Sunday, April 23, 2017

Bridge Blog 950: Buffalo Spring Sectional

To make a long story short, here’s the summary:
Two sessions Friday with Florence Boyd. One of the few pairs who struck out entirely. Morning session: 45.42%. Afternoon session: 49.46%. Interesting hands, though. See Blog 950-A on what seemed at the time like a brilliant maneuver.
Only one session Saturday because of an obligation to go to Rochester and visit distressed friends, but it counted. Art Matthies and I pulled off a 59.22% game, which I thought was tops East-West until I saw the final results. But second was good, too. 2.61 silver points. See Blog 950-B on the sudden departure of Rita Sofia.
Uncertain arrangements for Sunday’s Swiss teams fell apart, as I suspected they would, but I was lucky enough to pick up Rita Sofia’s partner, Anne Watkins, and the two of us were lucky enough to team with some very good players, Christy Kellogg and Bert Hargeshimer.

We win the first round, but according to Christy, this is not her finest day. We needed to win four rounds to collect extra points in the A strat, but we win only three and wind up with .90 of a silver point. See Blog 950-C to see why this will may have been the final Dupli-Swiss game. 

Bridge Blog 950-A: Brilliant?

Friday afternoon. Board 5. Jim Gullo and Donna Steffan are East-West and work their way up into slam territory, where Jim plants the flag at 6 Clubs. Not what I expected with these hands, but it’s odd enough to turn into a winner. Partner leads the 5 of Spades.

East (Jim)
Spades: 8-2; Hearts: A-Q-J-4; Diamonds: 3; Clubs: K-9-8-5-4-2.

South (Art Matthies)
Spades: Q-J-6-5-3; Hearts: 7-6-3; Diamonds: Q-J-4-2; Clubs: 7.

West (Donna)
Spades: A-7-4; Hearts: K-10-6; Diamonds: A-K-10-6; Clubs: A-J-10.

North (moi)
Spades: K-10-9; Hearts: 9-5-3; Diamonds: 9-8-7-5; Clubs Q-6-3.

What seemed brilliant at the time was not only the offbeat Club bid, but Jim’s preservation of a low card in his hand to reach the dummy late in the play. Turns out it wasn’t quite that brilliant. The hand should make 7 Clubs and Jim made only 6. Plus it’s good for grand slams in No Trump and Hearts, as well as Clubs.

It’s still good for them, though. They’re tied for second with another pair at 6 Clubs, just short of the people who bid and make 6 No Trump. Meanwhile, four of the pairs take 13 tricks in Hearts and No Trump, but they don’t bid the slams. 

Bridge Blog 950-B: Sudden Exit

Given the average advanced age of bridge players, it’s a wonder that we aren’t always falling by the wayside with cards in our hands. But it turns out to be rare. Rarer still at tournaments.
So it was unsettling Saturday morning when Art Matthies and I arrived at the Rita Sofia-Anne Watkins table, picked up our cards and started to bid the contract when Rita excused herself and withdrew to the ladies’ room. After a few minutes she returned and said she had to leave. Anne said Sunday she was feeling faint. I hope this was just an anomaly and she’s feeling better now.

One never knows. Someone Sunday mentioned a game in the Gatlinberg, Tenn., regional where a guy actually died at the table. To which I noted that bridge players are a lot like golfers, no matter what happens they just play on. 

Bridge Blog 950-C: Dupli Dumped

Smaller than usual turnout for Swiss teams Sunday at the Spring Sectional. I could tell by all the empty spaces in the parking lot at the Main-Transit Fire Hall. 18 tables. Small enough to reduce the point payout in the game.
Once again this is Dupli-Swiss with pre-dealt hands. Not only does it provide hand records, but it eliminates the need for caddies, since all the teams sit in pods of four tables and pass the boards around.
I rather like this game, but it turns out not to be popular. One of the better local players vowed she would not play Dupli-Swiss again because of the potential for cheating, since players in pods can overhear discussion of hands at adjacent tables. (Indeed, a neighboring table calls us on this breach of decorum while we're playing with the guy who set it all up and warned us about it, David Hemmer.)
Betty Metz further notes that a table’s worth of players from Jamestown and Olean decided not to come when they heard it was Dupli-Swiss. Furthermore, David Hemmer apparently won’t be available to set up Dupli-Swiss hands for the next sectional in September. I’d heard that setting up the hands was arduous, but David says it took him less than three hours with help from his sons, who were eager to earn a couple bucks putting cards into the dealing machine.
Still, I like this arrangement. It always helps to have hand records to assess what you should have done. What’s more, it seems more fair to have everyone playing the same boards instead of the pot-luck hands when every pair of teams shuffles them independently.

