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December 11, 2017

Paul Gipson

Preparing for Christmas fun

I wonder how many of the local bridge club actually read my blog?

As I'm on the Committee, when the President asked about the fun bridge at the Christmas Party everyone took one step back and left me volunteering for it. Well, perhaps metaphorically it seemed like that but, in reality, the relief on their faces when I said I'd do it could not be beaten.

Of course, to my mind, the rest of the Committee are doing the tough jobs, organising the catering, arranging the tables and decorations before we all get there, getting the wine!

I picked up the EBU guide to fun bridge. Normally large organisations and fun do not appear in the same sentence without a 'no', but it has been useful and I am using many of its ideas.

Deuce ball

Whenever you win a trick with a two, shout out and you will hold the deuce ball until the next two wins. Whoever is holding the deuce ball at the end wins a prize.

The EBU recommends using a soft ball and throwing it around the room, so clearly they have not put this document past their Health and Safety advisors! I also worry that we have a mix of cricketers, curlers, and octogenarians combined with wine glasses.

Beer card

The FIRST person to win a trick with the seven of diamonds will win a bottle of beer.

Change the rules

I expect we'll play six rounds of two boards, depending on time available. For the second board on each round I will announce a new rule for that board only:

  • Round 1 – Aces are low, not high.
  • Round 2 – No-one is allowed to bid spades.
  • Round 3 – Dummy plays his own cards, though still placed face up.
  • Round 4 – Bidding must not die below the four level.
  • Round 5 – Bidding and Play to proceed anti-clockwise.
  • Round 6 – Dealer must open one no trump
We shall use aggregate scoring, with prizes for the leading North-South and leading East-West pairs. In previous years we provided farming produce, like sprout trees, although I'm told the sprouts were too early this year.

Terry, our long-suffering dealer at the club, has helped by pre-duplicating two copies of the boards, which are just a normal random set.

So everyone from the club who reads the blog will be forewarned and able to plan their tactics. How helpful this will be remains to be seen.

Fun Party Bridge Games (PDF) is available on the EBU website.

by Paul Gipson (noreply@blogger.com) at December 11, 2017 05:23 PM

December 09, 2017

Peg Kaplan

"Diamond" in Every Way!



Stephen Jackson sent me a pleasant email the other day. His partner in life and at the table - Sue Jackson - had just earned Diamond Life Master status!  I was happy for Sue and wanted to highlight this excellent Minnesotan player/volunteer/board member/teacher + more.  I asked Stephen if he wished to offer some comments about Sue and her achievement. Instead, though, the New DLM herself took on the task!

Here are Sue's thoughts. Please join me in congratulating a woman who does so much for bridge in Minnesota - including playing darn well!


Stephen wanted me to send something. I don't need an article about all I do for bridge because bridge does so much for me, but here are my favorite bridge memories:


♠Offering “carless” Stephen Jackson a ride home from bridge on a bitterly cold night, and we married two years later.

♥Playing in a 1980 Nationals side game on our honeymoon and coming in first!

♦Being the victim of a squeeze play by the legendary Dorothy Kantor Buchanan. I was in awe and determined to learn how to do that.

♣The first time I executed a double squeeze (against Brian Crossley and Jack Rhatigan) and knew what I was doing.

♠Playing in a regional pairs game with Mike Hoffmann in which, on the last board, Mike had to do something illogical against an expert pair to trick them so he could make a doubled contract to win the event.

♥Playing with my husband at the nationals and having a beautiful auction to get to 7 clubs . . . only to be foiled by a 5-0 trump break.

♦Best of all, though, is getting to know so many wonderful people at the bridge table. I constantly wonder, why doesn’t everyone play this game?!

by Peg at December 09, 2017 10:52 PM

December 08, 2017

Paul Gipson

The vagaries of scoring

Last night two friends were looking to get some practice in on BBO as they prepare for the Scottish European trials, so I enlisted Gints (of Consolation win fame) to partner me.

When you play a set game on BBO there are a number of ways of setting up your play:
  1. You can get a third party to put a number of hands together, which you can then upload and play: the advantage of this method is that the hands can have a theme and you can be tested on every board since it is probably not a random set of hands; the disadvantage is that you do not get any comparisons. Perhaps one day BBO will permit you to upload hands with comparisons built in, but I suspect it is pretty low down their order of priorities.
  2. You can open a normal table and just get a random set of hands. The advantage of this method is that you will get comparisons with fifteen other tables; the disadvantage of this method is that you will get comparisons with fifteen other tables, most of whom are less experienced that you. Any normal making game will win you at least two imps and any normal slam will be worth at least six imps. It is not a sensible score.
  3. You can open a Vugraph table and select a match from the archive. You can choose a match with world-class players and you will get two 'good' comparisons on each board. Normal games and slams will probably be flat. This normally works well, although occasionally the vugraph record will be corrupt or contains clearly irregular results. The main disadvantage of this method is that most matches are short and those with 16-board sets are rare. But it does you the chance of outbidding Helgemo although you will rarely outplay him.
  4. Another option at the Vugraph table is just to play sixteen random Vugraph hands and I suspect this is the most used option. The fact that an event is shown on Vugraph is a reasonable indication of a quality game so you will get sensible comparisons, but there are a lot of events shown on Vugraph these days and you will get the odd result: aside from junior events, club events, getting a hand from the goulash tournament or a pairs event can cause something strange to happen.
We used the last method last night and played 24 boards. Overall Gints and I were 9 imps down but the session proved useful as our opponents clarified a number of systemic agreements and defensive situations: or, at least, they will after a couple of emails and a Skype session!

As normal after a BBO session I downloaded the hands into a double-dummy solver to see how the real results compared to the par scores: the par score on a hand is the best result for both pairs. It is a meaningless indicator of performance, but I often use it as one method of highlighting hands of interest rather than working through all the hands.

Gints and I were +33 imps against par, but there were only three hands where there was a difference of more than six imps between our score and the par score.

My junp to game was unsound but hoping to induce a sacrifice. In this regard I was successful except it was not a sacrifice. Unsurprisingly we lost 7 imps on this board, but we gained 4 imps against par since East-West failed to bid their diamond slam! The double dummy solver can see that both finesses are working, as required, so the Vugraph comparison is a realistic result, unlike par.


Our opponents bid to the par result so that was flat, but we lost 6.5 imps on the Vugraph comparison because one pair bid to the spade slam. Slam is not great as it happens, needing to avoid a trump loser and play the diamonds for one loser, but you can understand how a pair would bid it. So the Vugraph comparison is not unfair, so to speak.


Our opponents missed a game: okay, it is just a 23-point game, it is non-vulnerable, and needs 3-3 break in clubs or 4-2 break with two honours in the short hand. Not great odds and I'm sure they were happy with +170. We gained 6 imps on the par comparison but lost -4.5 imps with Vugraph because the East player in one no trump did not take his eight winners on a spade lead and went down after ducking a club!

I guess we always have blindspots on Vugraph, or perhaps it was a BAM event. Unfortunately the records do not show and, fortunately for East, his name on Vugraph was just 'H'.

So overall I think the Vugraph comparison was fairer and more realistic than the par scores. And the hands where par and Vugraph scores said there was a double-digit swing were far more important to look at!

by Paul Gipson (noreply@blogger.com) at December 08, 2017 03:27 PM

December 07, 2017

Peg Kaplan

Minnesota Shines in San Diego National Events!

San diego


An NABC has a wide variety of events for all. Yet for many, the big thrill of attending and competing is the opportunity to play in a national event - and - finish in the overalls.  

As you can see from the District 14 list below (generously prepared for us by Roger Anderson), a number of Minnesotans did just that!

A special "shout out" to those who made it to the top ten:  Sharon Anderson, 4th in the Whitehead Women's Pairs, Mike Cassel & Barry Purrington, 8th in the 0-10,000 Swiss Teams, Joel Kramer and Mike Flader, just behind in 9th in the 0-10,000 Swiss. 

And, the REALLY big show by Dunga Liu.  Dunga and his team marched through a world class Reisinger field to end up victors after 3 days of play!

Very well done; we are proud of you all!

Download National Event Overalls San Diego 2017


by Peg at December 07, 2017 12:41 AM

December 06, 2017

Eamon Galligan

Declan the Donplayer ACHIEVES

Late each Wednesday night up to about midnight the dunce with the laptop can be seen beavering away in the local community centre bar attempting to get his 70 hands played by the weekly closing time for Bridge Now.

About 4 years ago one of the local reprobates took an interest in this bizarre game of bridge as the locals call it. "That's an old dears game Eamon " they say ..
I reply .. "Lads we are old dears .. " ... as we are mostly past 50 and heading for 60 .. and beyond.

Anyway one of the major reprobates took a large interest in this game and this was Declan the Donplayer ...real name Declan McKenna .. painter decorator drinker gambler dancer singer .. you name it he does it ... father carer fisherman card cheat  and ,,,,,,,,,,,,,now bridge player.

Problem is Declan is different than most other bridge players ... He loves the game even though he has only set foot  in  a bridge club once. Everytime I meet him ... "Eamon I love this game and thanks for showing me" ...Now I am going to beat you ..

Of course I never believed him as I am a National champion several times ..and he is a 1 time visitor to a bridge club. It could not happen or could it ..

Early last week maybe around Monday or Tuesday ...I met Declan the Donplayer and he was indicating the time might be here .... He asks .. "How is your Bridge Now going this week"
As I was having a bad week and was chasing hard to reach 60% average ...I told him "Not too good but not bad enough that you will get near me .. " ... "We will see about that Eamon ... Declan is thinking about 62% this week ..... I thought he was messing but I had a doubt in my mind as   Declan the Donplayer loves this game and has progressed to scoring over 55% the odd week.

So to cut a long story short ...

Above is a screenshot from http://bridge-now.com

It shows several Irish players I have flagged as friends or people I know in real life who are all regular bridge players some good and some international and some lesser players.
Karl Cashen and BJ O'Brien are well known at the top of the Irish game.
Most of the rest are above average Malahide players .. The number on the left is placing out of just over 700 players this week.....so 56% got you into the top 200.
Sitting in 40th place for the week is a very proud Declan the Donplayer ...and even prouder Eamon Galligan who educated this player by answering his questions.

I met Declan the Donplayer last night and he was engrossed in the weekly game of DON but as soon as he lost a game and was sat out he was over to me .... "Eamon did you look at the ranking for last week .. Eamon did you look upwards and see Declan the Donplayer looking down on you"

So we agreed that each week for the foreseeable future I would spot him 10% and the winner gets a pint. Anyone who does not post a score loses that week. The secret is Declan only goes past 19 boards when he has a good head of steam up.
Meanwhile we also have Shane Maxwell another bridge learner. Shane has visited Malahide Regional Bridge Club twice and does not believe in playing in the novice game .. or inter B game ..
Its straight in there with anything from 50 years experience downwards.
A few weeks ago Shane came to Malahide and got a bad trimming ...
I asked him .."Well how do you feel now " ... "I feel embarrassed " replies Shane ..

On the way home .. I asked him .. "Is there anything I can do for you from a bridge point of view"
Shane said nothing ... .

Nearing his home I asked again ..
Shane replies .. "There is actually .. Could you write out what my upbids mean ... "
Upbids says I ????

Turned out that in his world an upbid was a single raise or a double raise ...
like 1H P 2H .. or 1H P 3H ...

So next morning I duly emailed Shane a pdf of a bidding system ...

Going back a little ... I taught Shane bridge in 15 minutes one night when he had a few beers on and now he has progressed to being able to play in some kind of way.
Last year I ran into Shane in the local beer club and we were discussing bridge and I was very confused by what he was saying.
Eventually I figured it out.

Way back on the night I taught Shane I told him about GAME bid bonuses ...but I only got as far as the 3NT or else he missed the 4H 4S ..5C 5D part ...
Shane was playing bridge for 2 years online thinking the 3 Level was game bid in every suit ..
ala 3NT is game ... It was quite a revelation for both of us ..

Last week I met Shane again ... and he was talking about handicap points in bridge ...
I was totally lost again ...... A few days later I worked it out ...

HCP..... he understood it as HANDICAP POINTS ...he is a golfer ...
He knew it was 4321 for Ace King Queen Jack ...but nobody ever mentioned


Shane scores regularly on http://bridge-now.com   in the 39% to 49% range
He is not up with Declan the Donplayer yet but he also loves the game.
So there you have it ... part of my life on the bridge periphery .. .

Shortly I am off to Malahide to demonstrate the dealing machine .... 10 people claim it does not work.  Last night I dealt two sets of 30 deals in 10 minutes each. The black clouds hovered over me but gradually they softened and turned white..

Dealing machine 1100 from http://www.jannersten.com/
is going like a bullet train ... sometimes the cards come out so fast they fly out the end of the machine. Several folk are doubtful if the machine is fit for purpose.
Galligan sits down and the motors start whirring and the cards fly into the card holders ...

The dark  clouds slowly turn a white shade of pale.

We also have a brand new Mark 5 machine and it also deals like a dream in Galligans hands but sometimes it pulls through 2 cards. However I think it needs some deeper thought.
Maybe there is more to this issue. Could someone be licking the cards or putting shaving cream on them.

Strangely enough Eamon Galligan and Tom Gilligan can work it fine ..

Anyway my robin is outside looking for some crumbs .... soon the squirrel will appear on the window looking for fruit or nuts

Its all go in Swords ..

UPDATE on Dealing machines ...

Mark 5 machine would only deal 1 card if any at all so it needed some tender care and attention.
Eventually it was persuaded to deal a few boards in a row. However it is now in the washing machine on a spin cycle. I need to learn how to clean it. I will get it back to the way it was when I took it out of the box brand new. However Andrew is not sure about the design.

I think it just needs a good cleaning and some daily maintenance.

Machine 1100 is still going like a rocket ..
Andrew dealt some boards this morning for Friday night .. He remains to be convinced though.
Andrew works on the statistics ..10 people cannot be wrong and 1 person right. The saga continues but the boards keep getting dealt.

by Eamon Galligan (noreply@blogger.com) at December 06, 2017 04:39 PM

December 05, 2017

Peg Kaplan

Holiday Sectional Results



Since your intrepid webmaster was in San Diego during the Holiday Sectional, I was unable to photograph those who enjoyed the first weekend in December tourney. Fortunately, however, at last year's same event, I did capture a shot of this year's #1 masterpoint earner - Kerry Holloway. As is often the case, this talented player and devoted volunteer managed to play with a wide array of partners and do very well! Kerry's 24.65 masterpoints earned bested the rest of the field; Steve Gaynor and Jean Boettcher were close behind with matching 22.98's. The list of masterpoint winners is here; results from each event here.

