Join Bridge Winners
All comments by Frank Stewart
1 2 3 4 5
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
Besides being a champion tennis player, Don was a capable attorney who served as the city attorney for Pensacola FL for decades. I remember playing against him back in the old days, and he was a tough opponent and always a gentleman. He had a partnership with Jim Barrow, who later won the Crane Top 500. Don was 78. So sorry to learn that we have lost him.
May 20
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
Marshall Miles was one of my heroes. His landmark book “How to Win at Duplicate Bridge” made a significant impression on me when I was learning. In 1987, when Freddy Sheinwold invited me to be his collaborator (it was like being asked to play golf with Jack Nicklaus), I flew to Los Angeles to discuss the details. Eddie Kantar got together a home team game, and I had the unforgettable experience of playing at a table with three legends: with Freddy against the storied partnership of Miles-Kantar.

I believe Marshall had to drive quite some distance to get there. After we had played two or three sets, a couple of the players wanted to call it an evening. Marshall wouldn’t hear of it; he had come a long way to play some bridge. So we played some more.

I agree that Marshall was as nice a person as ever inhabited the world of bridge.
May 8
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
Mr. Caprera, well said.

Still, outright psyching is not the only issue. A statement such as “My coach told me I can go (slightly?) crazy at favorable” sounds like instilling bad habits to me. In my curmudgeonly opinion, discipline is an effective bidder’s most valuable attribute and should be encouraged.

All the best to your junior players.
April 28
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
Enough, already. Sorry, but curmudgeonly me regards this episode with dismay, and I will say what I suspect some people are thinking. Undisciplined — make that, outlandish — actions that make a mockery of the partnership nature of the game are not my idea of fun, and certainly not to be encouraged in junior players if they aspire to be successful and the intent is to help them become successful. The “fun” is going to have to end at some point.
April 28
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
I agree that most players would rather be in control as declarer than defend. This may be a product of the modern obsession with bidding methods, especially conventional methods, so that players spend too little time studying defense. It may be a product of an undisciplined bidding style, so that players are reluctant to defend — especially to defend a doubled contract — because they are unsure what sort of collection partner has acted with.

I do not agree that players should structure their overcalling style to cater solely to lead-direction.
April 11
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
I will put my neck on the BW chopping block since this is an issue about which I feel strongly.

Posters might regard Edgar Kaplan’s classic book “Competitive Bidding in Modern Bridge.” It was written years ago, before bidding descended into an undisciplined free-for-all, but it still contains some cogent observations.

Overcalls involve personal style and temperament, and what works well for some players may be anathema to others. My personal opinion is that bridge is a partnership game – quaint idea, eh? – and (with due respect to the bid-when-it’s-your-turn faction) how players who act on balanced junkpiles like this expect their partner to judge the auction accurately is beyond my comprehension. How can partner know when to compete to the three level when he has heart support, even four-card support? How can he know when to double the opponents? (I know, I know, penalty doubles are virtually extinct; still I have seen players overcall on a hand like this and go for a number at the one level.)

If you risk one heart … sure, occasionally you will hit partner with a big fit, although even then he may misjudge. But when you enter an auction the opponents began and your high-card strength is mediocre, the odds are that your side will not declare. Then all you’ll have done is tell declarer you have heart length and some points and may assist his play.

My playing days are long gone, but I was quite satisfied with the overcalling style I embraced: simple overcalls promise high-card and defensive values. After my 40 years of observing and analyzing deals as a journalist, my views have not changed.

Stay well, have a safe Easter.
April 11
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
Nick deserves to be commended for his thoughtfulness.
My syndicated column appears every day on Baron-Barclay’s website.
www.baronbarclay.com
I would hope people might find it enjoyable.
Everyone be well.
March 24
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
Peg, my friend — and Ms. Devere and others, above — all I will say (again) is that people who have opinions about how the Bulletin is published or who are interested in the editorial position that has been posted may do best to go the horse’s mouth: approach the Executive Editor, Paul Linxwiler.
March 11
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
Karen’s comments are well stated and absolutely on target.

The job description, presumably for duly considered reasons, states that the Associate Editor works at HQ. My impression, based on my tenure as the Bulletin Managing Editor, is that a bridge magazine is unique, and producing such a publication expeditiously and accurately — attending to a zillion details — is best handled by ongoing face-to-face interaction among the staff. Moreover, the bit about “bridge experience essential” is understated. The work may involve analyzing and commenting on high-level deals, and no novices, I would say, need apply.

Having worked extensively with Paul Linxwiler, I know him to be a capable and intelligent guy. Perhaps anyone who wants to offer comments and suggestions about the Bulletin’s operation should contact Paul. They could also inquire about his rationale for wanting an in-house editor and whether that requirement might be negotiable.
March 11
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
When I served as the Bulletin’s Managing Editor (for five years), I typically stayed at HQ and saw to the production of the monthly Bulletin when my two colleagues were away at the NABC doing the Daily Bulletins. I believe there is a similar arrangement now, so Bulletin editors need to live in proximity to the office.