On the other hand, Sunday’s deals were seriously unsatisfying and didn’t allow for any of the swashbuckling play that I love to indulge in. Partner Anne Watkins didn’t take a bid until the third round. I went without playing a contract for two rounds later in the session. Mismatches abounded. 

Monday, April 17, 2017

Bridge Blog 949: Thank God It's ... Monday???

Like Garfield the cat, I had an aversion to Mondays. But then my schedule put me in the office on Sunday nights, which defused the dread of that first day of the working week. And for the past two weeks, Monday's been one of the brightest days of the week at the bridge table.
Bob Kaprove helped lift the gloom back on the 10th (Palm Monday?) with the best game I've seen since Feb. 9 – 59.17%, good for 1.75 points, second overall, losing to Mike Silverman and Martin Pieterse by half a match point.
The percentage was lower but the reward was better on Easter Monday as Carolyn Siracuse joined me in a game that improved from a fourth-place 51.67% finish to a first-overall 55.83% when I found a scoring error that reversed a minus 790 to a plus 790 (4 Hearts doubled vulnerable made against Joe Rooney and Bill Boardman) and bumped us up 5 match points. 2.33 master points, thank you.
According to the hand record, we should have made that 4 Heart bid anyway. The very next hand, however, was another top, and I believe it was because my partner broke one of the cardinal rules of the game (See Blog 948).

Meanwhile, let's also haul aboard that Saturday game with Denise Slattery – where our 55.30% made us second overall, first in the B strat for another 1.90 points – and April starts to look pretty good. 9.88 points overall so far.  

Bridge Blog 948: Happy Unreturns

Carolyn Siracuse and I wind up defending against a 4 Heart bid by Joe Rooney and Bill Boardman on this layout.

West (Joe)
Spades: 10-8-2; Hearts: A-K-9-6-4; Diamond: 4; Clubs: A-K-J-3.

North (moi)
Spades: Q; Hearts: Q-J-10-3; Diamond: A-Q-J-7-3; Clubs: 9-8-6.

East (Bill)
Spades: K-J-6-4-3; Hearts: 8-2; Diamonds: 10-6-5; Clubs: 10-7-4.

South (Carolyn)
Spades: A-9-7-5; Hearts: 7-5; Diamonds: K-9-8-2; Clubs: Q-5-2.

It's Board 8. Nobody vulnerable. West is dealer. Joe opens 1 Heart. I overcall 2 Diamonds. Bill bids 2 Spades. Carolyn supports the Diamonds. And if I remember correctly, Joe jumps right to 4 Hearts. I'm pretty sure he won't make it, but I only see three tricks in my hand. I pass.
Opening lead is the singleton Queen of Spades. King. Ace. But then Carolyn follows one rule – lead the suit your partner bid, i.e., a Diamond – while breaking another – return the suit your partner led.
I win with the Jack of Diamonds, reckon Joe's 4 is a singleton. Least damaging option is lead a Club, or is it? Carolyn's Queen is finessed.  
He wins the Club, pulls one round of Hearts, then leads a Spade. I discard a Club. He draws a second round of trumps and leads another Spade. This time I ruff and return a Diamond. He ruffs and sends back a Club and another Club. I ruff Club #2 and send back a Diamond. For the final three tricks, I have a winning Heart and two winning long Diamonds. Down three.
Did Carolyn's switch to Diamonds give us an extra trick by delaying my ruffs until the long Diamonds were good? I keep looking at it now, several hours later, and I'm not sure where that extra trick came from (Did Joe play an unnecessary high card somewhere?), but I thought at the time it was Carolyn's move that set us up for a top board. 
The hand record says East-West should make 2 Hearts (they do one trick better in Spades). And North-South can bring home a 3 Diamond bid, a plus 110 versus a plus 100 for 4 Hearts down two.