And - a special mention to Paolo Ranaldi and Tony Ames.  This duo managed to produce over 72% in Sunday's Open Pairs!  VWD!

Thanks to Chair Elaine Barr, all her volunteers and the directing staff for a fine December tourney!

by Peg at December 05, 2017 01:57 AM

December 01, 2017

Judy Kay-Wolff

Where Do We Go From Here?

Being absent from non-local NABCs for several years, I have not kept abreast of the gradual changes with which bridge loving devotees have been facing. Sadly, many long-time friends have passed on… with fewer on the horizon to keep the game going. Where does the ACBL expect to find their replacements? I know it is beating an extremely dead horse, but without introduction of our game into our school curricula, forget it!!!! It will gradually die out.

Add to that: Exorbitant hotel fees (often PLUS parking), air travel delays because of necessary/mandatory security checks and… what I just spotted: Entry fees for all major events of $25.00 per person. Thus, if couples play either together or with others in major events for the entire tournament… the card fees could total close to a thousand bucks. It matters not to wealthy sponsors… but how about the loyal average income bridge devotees who have been attending year after year? How can it not take its toll on their bottom line! Soon NABC attendance will be unaffordable.

Where is all of this money going, I ask you???

P. S. On another topic, there is so much talk about Slow Play… not taking into consideration, we are dealing with an aging population with gradually failing memories or who are, of necessity, on many meds. Perhaps, a new event should be introduced… The Senile Pairs.

by Judy Kay-Wolff at December 01, 2017 09:11 PM

Peg Kaplan

Blue Ribbon Winners - Grue & Greco



No matter how many years pass, Joe Grue will always be the Twin Cities "home town" champion.  Many of us realized shortly after this young boy began to play, that he rated to be a super star.  Predictions definitely came true!

Though only in his mid-thirties, Joe has already amassed quite the amazing resume.  Last night in San Diego?  The list of triumphs became even more impressive with a Blue Ribbon Pairs win with partner Eric Greco. Joe's regular partner, Brad Moss, finished a very close third in this 6 session, super tough event.

Coming on the heels of an incredibly thrilling Bermuda Bowl win, over and over, Joe proves that he is among the most elite in the world. All of us in Minnesota are so proud of you, Joe - and thrilled for your latest win with Eric!


by Peg at December 01, 2017 04:27 PM

November 29, 2017

Peg Kaplan

Congratulations & Trophies!


If you needed more incentive to attend the Holiday Tournament this weekend - here you go!  Trophies for these players .... Kerry Holloway, co-chairman for the MN State Tournament has the excellent details!

Thanks again for coming out to the MN State Tournament last month. We promised a trophy to the top masterpoint winner in the 0-300 bracket.  Our I/N trophy winner for 2017 is ... we have a tie!  Congratulations to Joseph Dixon and Scott Eller. 

Your trophies, 1 for each, will be available at the Holiday Tournament this weekend.

The top ten:

8.21  Joseph Dixon, Minneapolis, MN
8.21  Scott Eller, Minneapolis, MN
6.54  Steve Bohnenblust, Mound, MN
6.33  Cynthia Schield, Prescott, WI
6.24  Susan Knauss, Rockville, MN
6.24  Roger Knauss, Rockville, MN
5.30  Julianne Holt, Edina, MN
5.03  Alexander Friedan, Brookline, MA
5.03  Thomas Scruggs, Berkeley, CA
4.83  Mark McGree, Bloomington, MN

by Peg at November 29, 2017 05:15 PM

Nominations are Open!



Do you have interest in serving on Unit 178's Board?  Then your time to act is now!

Nominations are open for three Unit 178 board members.  Terms are for 4 years, and commence on July 1, 2018.

If you think you might be the right person to serve 178, then please contact any current board member or linda.brammer@yahoo.com

Linda Brammer

President, Unit 178



by Peg at November 29, 2017 04:21 PM

Holiday Sectional



While some of Minnesota's players are competing in sunny San Diego, plenty of fun is available back home!

December 1-3, The Bridge Center of St. Paul hosts their Holiday Sectional.

Whether you're one of our seasoned experts or an up and coming I/N player, enjoy the season, the hospitality and events at this fun winter event!

The flyer is here; check it out!

by Peg at November 29, 2017 02:00 PM

November 28, 2017

Paul Gipson

Awkward decisions

Alan, Anne, Brian, and I started our defence of the East District Pivot teams last night with a comfortable win over another Edinburgh team. Aside from Alan and Brian bidding a slam that needed a 3-2 trump break (or some 4-1s) our opponents struggled to score.

Alan earned us a game swing in the final set:

It was a controlled auction. Some would have bid three no trump on my hand at some point, but the defence would have easily defeated this. I was prepared to pass four clubs over three spades, but clearly had no choice over four hearts.

East, very reasonably on the auction, led the ace of spades and now the contract was makeable as long as Alan guessed the hearts. When East continued with a low heart, this proved simple and he made eleven tricks.

The auction started the same way at the other table but Anne pre-empted with three spades, instead of just raising to two. South showed a little inexperience by passing this out, when perhaps three no trump looks more attractive, but they were always losing on the board.

There was some debate afterwards on what action I should have taken on this hand:

What takes your fancy? Double is penalties, two clubs shows both majors, two no trump is minors or game-forcing two suiter?

I guess the quarter-final will be in January.

In foreign news, I see that Mike Bell and David Gold, along with  Richie SCHWARTZ, Diyan Danailov, and Jerry Stamatov won the Mitchell Open BAM in San Diego. At least they can relax at Xmas and not have to ask Santa for a national title to catch up with their better halves. Well done to all the team!

by Paul Gipson (noreply@blogger.com) at November 28, 2017 09:49 AM

November 27, 2017

Judy Kay-Wolff

A Bridge Treasure!

Being on the scene for generations and content with a delightful choice of residence in Las Vegas twelve years ago, we do little traveling. However, though we now only attend local Sectionals and Regionals (and play together weekly/with no divorce proceedings in view), we have far from lost touch with the overall bridge happenings. And, of course, Bobby is active a great part of each day with his Internet Aces on Bridge Column, courtesy of Masterpoint Press.

When the San Diego NABC surfaced, I immediately went to my Ipad to check out the schedules on BBO where I can relax in bed and savor every moment. When I tried to turn it on, I went absolutely ballistic as I noted my BBO App had disappeared! After contacting their support center, I was instructed how to resurrect it. Something I did, no doubt, to trigger the problem. Just turned it on… and I am ecstatic!

I have stated this before on my blogsite, but I must reiterate I feel Bridge Base Online is undoubtedly the greatest contribution to modern universal bridge togetherness. We appreciate all the work entailed. THANK YOU FRED!

by Judy Kay-Wolff at November 27, 2017 11:03 PM

November 22, 2017

Paul Gipson

Consolation win

It was the last match of the BBO InterCity League and we faced Zadar from Croatia. Abi and Sheila, preparing for the women's trials, were at one table with Gints and I partnering up for the first time at the other.

It was clear that we were not a practised partnership when board six hit the table:

Looking at it now it is not the easiest hand. If I was sure that Gints held six spades, then I could cue bid four diamonds but four clubs was safe enough. But over four diamonds I was a little fixed and ended up deciding to settle for a small slam, but Gints had far more faith in me and bid the grand.

Abi and Sheila showed a lot more control when they were up at the plate:

A nicely controlled auction to the grand.

The choice of overcall made a big difference later in the day:

Sheila's overcall worked out very well in the sense that South became conservative and only made a single raise. They finished in an excellent contract that did not need the club finesse but made ten tricks when it was on.

At our table East chose a two diamonds overcall, allowing Gint's to bid to game pre-emptively. West should have doubled this and the overcall would have been a success, but luckily she did not.

This is the end of the season for us as we failed to make the knockout stages of the event. The team has been very easy to manage and I'd like to thank everyone who has played. Hopefully we'll be back in the spring.

by Paul Gipson (noreply@blogger.com) at November 22, 2017 10:09 PM

Back in the prime position

Another night out with LotG playing in the club teams' championship with Ros and Janet and we gained a huge win to push into the leading spot with four evenings left to play.

Only half the field bid the game on the following hand, just to show what difficulty the weak no trump can prove to club players. I also had some ethical considerations.

When LotG hesitated over three clubs, it was not clear that she had values as it was most likely that she was thinking what my double meant as we've never discussed this (later it transpired that she thinks it is take out of clubs, whereas I thought it was just penalty of one no trump).

I was happy that my double of three clubs was take out and over three diamonds I bid a conservative three spades, but LotG had plenty to spare for her raise. Eleven tricks.

The vagaries of club bridge were shown on the following board where we were the only North-South pair to play in spades, everyone else playing a heart contract at the two-, three-, or four-level.

West's decision to show his balanced hand and point count, ignoring his four-card spade suit, will be strange to many viewers but it is a trait I've seen at the club. They were not playing Flannery, as some readers might be tempted to suggest.

Even where West bids one spade, an experienced partnership like us would just bid two spades on the North hand because we know it is natural. I think it is fair to say that most people in the club would be unsure. According to Deep Finesse I cannot make four spades even when I know West has four, so I was happy enough to go down one. Ros and Janet were in two hearts making eleven tricks, so we gained three imps.

But I am amazed by how many North players remained quiet.

We will be back for the Scott Cup again in the new year. Yes, I really said that!

by Paul Gipson (noreply@blogger.com) at November 22, 2017 03:27 PM

November 17, 2017

Peg Kaplan

I Dream of Two Suiters



Rich Newell, one of Des Moines' top players, shared a fun article about two suiters with us. Thanks, Rich - and - enjoy, those of you who crave distributional monsters!



by Rich Newell


One of my best partners during the Minnesota phase of my bridge habit was a Canadian named Scott Martin who, sadly, died in his mid 40’s.  Anyone who knows me knows I crave 70% games (I have had 3 of them).  For Scott, the dream was being dealt 13 cards in two suits, something I don’t think he ever experienced. 

Well this fall 2-suiters have been running amok in my life.  On October 21 I was with Toby White at a sectional in Omaha and was dealt this hand:

ME                              TOBY

♠ -                                ♠ J73

♥ AKQ7654               ♥ 9

♦ QJT765                   ♦ 984

♣ -                               ♣ KJT975

Unfortunately the opponents were bold enough to bid to the level of 5♠ which makes, so my 6♥ sacrifice was only due to result in an average board.  I got a 4-1 trump split and Toby didn’t provide any assistance with the diamond suit.  Even more unfortunate, the shock of the hand caused me to lose track of the trump situation and I went down an extra trick for a near zero.

Then on November 7 I found myself in the Los Angeles area at a seminar.  I picked up a partner at the Beverly Hills Bridge Club and this occurred:

ME                              PARTNER

♠ -                                ♠ ??????

♥ -                               ♥ ??

♦ AJT9xxxx                ♦ Kxx

♣ AKJ9x                     ♣ Qx

The auction started 1♦ by me, 1NT by LHO, 2♠ by partner.  Now I bid a timid 3♣ which was about to end the auction until RHO chimed in 3♥.  Now 4♦ by me, 4♥ by LHO, 5♦ by me, and 5♥ by RHO to end the auction.  I really didn’t think I had too much defense although I probably should have doubled out of principle since partner made a free bid and RHO procrastinated.

Dummy came down:

♠ AKTx                                  

♥ AQxx                                  

♦ Q                 

♣ Txxx                       

I turned to LHO and inquired why she didn’t make a takeout double over 1♦?  Well she was clearly a beginner who was not well versed in doubles, so she bid 1NT to show her 15 HCP.  Declarer had six hearts and two queens to her name, going down two and scoring a top board.  I was quite dumbfounded by the turn of events.


The trifecta just arrived today, November 14.  This hand was in a BBO ACBL matchpoint game and was much kinder to me:

ME                              BOT (CHO)

♠ AKQJ65                  ♠ -

♥ AKJ8753                ♥ Q92

♦ -                                ♦ JT754

♣ -                               ♣ QJ985

The bot in front of me opened 1♦ making my task simple enough.  I bid 2♦, partner bid 2♥, and I raised to 7♥ which scored 86%: 4 people tied this result, 11 weren’t in a grand, and 2 didn’t ruff out a spade and went down.




The probability of getting all 13 of your cards from 26 particular cards in the deck is:

26C13 / 52C13 = 1 in 61,055

But this would be for a specific situation like hearts and spades.  As there are 4C2 = 6 ways to choose which two suits your cards will come from, it becomes 

6 x 26C13 / 52C13 = 1 in 10,176.

If you play one game of 26 hands of bridge every week, you would expect to be dealt one 2-suiter every 7 ½ years.  It’s quite amazing that I was dealt three of them in less than a month.   

by Peg at November 17, 2017 02:32 PM

November 16, 2017

Peg Kaplan

Smile! And - Support Bridge!


Minnesota Bridge Education joined the Amazon Smile family of charities. Since then, we have earned $94.69, an amount about equal to the cost of 12 bidding boxes for the new U of M bridge club, one of our charity's main benefactors.
Every contribution helps us work toward our goal of bringing new players to this great game!
To help us earn more Amazon Smile dollars, simple select our charity when you shop at Amazon through the Amazon Smile site (There is no price difference when using Smile vs non Smile). 
To learn more about MN Bridge Education, check out the link on the left hand side to our Article or Incorporation or contact Sue Jackson at sjackson@smumn.edu
Thank you - and - thanks for supporting bridge!

by Peg at November 16, 2017 05:50 PM

November 15, 2017

Paul Gipson

Still unsuccessful

It has not been our best season in the InterCity League. I think it's mainly because we are a very young team (author excepted) and everyone else seems to be taking it a lot more seriously.

I played this week with Ronan. We had a couple of non-costly misunderstandings in complex auctions but otherwise just got the odd hand wrong.

