♠♥♦♣ Planet Bridge

bridge blogs from the planet

February 19, 2017

Paul Gipson

Junior antics

I've spent most of the weekend watching and commentating on the Junior Camrose Trophy, held this year in Ireland. It is fair to say that I've seen some good bridge, some poor bridge, and some unbelievable bridge.

Most of the good bridge came from the England team who dominated the U26 event, as can be seen in the final table:

5Northern Ireland

The best match that I saw was the first one, when Scotland beat England by 9-5 imps. At that point I expect Scotland thought that there were in with a chance of winning the event, but it was the high point of their performance. After this they became inconsistent and made too many unforced errors to challenge England.

In the Peggy Bayer Trophy (U21), England were even more dominant.


All four teams were in states of transition but the experience and training of the England pairs was clear. The challenge for everyone else is to make this a competitive event next year.

All the results are available on fob.ie and you can see some of the play in the BBO Vugraph archive. Some of it will be be unsuitable for children and one bidding sequence even silenced Liz McGowan on commentary.

by Paul Gipson (noreply@blogger.com) at February 19, 2017 08:32 PM

February 17, 2017

Judy Kay-Wolff

To be Forewarned is to be Forearmed!

Here in the States (as well as elsewhere), there is continual chatter about declining interest in our once majestic game .. particularly Contract Bridge, which came upon the scene in 1927. As with most issues, everyone can cite reasons for declining participation. The most popular explanations seem to be an aging population as people are dying off .. with not enough interest generated by the younger set. I have done some research that I would like to share with you though that is far from the whole story.

After checking reliable sources, it appears that life expectancy is longer NOW than ever before (excepting rare circumstances). Perhaps we can attribute it to incredible medical science, research, surgeries, procedures and therapy. Times are changing. Old age is not that much of a factor lessening bridge attendance than as in physical enterprises. However, with the advent of modern technology in countless spheres .. consider the following! The younger set has witnessed so much that has evolved in past decades. Consider the addiction to TV, Taped shows, Internet, Kindle, Cell Phones, DVD’s (buy/rent), Movies, Soap Operas, Theatres, Operas, Traveling Headliners and the beat goes on! In fact, why go to a duplicate, tournament or NABC when you can play on BBO in the comfort of your robe .. at your own home .. and at convenient times that suit your personal schedule. Besides, the price is right! I am not condemning BBO .. far from it! It is very popular .. and why not? Just pointing out the tacks in the road. The public wants to know why bridge attendance is faltering with less and less youth taking up the game. Perhaps the above is only a fraction of the realistic reasons.

I think you may be surprised at my major primary suspicion. Let me acquaint you with the introduction of bridge to the younger set which actually was considered (but delayed) about a decade later in Asia. My husband and Bob Hamman were invited to Beijing by the late James Ortiz-Patino (Founder of the World Bridge Federation) to play opposite himself and his obviously enthusiastic partner, Deng Xioaping, the then-reigning Leader of the People’s Republic of China. That was in 1985. In 1993 Bobby (who was then President of the WBF) returned with a specific goal in mind. He was accompanied by Jeff Polisner (then Legal Counsel for the WBF) and another WBF Representative, Patrick Choy, who had since relocated in Singapore. The WBF trio met with a hierarchy of Chinese officials regarding earlier discussions about the positive aspects of the game of bridge. Their historical conference was held at The Great Hall of the People located in the legendary Tian’anmen Square. The primary purpose of the WBF visit: Introducing bridge OFFICIALLY by sanctioning it to be taught in the schools of China. After addressing Bobby …. “Mr Wolff: Exactly what can we do to help promote bridge?” — Bobby responded “Introduce and authorize the teaching of bridge into your school system.” The Chinese dignitaries discussed all the promising possibilities, opportunities and eventual results, excused themselves briefly, returned, extended their hands to Bobby, Jeff and Patrick and agreed “DONE DEAL!” MISSION ACCOMPLISHED .. or so they thought.

When Bobby returned to Aspen a short time later to attend the WBF Management Meeting, he presided, and proudly explained arrangements had been made and mutually agreed upon .. so that Audrey Grant (and her husband, David Lindop) would sojourn to China to “teach the teachers” how to teach bridge to the students. That included bringing notes, books, lesson materials, etc. … leaving the proverbial “no stone (or no card) unturned.” Shockingly, there was much resistance because many in attendance chirped in and wanted to join the entourage. Thus, their great intentions were thwarted even longer; however, the project finally got off the ground turning it over to the Chinese teachers who must have done one helluva a job as TODAY there are over 200,000,000 children learning and playing bridge in China. That is NOT A MISPRINT … OVER 200,000,000 IN CHINA … in addition to the eleven other European nations who had already officially introduced it into their school curricula earlier.

Just bear in mind. The collective membership here is around 170,000 total members. Compare that 200,000,000 school children in China alone (and add that to the other eleven countries who proudly adopted the educational school programs before that time). Lack of official bridge school involvement here is very discouraging .. so let’s face the facts and work on a solution:

Instead of concentrating on special local events and games and, of course the lure of more masterpoints, perhaps the ACBL administration should dedicate their time, interest and financial support (via ultra-qualified bridge leaders) toward investigating and hiring experienced teaching professionals to organize the same type of educational program the two hundred million Chinese youngsters have enjoyed the benefit of .. and are enabling them to make their way into the beautiful realm of bridge .. and eventually some of our newbies may become the budding bridge stars of the future.

Forgive my bluntness .. but the TIME IS NOW for a major turnabout to prevent the most incredible mind game in the world from losing stature. China and Europe have striven to teach and preserve the game and hopefully are enroute to protecting its continuance and popularity for centuries to come. Not so in the Western Hemisphere where little has seriously been done on a major scale to indoctrinate bridge into our school systems .. to prevent it from continuing to fall from grace and eventually vanish.

Bridge in the States and neighboring areas needs immediate resuscitation (long overdue) and that is OUR responsibility! The foresight taken by China and Europe seems like a rational approach. Otherwise, just sit back, do nothing and watch bridge fade into its likely fate of extinction.

by Judy Kay-Wolff at February 17, 2017 03:23 PM

February 16, 2017

Eamon Galligan

Junior Camrose and Sharkbridge

This weekend in City North near Gormanstown in County Meath we host the Junior Camrose and Peggy Bayer Home Internationals Junior bridge.

Teams from NIBU CBAI Scotland Wales and  England will participate.

More information can be found on the Bridge Great Britian website


Also Fearghal O'Boyle will have running scores once he wins his regular argument with the IT controls in City North.


Meanwhile a new bridge program/software has appeared. I don't know much about it but I played my
first daily tournament early this morning and did ok ... Tourney is scored in matchpoints but also shows your imps score too.

The program name is SHARKBRIDGE ... Canadian I think ..

I understand it has versions for MAC TABLET PHONE and PC.

I was using the PC version ...A 16 board daily tournament ...

However I think there might be some add ons to extract some hard cash from your purses to
support the project. ... Looks like a good program ...
As usual one South human and 3 robots ..

Google Sharkbridge ..


There is a Windows version above ...

However I am still happy to recommend http://bridge-now.com

Also www.bridgebase.com  has all one could wish for including human bridge players.

I have played with some novice and intermediate players recently ... Most seem to play by rules or rota or what some elder lemon told them ... They don't seem to think at all. Its like in a phone answering service company where I understand they have scripts for telling the caller how to sort out the problem....

Paddy said ... THIRD HAND HIGH
Paddy said ... DONT PREMPT UNLESS YOU HAVE 7 cards
PAT said ... IT CAN BE LIGHT OPENING BID in 3rd or 4th seat ..

Lots of new players are gathering up a set of rules by which one plays bridge ..

The old irish cardplayer is gone ...the one that played whist and don for 30 years before finding the

by Eamon Galligan (noreply@blogger.com) at February 16, 2017 05:45 PM

February 12, 2017

Peg Kaplan

Game On!



A month ago, MN Bridge reported that the U of MN would start having bridge classes for honor students. Now, the game is on!

Your webmaster traveled to the West Bank to see for herself how the lessons were coming along. Delighted to report that all systems are go! 



At the front of the room, Professor Matthew Bribitzer-Stull, Director of the Honors Program and Associate Dean, leads a lively discussion about the values of honor cards. Getting their bridge feet wet, students offer thoughts on aces and spaces.



Other U of MN professors assist as students wade into our fascinating yet confounding game. How do we capture tricks? What bids are to be made when? Which hands are great - and which not? Professor Hsu, below, advises.



As I walk through the room, I remember my own fascination and concurrent bewilderment with this marvelous game as my bridge education began. I hope that many of these students take on the bridge challenge, leading to a lifetime of excitement, mental sport - plus an entire world of bridge playing friends.




What does it all mean? How does it work? 

Never ever do you master bridge completely - yet learning continues forever - along with the fun!  

We will be reporting more on our bridge adventure at the U of MN!  Stay tuned, everyone!

by Peg at February 12, 2017 02:12 PM

February 07, 2017

Eamon Galligan

Wexford Congress Camrose2 etc

Last weekend Wexford held its annual bridge congress at Whites Hotel. The Congress Committee down there operate a tight show and in 3-4 years directing down there I have not seen anything break from a committee point of view.
Even when the Sinn Fein Ard Dheis showed up on the same weekend and managed to take the large function room (presumably above committee done a deal) nothing changed. By all accounts a small well functioning committee. I cannot name them as I don't know all their names exactly.

This year they added a new item or else their region did.


All Wexford Congress results are posted on this site.

Two Malahide members won the 2nd session of the Intermediate Pairs ..
74 pairs took part which is a large event and anyone who got a prize out of this worked hard for it.

We had 31 pairs in the Congress Pairs won by Katherine Lennon and Derek Crosbie despite a major Dublin player insisting they should be 2nd seeds in my 3 grouped seeding approach before the start.
I personally as director ranked the pairs as 1 2 or 3 in strength and spread them across the 3 fields equally. Generally any pair containing a trials player or international was deemed a 1.

Meanwhile up North in NIBU land there seems to be some discussion going on regarding the selection of NIBU Camrose Team for the 2nd weekend.
Currently Bridge Great Britian lists a team containing 4th 5th and 7th places on the trials but
the grapevine indicates that the original team will take their seats for battle.

NIBU perennially place 5th or 6th and recently some years they might manage 5th and 6th if they
are final weekend hosts. The problem is once the trials are over and probably before they don't do any training. Anderson Greenwood play tough matches on BBO almost daily so they are putting in the bridge gym work as such.

Top Irish pair Mesbur and Fitzgibbon are still doing bidding practice every week maybe 2-3 hours despite being a 40 year bridge partnership. The Irish Open team can be seen doing BBO practice matches with some Polish opponents and world class coach Krystoff Martens is involved in this exercise too.

I understand Michael Byrne from Manchester has visited or will visit NIBU to provide some training.
Michael has also turned up in Dublin to make up the 8 for a training weekend with the Irish Open Team some years back.

I don't know all the details of the NIBU team discussion but it is possible the selection committee dropped the first weekend team and later a more muscular committee over wrote that decision.

Meanwhile last night a lady approached me in Malahide asking what was the meaning of something about ethics in the Sunday Independent last Sunday in Mr Comyn's column. I have not seen the article so I don't know what it was about. I might find out if I can find a house that bought the Indo last Sunday. One used to be able to read the Sunday Indo in Maurice Quinns on a Tuesday.

John Cunningham a former Mullingar area bridge man passed away last weekend. John was already losing his sight by the time I got to be an opponent and that's over 20 years ago. I think he had also cut down his bridge playing by then too. However I recall having a few discussions as bridge technology developed in the early 2000s connected with Mullingar Bridge Centre....probably about  dealing machine or hand records or some such item. It was long before bridgemates surfaced.
John was a top player but I only saw the end of his playing career. Rest in peace.

by Eamon Galligan (noreply@blogger.com) at February 07, 2017 02:08 PM

February 04, 2017

Peg Kaplan

The MGSC's Grand Evening!



