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All comments by Karen Walker
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I always enjoy watching you and Nick on Vugraph because you play a straightforward, mostly natural system. It would be interesting to learn how you've modified it over the years and what prompted the changes. Coach's recommendations, to cater to new bidding trends by opponents, to fix problems?
July 12
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It's still fun for me, but if I had to choose another adjective, it would be “enriching”.
July 9
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Steve: Can you share where your regional was? And maybe provide a link to the schedule?
June 9
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Here's a summary from my web site called “Why Play Bridge?”:
http://kwbridge.com/why.htm
June 7
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Ira points out one of the (many) problems with handicapping, which is that people have different ideas of how great the advantage should be to the lower-masterpoint team.

My view is that the handicap should provide a cushion, not a significant edge – similar to bowling, where you get only 80% or 90% of the difference in pins between your team's average and your opponents'. If both teams bowl their average, the higher-ranked team always wins. The team getting the handicap wins only when they bowl above their average and/or the higher-ranked team bowls worse.

Others seem to think that the handicap should be big enough to give the lower-ranked team a clear advantage. Essentially, the higher-ranked team always has to play better than average to win.

The other – and bigger – problem is that masterpoints are not a reliable indicator of what a fair handicap should be. At my recent tournament, we had to give IMPs to a team that regularly wins the top flight of team events, but has relatively few masterpoints. When lower-ranked teams played that team, they didn't get enough of a handicap to bridge the difference in skill levels.

In general, handicapped events give just about everyone something to complain about. Some teams are unhappy no matter how big the handicap because they just don't want to play against experts. The expert teams feel they have to run up the score to make up for big handicaps, which their opponents see as unsportsmanlike.

In an ideal bridge world, no handicaps would be needed. Less-experienced players would enter open events because they enjoy playing against better competition and want to improve their skills – and occasionally, have the thrill of beating a better team.

Those days, of course, are over, but there must be a better way to run knockout events at small tournaments. I don't know what the solution is, but I'm ready to scrap the handicapping system we have now and try something, anything different.
June 7
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ACBL records may not go back that far, but my memory does, and we did not have a regular May regional in our district any time close to 1993.

From around 1980 to 1992, Urbana had a sectional on the third weekend in May. I am certain that it was not in conflict with a regional in our district.

Maybe you're thinking about the St. Louis regionals, which were on Memorial Day in the late 1970s. Before the 1990s, Springfield, Decatur and Paducah had regionals in June. Peoria, Rockford and Fort Wayne had October dates.
May 31
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Terry:
I don't know where you got your information about the history of Champaign regionals, but it is in error. I have been running this regional since it began, which I can assure you was in 1993. Our city did not have a regional before 1993 unless it was back in the 1960s.

It's possible that our tournament drew some Chicago players who played in Minneapolis more than 25 years ago, but I doubt that's costing your tournament many tables now. It's another consequence of our aging membership base. Those players were likely in their 30s and 40s back then and willing to take a 6.5-hour road trip. Now that they're in their 60s and 70s, how many would still be driving that far to a tournament?
May 31
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Terry Beckman wrote:
“Champaign is the problem here. They moved to the Memorial Day weekend long after the other tournaments from the week before.”

Champaign has had a Memorial Day regional every year since 1993. We've never had a regional scheduled for any other time, so we didn't “move” to that week.

Champaign is more than 500 miles from Minneapolis and 450 miles from Cleveland – far enough apart that there shouldn't be that much of a geographical overlap in the areas we were drawing from. For years, that worked fine and all three tournaments did well.

Other cities became the “problem” much later. Around 2000, ACBL scheduled NINE Memorial Day regionals east of the Mississippi, plus a sectional in Milwaukee. Since then, there have always been six or seven regionals during this week.

Regionals in Midwest states have problems avoiding conflicts because we're competing for a limited number of dates. People here won't “risk” driving if the weather might be bad, so we're limited to April through October, and three of those weeks (Easter, Mother's Day and July 4) are out. Champaign is a college town, which eliminates even more weekends (local hotels sell out during campus Mom's Day, football games, high-school state tournaments, NCAA events and May and August graduations).
May 31
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One of the big differences between chess and bridge is that a player's chess rating doesn't depend on the skill of his partner.