But Ronan showed some initiative on this hand:

Not everyone would find Ronan's raise but this proved a very successful strategy. In the other room my hand did not open and this allowed Johanna and Aleksis to compete to three spades and then let the opposition bid minors, ending in five clubs making nine tricks for +11 imps.

Ronan had an interesting decision to make on board 13:

So partner has shown a minimum weak two in spades. What do you call now?

Losing twenty imps in the final two boards made the result look a lot worse than it felt. We had opportunities by just failed to take them as the opponents swung to a 17-50 imps win.

Final match is next week.

by Paul Gipson (noreply@blogger.com) at November 15, 2017 09:51 PM

November 14, 2017

Jennifer Jones

Still using LTC

News Flash! I will be giving a talk on Losing Trick Count at the upcoming Fall North American Bridge Championship in San Diego. My time slot is Fri., Dec. 1 at 9:15 a.m. If you're at the nationals, stop by and say hello!

I never get tired of writing about losing trick count. Here's a hand I held recently at the club.  With no one vul., I dealt and opened 1♠.


LHO overcalled 2 and partner jumped to 3♠, preemptive.  RHO bid 4 and it was my bid.

Although partner has shown a weak hand, now that we have a known fit, I can confidently employ losing trick count.  This will enable me to properly evaluate my hand in order to decide what to do.

Although my hand has only 13 high card points, it is actually a fairly powerful hand distributionally, and has only 5 losers (4 1/2 adjusting for aces).   Partner will have 9 or more losers.  With 8 losers he would have invited game.   All things considered, it looks like 4♠ has a good chance of making, so I bid it.



Curiously, the ace of clubs is led, followed by a diamond shift.  It is a good bet that the ace of clubs is singleton and the opening leader is trying for a ruff.  After winning the K, I come to my hand with a spade and pitch a club on the A.  I exit with a club, LHO showing out and RHO winning.  RHO now returns a trump and trumps are 2-2.  I cross-ruff the hand and the long club in my hand is my 10th trick (7 trumps, 2 diamonds and 1 club).

I was a bit surprised to see that plus 420 was a tie for top.  Looking into the matter, I learned that only 1/3 of the field bid 4♠.  The use of losing trick count principles should make bidding the spade game relatively easy despite having only 18 high card points between the two hands.

As Ron Smith (well known bridge pro...:-) points out in his blog regarding my losing trick count booklets: "I'm glad Jenn is doing what what she is doing. Point count has been done forever but it only works on balanced hands. When you have distributional hands, point count doesn't work. I evaluate using Losing Trick Count in almost every hand."

See you at the table!

by Jennifer Jones (noreply@blogger.com) at November 14, 2017 04:02 AM

November 12, 2017

Peg Kaplan

Tuesday At Carleton Bridge Club



Recently, your intrepid webmaster headed south to Carleton College to kibitz and chat with members of the Carleton Bridge Club.  Great to see smiles from students as they headed into the lion's den to compete against one another.




Some faces were familiar; some new.  And after watching for a bit, not difficult to determine that some students had been studying, learning and playing for some time; others were just sticking their toes into the "bridge pool."




Irrespective of their knowledge base, however, all the players were having a great time!



We were thrilled to see some of the students at our Autumn Sectional in Oakdale - with one pair achieving first in their flight!  Alexander Frieden (Carlton Bridge Club President) and Thomas Scruggs placed 8th in Flight A, 4th in Flight B and FIRST in Flight C with an almost 59% game!

Alexander Frieden, Brookline MA; Thomas Scruggs, Berkeley CA 58.94%




Last night, two teams of Carleton students entered the Minneapolis Grand Slam Club Swiss Team event! 




And - they are having a blast! 

Bridge is challenging, intriguing, infinitely interesting - and - FUN!

by Peg at November 12, 2017 12:59 AM

November 10, 2017

Peg Kaplan

Autumn Harvest Sectional Results

Golf snow


The Autumn Harvest Sectional, held at the Oak Marsh Golf Club, had autumn views the first day. But - come Friday - "Mid Winter" appeared a more appropriate description!  Fortunately, however, the elements did not prevent a huge number of players coming out to compete!  Tournament Co-Chairs Kerry Holloway and Keith Thompson not only found a fine location last minute when the originally scheduled place was no longer available, they and their volunteers organized a sectional that many enjoyed tremendously.  In just 3 days, 279 players attended, and we had 258 tables of bridge players!

Of course, bridge players always want to know "how did those competitors do?" and we have the answers for you. At the top of the masterpoint list, we find two well known names:  Tony Ames and Paolo Ranaldi. This partnership earned an impressive 34.61 masterpoints, with the partnership of Carole Miner and John Koch next in line with 28.01. Special recognition to Kerry Holloway, who somehow managed to work long hours every day and yet rack up 24.20.  The masterpoint list can be found here; results for each event are here.




For those of us hoping for a strong new generation of players, the sectional provided this tidbit of news. Carleton Bridge Club members, President Alexander Frieden and partner Thomas Scruggs, scored almost 59% in the open pairs, first in Flight C. We look forward to more and more of our juniors players to competing in tournaments and were delighted to have them!

And now - a report from Co-Chairs Kerry and Keith.  Big thanks to them - along with all the other people who delivered a winter wonderland of an autumn sectional!


A huge thank you to all the players who attended the MN Fall Autumn Harvest Sectional. Without players the tournament would be like a yacht without a breeze. 
We planned for 170 tables and hoped for 200. A total of 258 showed up! With a nice turnout, it is easier to provide some measure of hospitality. 
Another thank you goes to our tournament directors Kim Hayward and Brian Weikle, who did a great job handling the extra tables. A third thank you to our volunteers, Maureen Weiman, Carrie Kaplan, and Sandy Nelson. 
Finally, watch this space in one week for an announcement of the I/N trophy winners.
Please come play again next year. 

Kerry Holloway
Keith Thompson
Tournament Cochairs

by Peg at November 10, 2017 10:53 PM

November 08, 2017

Paul Gipson

A tough match

Aleksis, Johanna, Botond, and Ronan faced a tough task in our latest BBO InterCity League match. The Connacht team featured four of the team that just won the Irish Camrose trials and will be the CBAI team in the Camrose next January.

The Irish quickly showed that they are playing well and in luck. They flew into a good slam, where even holding KQxx opposite a singleton was not enough to stop them, and then made a thin non-vulnerable game when our defence was not perfect. I'd told the team beforehand that they would bid a lot!

Their highly aggressive style worked extremely well on these deals. However Aleksis and Jo showed they could bid aggressively too:

I was a little worried that they were not fully in control, but Jo's final call gets better the more I think about. With friendly breaks Aleksis played it confidently to win 13 imps.

Then a decision for Botond. What do you call in the auction:

Botond made a reasonable but unsuccessful decision.

Overall the Irish proved too experienced for our team, creating problems that they failed to solve and generally being the team on the front foot. It was no surprise that we lost 29-66 imps but I was impressed by our resilience.

Next up is Lucca, Italy.

by Paul Gipson (noreply@blogger.com) at November 08, 2017 10:11 PM

November 05, 2017

Eamon Galligan

Bridgez is a good practice website


Ye could do worse than playing the 16 board daily Bridgez tournament. Several well known Irish players partake from time to time. you get a monthly rating and various reports.

I got some good boards today. 

Meanwhile up in Donegal former Donegal bridge star almost won the Donegal Congress Teams.
Results on 

by Eamon Galligan (noreply@blogger.com) at November 05, 2017 10:51 PM

November 02, 2017

Peg Kaplan

Al Malmon - 1929-2017

Al malmon


We regret to report that another of our "old guard" players has passed away.  Al Malmon, of Minnetonka, was often found both at duplicate and rubber bridge tables, and more often than not, quite successful at both.

Our thanks to Kerry Holloway and Ron DeHarpporte for sharing thoughts of Al.  

I remember Al Malmon. Forty years ago I would often see Al at a Bridge tournament, most often partnered by David Clarren. They invariably scored back-to-back 60% games. 
Twenty years later he would occasionally substitute in the 5 cent rubber bridge games hosted by David or Joe Rice.  On a couple sunny days, Joe Rice and Jim Hall would meet Al and me at the Oak Ridge Country Club for a round of golf and a few hours of Bridge.
Al was always very polite, competitive, and garrulous. Never was there a lull in the conversation when Al was around.
I knew Al well and did some non bridge related business with him.  He had a reputation for high ethics in both
the business world and at the bridge table.  
Al usually played with Dave Clarren who was, by most people’s thinking, the best player in the area during those years.

by Peg at November 02, 2017 01:41 PM

November 01, 2017

Paul Gipson

Getting closer

We expanded our InterCity League team to include two Estonian friends, Aleksis and Jo. They've played with and against the Scottish juniors in real life tournaments in Finland and The Netherlands, and frequently on BBO, so I had no qualms asking them to play for us.

We were playing a Croatian team, Dubrovnik Smart. They started well, bidding two games that we doubled and found we could not beat: in both cases the doubles did not cost much since the games were not bid at the other table; to be fair, they should have beaten one of the games rather than bid it!

I thought the team did very well later in the match:

Liam sensibly led a top diamond and they managed to take their four top tricks.

I prefer Jo's choice of opening bid (and they had similar choice in both rooms) but I think leading a heart was a clear mistake. It was unlucky that it was so costly for our opponents.

I thought the team played well but in the end we lost by 41-45 IMP.  Next week we play the Irish team from Connault.

by Paul Gipson (noreply@blogger.com) at November 01, 2017 09:39 PM

Peg Kaplan

Grand National Teams 2017-2018



The season for Grand National Competition has begun! Compete locally in clubs to become eligible - then head to Edina, MN the weekend of May 5th & 6th for the District 14 finals. Teams winning in Flights A, B and C will earn a subsidized trip to the 2018 Summer NABC in Atlanta!

District 14 GNT Coordinator Mike Cassel has flyers about the event below. Don't miss this great opportunity to battled against your peers from across ACBL-land next summer!

Download D14GNTMay2018flyer

Download GNTpromo17-18player

by Peg at November 01, 2017 12:30 PM

October 31, 2017

Peg Kaplan

MN State Autumn Harvest Sectional



Enjoy the beauty of Oak Marsh Golf Club as autumn ends - and compete in the MN State Autumn Harvest Sectional!

Our tournament begins Thursday, November 2, concluding on Saturday, November 4th. Enjoy free coffee, free parking - and great events each of these three days.

The Autumn Harvest flyer is below. We look forward to seeing you!







by Peg at October 31, 2017 11:47 AM

October 30, 2017

Eamon Galligan


The 6 man Coyne squad of Gay Keaveney Pat McDevitt Ciaran Coyne Peter Goodman Enda Glynn and David Walsh took the first and only prize in the Camrose Trials this weekend.

I think the prizes are a weekend in Belfast and another weekend in Gormanstown.

I might be playing the hands later in the year against my Jack robots to see if I can beat the Coyne team. However first I have to finish winning the Lady Milne trials. I am only in 7th place after 30 boards of the 150.

Congratulations to the Coyne team on their victory. We did tip them or Fitzgibbon as the winners
and we did indicate the 4 man team might struggle with stamina. A 6 man team gives the pairs a chance for a break and a chance to mentally refresh.

The Coyne weekend looked like a well planned operation. Play 2 sets and sitout. Then play 2 more and sitout and so on for all 3 pairs. The Keavney McDevitt pairing contributed 2.2 imps a board for the final 24 board match ...a decent run rate.

I notice the Phelan yacht went backwards fast as they moved into rougher waters after a fair  weather start. The bigger boats of the top end of the draw caused larger wash on Lake Templogue surface.

As a player who managed to gain entry to his first trials on a holding of 9 B points when Derek Stokes was retired from directing the trials. He offered me a chance to play and had enough B points for the 2 of us to gain entry. We placed 2nd last of a field of about 22 pairs. However the experience moved  me forward in bridge very quickly. I expect the same to happen for several of the newer Camrose trialists if they put in the work. You cannot pretend to be a bridge player.

An Inter B player from Malahide recently posed me a question

"Is Adam Mesbur any good at bridge "

He indicated that their paths crossed in a work related environment many years ago.

I indicated "good" would hardly describe it ... some other word several levels above ...

by Eamon Galligan (noreply@blogger.com) at October 30, 2017 09:41 PM

Camrose Trials 2017 Match 8.5

Meanwhile out in Templogue a shocked Fitgibbon quartet have started well in the 2nd stanza. Eamon sits here in Swords playing the daily Wbridge5 tournament.


Boards 4 and 5 yielded me a 95% and a 96% scores. This can also happen any pair in the Camrose Trials if the boards contain the imps and the pair contains the skills and knowledge.

Anyone want to take up the Daily Challenge on the above website. You can challenge legendary Army bridge player Elvis or top Northern Ireland star MrT2000 or the more ordinary eamongall.

Anyway back to http://fob.ie for the end of Match 8.

Fitzgibbon is on the move but running out of boards and still trailing by 2 imps to the SouthEast Warriors. However they have climbed back into 2nd place. However Coyne is still holding Onishuk at bay.
With 2 boards to go on Match 8 Coyne has reeled Onishuk in and its a draw. This means Coyne has also probably seen off all challengers. Mind you I think Coyne has still to play the rampaging O'Gorman squad who have as expected and mentioned in a previous issue of this blog come on strong.
Nah I got that wrong ....

The final round is Coyne v Ekman .. Fitzgibbon v Elvin .. Onishuk v O'Gorman
MacCormac plays Doyle and Phelan plays Donnelly in dead rubber matches.
An unlikely loss for Coyne and a large win for O'Gornan ..could see the rankings change.
Fitzgibbon also needs a large win after getting ambushed for a winning draw by Doyle.