If you are in Minnesota and want to play in the state's most challenging club game, then the Minneapolis Grand Slam Club is for you. Now in its 79th season, the MGSC is a super place to compete, irrespective of experience.

One of the big reasons for this is our people. We have great folks who love our game, work hard at it, volunteer at the club and elsewhere - and are friendly and welcoming. One of those people who surely would be a contender for Best in Show in all these aspects is a guy who today is celebrating his 70th birthday:  Kerry Holloway.

Last night, as Mike Cassel, another fine player and volunteer, was preparing lots of goodies for our GNT Fundraiser Super Bowl evening, Kerry's marvelous wife Cara was preparing for a surprise! She dropped off a huge & very yummy birthday cake with Kerry's partner for the evening (yours truly) to surprise Kerry on his Big Birthday.  



Kerry was indeed duly surprised and delighted!  And all of us enjoyed the treats and birthday cake - along with another excellent evening of bridge.

If you happen to be reading this and you are not a bridge player, then please note that we would love for you to learn our game! Not only is it THE greatest mind game out there - it is filled with loads of really superb people who forge friendships for decades - just as important as the bridge partnerships they cherish. 


Happy BIG birthday to someone I met forty years ago, already an expert then when I was a newcomer.  Whether playing with a novice, seasoned player or someone top flight, Kerry is kind, a tough competitor and supportive in every way.

Thanks to all who played Friday night!  We love our bridge community and are happy to share lots more photos of the people who are as wonderful as the game itself.




by Peg at February 04, 2017 11:58 PM

Judy Kay-Wolff

A Game By Any Other Name…

The beginning of our beloved game came about in the 1800’s with Bridge Whist — continuing until it was converted in 1904 to Auction Bridge and continued that way until Harold Vanderbilt was credited when he brilliantly converted “Auction” into “Contract” Bridge while on a cruise in 1927. Then along came Eli Culbertson, Milton Work, Charles Goren and others who helped pioneer the game as we know it today. Since then Contract Bridge has appeared in many forms, including social at-home games. The American Contract Bridge League (ACBL) was created (in 1936) and The WBF (World Bridge Federation) at the urging and support of James Ortiz-Patino was formed in 1958 and under its auspices hosted many world championships/olympiads. Competition comes in all forms and shapes: individuals, pairs, teams … and more. Name your poison and pay your entry fee. At the duplicate clubs, the majority of events are focused on daily pairs with an occasional Special Club Championship (with an additional charge and extra masterpoints ala ACBL).

Judging from what we see locally here in Vegas, most play because of their love and enjoyment of the game enabled by leisure time. We also have Sectionals and Regionals. This Month (February 20th-24th), our Sectional will be held at The Plaza (which was the popular downtown site for the record breaking attendance of the 80’s and 90’s). I am pleased to add .. the advanced reservations are quite sizeable with nearly three weeks to go. All games (even at the neighborhood club level) allow the players to be ranked within their peers… new, intermediate and more experienced — depending upon their level of play). Obviously, it varies from social bridge all the way to the top .. National and International Competition where many high- level experts from both here and abroad compete … something like a Game for All Seasons. Bridge has shaped my life phenomenally beyond description (blessing me with both Norman and Bobby) and thus the necessity to express my concerns for the future distresses me!

Because of modern day technology, much has changed! I refer specifically to the current fabulous facilities employed to detect and document stealthy cheating (at all levels) with research and scientific methods not available previously. Early on .. perhaps sixty or so years ago, some adventuresome pairs illegally exchanged information and when discovered and corroborated .. some were booted out of our game .. many never to be seen or heard from again. Others paid a shorter period of penance .. but later resurfaced. However, with more experienced, clever, culprits (both nationally and internationally), it continued to thrive and is in the active stage of being proven and soon (I pray) to be stopped. I cannot go into the details myself, as I am not qualified to offer up proof .. but many top players (in 1963 when I came on the scene) KNEW and would have staked their lives on the undeserved wins of certain “glorious” teams (and pairs) whose names always appeared as No. 1. Many are familiar with the details after reading The Lone Wolff, but hold on to your seats .. there is more in the offing.

Since I truly believe the issue of deliberate underhanded, stealthy action is in the process of being squelched, we are exerting our efforts toward a new concern. On another site, most of you may have read about a second try (which failed over two decades ago) at introducing into universal bridge a proposed new contrived bidding system in conjunction with the striving for use of ‘Ferts.’ Yes, it is aptly nicknamed for the word ‘fertilizer’ which needs no elaboration. Just read between the drops. It is what it is! No doubt, most competitions are subject to change — and certainly favored .. IF in the interest of improvement (v. complicated bidding methods of confusion). Those of us old timers are appreciative and captivated by the majestic level to which bridge has ascended. However, there exist strong attempts to totally renovate our long-used methods of bidding where ‘this’ means ‘that’ and ‘that’ means ‘this.” If allowed (and we pray not), the game will go to hell in a hand basket — bearing no resemblance to what, for decades, we have proudly known as Bridge.

The most destructive element of this attempt at wreaking havoc on our long used, improved and rather simplistic bidding structure involves confusing techniques. Besides resembling a Halloween scene as it is very deceptive, it will cause contestants to play against trumped-up intentionally concocted bidding systems, slow down the game indescribably by unfamiliarity with the newly arriving chicanery, and force longtime players enamored by their favorite pastime to change their own bidding and defense to cope with it. And, how about all the extra time needed for those relatively in the dark who cause a delay of game. Certainly, they should not be penalized. With the revival of this second attempt to allow ‘ferts’ to infiltrate the system, I fear we will lose many avid players .. either giving it up or returning to relaxing mama-papa social coffee klatches. Is this attempted bridge revolution what you want? I didn’t think so!

Should (by some very dark and distant miracle) ‘Ferts’ and their accompanying ramifications officially ever sadly see the light of day … our once-great game’s replacement should be re-named GARBRIDGE!!

by Judy Kay-Wolff at February 04, 2017 10:51 PM

February 03, 2017

Paul Gipson

SBU Winter Foursomes

Numbers were disappointing at this year's Winter Foursomes, despite a welcome number of teams from England and Wales boosting the numbers. I think the fact that it is the toughest open weekend in Scotland frightens some away, but it really is the best place to gain experience.

So twenty-one teams lined up on Friday evening, with a mix of 32-board head-to-head matches and two by 16-board match triples. I was playing with Alex, Mike Ash, and Chris Chambers.

I'd been asked a couple of weeks ago how I'd seed the teams, probably because the organisers had struggled with the English players last year. I gave my view on this, especially as I knew the English teams pretty well, so I was partly responsible for the carnage in the first round.

John Matheson and I were also partly responsible as we coach the juniors, as VALENTINE (Ronan Valentine, Liam O'Brien, Damien Murray, Matthew Robb) beat the #3 seeds STEEL (Les Steel, John Matheson, Brian Short, Alan Goodman) in a 32-board head-to-head match. John had been particularly impressed with Ronan and Liam's system and their knowledge of it in their coaching sessions, but said that he expected that his team would significantly outplay the juniors in defence and declarer play. But he, and Les, both said that they fully deserved to win, playing the cards well and defending better than their illustrious opponents on some key hands.

Just as shocking was the PERKINS (Anne Perkins, Mike Baron, David Briggs, David King) defeat of multiple winners and #2 seeds SANDERS, again over 32 boards. Less shocking was the demise of #5 seed SIME, who had a tough triad and lost to the English/Welsh STEVENSON team. Sime had another junior, Gints Freimanis, on his team as a last minute substitute and he played with Douglas Piper - quite a daunting task for Gints but a great opportunity to play a big event with a top player and, as a junior coach, I'm grateful to Iain and Douglas for giving him the opportunity.

Another junior, Glen Falconer, had been called up as a late substitute in the SMITH team and again will have benefited enormously from the weekend, so thanks to Harry and Bob for giving him the opportunity.

We also struggled in our triad. We had a big win against the SMITH team but lost by 14 imps to the TAYLOR team - luckily for use SMITH beat TAYLOR by a margin sufficient for us to win the triad on total imps (+17) from SMITH (+3).

On Saturday morning we played the STEVENSON team who had beaten SIME. It started very well when Alex and I doubled Liz in a partscore to get +800, but they got two big swings and we were 16-18 imps after eight boards. In the second half things went our way as we won the set 19-9 imps to remain undefeated.

By this time the #8 seeds, DUNCAN, had beaten #1 OUTRED, the defending champions, so we faced Sandy in the pool of the last four undefeated teams. #6 COOPER and #7 SYMONS were the other undefeated teams.

It was a wild first set but, thanks to a poor grand slam failing, we led by 30-25 imps after eight boards. I'm not really sure what happened in the second half, save that Mike was very apologetic before we scored up and the final score was 11-57 over the eight boards. We'd lost our first life.

Now in the once-defeated pool and with no room for mistakes, we faced STEPHENS and his team of ex-juniors. It was a very tight match and we were relieved to emerge the winners 28-26 imps. There were plenty of opportunities for both sides to win and even more to tie the match to force extra boards!

STEEL exited the event at this stage as they were beaten heavily by COOPER, mainly due to four game swings in the first half. Meanwhile DUNCAN continued their winning way, beating SYMONS to be the last undefeated team. This earned them the choice of quarter-final opponent, so they selected SHENKIN, and the other matches were drawn to avoid rematches where possible. We would play SYMONS and COOPER would play STEVENSON.

We got off to a good start against SYMONS, gaining a lead in the first 12 boards of 51-16 imps. This was mainly good play, but Alex and I bid an atrocious slam that made for 11 imps. The second half was just what we ordered, a quiet but tough set that we won 12-7 imps, mainly due to (fairly) good bridge all around.

DUNCAN beat SHENKIN to remain undefeated and get a bye into the final. COOPER won on the final board against STEVENSON and we'd face them in the semifinal on Sunday morning.

The COOPER team featured Chris Cooper and Andrew Murphy, our Premier League team mates, and Frazer Morgan and Ed Jones, two very talented young players but not a regular partnership.  Both 12-board sets felt very tight at our table; Alex and I thought we had cards with a little upside, but not such that we felt comfortable. As it happened, we out-partscored them in the first half to establish a comfortable 32-2 imps lead. When Alex and I had an excellent auction to a grand slam on the first board of the second half, and then made two overtricks in a doubled game, the match felt it was over. I tried to make it more interesting by miscounting my key cards, so we bid a grand slam on a failing finesse but eventually held on comfortable to win 59-27 imps.

Unfortunately, as there was an undefeated team and only one semifinal, Cooper was now out of the event. Even worse, no prize money for third place and flights booked for 8pm. So they did what any set of sport fans would do - go to the Lowland League match between East Stirlingshire and Spartans FC. Murph gave live text updates on Facebook as Spartans ran out 4-1 winners. Five goals, one red card, scotch pie was £1.60 and a Bovril £1.20 - clearly not the Premier League!

The final was over 32 boards, two sixteen board sets. The first set was very tight and mostly well played, at least at our table. We stayed out of a slam for the correct reasons, but a transfer bid meant that we could have safely bid and made it; at the other table they bid it from the wrong side when they were warned not to, and so that made the half-time score 19-10 imps. Alex and I had a fair second half but we finished about 4 boards before the others: we'd made 10 tricks in major part-scores twice, but they looked unlikely games to bid and the defence would have chances to beat them if they did; we'd bid a distributional hand to a small slam and thought for some time about bidding what was a making grand, but didn't. So there was downside in our card and I was not confident about victory. But Mike and Chris were as we had all the big swings in the set and won with a final score of 70-25 imps.

This was a first win in the event for Alex, Chris, and I but the second for Mike. Although we had our luck at times you need that in this event and I think we were deserving winners.

Elsewhere, the VALENTINE team had a great run on Saturday and almost made the quarter-finals of the main event, losing to SHENKIN by just 6 imps. Then they had to face the OUTRED team for a place in the Consolation Final and put up a good fight: most impressive was they did not give up when 30 imps down at the half and it was a close second set. Brian Senior said he was impressed with them. They would finish the top Bronze team in Sunday's Swiss.

