene Finton, 64.74. 
     Art Morth, with 36.43, moves up to ninth. He displaces Chuck Schorr, now tenth, who adds nothing to last month’s total 31.54. Nipping at his heels is Carolyn Siracuse, with 31.14.
Among the entire spectrum of Unit 116 players in the Ace of Clubs race, last month’s runner-up has taken the lead. 
     The Top 10 looks like this: Jerry Geiger, 153.42; Mike Silverman, 151.21; Liz Clark, 133.59; Denise Slattery, 132.69; John Ziemer, moving up from seventh to fifth with 131.68; Ken Meier, 128.27; Judi Marshall, 124.19; me, 114.99, still in eighth place; Allen Beroza, 113.75; and Ron Henrikson, advancing from 12th place to 10th with 113.30. 
     Close behind are Martha and John Welte, both 111 even; Mike Ryan, dropping from 10th to 13th with 109.02; and Martin Peterese, down from 11th to 14th with 107.86. Also surpassing the century mark in Ace of Clubs points, Bud Seidenberg with 100.22 in 15th place.
Total points for the year, as of Sept. 30: 135.04, up 15.55 since August. 
     Among Ruby Life Masters in Unit 116, here's how the leaders look: Ken Meier, 237.66 (still fifth among all Unit 116 players); Mike Silverman, 160.74 (down to 14th from 12th overall); Allen Beroza, 138.60 (still 19th overall), me, 135.04 (up to 20th from 22nd overall); Fred Yellen, 132.22 (up to 22nd from 29th overall); Gene Finton, 89.44; Dorothy May, 80.01; Art Morth, 55.62; Chongmin Zhang, 38.51; and Bill Rushmore, 38.34.
Last month five of the overall Unit 116 Mini-McKenney leaders were above the 200-point mark. Now there are seven. Increasing the two-point lead they attained a month ago to a 26-point lead are Martha and John Welte, both with 290.88.
Then it’s Davis Heussler, 264.38; Mike Ryan, 243.50; Ken Meier, 237.66; John Ziemer, 217.96; Jay Levy, 215.18; Linda Burroughsford, 187.56; Jerry Geiger, 182.63; Dian Petrov, 176.14; Bert Hargeshimer, 166.99; and Christy Kellogg, 166.94.
District 5 (Buffalo, Cleveland, Pittsburgh) Ace of Clubs. Ruby Life Masters. I’m hanging in at third place in my division, and 20th overall, down two notches from 18th. We Buffalo players are the only ones with 100-plus points and we hold down the top four spots.
Mike Silverman is the leader with 151.21. He slipped from fourth to fifth among all District 5 Mini-McKenney players. Second is Ken Meier, 128.27 (14th overall, down from 12th); then me, 114.99 (20th, down from 18th); Allen Beroza, 113.75 (22nd, down from 19th); Chantal Whitney, formerly of Bratenahl, Ohio, now from Boca Raton, Fla., 96.20 (41st); Susan Konig of Bridgeville, Pa., 92.50 (48th); Fred Yellen, 88.08 (56th); and Doris Kirsch of East Springfield, Pa., 81.71 (62nd).
         District 5 Ace of Clubs overall. Here Arlene Port of Pittsburgh (174.86) retains the lead she took last month from Robert Alexander of Mentor, Ohio, (167.64).
They're followed by Asim Ulke of Monroeville, Pa., 158.24; Jerry Geiger, up from sixth place with 153.42; Mike Silverman, 151.21; Stephanie Alexander of Mentor, Ohio, 150.60; Patricia Katz of Pittsburgh, 145.65, stepping back ahead of Richard Katz of North Versailles, Pa., 142.86; Liz Clark,133.59, Barbara Belardi of Pittsburgh, 132.90; Denise Slattery, 132.69; and John Ziemer, 131.88.
District 5 Mini-McKenney. Ruby Life Masters.  Sue Lan Ma of Kirtland Hills, Ohio, continues on top by a wide margin. She’s got 662.05. First in the division and still first in the district overall.