Characterizing the position as non-stress may be questionable. My recollection is that it was often quite demanding, especially around deadlines. Perhaps modern technology has made it less so now.
March 6
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
For a treatment of the topic, you may refer to a debate between Larry Cohen and me in the May 2013 Bridge Bulletin. As I recall, lack of space prevented me from mentioning one aspect of 2/1 that I didn’t (and still don’t) like: the frequent obligation to rebid a three-card minor over a forcing 1NT response.
Feb. 21
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
Anyone pondering the merits of 2/1 vs. Standard may refer to a debate between Larry Cohen and me in the May 2013 Bridge Bulletin. If I recall correctly, my critique of 2/1 did not include the issue of opener often being obliged to rebid a three-card minor over a forcing 1NT response.
Feb. 18
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
I appreciate some of the heartfelt sentiments in this thread.

What a thrill it used to be to win a big Regional event — a significant achievement. Now it seems that the purpose of tournaments, with all the Bracketed, Flighted and Stratified convolutions, is to see that as many players as possible acquire as many masterpoints as possible. I am convinced that the ACBL is fostering a culture of entitlement that will prove debilitating. Its Sectional and Regional tournaments are being diminished thereby.
Feb. 15
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
Dr. Donnelly, I can appreciate your obvious enthusiasm for the game, but in my opinion – speaking as a career bridge journalist, an MSC panelist and a longtime reader and admirer of The Bridge World – what you are doing is wrong.

When you posted the MSC problems last month, you were prevailed upon to contact Jeff Rubens and ask his permission. I thought then that you were putting Jeff in an awkward position: If he said no, he would come across as ungracious; if he said yes, he risked – some might contend – diluting the value of his magazine’s most popular feature. If you haven’t heard from Jeff, I suspect it is because he thought his best course was to ignore you.

Be all that as it may, The Bridge World is a for-profit magazine. (I think it scratches out a profit.) Its contents, including the MSC, are copyrighted. True, the MSC problems are posted online, but I imagine the magazine’s motives for doing that are not entirely altruistic. They may be hoping to pick up some paying subscribers.

I wonder if you understand how much work and expertise goes into producing the MSC. It is a collaborative effort among Jeff, the moderators and other staff, including a designated Problem Editor. Knowing Jeff as I do, he goes back and forth with staff over a period of months trying to perfect the problems, like a crossword-puzzle editor at his craft. I am no copyright attorney, but common sense would suggest to me that the product of such extraordinary diligence is intellectual property.

Dozens of problems are posted on BW monthly. Is it really necessary to appropriate – perhaps misappropriate – problems from a copyrighted publication? I think not. Sir, you need to point your zeal in another direction.
Feb. 11
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
The first Nationals I attended was Atlanta, Spring 1971. Belladonna-Garozzo played in the Men’s Pairs, which later became the Open Pairs, and won it. It was an odd event, with two qualifying sessions and a one(!)-session final. At that time, the BG partnership was reputed to have never lost a significant pairs event. I played in the event. I didn’t get to go up against BG, but some close friends of mine did, and it was a memorable experience “going into the pit,” as they described it. The table was surrounded with kibitzers three-deep. I remember seeing the leonine Belladonna en route to the playing area. He had on a tuxedo.
Jan. 16
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
Peg,

If all the posts on BW were as consistently temperate, articulate, thoughtful and constructive as yours, this would be a better place.

The BW community should be aware that our Peg is dealing with a serious and debilitating health issue, which she is battling with courage. She went to San Fran and was welcomed there but was physically unable to play. I wish for her a successful recovery and ask that we all regard her in our thoughts and prayers.
Dec. 11, 2019
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
Friends, I apologize for the length of this post.

Because this thread has had some relevance to recent correspondence I had with ACBL officials, and because I am in sympathy with posts expressing distress at the farcical state of the masterpoint system, I am posting that correspondence for what good it might do.

I sent the letter below to Joe Jones, the ACBL’s Executive Director. I got a gracious and constructive reply from Mr. Jones, which I appreciated.

==============

Mr. Jones,

In August, I drove to Birmingham on the Sunday of a Sectional tournament, not to play – my playing days are over – but because the local bridge club has been so kind as to establish a trophy in my name for the Swiss Teams. There were all of five teams in the A/X event, perhaps a dozen in the B/C/D.

At the previous Sectional in February, the Sunday attendance was about the same, maybe lower. Partly, the abysmal turnout was due to some ill-considered scheduling: District 10 Regionals, in Orange Beach and Nashville respectively, were starting the next day. Maybe there is also antipathy toward team events. But I do not believe those factors were dominant.

I played in my first tournament in 1967, and I remember when a Birmingham Sectional was a big deal. There were two annually, in May and September, held in a big ballroom at a hotel downtown. It was always packed. Players came from all over: Tom and Carol Sanders from Nashville, Lou Bluhm from Atlanta, and good players from Jackson and New Orleans. There were no flighted, stratified or bracketed events. You learned how to compete or took up another pastime. Winning an event, such as Saturday’s two-session Open Pairs with qualifying and a final, was a significant and memorable achievement.

