Bryna Paston – The Long and Winding Road to Master of Life
Valley Forge, PA Regional Tournament week of June 22nd, 2015: all present and accounted for, the crazy boisterous bridge players, the instructors (unlicensed except in their own minds) who will gladly tell you everything you did wrong at the bridge table and everything you are going to do wrong – and you don’t even have to ask. Then we have the strong silent types who can’t smile, nod in your direction or even pretend they are playing against any other functioning human beings. To them you are invisible.
And everyone in the room on every floor of the hotel is screaming the same thing: “How many points do you need?” In my case, it was 6.0 gold. To become a life master. To stop schlepping to far flung tournaments, playing all day and drinking all night and paying the ACBL a ridiculous amount of money over the last 100 years, acquiring all my black, red, silver on the road to 6 gold.
Luckily, Valley Forge is my hometown so the only expense this go-round was gas. Well, ok, food. But I would probably eat anyway if I lived in Podunk, Iowa. I just wouldn’t be here in the Philadelphia area for any tournament or famous historic sight. Seen them all.
A word about my team, God bless them. My partner Barbara and our mates Gina and Hollis have played many a Swiss, Knock-Out and Knock-Up which has brought us to this turning point in my life. The other three have long been life masters and they were doing this just for me. I really owe them.
To keep you in suspense no longer: we did very well. We acquired 2.36 gold in Swiss and 2.61 gold in knock outs. Close but no cigar! Don’t you just love that saying? I bet you don’t know what it means either.
But I digress… we left the tournament very proud and happy for me. I now needed 1.03 to achieve greatness. Here’s where I say, “So if I don’t get it, I don’t get it. Big deal. I can probably live the rest of my life and it won’t change anything.”
And here’s where my partner, ‘never say die Barbara,’ says on the ride home, “We will do it. We’ll go to Fairfield, NJ, Baltimore, Timbuctoo and all points east, west, north and south in the USA and abroad where there is a regional or better. And if all else fails, the nationals will be in Philly in 2018.”
“I’ll be dead,” I say.
“Oh don’t be silly,” Barbara says. Sure, what does she know; she’s 10 years younger than me. Hollis and Gina say nothing so I know where they stand on these cockamamie bridge trips.
That was Saturday, June 27th.
On Tuesday, June 30th I get a call from my friend Sue K. She’s an extraordinary bridge player with ‘skatieight’ master points and what’s more she has her finger on the pulse of the local bridge world. Our conversation went like this:
Sue: “Hi you probably don’t know it but you are a life master.”
Me: “No I’m not. I still need 1.03 gold.”
Sue: “No you don’t.”
Me: “Yes I do.”
We continued the “No I’m not; Yes you are!” volley for another five minutes until she said:
“Stop talking and I will explain.”
Here is what happened: A local bridge player named Bruce whom I know in passing also played in same tournament at Valley Forge. His results from a Swiss event were disappointing and definitely “wrong.” He too is an excellent player, life master with “skatieight” points and somehow he couldn’t reconcile his scores with his play. So he took matters into his own hands and called the ACBL right then and there from tournament central.
Although I have no way of knowing I “imagine” that conversation went like this:
ACBL: “Hello and how may I direct your call?”
Bruce: “You made a giant mistake and I expect you to fix it – pronto!
ACBL: “Oh no, sir. The computer never makes a mistake.”
Bruce: “Yes it did.”
ACBL: “No it didn’t.”
Here we go again. I bet that volley continued for another five minutes.
Not only did the computer screw up Bruce’s scores but he asked them to check across the board and sure enough, it screwed up my score. And God knows who else.
I now officially and forever more earned 7.02 gold at Valley Forge. And I was and am a Master of Life!
I think I will marry Bruce!