The Consolation Final was the toughest in recent memory: OUTRED, SANDERS, STEEL, SYMONS, SMITH, SHENKIN, STEVENSON. Obviously it helps if your team captain starts with an ess. STEEL romped away, winning the event by 29 VP from SANDERS.

Overall it was a very well run event by Gus Macdonald and Anne Perkins. The Melville Club is an excellent venue with good hospitality and attractive rates at the hotel next door. The entry fee is very good value, we got 160 boards for £40 each, and although I'd like to see prize money for third I can understand that they need to balance the budget. But if we can get more teams to play, then I'm sure that'll come.

I hope to see more teams there next January!

I'll post some of the more interesting hands over the next few days.

I forgot to say congratulations to Sandy Duncan, Jim Hay, Paul Barton, and Jun Nakamaru-Pinder on reaching the final undefeated. We lost the final having done that and I know that John Matheson thinks it is a curse. Perhaps he is right!

by Paul Gipson (noreply@blogger.com) at February 03, 2017 01:00 PM

Decisions at the Winter Fours

When you play 160 boards over a weekend you will have a few decisions to make. These are some that I and others faced.

From the final:

What is your call now?

And from the second half:

Your call?

Man or mouse or just sane? Possibly not a problem for everyone from the semifinal:

Anyone tempted to bid?

A wild hand from the quarter-final:

Partner's cue bid shows 5-5 in the majors with at least 8 HCP (an Italian concept of showing 5-5 hands in competition). What is your plan?

From Round 4:

Your call?

And from Round 3:

Your call?

Finally, from the triad on Friday evening:

Your partner opens a weak no-trump. Are you worth a move?

by Paul Gipson (noreply@blogger.com) at February 03, 2017 01:00 PM

Finals hands

The big swing in the first half of the final of the Winter Foursomes was this hand:

I knew that we were missing the ace of hearts and I expected that we'd have a spade loser before I could establish the hearts. Of course even on a spade lead there are significant chances in the club suit to dispose of my loser, but it wasn't easy to see this at the table and the queen of spades was a surprise in dummy.

In the other room Mike did not make a spade overcall but did double a spade cue bid. With the clubs offside, even Deep Finesse cannot make the slam from the North seat on the marked spade lead. Was this a lucky swing or good bridge?

In the second half, I was faced with a tough decision:

So I didn't know Alex's spades. With three key-cards for diamonds and three small spades, he might well bid like this, but if he has shorter spades then I can probably ruff them out but a trump lead will not be helpful.

Eventually I passed and missed an easy grand slam. But fortunately they had a key-card accident in the other room so we gained a slam swing.

In our quarter-final, we had to cope with a minor brilliancy from Miro Dragic:

Having found a way to discover his partner had clubs, Miro led and continued diamonds to beat the slam. This deserved a swing, but his team mates were trying to get back some imps and were in the grand slam for a flat board.

Finally a question, how bad is this slam?

My bidding might look wild, but I was fixed over three diamonds. I had no way to agree spades and force. I could have cue bid four diamonds and then bid four or five) spades over four hearts, but ace king to five spades is sufficient for slam or ace to five in both suits: of course ace-king to five hearts is less interesting! But I went for the bold and reckless option, thinking that the opponents may sacrifice some of the time.

I was very lucky to find such a favourable layout and I comfortably made the slam. Naturally I apologised quickly, but took the imps!

by Paul Gipson (noreply@blogger.com) at February 03, 2017 01:00 PM

Peg Kaplan

From Here to Eternity


A new year for bridge - and - Steve Gaynor has provided us with a new schedule for almost all of eternity!

Our thanks to Steve for helping us know what fabulous games are lurking throughout our state - along with other events that Minnesotans would love.

From the start of 2017 and on - posted below.  Thank you, Steve!


by Peg at February 03, 2017 01:54 AM

January 31, 2017

Peg Kaplan

Winter Sectional Results



A great venue at the Maplewood Community Center provided a fine weekend of tournament bridge! Our thanks to tournament chair Keith Thompson, DIC Kim Hayward and all our able volunteers for the Winter Sectional.

At the top of the masterpoint list for the weekend, we find Kerry Holloway. Known for not only his excellent play, but also his ability to partner a wide variety of players and achieve great results, this weekend was no different. Kerry earned an impressive 30.5 masterpoints with his partners! The overall masterpoint list is here; results from each event here.



And as we near Valentine's Day, a sweet treat. For many of us, partnering our partner in life can be a significant challenge AT the table. Yet, some of us handle it magnificently!

Love is in the air - and in these smiles.



More shots of sectional fun below!




by Peg at January 31, 2017 03:24 PM

January 28, 2017

Peg Kaplan

"Nobody's Any Good at This Game"



While the Winter Sectional at the Maplewood Community Center continues on this weekend, a fine article for all our competitors to enjoy.

We sometimes think that elite players are bridge gods and can do no wrong. Sometimes, they do indeed perform miracles at the table!

Yet, as Fred Gitelman (one of the founders of BridgeBase Online) highlights, even the experts sometimes make errors - and sometimes bad ones!

Fred recalls one time approaching Michael Rosenberg, whom he had just watched make a play that had not turned out well. and asking him why he had made the error. Michael smiled at him. ‘Don’t you get it yet. Fred?’ he asked. ‘Nobody’s any good at this game; it’s just that the top players are less bad than the rest.’

Have a great time this weekend at our Winter Sectional.  And remember that no one at all ever plays perfectly! If something goes wrong at the table, then forget about it and move on to the next hand.  

That's what the experts do!


by Peg at January 28, 2017 01:52 PM

January 27, 2017

Eamon Galligan

Camrose Weekend 1 2017 and Schools Bridge

Camrose Weekend 1 took place from January 6th to 8th in Coventry. Scotland fielded 2 teams as they are the hosts of the Final Weekend.

Ireland won their first 2 matches against Wales and Northern Ireland gathering in almost
39 VPS out of 40. Then SBU punched them for 5.5. The Irish team responded with a 20-0
hammering of the struggling Scotland team.

Meanwhile England had built up a decent total of about 65.6 VPS to lead Ireland by about a VP going into the final matchup.

One hand apparently provided the highlight of the Ireland England match when Tony Forrester apparently flicked the Club King on the table under John Carrolls Ace. However there has been
some word that the Club King was placed facedown on the table for many seconds before being turned over for Carroll to see. However this is 2nd hand information so unverified.


Results and standings can be found on EBU website


Meanwhile there are whiffs of brownish smoke emanating from the Vatican that the first weekend team from the NIBU have been retired as Camrose players for the foreseeable future.
Maybe Eamon can offer them some space in the bidding gym. A few memberships are still available.

Last weekend Eamon Galligan assisted by Thomas "Teaboy" MacCormac ran the Irish Schools
Pairs championship in http://malahideregionalbridgeclub.com/who for the last 5 years have made their facilities available to the Schools Bridge group at a nominal fee. I don't know if the nominal fee is ever collected. However these young players really enjoy their day.
Players come from Laurel Hill Dundalk Belfast Dublin and Kilkenny.

Results can be found on Thomas MacCormac bridge site

by Eamon Galligan (noreply@blogger.com) at January 27, 2017 10:36 PM

Bob Mackinnon

Sherlock Holmes Plays Bridge

In My Fair Lady Professor Henry Higgins asks his companion, Colonel Pickering, ‘why can’t a woman be more like a man?’ The colonel doesn’t come up with a clear answer. In the 21st century we are facing the question turned around: ‘why can’t a man be more like a woman?’, and we are finding he can, although not yet reaching the status of an interchangeable piece in the post-industrial machinery. Some men still fall in love with their baby-sitter.

We can’t imagine Sherlock Holmes, back in the Victorian era, asking Watson the same question. Watson might reply, ‘Really, Holmes! Why this sudden interest?’ Previously his friend had shown no more interest in a woman than in a discarded cigar butt. Indeed, he had never written of a woman, ‘close examination can uncover many interesting details.’ Holmes is a realist and an admirer of Petrarch who famously noted, ‘rarely do great virtue and great beauty dwell together’. For some this provides an incentive for interaction, but for Holmes it is an excuse for not getting involved.

At one time clever Anglo-Saxon schoolboys made Sherlock Holmes their hero. When they were old enough to take up bridge seriously, they strove to adopt his analytic methodology to the play of the cards. The atmosphere at the table was in the Victorian model of civility and comportment. There are still remnants of that era about. Many fine (male) bridge players, like Sherlock Holmes, enjoy solving puzzles more than they value human companionship. Holmes does not hate Mankind, rather he views people, women in particular, as the necessary providers of problems. One cannot play bridge without a partner and opponents. His strong sense of justice is tempered by circumstances. In The Boscombe Valley Mystery he lets a murderer go free in order that a beautiful, blue-eyed daughter might have a better chance at happiness, happiness being defined as a marriage to a poor but handsome chap who had been living in sin with a disreputable barmaid. (Watson should check him over.) Perhaps in the mind of the great detective this was to be a punishment for her distractive beauty, not a reward.

Holmes brings his cold objectivity to the bridge table. Recently at my local club word was received that a club member had gone to the hospital seriously ill. A Get Well card was being circulated for signature. One of the players at the table, a Holmes-type, said, ‘He should have quit smoking years ago’. I thought, true enough, but you never write ‘I told you so’ on a sympathy card. This got me to thinking about other greeting cards on which a middle-aged misanthrope should refrain from putting his true feelings in writing.

A Misanthrope’s Greeting Cards

Have a Nice Trip! Beware of strangers offering assistance.

Congratulations on your Engagement! Honeymoons are short – so get a head-start.

It’s a Girl! Enjoy the next 12 years.

It’s a Boy! Boys will be boys. Hope he’s not the exception.

Congratulation on Your Promotion! A nice surprise!

Sorry! I would like to apologize, but facts remain facts.

I Heard of Your Divorce Only five years for manslaughter, but alimony for life.

Happy Retirement! Wise decision and none too soon.

Congratulations on your Re-Marriage It’s a good bet when you’ve nothing to lose.

Have a Nice Cruise! The Pyramids are beautiful in the moonlight, but don’t go there.

Get Well Soon Defy the odds! You always have against me.

Happy 70th I thought you were much older. Enjoy your overtime.


The Sudden End of a Rubber

Now we come to Dr Watson, who portrays himself as a conscientious mediocrity, but who carries a revolver and, if the need arises, is not averse to shooting someone overcome by strong passions. His life is devoted to completing tasks, whereas Holmes’ life is devoted to starting adventures. As Watson looks back he regrets he wasn’t more like his quixotic friend. The truth is, Holmes couldn’t have tolerated Watson if the doctor had shown more initiative. He had to be reliably predictable without disturbing the thought processes. There are bridge partnerships like that. Here they are at the bridge table, as described by Watson looking back in his old age.

One evening, while awaiting certain developments in the East End, Holmes and I dropped in at the Aurelian Club near the Moorgate Street Station (where it still stands) to pass the time with a few rubbers of bridge. He was not a favourite there, partly because of his aloof air of superiority, but largely for the inordinate time he spent making decisions during the play of part-scores that appeared to others to be of no great consequence. Yet these were the problems that most engaged his mind, with his cards face down on the table before him, eyes closed and fingers pressed tightly against his noble brow. On one occasion an impatient opponent was heard to mutter, ‘for God’s sake, Man’, for which transgression he was immediately expelled. Later Holmes had the man reinstated and he himself paid the membership fee, which, although befittingly modest, was a significant sum for the fellow who had come on hard times due to excessive drinking. It came to light later that he had helped Holmes in writing his memorandum on strong liquors, a task that may have contributed to his medical condition.

On the occasion of which I write our opponents were two gentlemen of quite varying aspect, South being a slim, nervous, young man with a thin charcoal pencil moustache on his upper lip, North, a red-faced, portly gentleman with mutton chops and an air of self-importance that often comes with successful middle age. It was getting late in the rubber after an inordinate number of part-scores when this hand finally brought the affair to its swift and satisfactory conclusion.