The times, have they ever changed. Now Birmingham has three sectionals a year, plus three NLM Sectionals. They are essentially a series of one-session pairs events coupled with one-session limited-masterpoint pairs events. Winning an event is little more significant than winning a club game. The emphasis is on masterpoints.

A couple of players may show up from Huntsville, Tuscaloosa or Montgomery. But why should anyone travel from far away when there is little glory in winning, and masterpoints have become easy to acquire in clubs? The 199er, 499er and other limited games are ubiquitous, and “special” games are constant: GNP, STACs, Club Appreciation, Charity and more. Masterpoints are like mattresses: Is there ever a week when they aren’t on sale? (The other day at the Birmingham club, winning some sort of five-table game paid seven – count `em, seven – masterpoints.)

I fear that Regionals are headed in the same direction. Birmingham once had one every four years, and it was a really big deal. Now it is one every other year.

In my opinion, we need fewer tournaments. We need tournaments – including Sectionals – where the emphasis is on winning and on placing high in meaningful events against meaningful opposition. I understand that the ACBL is a commercial enterprise, but it must not sell its soul for money. It must not foster a culture of entitlement and superficiality that, I am convinced, will eventually prove debilitating to itself and to the game.

Kindest regards…


=============

As it happens, there was another Sectional in Birmingham this past weekend. The attendance for the Sunday Swiss was down to 16 teams. I believe the largest pairs game over the four days was 16 tables. Of the 200 players who won masterpoints, a dozen were from out of state (more than I would have expected, but many were novices).

I copied the letter above to Dr. Russ Jones, the ACBL president for 2019. I mentioned that it would be nice if, just once, a Birmingham Sectional could be set up the way it used to be, as a challenge to advancing players.

Dr. Jones replied promptly, which I appreciated. He mentioned that a new method of ranking players is being considered. He also stated, however, that the ACBL started down the road to flighted and stratified events long ago, and there is no going back. I then sent the following response (copied to Joe Jones).

======

Dr. Jones,

Thank you for taking time to respond.

I am aware that the ACBL will not abandon its commitment to flighted and stratified events. I also have impressions, as an ACBL member for 52 years and a journalist, about the impact the deluge of such events has had on the viability of the ACBL's competitive structure,

I often speak with the president of my Unit 157. He tells me that he gets complaints from – let us call them “protected” – players who insist that the masterpoint awards for all flights should be the same, without regard to strength of field. They argue that they pay the same(!) to play as Flight A, so they should get as many points. This is the type of mentality that the institution of flighted events has created.

Devising a new rating system might be desirable, but the real problem is that stratified and flighted events are providing players with the illusion of being proficient. Perhaps you think this is harmless; I don't. If players can win against their peers, they have no incentive to improve, and the standard of play declines. Then when they acquire too many points to continue in limited games, they will be ill-equipped to continue. Many will quit playing. It is a bankrupt system that has its roots a few decades ago in a societal period of permissiveness and “What I want, I gotta have.” The ACBL bought into this, perhaps for fear of declining membership.

I became a Life Master in 1972, and you know what? The process then was halfway meaningful. How anyone could argue that what we have today is desirable is beyond my understanding. I will repeat what I wrote to you before: The ACBL is fostering a culture of entitlement that is a disservice to itself and its members and will eventually be debilitating.

Kindest regards …

===================

I have not yet had a response to this letter from either gentleman. They are involved in the SF Board meetings.

I will have no more to say, save that I fear that for curmudgeons like me, who insist that achievement should reflect a due degree of ability, the situation is hopeless. Several years ago, when the League raised the LM requirements, the Bulletin published complaining letters. I contributed a letter suggesting that those players were missing the point, whereupon someone wrote in and called me “frighteningly elitist.”
Nov. 26, 2019
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
The deal appeared — no source given — in “Sheinwold on Bridge” on December 11, 1993. Freddy was apt to recycle deals, so quite possibly he used it before then. I suspect the deal goes back many more decades. In the Thirties, people with time on their hands were fond of constructing deals with fantastic play possibilities. If anyone actually found the winning defense at the table, that would be remarkable. My guess — the same as M. Rosenberg — is that any attribution to a particular player is spurious.
Nov. 6, 2019
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
“Our system notes are incomplete,” Tom said listlessly.
“There was an earthquake during the tournament,” Tom said shakily.
“We’ll eat between sessions, and I’ll bless the meal,” Tom said gracefully.
Sept. 18, 2019
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
“Ever played bridge in a cemetary?” Tom asked gravely.
“Accidents will happen,” Captain Hook spoke offhandly.
“I bid that hand well,” the Venus de Milo said disarmingly.
Sept. 17, 2019
1 2 3 4 5
.

Bottom Home Top