The rest of the Top 10 plus one: Craig Biddle of Pittsburgh, still second with 413.62 (tenth overall); William Lindgren of Slippery Rock, Pa., still third with 261.42 (20th); Ken Meier, 237.66 (29th); Charles Ladiha of Vermillion, Ohio, 178.13 (56th); Mike Silverman, 160.74 (70th); Russell Sheldon of Pittsburgh, 157.34 (71st); Allen Beroza, 138.60 (82nd); Wayne Heritage of North Olmsted, Ohio, 138.44 (83rd); Jean Picone of Pittsburgh, 136.17 (89th); and me! 135.04 (up one notch to 11th among Ruby Life Masters, and up five places to 93rd overall).
         District 5 Mini-McKenney overall. Sue Lan Ma, 662.05; Phillip Becker of Beachwood, Ohio, jumping from fourth to second with 462 even; Reanette Frobouck of Pittsburgh slips to third on an off-month, only advancing about 5 points to 460.89.
Then it’s Kathleen and Don Sulgrove of Twinsburg, Ohio, 456.32 and 445.37, respectively; with Phillip Goulding of Wexford, Pa., leaping up between them with 451.44.
Then it's Bernie Greenspan of Beachwood, Ohio, down one notch to seventh with 440.32; followed by Robert and Stephanie Alexander of Mentor, Ohio, 432.62 and 416.25; and Craig Biddle of Pittsburgh, 413.62. The Unit 116 leaders, Martha and John Welte, are tied for 13th with 290.88.
Nationwide. Ace of Clubs. Ruby Life Masters. The top three hold their positions – Thomas Roberg, Raleigh, N.C., 270.66; and Robert Shearer of Diberville, Miss, 251.72; and Ben Franz, Edgewood, N.M., 250.42.
     Then it’s Dennis Harms, Corvallis, Ore., 242.89; Gary Waldron, Laguna Beach, Calif., 241.54; Sidney Perutz of Dallas, 232.98; and Barry Nish of Little Neck, N.Y., 230.62.
     Mike Silverman is 83rd, down from 73rd. Ken Meier is 178th, down from 168th. I'm 277th, up from 292nd. Allen Beroza checks in at 295th, down one from 294th. The list cuts off at 98.34.
Nationwide. Ace of Clubs overall. Bill Kulbersh of Atlanta (513.60) stays on top. Gail Wells of Dallas (479.67) remains in second ahead of Bella Ionis-Sorren of Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (457.90).
     Kay Schulle of Purchase, N.Y. (430.49), stays in fourth place, followed by Irva Neyhart of Corvallis, Ore. (404.89); Sheila Gabay of Newton, Mass. (396.27); and Marion Gebhardt of Richardson, Texas (393.79). 
     No Unit 116 players here and only two from District 5 – Arlene Port is 364th, down from 326th, and Robert Alexander is 461st, down from 438th. The list cuts off at 164.05.  
Nationwide. Mini-McKenney. Ruby Life Masters. Big month for Sudhakar Divakaruni of Scottsdale, Ariz., who gathered 100+ points to reach 802.95 and slip ahead of Gillian Miniter of New York City, 790.87.
District 5's Sue Lan Ma, 662.05, continues in third, followed by Jeff Edelstein of Riverview, Fla., 531.58; and Mark Blanchard of Bay Shore, L.I., 479.87. Unit 116's Ken Meier is 122nd, down from 118th. Mike Silverman is 481st, up from 500th. The list cuts off at 158.51.
Nationwide. Mini-McKenney overall.  Ongoing leader Chris Compton of Dallas continues to be the only player who has surpassed the double-century mark, now with 2,175.49. Then it's Kevin Dwyer of Melbourne, Fla., 1,958.48; Mark Itabashi of Murrieta, Calif., 1,807.26; Shan Huang of Toronto, 1,692.86; Greg Hinze of San Antonio, Texas, 1,677.94; and Jeff Meckstroth of Clearwater Beach, Fla., 1,621.80. 
     Former Buffalonian Joel Wooldridge is up a notch, from 26th to 25th, with 1,200.66. Sue Lan Ma is 108th, up from 118th. Phillip Becker is 298th. Reanette Frobouck is 301st, down from 269th. Ten District 5 players make the list before it ends at 379.72.