All Pass

The auction was brief, the play, quick. Holmes won the Q lead with the K in his hand, drew trumps in 3 rounds, took two rounds of clubs ending in dummy, and led the J. The beefy gentleman pounced on it with his ace like a hungry hound on a bloody bone. Holmes ruffed the Q return and claimed explaining he could ruff this club, and throw two clubs on the established KQ. The young man slumped dejectedly in his chair while the clergyman hurried to the exit without ever thinking of settling up.

The next morning over breakfast I questioned Holmes on his line of play.

‘I was wondering, Holmes, why you didn’t play on hearts immediately. It seems safer.’

‘Ah, Watson, you again demonstrate that at bridge even success has its critics. I admit I may have been too greatly influenced by our opponents’ behaviour.’

‘I noticed nothing untoward.’

The young bank clerk on my left hesitated briefly after our 1 – 1 start. He is the type who enters auctions cheaply without material justification. Did you notice the threadbare condition of his shirt cuffs? While he was considering such a rash move, his partner, an honest clergyman of Nonconformist persuasion, drew out his pocket watch, anxious not to be late for his evening prayer session scheduled to begin in 18 minutes time. That marked him with a flat hand of little interest. For such people, failure becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.’

‘This is unlike you, Holmes. You are always insisting on evidence based on facts.’

‘Very well, I shall explain. The division of sides of the opponent’s cards was 7=9=4=6. The lead indicted a robust spade suit. On the third round of trumps, South let go what appeared to him to be a worthless club. He felt he must keep guards in both majors. The rest was elementary. If he had the A and returned a safe spade to dummy’s A, I could ruff the clubs good and return to dummy to enjoy them.’

‘But I had opened light in first seat. How could you know you couldn’t make 13 tricks?’

‘I know your tendencies, Watson. Dinner time was upon us, nevertheless, I would expect no less than 2 aces and 9 minor suit cards. The young man’s hesitation pointed to potential bad breaks, so I decided to put an end to it, if for no other reason than not to inconvenience our clergyman’s parishioners.’

‘You might have done that by bidding 3NT and be done with it.’

‘That would be unsporting. No, at least slam presented me with a one-trick problem.’

‘It all depended on the clubs sitting 3-3. If they weren’t, holding up the ace would have presented difficulties. The opponents aren’t always so reliable.’

‘Well observed, old fellow. If our RHO were a Moriarity, he would be capable of withholding his ace in order to create a problem in communication, and I may have regretted not giving the situation more thought, especially after he had taken out his watch in such an obvious manner. However, if we can’t trust our bankers and our clergyman, where would we be? ‘

‘Quite so. Concerning that young gentleman…’

‘Watson, I am willing to wager we’ll not be seeing that particular young person again. Now let’s take up our instruments and try to give justice to a theme by Herr Pachebel.’

by Bob Mackinnon at January 27, 2017 01:50 PM

January 25, 2017

Peg Kaplan

2017 Winter Tournament - Jan 27-Jan 29



Just two days until winter fun in St. Paul!  Starting Friday, January 27 at 9:30AM, head to the Maplewood Community Center for the start of the Winter Sectional Tournament. Every day features new and challenging events, along with coffee and treats.  

During Sunday's morning and afternoon sessions, lunch will be served.

The schedule and all the details about our great sectional are here.  Grab your favorite partners and head to the Maplewood Community Center this weekend for the bridge event of the month!

by Peg at January 25, 2017 01:18 PM

Paul Gipson

EBU Online Knockout

Once again Alex and I are playing with Mike and Paul in the EBU Online Knockout and last night was the first round. We were playing well-known opponents to us, Malcolm, Ed, Steve, and Andy.

Mike and Paul earned the first two big swings with two excellent slam efforts:

Neither of these slams were bid in our room, but unfortunately Alex and I gave back all these imps on the next two boards. Two normal leads let games through, although one of them I could still have defeated if I had not suffered from BBO blindness and ruffed partner's trick.

There were no further big swings and we finished the first half with a small deficit, 29-31 IMP.

The second half started slowly and then everything went our way. However Mike might not have thought so after board 4:

Doubling a minor game with two aces is a reasonable proposition and normally only costs four or five imps if you are wrong, but here Paul selected the 'safe' trump lead and it meant a doubled overtrick and -950.

But Paul had got the big decision on the hand right, not that he was probably expecting a big decision with his holding. In our room, I opened the West hand with three clubs, and Alex raised to five clubs after North's spade overcall: once again North doubled, but this time South pulled it to five spades. Alex doubled and we extracted the maximum to win 4 imps on the board.

A couple of hands later Mike played a game contract better than our opponent to win a game swing and then an interesting judgement hand:

The key to this swing was West's second call. If South had passed, then I think one spade is right when you have such poor hearts although this could go very wrong if North rebids three clubs. But with South showing four spades, the question is whether to simply raise or show a good raise. I asked LotG and she said the decision was whether to raise or pass, a strong raise was not in the picture.

Obviously I think passing is too much, but I agreed with her that this is not close to a strong raise and when the auction confirmed that Alex had a singleton spade I was very happy with my decision. When Andy failed to lead his singleton king of trumps (!), Alex had a fairly easy route to make the contract.

In the other room West showed a strong raise and East naturally bid game. Solid defence beat this by two tricks for an 8 imp swing. I then made a doubled game, unbid in the other room, and Paul finished the second half rout with a better final decision:

The auction was the same in the other room until three diamonds was passed.

In the end we won comfortably by 76-42 IMP. The second round will be played some time in February.

by Paul Gipson (noreply@blogger.com) at January 25, 2017 11:46 AM

January 23, 2017

Paul Gipson

A simple show-up squeeze

A lot of intermediate players shudder when they hear the term squeeze - they know that this is a term for an exotic play that experts have mastered but they haven't and probably never will.

But some of them can be the easiest plays in the world, if only you listen to the auction and watch the cards. I came across this one today and it could not be easier.

If you press Next in the hand diagram you will see the lead and can make your plan.

First count your tricks. You have two spades, two hearts, the ace of diamonds, and five clubs assuming that they break. You can ruff a heart in dummy, but that is one of your five club tricks. You can run the lead around to your queen for an eleventh trick, assuming that the lead is not a singleton. So it looks like you will need the spade finesse and divine the diamond position to make the contract.

Let's try to reconstruct some of the hand from the auction. West has made a vulnerable weak jump overcall opposite a passed partner. Few are going to do this without a good suit, so I think we can expect West to have most of the hearts given we have the ace and king of the suit. At a minimum, we expect West would expect a heart lead to be a safe lead almost regardless of his holding.

So it is less likely that he has made an aggressive lead in another suit, hence I think his lead might well be a singleton. So it is safest to rise with the ace of diamonds, draw trumps, and eventually from dummy lead towards the queen of diamonds.

Following this line we discover that West did have a singleton jack of diamonds and two clubs.

So now we can surmise that West has six or seven hearts with three minor cards. Click Next on the above diagram a few times to get to the current position. We cannot afford to lose another trick and the contract seems to rest on the spade finesse. Can you see anything better?

The key is that we don't have to ruff our third heart. If we keep it, then West has to keep a higher heart too. So if we play off the top two hearts and two trumps, then we will know the heart layout and the distribution of the complete hand. We will reach the following position with the lead in dummy:

Now, we don't know who holds the queen of spades, but when East showed up with two hearts we knew that his distribution was 2272 and West was dealt four spades and six hearts.

So the odds heavily favour West holding the queen of spades originally but there is no need to finesse him for it. Just play the last trump from dummy! East will pitch a diamond, I can pitch the three of spades, and what does West pitch?

If he throws the queen of hearts, then my nine is established and all the rest are mine. If he discards a low spade, then I know the remaining spades are 2-2 and by cashing the ace first, and then the king, the jack will be a winner. How simple is that?

What could go wrong? Well, suppose East only followed to the first heart trick and showed out on the second. Then we'd know that the spades were 3-3 initially. But we would follow the same line which would force West down to a doubleton spade. So when we cash the ace of spades and lead towards the king, then if West followed small then we'd go down, since we'd know that East had the guarded queen remaining.

If you see this line at trick one, then you might consider what you can do when West has seven hearts. It is unlikely to cost by cashing the top hearts to find out the layout, after drawing trumps. But if the hearts are 7-1, then you need to decide who to play for the queen of spades - a 50% chance as they'll be 3-3 when the trumps are 2-2.

So the best line is almost certainly to draw trumps and cash the top two hearts. Then assume West has a singleton diamond and play for the hand with the longer spades to have the queen. When this is West, play the show-up squeeze as shown above. When it is East, you can squeeze him in spade and diamonds, threatening to endplay him with the king of diamonds .. but this is a lot more complicated and left as an exercise for the reader (just suppose West is 2713 distribution)!

by Paul Gipson (noreply@blogger.com) at January 23, 2017 04:59 PM

January 21, 2017

Peg Kaplan


Mike Cassel, our GNT Coordinator, has shared an information sheet about our May District 14 Finals this year in Mason City, IA.

Lots of great information from Mike about the event. A fabulous opportunity to compete against your peers at the Summer NABC in Toronto!

Take a look below at the event.  Hope to see many of you in Mason City - and - winning teams in Toronto!

Download GNTpromo16-17

by Peg at January 21, 2017 01:59 PM

January 16, 2017

Peg Kaplan

Eddie Kantar - 2017 Lazard Sportsmanship Award Recipient

  Eddie K

Minnesota may not be one of the more populous states in the U.S.  Yet, we have produced quite a number of super stars in the bridge world.  

One of those very accomplished stars is Eddie Kantar.

Born and raised in Minneapolis, Eddie began to play at age 11, continuing with both competition and teaching at the University of Minnesota. He has had quite the illustrious career.

Not only has Eddie twice won the famed Bermuda Bowl, he also has many North American Championships to his credit, along with Grand Master status in the WBF and Grand Life Master status in the ACBL. In addition, Eddie is one of the most revered and prolific bridge writers around. His biography has more details.

Twenty years ago, Eddie was inducted into the ACBL Hall of Fame. Much more about his accomplishments in so many aspects of our game are heralded in his HOF write up.

Now, yet another honor has been bestowed upon Eddie.  The 2017 Lazard Sportsmanship Award has named Eddie as their recipient. As an "icon of the game" and a competitor who has been "a beacon of integrity and sportsmanship for decades," the committee selectors chose Eddie for their award.

Bridgewinners has posted a lovely detailed explanation of the award - and why Eddie is so deserving of this title.

Congratulations to Eddie, who joins fellow "from Minnesota but now in California" Howie Weinstein as a Lazard Sportsmanship Award winner!  We are bursting with pride for you both!

by Peg at January 16, 2017 09:09 PM

Unit 178 - February 4th BOD Agenda

For those interested in what Unit 178's Board of Directors are focusing on - their agenda for February 4th below.

Our thanks to the Board for their diligent service!

Download AgendaFeb4

by Peg at January 16, 2017 06:32 PM

January 14, 2017

Peg Kaplan

Back to the Future! - Bridge at U of M!

  U MN


Many of us "old timers" learned bridge when we were in college. Yet for some years, the number of students getting turned on to The Greatest Mind Game Ever dwindled. Now, however, a fine roster of U of MN professors are going to alter that trajectory!

Matthew Bribitzer-Stull, along with colleagues Paul Gutterman, Eric Hendrickson, Leon Hsu, Nita Kevans, Glen Meeden and Harry Sapienza will soon be teaching bridge at U of MN!  Approximately 48 Honors students will learn how to play bridge on Monday evenings, from 5:30-7:00PM in the Honors dorm. If they so wish, students will be encouraged to stay for another hour of play, from 7:00-8:00PM. 

Education will go well beyond rote explanation of rules. Faculty will also include discussion of the thinking skills that bridge develops, including enhanced memory, concentration, analytic thinking, contingency planning, communication and more. 

Bridge at the Honors dorm starts Monday, January 23rd, through May, 1st. A tournament will be held on the final date!  Students are encouraged to join the American Contract Bridge League (ACBL) and to continue their bridge education at local bridge clubs, such as the Twin Cities Bridge Center and The Bridge Center of St. Paul. We hope that students will also continue their education with further lessons.