A rating system that penalizes players for poor scores will discourage people from playing with less experienced partners. This type of rating system may be technically superior to just plain masterpoints, but if it disincentivizes mentoring partnerships, it's not good for bridge.
May 4
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Bridge expertise and an understanding of the issues that affect the entire membership are not mutually exclusive. Larry is probably right that the most elite professional players tend to be out of touch with the needs of the masses, but there are plenty of other experts who are.

These are the long-time members who are accomplished, successful players, but have channeled much of their bridge energy into volunteer activities. They teach, promote, run clubs, chair tournaments and serve on Unit boards. They have good ideas about how to recruit players and improve the game at all levels, from clubs to national championships, because they actually play in all of these games.

One of these people would have been a good addition to the search committee. Everyone on the committee is qualified, but 5/6 of them are Board members/bridge politicians. Another perspective might have provided a valuable balance.
May 4
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When you make your husband stop the car in the middle of that creaky bridge and back up so you can get a photo of the sign.
http://kwbridge.com/weakbridge.JPG
Feb. 5
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At a long-ago regional in Decatur IL, a man had a heart attack at Barry Crane's table during the Wednesday Men's Team event. Two players administered CPR until the ambulance arrived. The man died at the hospital later that day.

On Saturday, his wife was back at the tournament to play in the Open Pairs.
Feb. 3
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I wasn't aware of this site or the museum. It had photos of all three of these board styles and many others, and I enjoyed browsing all the other collections. Thanks for sharing the link!
Jan. 12
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This is very sad news. Peter was a fascinating, talented man with a wonderful sense of humor.

He served ACBL with great energy and attention to detail. He once asked me to take over the chairmanship of a committee meeting at the last minute, promising that he would help. I thought he'd send a brief outline of topics. Instead, he sent several pages that covered every contingency. It had a flow chart (“If committee chooses B, skip to section 4.A”) and a full script with every sentence written out, right down to “My name is …”.

After the meeting, he was effusive in congratulating me for so closely following his script, then broke out in laughter as he admitted that he was a “certified control freak”. I was totally charmed by him.
Feb. 13, 2017
Karen Walker edited this comment Feb. 13, 2017
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The pancake house in Champaign was Uncle John's. Locals and students mourned when it closed around 1980, then reopened as Aunt Sonya's, then closed again.
Jan. 22, 2017
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Memphis was the best NABC I've been to in the past 10 years. The weather was mild, there were many nearby restaurants with reasonable prices, and I had a $95/night hotel that was walking distance from the tournament hotel. And only Memphis has Graceland.

I'm not familiar with how CEO candidates evaluate potential jobs, but if they weigh how far their salary would go in Memphis as opposed to a more “exciting” city, that would seem to be a strong selling point.
Jan. 22, 2017
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I found these two books illuminating:

“The Invisible Gorilla” by Dan Simons and Christopher Chabris. Theories, research results and practical examples that explore the concept of inattentional blindness – why we fail to notice obvious details.

“Ace on the River” by Barry Greenstein. This is a poker book, but not a technical one. The focus is on psychology and philosophies that can be applied to other competitive activities.

Simons and Greenstein happen to be bridge players who played at my local club in years past.
Dec. 15, 2016
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I haven't seen any comments that claim BBO does nothing or that anyone has a “right” to a certain type of product. It is a real stretch to conclude that these posters are trying to tell BBO how to run their business.

Neither have I seen anything that should make anyone angry enough to issue a “shame on you” to those whose preferences differ from his.

People are expressing their personal preferences and making constructive suggestions. If I were a business owner, I would seek out and welcome this input.
Nov. 6, 2016
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No, but they deliver value to BBO by developing new bridge players, signing up new BBO members, generating more ad views and increasing participation in pay events.
Nov. 5, 2016
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I have an IBM Selectric that I use once a year to fill in 1099 tax forms. It's a personal preference for completing that chore, not an unwillingness to adapt to change.
Nov. 5, 2016
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