However the Ekman team does not have the killer instinct required to trouble the vastly experienced Coyne team. The mainly Connacht based squad has recently signed up honorary Leitrim man Peter Goodman to the squad. They also managed to distract David Walsh from one of his other loves

He repairs and sells technology for Galway area geeks and ordinary folk who still use laptops like me in between the odd game of bridge.

by Eamon Galligan (noreply@blogger.com) at October 30, 2017 01:36 PM

Camrose Trials 2017 after Match 7 of 9

The final day of the Camrose Trials 2017 has just started. The main matches of Round 8 are Coyne versus Onishuk and a side order of Fitzgibbon versus Doyle. Fitzgibbon and Onishuk both need to score heavy in this match to reel in Coyne. However Coyne is a 6 player squad and their lowest scoring pair upped their run rate considerably yesterday. Strangely Onishuk have started the bumbling KK pair. Kelan volunteered a full VP of slow play on his partner in Match 7 allied to a 2 VP penalty for his phone going off during play. Phone are meant to be visible and turned off while bridge is in play. This is currently the biggest rule in trials bridge at the moment. Boland and McAulliffe have been playing very well for Team Onishuk but Kelan Karel have put in lots of work over the last few years. However they failed to fire in the recent Jim Cahill Premier Pairs held in October.
Meanwhile the unheralded and struggling South East team of Jim Doyle has jumped out to an unexpected  22-1 lead after 4 boards against the powerful Fitzgibbon team. All this points to Team Coyne placing first and being selected for the party in Gormanston in March.
However the Onishuk Clifford pair have a good scoring rate of 0.6 imps a board if they appear in the 2nd half.
Update after about  8 boards of Match 8

The South East Warriors have increased their lead against Fitgibbon to 30-3. This is a strange position for Team Doyle who have averaged less than 2.5 VPs per match so far. However its going to require a large turnaround for Fitzzgibbon to get back in contention. However there is no better pair in Ireland then Fitzgibbon Mesbur to grind down the opponents. These two players have enormous bridge skills and experience. Allied to the incredible ability of BJ O'Brien to find rabbits in hats and the solid if boring bridge of Ranald Milne one expects a comeback but we are now down to 16 boards to save the trials. After 9 boards Doyle has stretched the lead to 35-3. The outlier is here to sing it seems. Eventually Fitzgibbon runs out of boards. Only 16 boards left and 32 imps in the bin.

Meanwhile Onishuk is doing the business against Coyne and is within 5 VPS at this stage in the direct match.

A further but unlikely scenario is that Fearghal or someone unwittingly swopped the bridgemate.

Running scores at http://fob.ie
On a another item completely I took delivery of a new Mark V dealing machine for Malahide Regional Bridge Club, It looks like a cross between a Dealer4 and a Duplimate machine.
Declan Murray will love this one. We were using an early model of Duplimate for the last few weeks and it started to come into its own in the last week or so once we learned its strange ways.
I think the Mark V has a camera instead of a barcode reader but I only had a cursory glance.
Meanwhile I spotted a nice piece of software from Poland ..

http://bcalc.w8.pl/   a fine piece of kit for a nerd bridge player.

The programmer Piotr Beling even responded positively to my suggestion that his software could do with some PBN output script. After examining his output I guess I can make a script myself to create PBN files but Piotr indicated the next release might have PBN.

by Eamon Galligan (noreply@blogger.com) at October 30, 2017 11:17 AM

October 28, 2017

Eamon Galligan

Camrose Trials 2017 Half-time review

In the 2017 renewal of the Camrose Trials Onishuk powered by winning performances by Boland McAuliffe and Onishuk Clifford lead at the half-way point. Their 3rd pair Kelan/Karel have found the boards unsuitable so far.
Meanwhile Team Phelan is going well due to a powerful 0.69 imps per board from the Phelan household. One might note the presence of 6NT-1 on a hand that looks cold especially on the Club to Ace lead versus the Elvin team. However this is only 0.1 of the score. There is still 0.59 per board on
the rest of the boards. I better not play that pair for money. However they are going to need some pick up from their team mates to win the event. However the Phelan squad have been here before.

Team Coyne is also powering along with their top 2 pairs near 0.5 imps a board and their 3rd pair of Keaveney McDevitt is average so far.

Team Fitzgibbon powered by a surprising  0.55 imps per board collection from Ranald Milne and BJ O'Brien allied to the expected steady 0.3 imps per board of Nick and Adam are sitting comfortably in 3rd place. A small worry is what appears to be 2 time penalties of 0.5 VPs against presumably the more thoughtful side of the team. They shared the penalty with their opponents.

The Donnelly team made up of what appears to be most of the probably Junior Camrose team are motoring along in 5th place and well in contention. Synnott is past Junior Camrose age I think and I don't know about Gormally.

Team O'Gorman is strolling along at average pace in 6th place and that level of performance is not going to win the event. Still having to play 1st 3rd and 4th places so a decent pick up in performance could see them compete for the prize.

Further down Gilliland Whelan are finding the going tough but with team mates Connor and Doyle also below average nothing is being lost and good experience is being gained by all.

The Elvin team backboned by the elegant bridge player that is Peter Pigot and the "Art of Declarer Play" author Justin Corfield has struggled thru the first half. The arrival of Holland Cotter might help but that means either of the aforementioned elegant players are on the bench.

Ekman has suffered 2 heavy losses and two small wins don't make up for that. Both pairs are leaking 0,5 imps a board so are not going to win many matches.

The final team of MacCormac are struggling despite a Friday cameo by the well known chess player Paul Delaney. Delaney also owns some National Bridge titles. The 2 MacCormac pairs are underperforming compared to their normal level. I might challenge MacCormac mcMaugh to a money game at this rate.

All information is published on the Fearghal O'Boyle website. Last year while directing in Ballinasloe someone asked me if I was FOB.ie ..

The Trials continue in Templeogue Bridge Centre on Sunday and Monday.
Spectators are welcome.

has all the information and running scores ..

by Eamon Galligan (noreply@blogger.com) at October 28, 2017 08:28 PM

October 27, 2017

Eamon Galligan

Camrose Trials Weekend

Today I noticed that the Camrose Trials are taking place for the 2nd Ireland Team in the 2018 Camrose Trophy. Team Moran is already pre-selected and I think that's a fair selection as they are playing well and working hard.
Now this weekends event looks like a good game of bridge.

I notice already that Wojech Gorchyca has morphed into Paul Delaney. Delaney is a pretty powerful player to bring in as a sub if such is the case. Delaney is also a sometime partner of Marcin. Maybe Delaney is on the team but just not listed on fob,ie.

So we have 10 teams in the battle ...I will rate the teams out of 1000 per team
I rated players on a sliding scale from 10 for the strongest players in the field down
to 1 for the least experienced.

1. Nick Fitzgibbon 775
2. Ciaran Coyne  733
3, Derek O'Gorman 600
4.Thomas McCormac 580
5,Anna Onishuk 575
6,Richard Elvin 517
7,John Phelan 425
8,Michael Donnelly 400
9.Stefan Ekman 325
10 Jim Doyle 225

So Eamon expects Coyne or Fitzgibbon to win but O'Gorman MacCormac or Onishuk could make
it if they perform to the best of their ability or if somehow they have added some recent bridge skills
thru training sessions. Fitzgibbon might suffer from Milne O'Brien stamina issues being a 4 man team. MacCormac seems to be using Paul Delaney along with his 4 named players.

I note the presence of 5 lady players in the event but only one in their regular lady partnership.
A leading Irish bridge columnist indicated the Jim Cahill Premier Pairs would have provided a good training session for the Lady Milne squad. Any Lady Milne squad pair could have entered Camrose Trials but there is only one pair. These Camrose Trials have most of the 12 Premier Pairs playing so is also a decent event.

Lets see how good my tipping is...

Live Camrose in running results are on

by Eamon Galligan (noreply@blogger.com) at October 27, 2017 06:08 PM

Sally Sparrow

Bridge on the stage

Hands held tight through thin and thick.

It takes thirteen tricks to make a hand,

And thirteen hands to do the trick.

On Tuesday afternoon I had the pleasure of attending a performance of Thirteen Hands, a play written by late Canadian author Carol Shields. It was directed by Claren Grosz and presented by the Alumnae Theatre Company in Toronto, impressively in their 100th year. This is a play about women, a play about memory, about connection – to ones friends and family throughout generations – and yes, you guessed it, a play about bridge.

When I say it’s a play about bridge, well, it doesn’t actually mention the word ‘bridge’ once. But from the very first lines of the play, when four women dressed in black and red introduce themselves as “east”, “north”, “south” and “west”, those of us in the audience who play the game felt our skin start to tingle. The opening scene is lively with the described action of a bridge game as the characters move around the stage. I immediately thought of all my bridge partners, my mother, and others I’ve shared a game with – I must tell them to come and see this play too!

The thirteen acts are a trip into the minds of several generations of women who meet weekly over a bridge game. The group is initially formed among company wives who feel they have nothing in common, but they quickly find connection, becoming support for each other throughout their lives. As daughters and finally granddaughters join the group, sometimes forced to fill in for missing or departed members, memories from the group are shared with new members. Main character Clara states, when questioned as to what the group discussed: “We talked about our mothers.”

Actors come and go, but always four players remain at the table, interchanging as the conversation flows. The actors do a wonderful job of representing shifting time periods, from the Twenties right up until this play was written in 1993. Costume changes and set design enhance the experience of the shifting time periods. The nine-women cast is brilliant, each of them playing their younger and older selves. Actress Sandi Globerman is compelling as Clara, who recollects her friends as she takes stock of her life: “You know, sitting there, the four of us, we were as close together as people can get.”

As Carol Shields states in her Playwright’s Note, “for many years I’ve been interested in the lives of women, particularly those lives that have gone unrecorded.” For me, this play was a homage to those women, but also to a game that brings people together to share memories and find connection. As a young person playing the game, so often I find a bridge to generations past, to those ‘lives unrecorded’, and that’s one of the best parts of the game for me.

“It was as if our brains were so busy, counting points, planning the next move, trying to guess what was in our partner’s head, and you know, we got so we could do just that, it was like a kind of enchantment — Oh, it was a strange thing, those cards slipping out of one hand into another.”

Thirteen Hands runs through Nov. 4, 2017 in Toronto. Tickets at www.alumnaetheatre.com.

by Sally Sparrow at October 27, 2017 03:26 PM

Eamon Galligan

Lady Milne Trials Match 5 and 6

Sometime in the last week I must have played Match 5 of the Lady Milne Trials.

Board 11 saw 15 hcp opposite 8 hcp and a 5-4 spade fit and a singleton in each hand.
However 4 pairs did not get to the unbeatable 4S. This allowed me 4 imps against the datum of 320.

Board 13 saw 1 pair Jeannie Fitzgerald and Emer Joyce arrive in a delicate 4-3 4H contract which had no beating. 4H 5C and A of diamonds. The rest of us generally hung out in 3NT or 5C going down.

Board 14 saw me leaving out 1NT to the East West robots. One pair on this 20-20 hand reached the incredible contract of 3NT... Pender McDonagh.. Down 3 only cost them 3 imps. I mean 16 opposite 4 ...how does one arrive in 3NT.

Board 15 saw my robot opps bid a reasonable 4S which had no play and went 3 off for 150.
One of the leading ladies pairs stopped off to double Whelan and O'Donovan in 2H and then allowed
the top score of 200 EW to slip away and lost 670 and 11 imps. Most pairs dropping a couple of tricks in 4S.

Board 16 I gained 7 imps when I persuaded my robots to languish in 3S with 13 opposite 13.
6 clubs was the top spot but 5C up 1 was enough to gain 5 imps on the field. 4S was good too.
However 3NT was hopeless but Cotter Kelly were allowed make it. 2 others attempted 3NT and went down.

Board 18 saw me gain 5 imps in making 120 in 1NT. Incredibly Joyce and Fitzgerald stole away with 10 tricks in 3NT when there is no play for it. 7 tricks double dummy and they are gone off with 10 tricks.

Board 19 saw me lose 5 imps to my robots making 5Ds which is cold despite missing the AK and trumps. One unfortunate pair attempted 6C and this was not a success missing the AK diamonds and suffering a diamond ruff to boot.

Board 21 was a painful hand for me. The robots rolled home an easy 12 tricks in 4H and I lost 6 imps on the field despite 13 tricks available. The whole thing depends on picking off a doubleton Heart Queen. However 3 pairs went light in the 4S contract.

Board 25 the robots allowed me away in 4S when most of the field went down as expected.
Sometimes robots are generous. However I losr imps several times on nothing boards.
Finally on board 28 came the moment I was waiting for. Holding AKJx of spades my robot opponents bid to 2S and my partner backed in with a double. 
I decided passing 2S was a little risky so bid 3H. 
The robots pushed on to 3S and I was able to drop the hammer.

1    10 Joan Kenny & Teresa Rigney                   82.98
  2     3 Dolores Gilliland & Sandra Newell            75.68
  3     6 Anna Onishuk & Lucy Phelan                   74.54
  4    14 Valerie Burke-Moran & Ann O'Connell          72.78
  5    11 Aoife Mac Hale & Antoinette McGee            68.68
  6    12 Cathy Bearpark & Liz Ann O'Reilly            68.01
  7    17 Jack & Eamon Galligan                        65.84
  8    15 Jeannie Fitzgerald & Emer Joyce              64.11
  9     9 Marian Croke & Catherine Lonergan            63.30
 10     2 Eileen O'Donovan & Maria Whelan              58.66
 11     7 Betty Cotter & Jean Kelly                    56.54
 12    18 Jacky & Jackie                               54.16
 13     5 Liz Taaffe & Kathleen Vaughan                53.74
 14     1 Jill Kulchycky & Avril Whelan                51.11
 15     8 Hilary McDonagh & Gilda Pender               48.06
 16     4 Louise Mitchell & Maureen Pattinson          46.94
 17    13 Bernie Lodewijks & Mary Stanley              38.87

Still only in 7th place but chasing hard as I have to reach the number 1 position.
Still 90 boards to go I think ..

by Eamon Galligan (noreply@blogger.com) at October 27, 2017 07:39 AM

October 25, 2017

Paul Gipson

Winning the battles

There were four big boards in our third InterCity League match against table-topping København (Denmark) and we were positive on these. Unfortunately winning these battles were not sufficient as we lost the match by 31-62 IMP, as a raft of smaller swings proved more important and costly.

So we'll focus on the big boards for a change!

When Alex showed clubs it seemed fairly clear to me to double. In the other room a couple of the players were a little more exuberant.

Unfortunately Glen was never leading a heart to easily beat this contract and notice how Stig Werdelin forced him to make the decision whether to duck the club at the first possible opportunity. Well played, but perhaps a fortunate 15 imps to the Danes.