U of MN students have a fabulous opportunity to learn the game with a fine array of bridge teachers!  We hope that many take advantage of these exceptional sessions!

Thanks to Minnesota Bridge Education for supporting this effort by providing teaching and playing supplies.

by Peg at January 14, 2017 02:01 PM

January 12, 2017

Judy Kay-Wolff

Exciting News from Las Vegas

Take advantage of the upcoming Unit 373 Glitter Gulch Sectional rates at the newly renovated Plaza in the traditionally celebrated area known as The Fremont Experience. I have been in touch with Chairlady Extraordinaire, Angie Clark, who served as Hospitality Chairperson for the last two Chicago NABCs. I’ve gleaned the following from her which I want to share with you:

The playing site is conveniently located and has fresh new carpeting where they have installed an additional bank of can lights to the already-existing adequate light system to make a very well-lit attractive playing area which is almost adjacent to the restrooms. There are restaurants and coffee shops in the Plaza as well as numerous dining facilities and other casinos just steps away.

The dates of our tournament are Monday through Friday (February 20-24th). The Starting Times are 10 & 3. The room rates (including resort fee and tax):  MONDAY ($54.25); TUESDAY, WEDNESDAY, THURSDAY ($44.25).  Be sure to make your hotel reservation by January 30th USING OUR RESERVATION CODE:  SPACBL! (The card fees per session are $12 per person/$15 for non-ACBL members). The popular starting times of 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. allow our players to enjoy relaxing meals in incredibly exciting surroundings.

The bridge schedule encompasses: PAIR GAMES: Two Sessions Every Day with an exciting BAROMETER PAIRS on Thursday; KNOCKOUTS Monday through Wednesday… with SWISS TEAMS available for those knocked out early. The tourney closes on Friday with a two-session STRATIFIED SWISS TEAMS and PAIR GAMES as well. Our 0-299ers have games every day at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. No section top prizes will be provided; however, trophies for I/Ns have been arranged. Check out our Unit 373 site for more specific details.

With the expected success of the February Sectional, we can ensure many more events at this location in the future. We look forward to your joining us at The Plaza.

More details to follow!

by Judy Kay-Wolff at January 12, 2017 03:55 PM

January 09, 2017

Peg Kaplan

Three Cheers for Rochester!




Bridge lessons at the Rochester Bridge Club have been quite successful in bringing new players into the club.

Recently, 14 of their bridge students have joined the ACBL and are playing regularly, some even competing for the Ace of Clubs award in their category!  Hats off to Sue Greenberg and her team for these achievements!

An additional note is that Minnesota Bridge Education has supported the cause by helping to pay entry fees as the new players try out duplicate games.

by Peg at January 09, 2017 11:34 PM

MN Bridge Education

Learn bridge

MN Bridge Education is a charity whose goal is to support developing bridge players in Minnesota.   We support bridge teachers, students, and clubs by providing funds for lessons, supplies, and duplicate games for new players.

As a recognized charity, donations are tax deductible. So far our funds have come from individual donations, memorial gifts, and bridge charity games. We also have been included in at least one person’s estate planning. Please contact Sue Jackson (sjackson@smumn.edu) with questions. 

We now have a link to this on the left of the website.  Keep an eye out for news about this resource to help promote more bridge players in our state!

And, articles of incorporation are below.

Download MNBridgeEducation

by Peg at January 09, 2017 03:01 PM

January 08, 2017

Paul Gipson

Behind the sofa

I suspect most Scottish supporters spent the weekend watching BBO vugraph in 'Doctor Who mode' as the horror show unveiled. Realistically it was not much better for the English supporters, who expected their team to run riot and finish the weekend with an unassailable lead. The final table reads:

5Northern Ireland32.95

Scotland started well by beating the SBU team, but then disintegrated for the rest of the weekend. The SBU team were demolished by England but then had an excellent win against Ireland and should have beaten Wales in the final match to finish above them.

I'm glad I'm not a Scottish selector because it seems clear that changes are needed but it is not as if there are plenty of alternatives ready and waiting to come in. Only Ash-Bayer, who were unavailable this weekend, look certain to come into the Scotland team and arguments could made to drop all three pairs! Typically the selectors do not make such wholesale changes, mainly due to lack of options, so perhaps just a single change.

For the SBU team, I expect they'll keep the two most experienced partnerships. Although they both had their ups and downs, at least they looked competitive most of the time. The third pair looked under-prepared and did not fill viewers with confidence; I suspect this will be more fatal to their chances of playing the next weekend than their butler score.

The England team had two poor matches, failing to comprehensively beat Northern Ireland and then losing the decisive final match to Ireland. They've left the Hinden team much to do in Edinburgh in March.

The full results are available on the EBU website.

Hopefully the SBU will put on a better vugraph show in Edinburgh. Only four tables were available most of this weekend and, occasionally, just three. I suspect this was a new venue and the internet coverage poorly understood; and I was told that they did not have enough operators on the Friday evening. The Edinburgh venue has been used often and there is already a standby list of operators.

by Paul Gipson (noreply@blogger.com) at January 08, 2017 09:49 PM

January 06, 2017

Eamon Galligan

Camrose 2017

This evening at around 1900 the annual Camrose Bridge Party starts. I think it should be on Bridgebase Online for all to see.

After a little research I discovered it takes place in Coventry so all should be well for our viewing pleasure. EBU usually put on a good show but in some countries the vugraph operators can be brand new and take some time to get up to speed. However EBU are almost as good as Paul Porteus.

The usual teams will play with Scotland having two teams in action. That probably means all the players in Scotland that can follow suit. Les Steele does not follow suit these days and Victor is probably retired to the Over 50s Telscher bash and some other good Scots players emigrated to USA and England. No sign of Derek Saunders this year. I guess Biff does not play bridge anymore and maybe Liz has retired. I think SBU team will outrun Scotland. Have not seen Jim Hay togging out for a while so maybe match fitness could be a problem.

I have not noticed much movement of the Northern Ireland team since they completed the trials but with Peter Pigot teaching regularly up there in one of the clubs maybe they took the opportunity to get some coaching. The NIBU team is backboned by Ciara Burns and John Murchan along with Grier McKenzie and Hastings Campbell.  NIBU also include honorary players Greenwood and Anderson.
Anderson is quite a good player having gathered about 110 caps for Northern Ireland. He also made a recent appearance in the Seniors Bermuda Bowl in India reaching the quarter final.

The CBAI team of Carroll Garvey Moran Boland Hanlon and McGann will have a shot and I saw them in the bridge gym recently. However Boland has a pulled hamstring in his left arm so could have trouble front loading. Thomas Hanlon has developed into a fine player these days so if he is on form there could be a CBAI win.

Wales have put out an intelligent team this year but no sign of the monster pair of Tedd and Salisbury. He is a nice man that Salisbury chap. I saw that pair do a 3.14 imp set and then some captain sat them out ... I don't understand captains that sitout pairs who are on a hot run.

1/2 England Ireland
4 Wales
5 Scotland
and distant 6th will be Northern Ireland ...

However maybe those NIBU folk will prove me wrong ..

by Eamon Galligan (noreply@blogger.com) at January 06, 2017 02:05 PM

Peg Kaplan

November Minutes - Unit 178 Board Meeting

Today, we present Linda Brammer's minutes for Unit 178's November Board of Directors meeting.  Please see below.

Thank you Linda and thank you Unit 178 Board Members!

Download Nov19MeetingMinutes. Unit 178

by Peg at January 06, 2017 02:00 PM

Unit 103 - Agenda for January Board of Directors Meeting

Elaine Mulcahy is busy at it again!  Now we have Unit 103's January agenda for their Board of Directors meeting.  Posted below!

Download January28,2017Agenda.Unit 103

by Peg at January 06, 2017 12:18 AM

Unit 103 - Board of Directors - 2017

Secretary Elaine Mulcahy from the 103 Board of Directors has sent me an updated list for this year's roster.  Please see below.

Our thanks to Elaine and all the other fine people in Unit 103 who contribute to our bridge world!

Download Roster2017. Unit 103 BOD

by Peg at January 06, 2017 12:16 AM

January 05, 2017

Paul Gipson

Camrose First Weekend

This weekend is the first of the Camrose Trophy and will see intense competition between the open teams of England, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. As host of the second weekend in March, Scotland will send two teams to Coventry, the second being known as the SBU team, and everyone will play a 32-board match against the others.

England have dominated the Camrose Trophy recently, winning four of the last five. They are expected to dominate again and, realistically, I think only Ireland have thoughts of competing with them over the two weekends.

England will be represented by: Alexander Allfrey & Andrew Robson; Tony Forrester & David Bakhshi; Mike Bell & David Gold; with NPC: Martin Jones.

The Scotland team is Alex Adamson & Mike McGinley, Paul Barton & Jun Nakamaru-Pinder, and Sandy Duncan & Jim Hay with Mike Ash as NPC.

The SBU team is Sam Punch & Stephen Peterkin, Iain Sime & John Matheson, and Frazer Morgan & Phil Stephens with Anne Symons as NPC.

There will be a friendly rivalry between the two Scotland teams and it will be interesting to see them play each other on Friday evening. The SBU team has significantly more experienced partnerships, so I would not be surprised to see them come out on top at the end of the two weekends. But, on the other hand, experience has done little to help Scottish teams in the past and I'm sure this first match will be an intense battle.

All the matches will be covered on BBO Vugraph (schedule) and I will be commentating some of the time. Good luck to all those competing.

Results, regulations, teams, player photos from last century, etc

by Paul Gipson (noreply@blogger.com) at January 05, 2017 06:09 PM

January 01, 2017

Peg Kaplan

Minnesota Bridge Education Referrals

Help Minnesota Bridge Education earn money during the tax season!


If you are a new client of H & R Block, then tell the H&R office that you visit that you were referred to them by the Minnesota Bridge Education.  

A $20 referral fee will then be donated to Minnesota Bridge Education.

Thank you!

And yes; it is that simple!


by Peg at January 01, 2017 03:00 PM

Happy New Year!

Happy new year


The last few hours of 2016 are ticking away .... 2017 will be here soon.

We wish all our Minnesota bridge players the best for the New Year.  May your kings be onside and may your partners be alert and bright.

A wonderful year to everyone - and thanks to all for being part of our most special bridge community!

by Peg at January 01, 2017 12:22 AM

December 21, 2016

Paul Gipson

Changes at the club

We are well into the new season at the club and I've noticed that I forgot to blog about the AGM and subsequent changes.

Firstly I have become a Committee member. Two places were up for grabs and, for the first time in my time at the club, a vote was needed as there were three candidates. I suspect my effort to establish the club's new constitution was helpful in getting a place.

The AGM agreed a number of changes to the scoring methods used for many of the club's competitions. All team events are now scored as total imps, rather than converting to victory points. There were two reasons for this:
  1. The EBU recommends imps for team matches of fewer than five boards (the SBU is silent on the matter). As all the club's events features matches of two or three boards, it seemed a sensible change.
  2. We could use the new cross imp handicaps to handicap team events if we wished to. It would be far more difficult to handicap a VP event.
The club has also changed all aggregate scored pairs events to cross imp pairs. The tactics for both are similar and it solves two problems:
  1. We can use ScoreBridge to generate and apply cross imp handicaps. Previously this has been a long and onerous task that Morven did manfully over the last ten years and she is delighted that we've taken it off her hands.
  2. ScoreBridge did not generate valid XML for aggregate events with a half-table, which then led to a problem uploading the results to Pianola. The support for cross imp pairs is a lot stronger within both products.
Having made all these changes, we are now in a position to take advantage of the latest update to Pianola. Not only does it support cross imp handicaps for pairs events, it also supports them for team events!

Login to Pianola

by Paul Gipson (noreply@blogger.com) at December 21, 2016 06:16 PM

December 18, 2016

Peg Kaplan

TCBC December Birthday Celebration



Every month, the Twin City Bridge Center in Minneapolis holds a festive buffet lunch and game, celebrating everyone whose birthday is in that month. This month, given the holidays, all was even more merry and cheery. And, a most special person in the bridge world had his birthday on December 14th, the day of the party:  Larry Oakey.



