Finding gold in Newton


Fourteen Vineyarders met at the American Contract Bridge League (ACBL) tournament in Newton last weekend, bringing home a total of 59.74 ACBL master points, nearly half of them the hard-to-win gold points (25.93). Every Vineyarder earned points.

Ed Russell and Deirdre Ling of West Tisbury closed in on the coveted “Life Master” ranking by finishing second in a four-round knockout tournament. In a knockout, if you win a 24-board match, you move on to the next round. If you lose, you’re out. The team-of-four matches, which usually last about three and a half hours each, ran Friday evening and Saturday morning, afternoon, and evening – an exhausting schedule. Playing as teammates with Dan and Nancy Cabot, Ed and Deirdre won the first three matches, coming from behind to win the semi-final, but were annihilated in the final round. The six gold points awarded to each player on the second-place team were enough to put them over the gold-point minimum (25) for Life Master. Ed and Deirdre also picked up a section top in the Sunday morning intermediate/novice pairs, probably the last time they will ever be eligible for the lower-division events. Their 10 total master points put them in the top 10 percent of master-point winners for the tournament.

David Donald of Vineyard Haven brought home two gold points by winning his section in the afternoon session of the Bill Keohane Individual. In an individual tournament, one plays with a different partner in every two-board round. Playing with unfamiliar partners is difficult, because tournament players tend to use different bidding and carding systems, and there is no time to establish partnership agreements. Everyone tries to play one of the standard systems, but miscommunication is frequent. Once a common event at tournaments, the Newton Keohane is the only remaining ACBL individual competition in the United States. Players of all rankings play in the same event, and to win a section top, David had to play with and against players with thousands of ACBL master points, and with and against relatively inexperienced players.

Claus Buchthal’s son, Stephen, came all the way from Hawaii to play with his father. They earned points in every event they entered together.

First-time tournament-goers Bea Phear, Foster Greene, Joan Perrine, and Diana Dozier got a taste of big-time competition, and all came away with master points. After finishing second in her very first tournament game, the Friday afternoon intermediate/novice pairs, Bea was ecstatic: “We were the lowest of the lowest, but we did well!” Players new to duplicate learn fast in the stiff competition in the Vineyard club games and often do very well in tournaments.

Results: 10.0, Ed Russell, Deirdre Ling; 8.96, Dan Cabot, Nancy Cabot; 4.87, Claus Buchthal; 3.19, Foster Greene, Bea Phear; 2.01, David Donald; 1.90, Joan Perrine, Diana Dozier; 1.14, Patsy McCornack, Gail Farrish; 0.74, Robert Fokos, Ency Fokos.