We got things right two boards later:

Alex failed to double, failing to appreciate that both jacks were going to score. In the other room it was more of a case of who to believe in the auction.

Apparently the Scots were very believable and we gained 11 imps.

Then a hand that suited our methods.

I couldn't count thirteen tricks but it seemed like there would be plenty of chances. In the other room they played in three no trump and we gained 14 imps.

Our opponents did well to bid this thin game. I could have sacrificed but it looked like -300 at best and perhaps Alex had enough to beat the contract. In the other room, on a similar auction, West sold out to three spades and we lost nine imps.

We'll be back next Wednesday playing second-placed Connacht: almost a local derby!

by Paul Gipson (noreply@blogger.com) at October 25, 2017 10:14 PM

October 20, 2017

Paul Gipson

Off to Mumbai

Unfortunately our trip was virtual as our team faced the Indian city in the second match of the InterCity League on BBO. Both of us lost our first matches heavily so would be looking for some improvement.

Our team featured two pairs preparing for the National League, Abi and Sheila with Ronan and Liam. I don't think that we were particularly fortunate, but it always seems like that when you lose. The match was decided by two wild hands.

It's a good slam, basically the king of spades onside or a favourable lead away from the king of hearts. Today though was not a good day.

At the other table East used Stayman, finding no major opposite, and then introduced his poor 4-card club suit. I'm not a fan of this approach but it meant that they played six clubs played by East. Unfortunately our South made the normal heart lead, the only suit to let the contract make - a loss of sixteen imps for no particularly good reason.

The key decision on this hand was South's. Do you open this hand or do you hope to bid effectively later? Mumbai's captain, flute, will be happy with his approach as he collected +500. It is fair to say that Liam is probably looking at a small target with his five hearts call, aiming for -300 against -400, but it is hard to stay quiet with five-card support.

At the other table South opened one diamond and the auction took off!

North's six diamond call looks normal to me but they were always losing on the board, and this time the price was 13 imps.

After the sixteen boards we'd lost by 11-47 IMP.

Next week we play København from Denmark. They thrashed Mumbai in the first round, so I guess we'll be facing a tough match.

by Paul Gipson (noreply@blogger.com) at October 20, 2017 09:02 AM

October 19, 2017

Eamon Galligan

Lady Milne Match 4 ..board 7 killed me

I am just after finishing Lady Milne trials match 4 and thought I did pretty good although missed a few chances near the end on boards 9 and 10. However there are no mulligans allowed so we don't go back and replay any board.
On scoring up I find out I got killed on Board 7 where the Jack robots East West bid and made 4H against me. Going to look at this board now and see if I butchered the defence or it was a bad lead or what. I am losing 11 imps on the board against the Ladies datum. That's like half a match.
Just like the slam on board 30 of last match.

There is nothing I can do against 4H no matter how I defend.
Simple and maybe double dummy line of spade towards QT7 and playing 7
or running the 8 eventually set up the spades for a diamond discard. However we won't suffer on that simple line that works. Also after my 1!C opening and Heart King appearance any declarer is in good shape regarding the big cards..
Finally the line of play which would produce a fine burst of energy ...
There is some kind of guard squeeze which operates ..
On the run of the Hearts even after playing a spade to the 10 (a lesser play)
South gets squeezed out of his(in my case) 3rd diamond or 3rd spade..and the spade Queen is up for a diamond discard ...or the 3rd diamond in declarers hand grows up.
No problem Eamon loses 11 imps to the Ladies field ...

I guess Jack can play a bit of bridge ...

Somebody on 5H-2 ..Somebody in 4S-2 Two folk down in 4H.
Its just impossible to go down in this contract of 4H.

Eamon is the poor sod in the 17v 18 pairing losing 11 imps 

by Eamon Galligan (noreply@blogger.com) at October 19, 2017 01:54 PM

October 18, 2017

Paul Gipson

I see everything

We did not perform well in the first round of the Scott Cup last month as we started the journey to try and win the club's team championship for the third successive year. A third place was not what we were looking for.

So we did what every Scottish football league team does every other game and replaced our best player from the evening for the next match. Or, in other words, Ros was unavailable and Margaret stepped in to play with Janet in last night's second round.

We won comfortably with a score of +78 imps, well ahead of our main rivals who were second with +28 imps - considering we gave them +22 imps in three boards, our win could have been a lot more convincing. Janet and Margaret were unstoppable and any team would have won playing with them. LotG and I had some successes, and failures, but it really didn't matter.

I thought I had a tricky decision on board ten and it contributed to our defeat to our rivals when I got it wrong:

My options were to bid three spades, showing 4-4 in the majors, or a direct three no trump. LotG's two no trump showed any balanced 17-19 points without four-card heart support; she has not denied four spades.

Any preference?

I thought LotG and I did well on board 15.

It's a reasonable game, despite the lack of high-card points, with the double fit and makes comfortably when spades are 2-2; and even more comfortably when the queen and jack of clubs are doubleton, so I made eleven tricks.

The field at the club did well as three other pairs also bid the game, although one fell from grace when they failed to double the five hearts sacrifice. Everyone who bid the game got a big swing.

However, as most readers know our club use Pianola and the pianolaplus feature provides an analysis of your session. It's all-seeing and can be very harsh at times; its verdict on our performance on this hand was:

There was a makeable small slam available but you failed to bid it.
It can be a tough game at times!

by Paul Gipson (noreply@blogger.com) at October 18, 2017 09:23 AM

Judy Kay-Wolff

A Milestone — With Continual Surprises!

Much against my better judgment (as Bobby deliberately shuns the limelight), I arranged a double Birthday celebration at the Las Vegas Bridge World for my dear friend, Carol Pincus (let’s say — her 39th), and Bobby's 85th! The Birthday Greetings were memorable and the delicious cake fattening.

On the following day (October 14th), Bobby received a touching flow of good wishes and tributes on his Aces on Bridge daily bridgeblogging site for his incomparable accomplishments at the table, his administrative role as Chairman of both the ACBL and WBF… but most importantly to him… from his friends and followers who lauded him… for his unselfish dedication to his readers and to the incredible game in which he has been involved since he was a wee lad.

However, the icing on the cake and one more shocker was a hand from Steve Becker's bridge column which coincidentally appeared in two hundred newspapers on October 16th… which was reported by one of his regular ‘commenters’. We had no clue! It was included in a classification christened “Great Hands”. Bobby was surprised and overwhelmed that his performance from 1985 was resurrected under the captioned category. You can read it below.

Bob Hamman
Bobby Wolff
All Pass

One of the marks of a great player is that he occasionally brings in a contract that seems impossible to make. Consider this deal from the 1985 world team championship between Austria and the United States.

North-South were the many-times world champions Bob Hamman and Bobby Wolff of the U.S. After a strong and artificial one-club opening by Hamman and a one-diamond response showing a fair hand, the Americans took six more round of bidding to reach six diamonds, a seemingly hopeless assignment. Even if diamonds and hearts divided favourably, Wolff appeared to have only 11 tricks — five diamonds, four hearts and the two black aces.

But Wolff proceeded to demonstrate that this analysis left something to be desired. He won the opening trump lead with the ace, ruffed a spade, led a trump to the queen and ruffed a second spade. he then cashed the king of diamonds — his last trump — discarding a low club from dummy as both opponents followed.

Next came the K-Q of hearts, and when the jack fell, declarer continued with the ace and 10. At this point, dummy held the A-Q-9 of spades and the ace of clubs, so Wolff simply played the ace and another spade. After East took the king, he had to return a club to the ace, and dummy's queen of spades took the last trick to give South his slam.

Although the final contract was unquestionably a very poor one, Wolff did what all successful players do in such situations — he assumed a lie of the cards that would allow him to make his contract. He then proceeded on that assumption by ruffing two spades early in the play, and Dame Fortune took care of the rest.

by Judy Kay-Wolff at October 18, 2017 01:57 AM

October 16, 2017

Eamon Galligan

Playing the Lady Milne trials

I am currently playing the Lady Milne trials as North South using my Jack computer bridge program as partner and opponents. After 30 boards and thus 3 10 board matches I am holding down 10 place of the 15 pairs plus myself and the Jack pair. I lost heavily on board 30 where my Jack partner roared into a failing slam.

Oddly enough my robot found the Heart Queen lead and this left me in a making position
but playing honestly I tried for some sort of Spade King Heart Jack squeeze before taking the spade finesse and going down. Only one other pair ventured into the slam. I even told my robot NO HEART FIT AND NO CLUB FIT but there was no stopping it. Still if I had known a HEART QUEEN from Qx was possible I would have gained some imps instead of losing imps.
One working finesse can meant 15-5 win or 5-15 loss. Still I am ahead of 6 pairs after 30 boards.

1     6 Anna Onishuk & Lucy Phelan                   39.79
  2    10 Joan Kenny & Teresa Rigney                   38.44
  3     3 Dolores Gilliland & Sandra Newell            35.93
  4    12 Cathy Bearpark & Liz Ann O'Reilly            35.53
  5     9 Marian Croke & Catherine Lonergan            33.57
  6    11 Aoife Mac Hale & Antoinette McGee            33.05
  7     1 Jill Kulchycky & Avril Whelan                32.99
  8     2 Eileen O'Donovan & Maria Whelan              32.36
  9     8 Hilary McDonagh & Gilda Pender               31.10
 10    17 Jack & Eamon Galligan                        30.08
 11    18 Jacky & Jackie                               29.92
 12    15 Jeannie Fitzgerald & Emer Joyce              28.82
 13    14 Valerie Burke-Moran & Ann O'Connell          27.04
 14     5 Liz Taaffe & Kathleen Vaughan                26.17
 15     4 Louise Mitchell & Maureen Pattinson          23.28
 16     7 Betty Cotter & Jean Kelly                    22.21
 17    13 Bernie Lodewijks & Mary Stanley              21.72

by Eamon Galligan (noreply@blogger.com) at October 16, 2017 09:42 AM

October 15, 2017

Eamon Galligan

invitational Pairs Sunday Indo article

Today in the Sunday Independent weekly bridge column John Comyn indicated the Jim Cahill Invitational Pairs would have provided suitable practice for this years Lady Milne squad. The top end of the Jim Cahill Invitational included several  European Class pairs (as opposed to World Class). Some of the players on the top 7 pairings could have claims to be world class but that is another argument for another day.
As this years Lady Milne squad involves 6 pairs is John really suggesting that all 6 pairs should have been invited or allowed entry in some way to the Invitational Pairs. At the bottom end of the Invitational Pairs we have Donal Garvey Pat Quinn Terry Walsh BJ O'Brien Karel deRaeymaker Kelan O'Connor. In Tier3 on the overall results we have John Carroll Mark Moran Wojciech Gorczyca & Marcin Rudzinski Eddie Fitzgerald & Michael McDonagh.

I don't know how to run a comparison but I would expect if 3 teams of the above mentioned 6 men played a 2 session teams event against the Lady Milne squads 6 pairs we would see a comfortable victory for the bottom half of the Invitational Pairs.

Some years ago we ran a weekend session where the Senior over 60s squad took on the Irish Open team in a 3 pairs versus 3 pairs training session. The Open Team won by average of 14-6 per match of 16 boards. That senior team included Adam Mesbur Nick Fitzgibbon Pat Barry Rex Anderson and I cannot recall off the top of my head if it was BJ+1 or the O'Briain brothers who filled the 3rd slot that weekend.

If the Lady Milne squad feel the need to check their strength against some opponents they could issue a challenge to for example The Regent Bridge Club or the Bankers Bridge Club. I suspect either of these clubs could field capable teams up for the challenge.

The above named 12 players would be who the Lady Milne squad would replace in the Invitational Pairs if it came to it. Some other capable pairs such as McMaugh MacCormac , the O'Briain brothers, Tommy Garvey John Phelan Diarmuid Reddan Rory Timlin Michael McGloughlin James Heneghan and a few Northern Ireland males and maybe a few Junior Camrose current players could also be considered for inclusion in the Invitational Pairs ahead of most Lady Milne squad members.

Recently the Lady Milne squad have been receiving some training from one Michael Byrne a fine English international player and coach of many English youth teams over the last decade or so.
This should enable a placing of at best 3rd to be achieved in the Lady Milne Trophy.
Currently Scotland and whatever combination England will send are too strong.

My only aim is to encourage all Irish teams to more training and dedication and eventually more successes at international level. The 2 recent Irish Open formations have had lots of success to a European extent. The Bermuda Bowl proved a "Bridge Too Far" in 2007 but getting there was an achievement in itself. I saw Thomas Hanlon's happiness at reaching that goal along with the rest of his team and NPC David Jackson. Paul Porteus even threw us a party at the Airport.

So to more Irish success and no more Lady Milne wooden spoons. We might win the Junior Camrose as well if we sneak up on England.

by Eamon Galligan (noreply@blogger.com) at October 15, 2017 08:09 PM

October 12, 2017

Paul Gipson

InterCity League first match

The 28th edition of InterCity League started tonight and will be played over the next few Wednesdays.

The InterCiry League is the BBO international online Team Championship established in 2004 by the late Tonci Radelja, a Croatian professor of mathematics who loved bridge and used it as means to make friends. As he wrote several years ago:

"Think of this as a night in your local club: be friendly and enjoy meeting old/new friends at the table".

I've participated in many editions but missed the last few with other commitments. It has always been well run and a friendly event.

I'm running the Edinburgh team, which contains a mix of juniors and more experienced players, with many partnerships using it as practice for the forthcoming trials season.

Our first match was against Sigulda, a team from Latvia and most of whom have played for the country's Open team recently. Not an easy start for Abi, Sheila, Glen, and Botond.

The first eight boards were wild. This was typical:

It's favourable vulnerability. What do you call now? If you pass and five hearts comes back to you, what do you do?

The score after eight boards was 20-49 IMP and things were not looking promising, but the team held its nerve and competed well to hold the final score to 27-59 IMP. Naturally there were still difficult decisions to make:

Your call?