If you have played in Minnesota at all the last 45+ years - then you would have to know TGLO (The Great Larry Oakey).  Larry has played a critical role in so much of our bridge life - not the least of which has been being one of the finest and most naturally talented Minnesota players ever. But of course, despite those enormous abilities, Larry has given back to our game in so many respects, year after year.



Director, mentor, problem solver, at the TCBC from early morning to night, movie critic, analyst, friend to scores and partner of a huge variety of players over the years - all that and more is Larry. As many of you know, I, your blogmaster, was incredibly fortunate to have Larry as a regular partner for some years. Like he did with others, he put up with my gaffes.  Yet on his end, when a fine play or insightful bid needed to be made - you can be sure Larry was there with it.

Wednesday, the December birthday turnout was super, as was the fine array of goodies on the buffet table. Gary Knippenberg and Erwin Heisler produced one enormous game, scoring over 70% for the day.



And, even some non-bridge playing friends stopped by to see TGLO. Fun to see Larry with his good buddies Stephanie and Rachel. We know how Larry likes the ladies - and - great to see them put a big smile on his face!



Thanks to Teri and Chip Blu for hosting this fun event every month at their club. Thanks to all who played and contributed to the yummy birthday buffet. And a most special thanks to Birthday Boy Larry, now a young 80 and a man who continues to be Minnesota's Bridge Treasure.



by Peg at December 18, 2016 02:50 PM

December 13, 2016

Linda Lee

If You Want to Learn Declarer Play, This Is the Book You Want

I don’t think that there ever has been or ever can be a better book for beginners to learn how to play   a bridge hand than Eddie Kantar’s Introduction to Declarer’s Play.  This is why.

It takes the processes of card play and step by step builds the concepts you need to learn. Here is a simple example from the very beginning of the book.

One of the things that separate experts from beginners is the idea of counting: count your points, count your tricks, count your winners, count your losers, count out the opponents hand and so on.  And yet most of us aren’t all that good at it or at least don’t always do it.  On the very first page of this book Eddie simply and carefully teaches the reader how to count winners.  It is so obvious and so simple and so perfect. He walks through many examples and in doing makes everything clear.  What is a sure trick? Why you can’t take more than two tricks in a suit if you are on a two-two fit even if you have the A,K, Q and J.  And before you know it, you are chanting “Take tricks from the short side first.”

There are lots of opportunities to practice and lots of exercises.

I have to admit I find Eddie’s use of language and subtle humor make the book very special.  When he talks about taking tricks with spot cards he writes “Until this chapter you have been overwhelming your opponents with aces and kings.” And then “You must learn how to take tricks with deuces and threes as well as the more regal members of the deck.”

He makes every concept seem so easy. I remember trying to teach beginners how to take a trick with the Kx opposite two small. I don’t think I ever quite succeeded.  As I read Eddie’s careful explanation I realize that I didn’t go slowly enough, and I didn’t take the same care as he does to illustrate why and how it works to lead towards the king when the ace is held by the hand in front of the king.

There are lots of problems with complete and careful solutions. And each chapter ends up with key pointers.

And don’t think this book is just for complete beginners. It starts at the beginning but it covers a lot of territory. There are ideas like “the risk of going down extra tricks versus making the contract” or “finessing into the non-danger hand” or the euphonically named “Bath Coup”.

Buy this book for your favorite new bridge player but read it yourself first.  Even good bridge players will learn something and enjoy doing it.


I plan to write some more blogs in the next few weeks now that I remember how much I enjoyed sharing my thoughts with people and some beautiful hands.

by linda at December 13, 2016 06:40 PM

December 09, 2016

Eamon Galligan

One hundredth of a VP can be costly in ACBL land

Last weekend in one of the Major competitions of the American Contract Bridge World Thomas Hanlon and his team missed out on qualifying for the FINAL 10 teams.
They missed out by 0.01 of a victory point or board a match point.

Plenty of decent players in that field if one does not like me saying so but our boy missed out by 1/100th of a BAM point or Victory point.

Here we have Hanlon discussing the 100th of a point he left behind with Thomas Bessis.
Both of the above attended the 90th anniversary of the Regent Bridge Club Congress a couple of years ago.
As mentioned last week Hanlon was 2nd in Life Masters Pairs ..a 4 session event as far as I remember.
The Masters Pairs takes place this weekend in Templogue and Hanlon Carroll usually make an appearance at this event. Some other good players like Thomas Gilligan Eileen McCann Nicky Fitzgibbon and Trish Stack will also take part.
In fact all participants must be good players as only Master Players are allowed enter.
By Sunday evening we will know who is the best Master Pairs for 2016.
For the lesser players there is always

  a fine site if one wants to play bridge without a partner.

Another site which allows a single player to play 16 hands per day

The grand daddy of all the bridge playing sites

by Eamon Galligan (noreply@blogger.com) at December 09, 2016 04:38 PM

Ulf Nilsson

Orlando hand

Here is a deal that came up on the first day of the 2016 NABC Swiss Teams in Orlando.

 Dealer East; EW Vul.

                    S K 7
                    H 4 2
                    D Q 10 7 6
                    C K J 5 4 3

                    S A Q 10 6
                    H A 10 5
                    D J 9 5 3
                    C A Q

West       North     East        South
                              2H           Double    
Pass         3C*       Pass         3NT
All pass    

*3C showed values.
Lead H9

It looks like 9 tricks should be attainable unless the opposing distribution is very unfriendly. With a club split or if spades come in for 4 tricks you make your contract.
You duck the first two hearts, on general principles, and win the third. East has KQJxxx and West pitches the diamond A on the third round of hearts! What's going on? Is West really squeezed?
Is LHO 4-2-2-5? You cash your top clubs in hand (ace-queen) and as expected East shows out (pithing a diamond). What now?
Seems like he's got something like
J x x x
9 x
10 9 8 7 x
Declarer, an American pro, took that inference and continued with another diamond.
This was the full deal:
                     K 7
                     4 2
                     Q 10 7 6
                     K J 5 4 3
      9 8 4 2                J 5 3
      9 7                      K Q J 8 5 3
      A 8                     K 4 2
      10 9 8 7 2           6
                     A Q 10 6
                     A 10 5
                     J 9 5 3
                     A Q

I was sitting West (playing with Allan Falk). Maybe declarer should get it right but without my pitch 3NT was making easily.

by ulven (noreply@blogger.com) at December 09, 2016 09:11 AM

December 07, 2016

Paul Gipson

Celtic Pairs

The Celtic Simultaneous Pairs is a joint venture between the SBU and WBU to raise funds for their international teams. It has always been expensive to fund teams at events like the European Team Championships and the current state of sterling is making it worse, so events like this are necessary to help reduce the financial burden on the players themselves.

I played with Ros for a change. We'd taken preparation seriously over some large tray bakes and strong coffee and had a fully completed card. Lebensohl was on our card although Ros did express some concern over some of the sequences and commented that it rarely came up - naturally that was a mistake ...

What the hand does not show is that Ros forgot to alert my 2NT as Lebensohl. This is a conventional bid that allows me to differentiate between weak and moderate hands: so 2NT is used to show weak hands and asks partner to bid three clubs, which I may pass or bid another suit to show a weak hand (in this case I intended to pass three clubs); if I had a moderate hand of, say, 7-11 point, I can bid three clubs directly.

Obviously Ros does not want to play in three clubs with her 25 points, so she bid three spades asking for a stop. The lack of an alert for 2NT means that I have unauthorised information and must carefully avoid taking advantage, but here I have no problem because three spades clearly asks for a stop in the first instance so bidding 3NT is clear.

On Penny's second spade trick I need to decide what to throw from dummy. I have no entries to my hand, but the king of diamonds is obviously with Colin (North) otherwise Penny would have opened one spade. I have seven cards in both red suits and need to decide which is most likely to split 3-3. Naturally this is a 50-50 choice, but there is an additional chance in hearts that the jack is singleton or doubleton, so I pitched diamonds and made the contract. Surprisingly this was worth 75% for us.

Although we declared 16 of 27 boards, it was our defence that was particularly successful. This included getting a contract down four vulnerable when we made all six of our trumps, and a five down non-vulnerable when our opponents played in a 5-1 fit. We didn't give any unnecessary tricks away and were merciless whenever declarer made the slightest error. For example,

As you can see Ros made the right decisions in defence but declarer made a small error. If he overtakes the nine of diamonds with the ten, then he will be able to establish his diamonds and retain an entry to his hand. We scored 90% for making declarer pay for this mistake although I suspect most played this hand by North on the lead of a small club.

Overall we scored 68.06% at the club but I expected this to reduce by at least 5% across the field. But fortunately it seems to be standing up as we currently lie second with 67.99% - full results.

by Paul Gipson (noreply@blogger.com) at December 07, 2016 10:39 AM

December 06, 2016

Peg Kaplan

Membership Week at the Twin City Bridge Center

Wondering what to do the day after Christmas?  Wonder no more!
December 26-31 is Membership Game Week at the Twin City Bridge Center. Every game delivers extra point awards at no extra charge!

Head to 60th and Nicollet throughout the week and get extra holiday presents as you compete!


by Peg at December 06, 2016 02:10 AM

Holiday Sectional Results


While some Minnesotans were competing at the Fall NABC in Orlando, others were battling away at the Holiday Sectional at the Bridge Center of St. Paul.

Kerry Holloway, playing with a variety of partners and teammates, headed the masterpoint list with a fine total of 26.03. In second spot, Jim Stepnes was the only other player to earn over 20 masterpoints with his total of 23.31. Results for all events can be viewed here.

Thanks to chairman Alexis Campbell and all the other volunteers, directors - and players - who made the tourney excellent!

by Peg at December 06, 2016 02:05 AM

December 02, 2016

Peg Kaplan

Holiday Sectional



Our Holiday Sectional starts today, December 2nd!

Play Friday - Saturday - Sunday at the Bridge Center of St. Paul.  No better way to kick off the holiday season!

The schedule and details are here.

by Peg at December 02, 2016 05:16 PM

Florence Sajevic - 1925-2016

We are sad to report that Minnesota's bridge world has lost another of our integral members.  Florence Sajevic, of North Oaks, passed away on November 28th.

Florence was a long time member of our bridge community.  We are grateful for her friendship, competitiveness - and for her long life and wonderful family.

Florence's funeral is scheduled for Monday, December 5th.  The details can be found in her obituary.


by Peg at December 02, 2016 04:54 PM

Florence Sajevic - 1925-2016

We are sad to report that Minnesota's bridge world has lost another of our integral members.  Florence Sajevic, of North Oaks, passed away on November 28th.

Florence was a long time member of our bridge community.  We are grateful for her friendship, competitiveness - and for her long life and wonderful family.

Florence's funeral is scheduled for Monday, December 5th.  The details can be found in her obituary.


by Peg at December 02, 2016 04:54 PM

November 28, 2016

Peg Kaplan


Swiss team

Mega congratulations to Mike Cassel and Barry Purrington!  Along with teammates Bob and Ellen Kent, they won the 0-10,000 Swiss in Orlando.

On the cover of Monday's Daily Bulletin, you can read all about how their team achieved victory!

Well done, Mike, Barry, Bob and Ellen!


by Peg at November 28, 2016 04:44 PM

Eamon Galligan

Thomas Hanlon places 2nd in Life Master Pairs

Well known Rochfortbridge Donplayer Thomas Hanlon placed 2nd in the Bobby Nail Life Master Pairs yesterday in Orlando Florida. Along with regular US National partner Leslie Amoils ...Hanlon finished in 2nd place to well known bridge player  Marion Michelson originally from Holland. Zia Mahmood was the only man ahead of Hanlon.

Hanlon Amoils 2nd in Life Master Pairs

Meanwhile down in Kilkenny Congress well known Wexford players Sexton and Doyle emerged from their slumber to be leading Irish players at Kilkenny international bridge festival.