In actual play in this six-table game at the Airport Bridge Club, three North-Souths get to play 3 Diamonds. One goes to 4 Diamonds and falls one short. None of the East-Wests find their eight-card Spade fit. Judi Marshall and Sharon Benz are the only ones lucky enough to get to play it at 2 Hearts. 

Friday, April 7, 2017

Bridge Blog 947: March Badness

Was this my worst month of March ever? I’ll have to check. (Yes, even in my first year of competitive play, 2005, I earned 5.28 points in March.) Needless to say, my grand total of 2.52 club points surely has lowered my standing in the ACBL master point races. For the first quarter of 2017, my tally is 27.19 club points, 33.68 points overall. Now that they’ve been posted on the ACBL website, let’s see how bad the damage is.
Unit 116 (Buffalo only). Ace of Clubs (Club play only). Ruby Life Masters (1,500 to 2,500 points). Mike Silverman is way, way, way ahead with 49.46 points and is second among all Unit 116 players. Gene Finton, who’s down in Florida for the winter, has upped his total to 27.19 and has tied me for second place. We’re both 16th overall in the unit. Last month I was fifth overall.
The rest of the top ten: Ken Meier, 25.96 (19th overall); Fred Yellen, 24.37 (21st); Dorothy May, 23.29 (23rd); Allen Beroza, 16.12 (44th); Chuck Schorr, 13.78 (53rd); Sue Bergman, 11.67 (71st); Art Morth, 11.29 (72nd); and Vince Pesce, 11.11 (74th). (OK, that’s actually 11).
Who is the overall Ace of Clubs leader in Unit 116? Meg Klamp, who’s still down in Florida. She’s got 55.07. The other leaders: Mike Silverman, 49.46; Liz Clark, 40.30; John and Martha Welte, both 35.03; Tom Koralewski, 34.84; Chris Urbanek, 34 even; Jerry Geiger, 32.72; Jay Levy, 32.59; John Ziemer, 30.43; and Bud Seidenberg, 30.31.
Next is Mini-McKenney. All points earned everywhere. Ruby Life Masters.
Leader here is Mike Silverman again, but he’s only 14th overall in the unit. Last month I was second and 15th. Now I’m fourth and 26th. Here are the leaders:
Mike Silverman, 50.40 (14th overall); Ken Meier, 37.33 (20th); Fred Yellen, 34.22 (25th); me, 33.68 (26th); Allen Beroza, 27.92 (37th), Gene Finton, 27.19 (40th); Dorothy May, 24.59 (43rd); Bill Rushmore, 20.31 (52nd); Art Morth, 15.73 (65th); and Chuck Schorr, 14.15 (76th).
Overall Unit 116 Mini-McKenney leaders are: Davis Heussler, 82.84; Christy Kellogg, 78.07; Berg Hargeshimer, 78.01; Meg Klamp, 76.76; Martha and John Welte, both 68.88; Saleh Fetouch, 66.92; Mike Ryan, 62.57; Tom Koralewski, 61 even; and Liz Clark, 60.27.
Onward to the races for District 5 (Buffalo, Cleveland, Pittsburgh).
Ace of Clubs, Ruby Life Masters. For the first time ever, a Unit 116 player does not top this list. Outpointing Mike Silverman is Susan Konig of Bridgeville, Pa. She has 51.56 to Mike’s 49.46. Gene Finton and I are tied for sixth place. Between Mike and us are Chantal Whitney of Bratenahl, Ohio, 37.12; Doris Kirsch of East Springfield, Pa., 30.18; and William Lindgren of Slippery Rock, Pa., 29.33. Ken Meier’s 25.96 makes him eighth.
Susan Konig is sixth among all District 5 Ace of Clubs players. Mike Silverman is seventh. Gene Finton and I are 62nd. Overall leader is this W. Tordella person from Bemus Point with 67.50, followed by Richard Katz of North Versailles, Pa., 63.80; S. Ruskin and Patricia Katz, both of Pittsburgh, with 58.11 and 56.41, respective; and our Meg Klamp with 55.07.
District 5 Mini-McKenney. Ruby Life Masters. Once again it’s Sue Lan Ma of Kirtland Hills, Ohio. Now she’s got 161.12. She’s also first among all players. Second is Craig Biddle of Pittsburgh, with 138.36, who’s fifth overall. Then there’s a big step down to Susan Konig, 62.95 (39th); William Lindgren, 55.43 (49 th); and Buffalo’s sole top 10 entry, Mike Silverman, 50.40 (61st). They’re the only ones with more than 50 points.