We'll be back next Wednesday on BBO for the second match in our group. Results and tables are available on Willem's website.

by Paul Gipson (noreply@blogger.com) at October 12, 2017 07:48 AM

October 11, 2017

Peg Kaplan

District 14 NAP Finals 2017-2018 - Our Representatives



Be sure to check out results and representatives for District 14 at the Spring NABC in Philadelphia!  Posted at District14Bridge.org.

by Peg at October 11, 2017 09:04 PM

Alert! Autumn Harvest Sectional - Change of Venue



Due to circumstances Beyond Our Control, the hotel where the Autumn Harvest Sectional was originally scheduled can no longer accommodate the tournament.

Instead, the sectional, which runs from Thursday, November 2nd through Saturday, November 4th, will have a new venue at the Oak Marsh Golf Club, 526 Inwood Avenue North in Oakdale.

A round of applause for Kerry Holloway and other volunteers who scurried to find an excellent alternative spot last minute. Due to their hard work, we're sure that now the tourney will be even better!  We look forward to a fine turnout during November's sectional!

The new flyer is below and at the tournament sidebar on the left.

Download 2017MNStateAutumnHarvestSectionalMarsh


by Peg at October 11, 2017 05:09 PM

October 10, 2017

Linda Lee

We will miss you David

David Silver, (our friend since adolescence and that is many years!) died this winter. Recently  we visited his grave as his tombstone was unveiled.   I thought about how much I would miss David, his humour and also the wonderful bridge stories he told.

David would come over and sit in Ray’s office for most years conveniently located in our basement. I would listen from my next door office as he regaled Ray with the politics and events at his job and usually he managed to tell these events as humorous stories.

David was a fine writer and over time he started to write humorous books with a bridge setting.  In the early years many of his stories take place in a thinly disguised Seneca College, a community college in the north part of Toronto where David worked.

Many of David’s books starred his alter ego Professor Silver and were loosely based on his own experience as an English professor at Seneca College.  As in many such places there was a lot of politics, a lot of students who didn’t much care about English literature and just wanted a credit and a lot of experimenting with different approaches to teaching and running an institution like that.

One of my personal favourite Silver stories  (and one I often quote) is called A Board for the Board which from  David’s first book “Tales Out of School”. In this story, Professor Silver  is describing the play to board of directors members of a specific duplicate board as it makes its way around the room. As they watch Professor Silver describes how duplicate is scored.  Unfortunately, he explains to the board members the board they are watching is a “flat board” and he wouldn’t expect much variance in the results.

Of course it turns out to be exactly the opposite. The story ends with a funny punchline. But as I reread this classic Silver story I see how almost every paragraph is humorous in David’s special way.

I find that David Silver’s stories still make me smile or laugh out loud.  I remember being in a discussion with David when he brought up the idea for his last bridge book Canterbury Bridge Tales. David came up with the idea of using the format of the classic Canterbury Tales written in Middle English by Geoffrey Chaucer in the fourteenth century.  In Chaucer’s book the pilgrims held a story-telling contest as they made their way to visit Becket’s shrine in Canterbury. It was hard for me to understand how this was going to become a “bridge book”.

In David’s book the bridge “pilgrims” were driving from Toronto to a tournament in Canterbury Florida. David then treats us to a set of bridge stories told by fellow travelers to the tournament. The chapters have titles like “The Kibitzer’s Tale” and  “The Bridge Pro’s Tale”.

I have many other favourite stories and many other memories. I am grateful that I can still have a dose of David’s humour by reading his wonderful stories.

by linda at October 10, 2017 09:24 PM

Bob Mackinnon

Deception in Plain View

Greetings from stodgy old Blighty! What exciting lives you and Betsy must be leading, if I read correctly between the lines. Thanks for the thought re the yellow necktie, but I can’t imagine an appropriate occasion for wearing it, unless The Queen were to declare a National Holiday, call it Baboon Day, where people could do anything they liked as long as they did no harm to others. Bankers could rub soot on their faces, put on head lamps, and fulfill a boyhood dream of working in a coal mine without wage. Shopkeepers could close up shop and go shopping themselves to their heart’s content, although I’m not sure how that would work out. As for me, picture the headlines in the News of the World: Naked Man on Blackfriars Bridge Wearing a Yellow Necktie. On page 3 there would be a photo of me (backside view only – not my best side, I hope you agree) with an insert of the yellow tie you gave me, and besides that a close-up shot of Dianna Dors feigning a shocked look. As usual the NOTW gets the details wrong, for I would be wearing also a bowler hat and would be carrying a brolly in case of rain, as we always must do.

I have asked Sensei for his advice to Betsy in her time of confusion. In short, he advises she should press the snooze button on her biological alarm clock. Here is how to go about doing that. Find a hot spring hotel that allows you to bath naked, that last part is most important. (It seems obvious that bathing with your clothes on is a bad idea, but there are spiritual implications as well.) Book for three nights during a full moon. Around midnight soak in the waters up to your neck and watch the moonlight play on the rippling waves. Reject all interruptions of the sort, ‘Hi there. I’m from Toledo and I couldn’t help noticing you tattoo.’ No, concentrate on the shimmering light patterns for several minutes, then close your eyes and try to recall the scene for several minutes more. Repeat the operation for an hour over three days. After you return to New York take the time to get off by yourself, close your eyes, and imagine the moonlight. You can do this at any time during the day when the stress level is high, but not, of course, when you are driving in heavy traffic.

Sensei continues to teach me bridge tactics, especially on topics you won’t find in the bridge books, like deception. I don’t know how he gets away with it. Here is a hand to think about.

All Pass

I don’t often lead an unsupported ace, but, as they say, it looked like a good idea at the time. I was not happy with what I saw in the dummy, but I continued with my 2 for lack of anything better as the damage had already been done. Declarer took the K and decided that he would try to make as many small trumps as possible, it being a pairs game. He cashed the K, played the top diamonds, and ruffed to hand (Hisashi playing the Q an obvious false card.) The 6 went away on the A, and a club was ruffed in dummy with the 3, overruffed by Hisashi with the Q. He could have given me a heart ruff at this point, instead he led his last diamond. Here was the position.


Declarer ruffed with the 7 and cashed to A, Hisashi following with the 2 which seemed to satisfy declarer’s assumption that he had started with Q2. Ronald led his last club ruffed with the 6. What a shock it must have been when Sensei over-ruffed and led the Q promoting my T for the setting trick, and a top score.

It shouldn’t have happened, but it did. Mankind is not prepared to face the unexpected.

Terrence Reese was right when he said that stolen fruits are the sweetest, or was it stolen kisses? No, I’m sure it was fruit. Anyway, we British prefer not to act underhandedly, unless as a last resort when it’s necessary in order to achieve our ends. Here is my deceptive play made in plain view of everyone, but effective nonetheless.


It appears the bidding got somewhat out-of-hand on this one, as it often does playing with Hisashi. He could hardly have been thinking of a possible 3NT, and as for the possibility of South balancing over 2, forget it, as the Reverend Forsythe is not the forgiving type when things go wrong.

The J was led to A and a diamond returned to the K in the dummy. The situation was critical but not hopeless. With nothing better to do I led the J. Margaret gave count and the Reverend gave this much thought.

‘What sort of play is that, Jack from King-Jack-Ten?’ he demanded.

‘It’s either stupid or clever,’ answered Sensei, ‘or so very stupid it’s clever.’

The Reverend was displeased as he was not accustomed to having his rhetorical questions answered. After a considerable pause, he ducked. Now I had the timing to make 10 tricks on a hand where I should be held to 8. Of course, it was Margaret who accepted the blame, apologizing profusely for not covering the jack with her queen. As my hope had been to steal a trick by looking like a man with the A doubleton, I don’t see that she could be held to account.

So that’s British-style deception made in plain view giving everyone a fair chance of getting it right while maintaining the capacity of misleading the gullible. The Japanese are more subtle. From feudal times they have been taught to avoid public confrontation as many truths are necessarily unpleasant. Imagine this conversation taking place in 1944 when it was obvious to most that the war situation was hopeless.

‘Good morning Mrs Sato. I hear our navy has won a great victory in the South Pacific.’

‘Good morning Mrs Kato. Yes, and our army continues to advance into Burma.’

‘By the time of the Emperor’s birthday, the Americans will be begging for mercy.’

‘I am looking forward to a joyful celebration with meat and soba to feed my family.’

‘I think of all the money I’ve saved by not being able to buy kerosene and sugar.’

‘It’s a blessing in disguise. Lucky for us Prime Minister Tojo is in total command.’

That’s the way they would obliquely communicate their complaints without the danger of having their heads chopped off. Sometimes Japanese actually tell the truth as protection knowing they will not be believed. Well, I suppose that’s not much different from false carding. If you false-card every time, the opponents will soon catch on, thus sometimes you must give the correct count so you won’t be believed. Maybe the mild-mannered Margaret is not as reliable on the count as one would assume and that’s why the Reverend didn’t take his ace, thinking she held a doubleton although she had played the lowest card available. Interesting hand.

Bye for now. It’s late and I’m off to spend the evening in Piccadilly and Leister Square.

God, I wish you were here to come along so I wouldn’t be licking stamps in the cab on the way.

Yours always,


by Bob Mackinnon at October 10, 2017 01:31 PM

October 08, 2017

Bob Mackinnon

Betsy in Turmoil

James Woolwich had just that morning received another letter from Heidi Heinz, the billionaire’s daughter who was promoting a woman’s professional bridge team with a view to winning a world’s championship for the USA in 1970. The newest member of the team was the vivacious and inventive Princess Elizabeth von Stollenberg, known to her friends as Betsy.

Dear James:

Hello from New York. I loved you last letter more than all the rest. More please. This time I have exciting news: Daddy has asked Betsy to marry him. Wow! That would mean my mother would be younger than myself. Sounds like a miracle, doesn’t it, but I bet it’s happened before, lots of times. Marrying Betsy would make Daddy happy as a clam as he has a bad case of l’Amour à la Papa, as the French call it. He says that children can wait as she pursues her ambition to be a world champion. Guess what? – I approve. We can continue to be just like sisters – my inheritance is already locked up and my fashion businesses are doing great.

The trouble is that Betsy is involved with Guido Amoroso, a Beat poet she met in Greenwich Village. He says he doesn’t believe in marriage although he is already married to his high school sweetheart whom he knocked up in grade 10. More accurately one might say he doesn’t believe in marriage and she doesn’t believe in divorce, especially since she is postgraduately pregnant again. Guido calls Betsy ‘my Nazi bitch’ and wants her to quit bridge and spend more time with him expanding their consciousness with LSD. So naturally poor Betsy, madly in love, is in crisis mode and doesn’t know what to do. What does your guru say? I will pass it on.

James read this passage to Hisashi-san, his flatmate and spiritual advisor who, as usual on a Sunday morning, was knelling on the floor writing with an ink brush large black Japanese characters on a sheet of paper spread out before him. He continued to write in silence until a long wiggle had been completed, then straightened up and gave a sigh of satisfaction before replying.

‘James-san, everyone knows, better a rich man’s toy than a poor man’s doormat. Now let’s enjoy the silence together.’

‘Sensei, the poor woman needs help. We can’t just remain silent.’

‘This Betsy will do what she wants to do. We see the same at the bridge table. Bridge players repeat their mistakes many times – it defines who they are. They take advice as personal criticism. However, if you must reply, tell her this, “Noise hides the Truth,” or “Seek Truth in Silence, the Great Teacher,” or “A life engulfed in noise is a life lived with confusion.” Take your choice.’

‘“Seek Truth in Silence, the Great Teacher,”’ repeated James as he wrote it down. ‘Very good, I’ll go with that.’

As Sensei obviously wanted to get on with his morning calligraphy, James proceeded to read the rest of Heidi’s letter without further comment. It went as follows.

With regard to our bridge, things are going well and we continue to win the women’s events with some ease – but not without some scary moments. With Betsy I have learned to take the triumphs with the disasters, the one following the other in quick succession.

Here is a recent example of a triumph.

All Pass

Rhonda opened a strong 1NT. We play Landy and I didn’t have the majors, so I thought that we didn’t have enough to make a game. I passed. Wrong. Audrey expected her hand would play better in hearts, so she transferred. Betsy made a crazy overcall with only 1 HCP in her hand. Support with support, they say, so Rhonda and I did our duty and guess what, Betsy bid game! The lead was the K, won in dummy. A heart was discarded on the A and a club played to Rhonda’s Q. She switched to the K! Crazy, wasn’t it, making 12 tricks on a spade finesse. The funny thing was that Betsy’s hand was the only one that had a singleton or a void, and she had both. I guess that’s pretty unusual.

I have found when Betsy does something crazy, well maybe not crazy, but outside an opponent’s normal expectation, the opponent gets confused and often can’t cope. It’s like they are running back into a burning building because they forgot to turn out the lights. Of course, it works both ways as I am often confused as to what’s going on. So I asked Mel what I should do about it.

‘Don’t do anything, Heidi,’ he advised, ‘Just keep putting down those great dummies. Betsy’s wild guess it often better that a normal player’s reasoned deduction.’

‘I think I should have doubled 3,’ I observed.

‘Could be,‘ he agreed, ‘that might have gotten you to 4 , a better contract. But tell you what, as you are reluctant to double 1NT with an equivalent hand, why not play Brozel over 1NT where double shows a one-suited hand? So you will pass 1NT systematically and when Audrey shows hearts, Betsy can bid 2 to show a black 2-suiter. That way you will easily find your spade fit.’

That makes sense to me: fit your methods to your natural tendencies, mine to pass, and Betsy’s to bid. Now everyone is comfortable and we don’t stumble over our own constructions.

Often we go out to play high stakes Chicago against Wall Street hotshots. The old guys are nice enough, and try to teach us things, but I don’t know what puts me off more: their gold wrist watches, or their gold teeth. Gross. There are two younger guys, gorgeously dressed in matching paisley pink shirts, canary yellow ties, and Aegean blue suits, who we would like to get to know better, if only they weren’t so uptight. (I would send you one of those ties, James, if I thought you’d ever wear it.) Rather than be nice and friendly, maybe going for refreshments after to discuss the hands or whatever, they treat us like we’re the enemy. They open light and stretch to 3NT on inadequate values in an attempt to dominate. Why can’t they be cool, like you, James? We won’t bite (or maybe we will!) I sorta go into my shell, but they can’t push Betsy without getting pushed back. She fits right into the New York scene, where pushy is the norm, even for waiters.

Betsy says that the spade suit is the key to most auctions.