No sign of the incredible BJ O'Brien at this event. Its not like BJ to miss a chance to get some cash in
Colleens coffee jar. BJs partnership had some slam troubles at the recent Dundalk Congress.

4 softer players dominated the teams in Kilkenny putting all men and juniors and Shillelagh Club
teams to the sword. Jill Joan Petra and Teresa did that.

A large man wielding a Microsoft Surface Pro 4 has been spotted in the greater Dublin area.

A Microsoft Surface Pro 4 is a decent piece of kit apparently.

For a deeper understanding of Thomas Hanlons 2nd place mentioned above


Plenty of well known bridge players even near the end of the field ..

Eamon Galligan

by Eamon Galligan (noreply@blogger.com) at November 28, 2016 07:46 AM

November 24, 2016

Peg Kaplan

Happy Thanksgiving - Happy Hand


Celebrating with family and friends? Winging your way to the Fall NABC in Orlando?  Whatever your plans, we wish you a fine Thanksgiving - and wish our friends competing at the Nationals much luck and fun!

Speaking of which .... our thanks to frequent contributor and competitor Steve Gaynor. This most recent contribution is part of what keeps us coming back to the game.  Just "Wow"! 

See Steve's amazing hand below!

Download DearBrian


by Peg at November 24, 2016 12:10 PM

November 23, 2016

Paul Gipson

Slam night

It was slam night in the third round of the club teams championship.

Firstly Gary, our President, and Sandy bid these hands effectively:

Unfortunately for them, LotG (South) held all four outstanding hearts and this excellent contract failed. Even worse, our teammates Ros and Janet were unusually reticent in the auction and played in four hearts, so we gained an undeserved 11 imps on the board.

Then LotG and I missed a good slam:

Although I appear to have underbid considerably, LotG's four hearts bid showed a pretty poor hand. With good hearts, she would definitely have cue bid a spade or diamond king, so it seemed likely that the slam would be on a finesse at best. My judgement was not far out: the slam is about 55%, so certainly worth bidding, but not the end of the world if we missed it. As it happened, we did lose 11 imps when Morven and Pam bid it at the other table.

We struggled on the following hand, as did most of the field:

LotG was concerned that we were clearly missing the ace of spades and that the lead would be through her, and we could be missing the ace of hearts too. I was naturally concerned that we were off two spade tricks. Of course LotG could just choose to blast the slam on the grounds that she has a lot of points and I must have most of the rest, but I'd probably bid the same way without the queen of spades.

Although it's about a 57% slam, this time it failed on every occasion as the clubs were 3-1 and the defence made the ace of spades and the queen of clubs. It was almost flat in our match, but a trump lead against five clubs picked up the suit.

We are trialling Pianola Plus at the moment and it is always entertaining to look at the Session Report afterwards.

The Bidding Accuracy chart shows that we underbid less than other leading pairs but failed to double more. However this judgement criteria is totally objective and based on double dummy analysis: at the table we are not permitted to look at all four hands first. And Pianola are still tuning this analysis: for example, on the first hand shown above we were charged for failing to double six hearts, whereas a double could let them run to the making six no-trump.

The Card Play chart shows why we are winning the event: we are just making a lot more contracts with overtricks than the other leading players.

Despite our combined failings in the slam zone, Ros, Janet, LotG, and I recorded our second win from the three evenings so far. The competition continues in the New Year and if we can win two of the remaining four nights then we shall retain the trophy.

by Paul Gipson (noreply@blogger.com) at November 23, 2016 03:19 PM

November 21, 2016

Paul Gipson

A wild weekend

I'm not eligible to play in the Scottish National League but I spent yesterday watching the final round of matches as I continue to help and stalk the junior players.

I'm very pleased that a number of our best junior players are participating in the league. It is tough, as they are surrounded by seasoned tournament players and mistakes are punished, but I think it is an excellent environment to learn what is needed to improve. I've seen the English junior teams improve consistently through playing in the English Premier League and Spring Foursomes, together with some coaching I suppose: but gone are the days where they regularly go for -800 against partscore and -1100 against game.

The Scottish juniors still bid a little too aggressively at times but are a lot more disciplined. Like all matches, a lot of imps swing on bidding the right slams but, in the main, the areas they need to focus on are competitive bidding and defence: experience goes a long way in these areas.

It did not take long for a wild deal to arrive:

Take your time to look at the hand above before pressing the Next key. What would you do?

In the other room Ronan bid six diamonds when the opponents stopped in five hearts. I'd given the juniors advice on bidding 6-6 hands (keep bidding until partner doubles) but failed to help them with 10-card suits!

It wasn't before another imp-generating hand came along. The juniors won ten imps, but it could have been more:

Ronan showed a lot of faith in Liam's vulnerable Michaels Cue Bid, his view bolstered by the fact that Liam had very poor spades and would probably have distribution to compensate for this. He was right and comfortably scored +650 after a club switch at trick two.

At the other table the auction was very different. As an American politician might say, I do not approve of some of these calls!

Five hearts has no play but is a good save, but after two rounds of spades the junior declarer could have made the contract by playing for hearts to be 4-1. He might have helped himself by asking what North's first double was, since it looks like it was penalty. A missed opportunity for another six imps.

I had to wait until the final match of the day for another really wild hand:

To be honest the hand was wilder than the deal, since everyone will overcall four spades and get to play there, making eleven tricks. One North was lucky enough to get doubled.

One junior pair got too high (and achieved a very stupid result) on this board when they pulled the wrong card from the bidding box and could not correct it in time (only noticing after their partner had called).

However the key for any pair when you have a disaster is to try to forget it and move on to the next board. It was very pleasing to see that they moved on without comment and scored on the next board:

When East made his normal lead of the king of hearts this made comfortably. At the other table Abi and Jake beat five clubs. I suspect that Jake lead the ace of spades and switched to diamond from Jxxx, giving Abi a ruff when he got in with the ace of clubs for a deserved 12 imps gain.

Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, the juniors were relegated from the second division. Although they were never outplayed, the experience and consistency of the other teams proved just too much, but hopefully they will all be back next year.

However one of our junior squad, Jun, was in the winning team in the first division and will represent Scotland again in the Camrose Trophy in January. Congratulations to him and to the rest of his team, Mike Ash, Arend Bayer, Paul Barton, Alex Adamson, and Mike McGinley.

Full results: First Division, Second Divison, Third Division.

by Paul Gipson (noreply@blogger.com) at November 21, 2016 12:12 PM

November 20, 2016

Jannes van 't Oever


Oh little sicky, seems to be the pain
Got all these herbs, don’t mean a fucking thing
I am the little witch, with the magic tricks
Mistrust the white house, come and get your fix
It’s not about the numbers, what you feel is real
Crystals, rays of light, the taste of orange peel


That’s a decent 17-count. I open 1 and this is what happens:

  1. 6-crd suit, exactly invitational
  2. Slam try
  3. Cue
  4. Somebody pinch me, I must be dreaming

We don’t cue singletons in partner’s suit, so I could picture Kees with King-small in , AJ-6th in and possibly some useless red quack. Sometimes it’s so easy to count to twelve: 

South Dealer
NS Vul

A perfect dream.

You might wonder why I didn’t splinter in to get my slam aspirations across. I thought any pointy King would make slam pretty much lay down. If Kees had something like a 2-3-2-6 with the King instead of the King, he can discard his loser on my Queen. But if I splinter in he might be unable to show it.


by Jannes van 't Oever at November 20, 2016 06:15 PM

November 15, 2016

Judy Kay-Wolff

Would You Believe????

Do you remember as kids how intrigued we were with magicians and all that phony-baloney stuff? It was always a fascination and here I am… still mystified even at my age. While watching a football game this afternoon, the conversation casually turned to Bobby’s Texas birth site. He reminisced that one time he was invited to a San Antonio TV station with two or three 5:00 News Broadcasters in the early to mid sixties and performed on stage (live!) an incredible feat. He asked someone to shuffle a fresh deck of cards, hand it to him (which he reshuffled a few times), then had the person remove a card (so he could not see it and return to him the remaining fifty-one cards). Bobby then turned the deck over (face up), thumbed speedily through them to come up with the denomination of the card… Ace? Deuce? Six? Ten? Queen? WHATEVER!!! Of course, if it was the wrong card, I wouldn’t be writing this blog. Obviously, he hit pay dirt.

After I heard the story, I replied… “O. K. This one I gotta see. Do you still remember how to do it?” About one minute later I handed him a freshly shuffled deck, he went through the exact routine with me this afternoon… and damned if he didn’t confidently smile and ask me to flip over the missing EIGHT (of CLUBS)… and it sure was! This made me realize (after playing bridge with Bobby for over thirteen years)… what I always suspected… maybe he can see through the cards!!

by Judy Kay-Wolff at November 15, 2016 02:01 PM

November 14, 2016

Peg Kaplan

Unit 173 - Agenda for November Board Meeting

Unit 173's agenda for November, posted below.

As always, our thanks to those who work hard and long to make bridge great in our units and throughout Minnesota!

Download AgendaNov19th

by Peg at November 14, 2016 12:01 AM

November 13, 2016

Eamon Galligan

Bridge Interprovincials 2016

This post only refers to the Open Interprovincials as I know very little about the intermediates.

I became aware on Friday that the interprovincials of bridge were taking place this weekend. My first thought was would Ulster be competing. On my first look at running scores whatever way I had my screen it showed Connacht Leinster and Munster but then it slowly dawned on me that totals did not add up and I scrolled downwards and found a struggling Ulster Team.

Connacht as a rule go strong in this event and this year is no exception and at a quick glance there are 10 full internationals on their squad of 12. Some years ago in Connacht the tail wagged the dog and the dog never showed up for some interpro qualifiers. I cannot find many historical results on the CBAI website so I cannot check how the tail end of Connacht performed.

Leinster generally go medium in this event fielding a Mens Team and Ladies Team and the best Kelbourne. Its generally enough to push Connacht for the title but some years the Mens Team is extra strong and Leinster win. Leinster this year have a Mens Teams backboned by monster Irish pair Mesbur and Fitzgibbon. The ladies team is a collection of experienced females. The Kelbourne Team
is the long time  Delaney O'Lubaigh partnership teamed with the two Polish Rudzinski Gorchyca.
These Poles are touted as being top players but I remain to be convinced that either of them is better than James Heneghan.

Munster run a qualifier as far as I know and it usually lands a capable Munster team who can push for the title on a good year. This year might be a good year. Currently they are playing round 8 of 9 and this round is the VP collection round against Ulster. A large total out of the available 60 should set Phelan and his Munster compatriots up for the overall victory.

I think Ulster should be replaced by a Bankers-Regent selection or maybe some international selection made up of Lady Milne Camrose and Juniors. Ulster seem to be struggling to field their
better known players for both Interpros and Sonya Britian at the moment. This years event is just an Ulster bashing event. At this moment in the 8th round Ulster have gathered in 131 VPs out of a possible 480. In the Sonya Brittan their two top end teams struggled also.

Running scores at http://fob.ie

When I looked last night Ulster intermediates  in contrast to their Open team were leading the
Intermediate event.

by Eamon Galligan (noreply@blogger.com) at November 13, 2016 12:59 PM

November 10, 2016

Peg Kaplan

Shop with A Smile - Support Bridge in Minnesota!



Shop happy this holiday season - and - support bridge, too!

Visit smile.amazon.com  as you are shopping for gifts and items for yourself. 

When you purchase there, you will be supporting Minnesota Bridge Education! Amazon will donate to this fund when you put in this link:  smile.amazon.com/ch/37-1745323. 

Thank you for supporting bridge in Minnesota - and - happy shopping!


by Peg at November 10, 2016 12:14 AM

November 07, 2016

Paul Gipson

Premier League day 6

The final day of the Premier League started against Hart, the team just below us but who we lost to in the first round-robin. With Chris and Andrew at the other table, we'd be playing all three matches.

As in the first match against them, our opponents bid a slam against us that most of the field missed. The slam was on a finesse and duly rolled in. Then every pair involved in the match tried to make a slam missing a cashing ace and king, both East-West pairs on board 11 and both North-South pairs on board 15 - none were successful.