Among all District 5 players, 11 racked up more than 100 points in the first quarter of 2017. Here they are: Sue Lan Ma, 161.12; Richard Katz of North Versailles, Pa., 152.06; Reanette Frobouck of Pittsburgh, 143.96; Bernie Greenspan of Beachwood, Ohio, 143.27; Craig Biddle of Pittsburgh, 138.36; Philip Becker of Beachwood, Ohio, 128.98; Mary Chilcote of Cleveland, 127.99; Patricia Katz of Pittsburgh, 117.56; Don and Kathleen Sulgrove of Twinsburg, Ohio, 110.32 and 107.73, respectively; and Brian Ellis of Beachwood, Ohio, 102.22.
Going nationwide, Ruby Life Master Ace of Clubs leader is Mohan Bali of Columbia, S.C., with 81.05; followed by Barry Nish of Little Neck, L.I., 80.90; Darrell Fung of San Ramon, Calif., 73.49; Gary Waldron of Laguna Beach, Calif, 71.62; and Scott Donaldson of Scottsdale, Ariz., 69.74. Mike Silverman is 97th. The Top 500 list ends at 32.92.
National Ace of Clubs leader overall is Bill Kulbersh of Atlanta, 163.84; followed by Bella Ionis-Sorren of Fort Lauderdale, 158.23; Mason Barge of Atlanta, 146.25; Sheila Gabay of Newton, Mass., 140.65; and Kay Schulle of Purchase, N.Y., 133.80. Only Buffalo player on this Top 500 list is Meg Klamp. She’s 433rd.
National Mini-McKenney leader among Ruby Life Masters is Gillian Miniter of New York City, 314.17; followed by Sudhakar Divakaruni of Scottsdale, Ariz., 227.57; Jeff Edelstein of Riverview, Fla., 199.28; Maya Alela of Teec Nos Pos, Ariz., 196.71; and Connie Queller of Hudson, Fla., 174.80. District 5’s Sue Lan Ma is seventh. The list cuts off at 54.41 points.
National Mini-McKenney leader among all players is the amazing Chris Compton of Dallas with 830.27. At this pace, he’ll finish the year with more than 3,300 points. Then there are five guys in the 600s – Mark Itabashi of Murrieta, Calif., 673.31; Kevin Dwyer of Melbourne, Fla., 663.86; Jeff Meckstroth of Clearwater Beach, Fla., 639.80; Eddie Wold of Houston, 611.89; and Billy Miller of Las Vegas, 600.13. Buffalo native Joel Wooldridge, now based in Astoria, Queens, is 36 th with 354.75. District 5’s Sue Lan Ma is 276th. The list ends at 127.37.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Bridge Blog 946: Glug, glug, glug ...

Fifty percent is the magic marker. It's the dividing line. It's sea level. Below that and you're drowning, you're not racking up half the match points.
Well, the just-concluded month of March saw me foundering below the surface all month long. The only time I managed to come up for breath was March 16, the first day the Airport Bridge Club reopened after the big snowstorm. Teamed up at the last minute with Ron Henrikson, I enjoyed a 54.46% game.
It was the only 50-plus game of the month. It made no difference that I was off for a week of bridge-less vacation in Arizona. I came back to finish the month with a 48.75% with June Feuerstein, 49.40% with Marietta Kalman and 45.94% with Selina Volpatti over in St. Catharines, Ont.
Fortunately, the miracle of stratification smiled in those games with June and Marietta, resulting in point payoffs of 0.22 and 1.14, respectively. That more than doubled my total for the month, which has got to be the most pathetic in recent history.
April seems like a point deluge in comparsion. In two games so far, I've almost matched March's output, helped along by the resumption of double point games at the Airport Bridge Club.
A 51.98% effort with Denise Slattery on April 1 turned out to be second overall and rewarded us with 1.78 points. And today, Monday, April 3, a 49.70% game with Florence Boyd netted us second place in the B strat East-West and another 0.69 points. Here's hoping this April shower keeps pouring down.