‘If you’ve got ‘em, you have to bid ‘em. If I jump to 2 it’s all about what they’ve got, but if I jump higher it’s about what I’ve got.’

Here is an example of the mysterious single jump from an early board.


Greg: what does that 2 tell you?

Me: It’s a preempt.

Greg: I know that. What does it tell you?

Me: It tells me she is offering to buy you out cheap.

Greg: Right. 3NT.

He won the second round of spades and started the hearts with A and low to the dummy. Surprised that I showed out early, he tried the clubs leading from dummy. When Betsy showed out he went into shock. He tried to endplay me in clubs, hoping I would have to lead away from the K. That way he managed to go down 300.

‘Some preempt,’ he commented sourly, ‘6-5 in the majors.’

‘With 7-7-7-5 you should have taken my generous offer,’ suggested Betsy sweetly.

She ended the match in typical fashion by making a game she shouldn’t have bid.


I bid 1NT to show my spade stopper and point range thinking I might get to play this one, but Betsy had other plans. 3NT would have been best (I would get the clubs right) with 4 down 1 on good defence. Greg led the 9, Rex winning the AK and leading a third one. Betsy ruffed with the T, over-ruffed by Greg with the Q. Sometimes it’s not good to get your wish. He got his ruff but it was a big mistake. Betsy won the Q exit with the K in dummy and led my heart, finessing the 9 successfully. After drawing trumps she could discard her losing club on the established J. As Betsy says, if you want to win more often, you can’t afford to wait for the cards to be right – you have to give the opponents chances to go wrong, which is frequent.

‘Nice finish, Ladies,’ said Rex graciously, ‘I think you can afford to buy us a drink.’

‘We don’t drink,’ replied Betsy, ‘we smoke.’

‘I bet you do,’ observed Greg with a big smile.

Now that was more like it, but too little too late, as they say.


by Bob Mackinnon at October 08, 2017 01:23 PM

October 07, 2017

Eamon Galligan

Ireland Invitational Pairs Session 1 extra

Yesterday in the Regent Bridge Club I witnessed some fine bridge plays. I saw Adam Mesbur bring home 2HX by enlisting some help from the opposition to take a finesse. I saw Nick Fitzgibbon deem a lad held JT8x in a side suit ...and play the suit for no loser. I saw Cian Holland roll home 3DX against Adam Mesbur and Nick Fitzgibbon. It was unbeatable but one still had to make it with KQTx of trumps against you. Cian took about 7 minutes before touching a card at trick 1 ..making his plan.

Starting today Saturday October 7th we will have current leaders Ciaran Coyne and Donal MacAonghusa on one of the vugraph tables Play starts at 11am.


One can find the schedule by examining the above link.


One can fnd the results above but might need to do a little work.


One can find the venue here ....well at the above link ... or 25 Waterloo Road Dublin 4

Eamon Galligan

by Eamon Galligan (noreply@blogger.com) at October 07, 2017 07:37 AM

Irish invitational Pairs Session 1

Yesterday October 6th I attended the Irish Invitational Pairs organised by Jim Cahill and Ann Tuite.
This is a fantastic event but one has to be quite good at bridge to make the roster or else own a good partner.
Today we played 64 boards and we vugraphed 2 tables all day.
Not too many spectators turned up on site but that meant more of the wonderful sandwiches for the lads. I had no need to go for any chipper or anything all day. oranges cups of teas fantastic sandwiches and loads of chocolate things and grapes too .

has all the results but focus on the one that mentions 64 boards .. .

Tomorrow Saturday we have a full day ... at least 64 boards .. .
Sunday we have whatever is left of 176 boards .. maybe 44 boards ..
Spectators are welcome all day .... Come in and have a look.

Venue ... Regent Bridge Club ..

Regent Bridge Club has been the Premier Bridge Club in Ireland for as long as I can remember..
and maybe Declan Byrne the club manager have nurtured that ... He has a tough job negotiating
all those club members and now Declan has to negotiate Academy members too.
Younger but braver maybe

Anyway here in the Premier Invitational Pairs ...I saw this board ..

Now a couple of great bridge players expressed horror when they spotted this result.
They were expecting a fine score for making 5D doubled .. .but noted 2 episodes of 6D making on the board. The general indication was IMPOSSIBLE ..
However Thomas Hanlon made it ...
Now any old dunce knows that only other dunces bid slam off 2 cashers .. 
so slam off 2 cashing Hearts and you got KQx of clubs is serious ..
So you get serious and win a HEART trick and you bang out King of Clubs.
How bad can it be ...dummy has one HEART ...so do something ..
Anyway some heroes decided to bang a LAZY HEART ...
and HANLON done the squeeze ...same way as Eamon would have done it ..
Eamon loves squeezes ...and this might be a PUN ////

The legendary Charlie Cullen ...former Regent member and partner of Joe Walshe...
carried a battered and torn copy of CLYDE LOVE squeezes in his pocket.
Eamon also owns a copy but my copy is cleaner and less torn.
KING of Clubs ...break that looming SQUEEZE ...
because you don't want Hanlon doing you like SEABISCUIT .....

or maybe it was HMG2 ....the lad who used to have 4 books of KELSEY squeezes in hard back on his FERMOY bedroom floor back in late 80s ... I saw them there ..

by Eamon Galligan (noreply@blogger.com) at October 07, 2017 02:22 AM

October 06, 2017

Bob Mackinnon

Love Letter from Huntsville

Dear James:

We miss you, Betsy and me, both. We miss London, too. Good, old, cold, crazy and damp London with all its quaint customs. Remember that funny little man in the big hat who carved the lamb? We all thought he was French but it turned out he was English with an unbelievable cockney accent. Those were great days….and nights!!

Yesterday we arrived in Dallas and were driven around topless downtown. The Caddie was topless, not us, Silly. Texan men are tall and handsome and show you lots of straight teeth when they greet you, but they make me feel like the only hamburger at a dog show. I like suave and they don’t have it, not like you, James, who is very suave.

This morning we flew in Daddy’s Lear Jet to Huntsville where the prison is to play a match against the Texas All Stars, a team made up of male inmates, who compete against prisoners in maximum security facilities in other states. The rivalries are quite intense with Oklahoma Lifers being the current champions, I understand.

Before the game we were introduced by the guard (Elmer, who was the fattest man I have ever seen in a uniform) to our opponents, two men wearing numbers across their chests, one called Mike, kinda dreamy and handsome, like Davy Crockett, and the other Sonny, sorta bald and wrinkled, like Sam Houston. Eat your heart out, Truman Capote.

‘Do you play often against women?’ I asked pleasantly enough as they were looking at us rather suspiciously. Imagine that! They were suspicious of us!

‘Not often,’ says the short one called Sonny (104375). ‘They play us sometimes, but women don’t show enough initiative. Did Bonny Parker ever rob a bank on her own? No. Have you ever heard of a female prison break? No. They settle in and make friends with the guards and tell them everything hoping to get themselves a little time off for good behaviour.’

‘I once broke out of a county jail with a woman,’ says Mike (106783). ‘We had a fast getaway car filled with gas, fresh plates, a good head-start, some cash, and we were burnin’ it across the flatlands before the sun come up, when she says she’s got to go pee. So I says, I’ll stop the car and you can pee at the side of the road. And she says, no, there might be rattlers out there in the dark, and we have to stop at the next roadside café. So we keep going and she holds out until sixty miles later we come to this 24-hour café where we stop. I order a cup of coffee, but she takes so long I decide, hell, I might as well have breakfast. So we had breakfast and guess what, the cops arrest us in the parking lot. You know what she did? While I was having my coffee, she phoned her mother to tell her not to worry she was safe, and said where we were. That’s women for you.’

‘Hey, take the responsibility and stop bitching about your girlfriend,’ says Betsy. ‘You made the mistakes. First, you should have stopped the car right away and ordered her to get out and either pee or start walking. Second, you’re the one who decided to stop at the café, not taking into account that it’s a daughter’s duty to keep in touch with her mom who’s bound to be worried.’

‘Absolutely!’ I chirped in. ‘Those may not be the sound of wedding bells in the background, but police sirens are totally major for sure.’

‘Be The Man’ says Betsy. ‘Treat your women right and the dancers will dance, the singers will sing. I don’t know about Texas, but that’s how it works in Chermany.’

‘Can’t we cut out the fuckin’ song-and-dance and get on with the game?’ asks Sonny.

‘Just a reminder, Boys,’ says the guard, ‘this is Friday so there’s demerit points for every time you use the F-word. The demerits will be doubled if you use the F-word in front of our guests here.’

‘I hereby officially protest,‘ says Sonny. ‘First: the F-word is not word, because it’s not found in Webster’s Dictionary and it’s not in the Bible, either. Second: this is a clear violation of our right to Freedom of Speech.’

‘What are you, a fuckin’ lawyer?’ asks the guard. ‘The Warden has been clear on the point – it’s one of his ten commandments. Even Charlton Heston hisself can’t change them. So that’s 4 demerits for you, 1-0-4-3-7-5. I am adding blasphemes to the list although it ain’t Sunday yet.’

‘Jesus Christ!’ exclaims Sonny.

‘Two more,’ says Elmer, writing it down.

We had what looked like a shaky result coming out of the box.


Select (you can triple-click it) and over-write this text below the diagram.

Maybe Sonny’s criticism about women not showing initiative applies to me. I prefer to bid out my hand and let my partner decide the best contract from her side. So I just bid where my points were and she decided on 3NT. Mike led the 6 won by Betsy with the king. She ran the diamonds, pitching hearts then the K, winning, and a low club losing to the stiff jack, holding herself to 9 tricks. Of course, Sonny had to gloat over the result.

‘See that, Mike: 6NT is cold. I can lead a heart, but you can never get in to cash your winner. I bet Frank and Larry get there.’

Golly! 6NT on 26 HCPs? Are these guys Italians, or what? I thought.

‘I’d like to meet these Larry and Frank,’ says Betsy.

‘Take my word for it, Miss,’ says the guard, ‘you really don’t.’

Later we found out Frank and Larry were in 4, going down on the bad trump split. So my aversion to weak 3-card raises and preference for 3NT were justified yet again. 10 IMPs for the good guys.

Betsy was still fuming when this hand came up soon after. They tell us, there’s no right bid with an 8-card suit, so as usual she went for the max. The lead was the Q followed by 7, to the A, followed by the J.


Betsy ruffed with the A and could count 10 tricks off the top, one short of game. She starts playing off a string of trumps and Sonny’s face gets all red and he starts blowing through his nose, so Betsy catches on that something is up. She stops to think. With nothing to lose and something to gain, she plays off all but one of the trumps to this 4-card ending with 104375 still to play

Dummy (Me)

He throws the 9, so Betsy plays a diamond to the A dropping his K and setting up the Q for her 11th trick. You’d think they would congratulate her on her triple squeeze, but this Sonny character starts whining about his partner’s defence.

‘What knucklehead defence was that!’ he practically screams.

‘Why did you play the 5 on my Q? I thought you had 6 spades.’

‘That wasn’t count that was The Obvious Switch Signal asking for a diamond.’

‘Why a diamond? You’re the knucklehead. Just play bridge.’

‘Whoa,’ intervenes Elmer. ‘Boys, the game is cold after any spade lead. Tighten up your inner defences and stop acting like assholes in front of these nice, young ladies. Pardon my language, Ladies. Remember without discipline and teamwork, we can’t ever hope to beat them Okees.’

It turns out this Sonny is a bit of a blank cartridge, and after some more good results I tried to lighten the atmosphere. ‘What do you guys do for fun when you’re not playing bridge?’ I ask.

‘I play backgammon with Billy Crapshoot who is teachin’ me the finer points,’ says Sonny sourly. “I’ve got 5 years left to break even.’

“And at the rate he’s losing money, to pay it back we’ll have to rob a big bank as soon as we gets released,’ adds his pal.

‘Is there any weed around these parts?’ asks Betsy sweetly.

‘There’s ragweed galore in the desert,’ Sonny informs us, ‘if you can get to it.’

‘Do you smoke it or chew it?’ inquires Betsy hopefully.

‘Stay away from ragweed, as it really f-f-f-f-messes up your brain. The wetbacks use it a lot,’ says Mike.

‘They get high even on cactus juice, but Mexico has never won anything in their whole history, so who needs it?’ says Sonny dismissively.

‘They won the Battle of the Alamo, I believe,’ Betsy reminds them.

Well, that pretty well wore out our welcome and even Elmer finally got hostile. So they cut it short and as punishment we never got the tour of the execution facilities, thank God for that. I enclose a Polaroid snapshot of Betsy and me and the rest of the team in front of the Sam Houston memorial.


I really miss you, and I hope there is one of your letters, or two or three, in my postal box when I get back to New York next week.

LYFH (Love, Your Friend, Heidi)

PS We won! It wasn’t even close. As Daddy says, the smart ones don’t get caught and the rich ones don’t get convicted! (He’s joking, I think.)

by Bob Mackinnon at October 06, 2017 01:15 PM

October 05, 2017

Peg Kaplan

This Amazing Game



As I mentioned to the Carleton College students, bridge is the most amazing game. And yet - so are its people and our connections throughout the world!

Changlan Wang, one of the Carleton Bridge Club members, appears above from Saturday's gathering. When we met, she asked me:  "Do you know Dunga Liu?"

I did!





Here is Dunga, playing at the most recent NABC in Toronto, and competing in the prestigious Reisinger 2014. When I wrote to Dunga through Facebook, he told me that Changlan was a student of his, and a "very smart and talented player".

I ask you this. What other activity could connect two young people from China with "a fossil" (as Hamman likes to call me!) from Minnesota?!

Only the greatest game:  bridge!


by Peg at October 05, 2017 12:01 PM

October 04, 2017

Peg Kaplan

Bridge at Carleton College



Forty something years ago, your webmaster (Peg!) contracted mononucleosis ... And my life's trajectory changed.

Harvey Friedman, friend and world renown mathematician, taught me "honeymoon bridge" while I was stuck at my U of Wisconsin apartment. Once recovered, I "graduated" to our student union and the math department lounge - back in the day when plenty of people learned our great game while in college. And from there, well...  Bridge became my passion and an integral part of my life.