The making slam proved the difference as we lost by 20-25 imps.

Our penultimate match was against the high-flying Penfold team. Like most bridge players I'm happy enough to complain about our bad luck, but I must say that all our good luck came in this one match. One swing that was not too lucky was this slam:

On a non-heart lead the slam is a good proposition with ruffing the diamonds likely to be the best line if the ace of spades is offside. On a heart lead, it's a 50% chance that the leader has it especially as we've not given much information away.  At the other table, a slower auction allowed North to double a heart cue bid and they stayed safely out of slam.

Both pairs did well to reach five diamonds on this board, our auction was:

My pass of the double followed by five diamonds was intended to show some values without controls. Alex didn't really care, he'd done enough on the hand. I was worried when Brian Senior led the jack of spades, but fortunately it was from Jxx and he only had one trump. With the heart finesse working, the game rolled in as it did for Green-Holland in the other room.

The rest of the match went our way as we ran out winners by 68-22 imps.

The final match was against Pryor. Alan Mould, from the Gillis team, gave me a pep talk about how important it was for us to help him get promoted but I assured him that our matches against Pryor are always competitive.

Alex had a difficult decision early on:

Your call?

Alex's options were slightly curtailed by our system, since four clubs would show 5-5 in clubs and a major. At the other table Chris and Murph were more aggressive as North-South but, on this occasion, pushed the opponents into the right spot.

Then we judged a hand precisely:

Every time that the tray disappeared to the other side of the table it remained there for some considerable time, especially for the final time when only South could be thinking. This helped a little with the play and the lack of a heart switch from South, conceding a ruff and discard instead, meant that careful play including the heart finesse enabled me to make the contract - even though I was prepared to go down one.

Most of the field was in the spade game, normally making eight tricks.

We continued to have some luck, missing a difficult to make slam when we had a misfit. I achieved this by passing what I thought was a natural 4NT, whereas Alex intended it as a key-card ask. Basically we got the vast majority of our luck in the final couple of matches.

In the end we did Mould proud, winning 39-34 imps.

We finished mid-way in the final table, 5th out of 10, with 196.97 VP (average 180 VP). We scored 64 VP out of a possible 80 VP against the top two teams, but never beat the teams who finished 7th and 8th.

Overall a little frustrating for all the team, when you beat the best teams but failed to consistently score against the teams who finished below us. Perhaps this is where we were luckiest, or perhaps it is just bridge.

Congratulations to Gillis and Penfold who will ply their trade in the First Division next season. It will not be easy, as shown by the fact that last year's First Division winners, Mossop, were relegated on Sunday.

Many thanks to our team mates, Chris, Murph, Alan, and Nick, for making the weekends good fun and interesting.

All the results can be found on the EBU website.

by Paul Gipson (noreply@blogger.com) at November 07, 2016 09:09 PM

Premier League day 5

The third weekend of the Premier League was in Solihull and we'd play the first two matches with Alan and Nick before sitting out the final match of the day.

We started against Fegarty, newly relegated from the First Division but now struggling in the Second - perhaps an indication of how competitive the entire league is. The first big swing was a lead decision:

Your choice?

Naturally I got this wrong and that was 12 imps out. Then Alan, and all the other Norths, faced a tough decision:

I think this is very tough. Two hearts is only competitive but everyone is going to bid game, but should you choose hearts or spades? I can't think of a sensible way to involve partner in the decision, as any cue bid would tend to overstate your values. What do you think?

Unless two hearts was non-forcing, I thought the two spades chosen at our table was an understatement of the values but a plus score was sufficient to get a swing when our team mates, as most, guessed wrong.

And then Alex had a lead problem:

Your choice?

Having got all these decisions wrong it is no surprise that we lost heavily without doing too much that was stupid. Just one of those matches.

The second match was against bottom-placed Dixon. A mix of luck and good play gave us a big win, but there were some challenging hands (press Next to go through the hand):

So how would you continue?

The focus was soon back on West:

Alex did well to get this right and it was worth a game swing when four hearts made at the other table.

Then Alan and Nick created a problem for East that, luckily, I did not have to face:

Your choice?

When their opponents got this wrong and we faced less adventurous opponents it was another swing to us.

There was an amusing incident, at least to bridge players, when we were scoring up. Team mates apologised for a very poor result, going three down when vulnerable in a partscore. We just said, "+3 imps", as we'd beat it by four.

In the end we won by a couple more imps than we'd lost the first match of the day.

In the final match Chris and Andrew replaced us and they beat table-topping Gillis by 33-20 imps. The second time that we beat the team that would eventually win the division.

Overall a positive day, but one that could still have gone quite a bit better with a little luck, or good decisions, or both.

by Paul Gipson (noreply@blogger.com) at November 07, 2016 09:03 PM

November 06, 2016

Jannes van 't Oever


Hi all, 

It is somewhat confronting when you move an age range in some random online survey. Fresh decade? Affirmative.

Snippets of news for the readers that stuck with me after 6 months of silence. Good things come from & go to Mexico. Purchasing a new kitchen proved to be more of an ordeal than initially considered. Everything should be installed by the end of this month. Two new bridge books in my library: I Love This Game by Sabine Auken and Winning Suit Contract Leads by David Bird. Hopefully some technique, insights and statistics will rub off on me. 

Here’s a nice deal from a Pairs tournament. I was playing with René.


This is how we bid it:


When East revealed values with his lead directing double, René considered that good enough news to leap to slam. Now how to play it?

René took stock for a minute or two and combined a boatload of chances in his plan. He took the lead in dummy and immediately ruffed a (West echoing high-low). Next he played two rounds of trumps ending in dummy. Alas, West remains with a trick in trumps. Next he ruffed another in his hand and cashed the King. West pitched a when René played a towards dummy. Dummy’s last  ruffed (West following) and a 3rd towards dummy. West had nothing to gain by ruffing in the air, so he pitched another . This is the position by now, West having a trick in trumps waiting:


René placed West with a trump. Stripped from everything but he had to play into René’s AQ-combination. Away went the loser.

West Dealer
NS Vul

You take at least 12 when trumps split, or when the suit comes in and if push comes to shove you have a hook as backup plan. René’s addition of the avoidance in the suit and foresight of placing opportunities (after stripping the suit) are marks of genuine expert play. Kudos!

by Jannes van 't Oever at November 06, 2016 05:44 PM

November 04, 2016

Eamon Galligan

Some hands from Lady Milne Trials,Bridgez & Declan the Donplayer goes to Malahide Regional

Good morning all

I spotted this hand that was played in the Lady Milne trials ... Clearly some of the tables had the wrong board as it is hardly correct that some allowed a declaration of 2S while cold for 9-12 tricks themselves in a minor suit.

Now I have no idea how one is allowed to play 4S on this hand let alone 2S+1 and 2S+2.
I think one of the 2S defending pairs actually made the team. Further down the scoresheet
one spots the a pair winning 8 imps for missing a cold slam. Bizarre or as another man might say Mousey or my granny. However I can only presume that boards  1 and 2 were swopped in the dealing or something. Like even the North South players on their own would want to lash into 4S.

Then working backwards I spotted a 15 imper and wandered in for a look.
Someone landed in 6C and it comes home and the poor unfortunate opposition lose
15 imps because some other pairs in the room are a little gentle.
One pair gains 8 imps the other way because their esteemed opponents choose the 7-1 spade fit at the 5 level over the 5-5club fit.
Another pair defends 4H despite holding 12 black cards and an outside Ace in one hand
A couple defend 5H and fail to either double or collect the maximum tricks ... 1 of each
and finally one pair gathers in 9 imps for missing a slam but at least they gathered in +650 so we
won't grill them too much.

Clearly I have just talked myself out of any NPC positions at Lady Milne for several years but
I am sure the other 154 boards were things of beauty.
Meanwhile I continue to notice and enjoy the much improved Bridgez website..
I have not decided to release my hard earned 15 euro which is a voluntary donation to the Council of this website to go towards the costs of keeping it up and running. Even if all the regulars tossed in 15 euro the person running this now fine place to play bridge might only get 2 dinners a day out of Lidl.
That's not saying the food in Lidl is bad ... I go there twice a week ... but he won't be getting rich.
So if you are a regular user and enjoy the site by all means give him enough for a dinner.
I see many of the people I introduced to this site many years ago are still using it for their daily bridge warmup. Even the dour Dublin Northsider Elvis ... The King is alive and living in Dublin North.
I see rashers and sausages are still playing most days ...they even partner up sometimes in live competition. So Allez Bridgez


The link above to the free Bridgez website

Last Friday Declan the Donplayer finally made his long awaited appearance in a live Bridge Club.
Now I have played lots of bridge in my time in many places but I have never seen a man enjoy a game of bridge so much. He was getting beaten up and down the room ...but every 3rd board he managed a strike against the head with his brand of Crazy Declan bridge ...
If a bad score arrived and there were many ...it was .. "Eamon you did not teach me the No Trumps thing yet" This lad produced a 2D cuebid holding a 7 card Heart Suit .. KJT9xxx ..."Eamon you told me if I bid their suit it means I have a good hand " ...
So that was Declan the Donplayer debuting in Malahide Regional Bridge Club

Open Games in this Club ... Monday morning 10 am Friday evening 730pm
and Sunday afternoon 3pm.

Otherwise you need to partner a member ..or get a special permission.

by Eamon Galligan (noreply@blogger.com) at November 04, 2016 10:35 AM

November 01, 2016

Paul Gipson

Premier League day three

The second weekend of the league was in Manchester, with Alex and I playing alongside Alan and Nick for the six matches over two days.

Our first match was against Hart, currently below us in the table. It turned out to be a very quiet match and lost by 24 imps, mainly due to an excellent 25-point slam they bid against us missed at all but two other tables.

The second match was against Penfold, who would finish the weekend in second place, but good performances at both tables saw us get us largest win to date, 53-18 imps. Alex and I started well when we were allowed to make two spades doubled (similarly Simon Cope on the same auction and play in another match) and later got a big penalty after an injudicious intervention by an opponent, but the real story was about bidding six clubs.

Firstly Nick and Alan were the only pair in the field to bid these cards to six clubs:

Then they matched our opponents who bid aggressively to slam with the following cards, probably helped the state of the match:

I think Nick and Alan had a similar auction except South only jumped to five clubs and North gave it one more. Root and Natt even bid and made the grand slam in another match!

In the end we only lost imps on two boards: Alex took a reasonable but unsuccessful line in three no-trump, and Alan and Nick got into a fair but non-making 24-point three no-trump.

The final match of the day was against Pryor, who was just above us in the table. It did not start well when Alex psyched a positive response to my weak opening and, when the smoke cleared, I'd gratuitously gone for a four-figure number: in a sense it helped our score that this was a hand where Alan and Nick bid a no-play slam, since their score was pretty irrelevant to the number of imps lost.

Then Alex and I failed to bid a good slam that we would have right-sided, whereas it was only a fair slam the other way around since a killing lead was available. We got some imps back with good defence and play, but were relieved that Alan and Nick had a good set keep the score down to 15-37 imps.

Our table finished two minutes late but Rob Cliffe graciously said that his partnership was responsible for this, taking the full 1VP penalty rather than it being shared. Thanks to him, and his captain Malcolm Pryor, for this.

So we finished the day, and the first round-robin, about 4 VPs down on average. Disappointing given we'd played well against the strongest team.

by Paul Gipson (noreply@blogger.com) at November 01, 2016 07:05 PM

Judy Kay-Wolff

Betty Ann Kennedy (1930-2016)

Bobby and I were saddened to learn that his friend of countless decades had passed away yesterday… I only knew Betty Ann personally through Bobby… but casually at the card table as a terrific and ethical bridge player who always said the right thing at the right time… just as what would be expected of the “Perfect Southern Belle.” Unfortunately, I might add (as her opponent) her bidding, declarer play and defense followed suit. She will be sorely missed!

by Judy Kay-Wolff at November 01, 2016 12:23 AM