Many of us in 2017 bemoan that far fewer young people are learning our game than in the past. Yet - particularly in Minnesota - various people and schools are doing their best to introduce students to our game! 


Alexander Frieden, Carleton Bridge Club President


You know about Honors Dean Matthew Bribitzer-Stull and his efforts, along with other bridge playing professors, to educate a new generation at the U of MN. Now, at Carleton College, student and bridge player Alexander Frieden is working with others to promote bridge and a bridge club at Carleton!


Sophia Maymudes, Carleton Bridge Club Vice President


Last Saturday, after an invite I was honored to receive from Alexander, I headed to Northfield to join bridge club participants. For the first hour, I kibitzed and offered commentary as some of the more experienced students - Alexander, Sophia Maymudes, Jackson Wahl, Thomas Scruggs and Changlan Wang - played.




Then, it was my pleasure to address all the bridge club students in attendance. Because I wasn't certain of their levels of knowledge, Alexander and I had judged it best for me to share thoughts about the game itself, along with stories (fun AND tragic) that happened in Real Life. Along the way, I continually highlighted how bridge is the world's greatest mind game - and - that the people who enjoy it are equally as wonderful!

After that, I enjoyed playing some hands with students, again offering opinions and advice with each hand. Then, of course, I had to take some photos!




The students were most appreciative that I'd driven down to spend a few hours with them. Truly, though, I was the one filled with gratitude. To see students having fun, playing and discussing hands, laughing and looking quizzical - depending upon the hand and the moment - gave me joy.




A big shout out to Alexander, Matthew - and the many other teachers and players who are helping a new generation of bridge players join our ranks!

Also - huge thanks and recognition to two very special people. First, Patty Tucker, bridge teacher ten star extraordinare and fine player, who sent the Carleton students a number of her study booklets.

Additionally, deep gratitude to TGBH (otherwise know as The Great Bob Hamman). Bob is shipping hand signed copies of his world class bridge book, "At the Table" to Carleton students! If you are going to learn, then why not from the best!?

More photos from my exciting day at Carleton College's Bridge Club below!








by Peg at October 04, 2017 11:44 PM

October 03, 2017

Paul Gipson

Premier League weekend two

The second weekend of the Premier League was played at the Young Chelsea Bridge Club in London. It's been a very long time since I played at the YC, perhaps twenty years, and their new premises are in a basement in Shepherd's Bush. Unlike their old smoke-filled basement in Earl's Court, this is a well-lit and spacious playing area.

Sarah was playing with Graeme Robertson but there was no change as, once again, we won our first three matches, albeit not the crushing wins this time. In our final match on Saturday we played the U26 Junior team, who were having a good day, and this continued as they beat us by 20-48 IMP.

On Sunday we played Igoe, who were in second place. We lost to them for a second time, so they leapt above us in the table, but it was a closer match this time at 27-38 IMP.  The match featured a lot of slam hands:

Alex did well to lead a spade so we won 12 IMP when Graeme and Sarah played safely in five clubs. I should probably take insurance and bid six hearts.

Two boards later:

I spent some time considering my lead but eventually led the ace of hearts because they could easily be missing two aces on this auction (and I only had four hearts and dummy would have fewer than four). This did not make it difficult for declarer and he made all the tricks when he found the queen of diamonds. A well bid slam, matched by our team mates.

Two boards later:

An excellent auction by our opponents and I expect our team mates were similarly successful. Half the field bid a grand slam on this board and one pair played in a cue bid, so our match was the only one that handled this board correctly.

Of course we only had to wait another two boards:

I don't know the odds of making slam, but you need to pick up the trumps for one loser and find some other good news, like clubs 3-2 or favourable hearts. I passed four spades because Alex would not have serious slam intentions (he would relay rather than bid three hearts) and he did not bid a Last Train four hearts. So I think we bid it quite well, but losing thirteen imps was our reward. The slam was only bid twice, making both times.

Naturally, in another two boards:

Even Deep Finesse can only make eleven tricks and it can see the heart position so this went two down as our opponent could not. Our team mates matched this result as did three of the remaining six tables. Six clubs made with the heart finesse working, but I expect most Wests showed a strong balanced hand and finding clubs now is pretty difficult.

We won our penultimate match and then faced the Junior U16 team. They'd just won their first match by beating the Junior U26 team and they continued to play with skill and luck against us. Alex and I had a dreadful set against Jasmine and Henry, getting every decision possible wrong. We still won the match by 14 IMP, but this was their second best result of the event.

But we finished the second weekend at the top of the table, with the same small lead over Igoe but with Gross 15VP behind us in third place. All to play for in the final weekend in a month's time.

All the results can be seen on the EBU website.

by Paul Gipson (noreply@blogger.com) at October 03, 2017 09:13 PM

October 01, 2017

Peg Kaplan

North American Pairs 2017-2018 - District 14 Finals - October 7-8



North American Pairs, gives players the opportunity to aim at being a District 14 representative in Philadelphia at the Spring 2018 NABC - enjoying great competition with other ACBL representatives 


District Finals will be at the Edina Senior Center in Edina, MN Oct. 7-8, 2017 - Six days from today!

 Minnesota Players who have qualified - do not miss out! The NAP Finals are in our own backyard - take advantage of this great opportunity!

Your chances of winning money to help pay for your trip to the national NAP in March 2018 in Philadelphia have been improved, courtesy of District 14. 

There will 11 winning pairs representing District 14 at the spring NABC in Philadelphia.

  •     1st Place winners receive $700 each ($1400 for the pair) plus paid entry fees at the NABC
  •     2nd Place winners receive $500 each ($1000 for the pair) plus paid entry fees at the NABC
  •     3rd Place winners receive $350 each ($700 for the pair) plus paid entry fees at the NABC
  •      4th Place winners (Division B & C only) receive $350 each ($700 for the pair) plus paid entry fees        at the NABC

You only compete against others in your division:  A, B, or C. 

Gold and red points will be awarded at the District Final tournament.

Division A:  Unlimited master points, 1st-3rd place winners

Division B:  Under 2500 master points, 1st-4th place winners

Division B:  Under 500 master points & non-life master, 1st-4th place winners

The flyer for the District Finals, the Conditions of Contest, and an NAP fact sheet are below.

Download DistanceNAP2017flyer-1

Download District14NAPCOC

Download NAPFactSheet 

by Peg at October 01, 2017 10:28 PM

Eamon Galligan

Ireland Premier Pairs 2017

Next weekend we hold the Ireland Invitational Premier Pairs event in the Regent Bridge Club at 25 Waterloo Road Dublin 6. 12 of Irelands top pairs have been invited to play in this prestigious event.
The event is  sponsored and organised  by Jim Cahill and Ann Tuite respectively.


Check the above link for vugraph and playing times thru the weekend.

Mark Moran & John Carroll
Tom Hanlon & Hugh McGann   
Adam Mesbur & Nick FitzGibbon
Eddie Fitzgerald & Michael McDonagh
Peter Goodman & Mike Pownell
BJ  O'Brien & Terry Walsh
Wojciech Gorczyca & Marcin Rudzinski
Donal Garvey & Pat Quinn
Ciaran Coyne & Donal MacAonghusa
Rex Anderson & David Greenwood
Gay Keaveney &Cian Holland
Karel de Raeymaeker & Kelan O'Connor 

Above the list of players ...All of them quite good at bridge. 

We plan to vugraph 2 tables to the outside world and will run a vugraph
room downstairs in the Regent. All are welcome to attend and watch.

Friday October 6th 2017 .. 

12:00-13:30Session 1 of 11 (2 tables)  12 boards 
14:00-16:00Session 2 of 11 (2 tables)  16 boards 
16:15-18:15Session 3 of 11 (2 tables)  16 boards
19:30-22:00Session 4 of 11 (2 tables)
  20 boards

Scoring is matchpoints throughout. 

by Eamon Galligan (noreply@blogger.com) at October 01, 2017 04:01 PM

September 27, 2017

Peg Kaplan

Happy Birthday, Kim!



Bridge is THE greatest mind game ever! And - it is also about our wonderful community of people!

Yesterday was director AND competitor Kim Hayward's birthday - Happy Birthday, Kim!

Kim was able to celebrate in St. Paul by both directing and playing.  Congrats to Kim and her partner for earning 1.77 silver points!

AND...... how about this yummy and beautiful cake?  



Here's to our game and appreciating our great members, too!



by Peg at September 27, 2017 12:47 PM

September 26, 2017

Mike Yuen

My Partners

Canada’s Top Players.

Some time ago Andy Stark emailed me that he is writing an article on the top players of Canada. Would like me to contribute I thought it is an over bid, who can we say is the best player when on any given tournament one gets beat up by the most unlikely opponents! I immediately dismissed it out of hand.

But then yesterday Andy challenged me on Facebook to write something. How can I live it down if I turn and run. How can I ever show myself on Facebook again!

I only play with partners that I enjoy going to dinner with so they may not be household names they are my friends. 

So here is my take on the Top Players in my British Columbia world, in alphabetical order : 

Brad Bart : The rising star of his generation just won the 2017 CNTC in Winnipeg. Great partner, Good looker and prolific writer. If you ever need someone to work on your website he is the guy.

Brad Bart

Guy Coutanche : Hails from Thunder Bay, winters in Victoria. Beside playing a mean game of Bridge he is also a Chess Master and Poet. Enjoys the finer things in life: his heart was broken when they closed the Bengal Lounge at The Empress. The only place on the island that knows how to make a perfect Martini. Writes for The Bridge World when the spirits moves him.

Brian Fraser, Keith Dowdall, Guy Coutanche.


Keith Dowdall : Winters in Victoria, summers in Sioux Narrows. Victoria BC is on a small island-nowhere is more then 10 minutes away-but without his GPS he is lost! He was one of my first Bridge partners from Winnipeg. For some reason he named his first born Michael. Keith is also the reigning Pickleball Champion of Sannich BC and has a Black belt in Karate.

Les Fouks : One of the fastest player in Vancouver, that may not be a good thing as he oftentimes claim for the defence. Les and I did well in a few Blue Ribbon events together in past years. 

Les Fouks

Brian Fraser : Transplanted Montrealer when he could not stand the cold, pun intended. Loves to play seven days a week if possible. Was an accountant but don’t depend on him to keep score. Lives like a King at the Wellesley.

June Keith (Pocock) : We had a great partnership till she changed her name. Can I buy a vowel? June has her ways with words. Still nursing and not able to play as often as she would like. Has a big bridge following in town. She once went to the island to play money duplicate rubber bridge. You guessed it, after winning lots of money was told never to come back!

June Keith (Pocock)

Joel Martineau : Retired from teaching at UBC so he could teach bridge instead. Very involved with Vancouver International Film Festival. A good cook and wine connoisseur. Master Point Press will publish his “Hand of the Week: 52 Bridge Tales” in January 2018. 

Joel Martineau


Cary Salmi : A early riser from years of working at Bombardier in Thunder Bay. Another that saw the light and moved to Victoria. Strict and narrow guy-if you need an IMP player he is your man. Lately he is not the one on the team to take the drug test.

Kieth with Cary Salmi


Julie Smith : One of the wiser Americans that found paradise in Vancouver. We played three events and won them all. I should have stopped but the fourth was fun. Julie was a special needs teacher who now especially needs to teach bridge and very successful at that. At the recent Toronto Summer NABC Julie and Susan Humphries won the Wagar Women’s Pairs.

Julie Smith

Nickolas Stock : Another teacher in the group, just retired this year. Formerly a software guy. Recently taken on the thankless job of being Unit 430 Bulletin editor. Carried me to Reno for the NAP. Great and thoughtful player but sometimes I can make a three-minute egg faster then him calling for his first card. 

Nick Stock

by Mike Yuen at September 26, 2017 07:24 PM

David Smith

Bridge not succesful

Above: The Metro Toronto Convention Centre is the venue for the North American Bridge Championships. This is the view from the south.

My two teams played in the Senior Swiss and the Mixed Board-a-Match. We advanced to day 2 in the Seniors, but lost our seventh- and eighth-round matches to fall just out of the overalls. Our BAM just missed qualifying for day 2. I also played in the Online Individual and placed 240th, oh well.

My touring has been more successful. I went to Niagara Falls last Saturday and rode one of the hop-on/hop-off double-decker buses on Sunday, both of which were fun. Today I went to a Blue Jays' baseball game (vs. the Angels). Not sure what I'm doing tomorrow and then Monday I'm heading home.

Above: The Rogers Centre used to be called the SkyDome.

Above: The iconic CN Tower can be seen from anywhere in Toronto, even inside the Rogers Center.

Above: Note the reflection of the CN Tower on this handsome office building.

Above: The American Falls is on the left and the more famous Horseshoe Falls is on the right. Together they (with smaller Bridal Veil Falls in the middle) make up Niagara Falls. Located on the Niagara River, which drains Lake Erie into Lake Ontario, the combined falls form the highest flow rate of any waterfall in the world that has a vertical drop of more than 165 feet (see here).

Above: This shot of the Horseshoe Falls portion of Niagara Falls was taken from above. I'd hate to slip and fall in. I'd be swept over the edge and end up like my bridge was.

by Memphis MOJO (noreply@blogger.com) at September 26, 2017 03:39 PM

Judy Kay-Wolff

From the A C B L

Today, I (and as I understand .. all ACBL members via the Internet) received a list called ‘10 BIG IDEAS’ expressing ways to promote the game and suggestions how to reach that goal via their promotion. Bobby and I have already received a few emails and reactions. If it has reached you (and you've had an opportunity to absorb it), please share your views with me before I give you my ‘take’ on the subject.

by Judy Kay-Wolff at September 26, 2017 12:35 AM

September 22, 2017

Peg Kaplan

IMP Competition!



Many world class players believe that team play (IMP scoring) is the finest test of a player's mettle. 

Unfortunately, however, too many places in ACBL-land today have few to no team play left.

The MGSC Club would like to change that trajectory!

Mike Cassel (the fellow reaching for a board during the Spingold at this summer's NABC - one of the most impressive team games around) has worked to set up an excellent opportunity for Flight B and C players to learn and enjoy IMP competition.

The details are below; please consider taking advantage of these IMP games!

Download MGSCIMPLeagueovertureblog

by Peg at September 22, 2017 02:13 AM