NEBridge - DD Inbox for February 2017

At the beginning of every month District 25's Director, Mark Aquino, sends out congratulatory e-mails to New England bridge players who have advanced in rank during the previous month. Some of them respond, and Mark selects a few of the most interesting ones to be posted on Below are a few memorable ones from players who achieved a new rank in December of 2016 and January of 2017.

Glenna McNally

My story is very simple – friend of mine asked me if I would like to play some duplicate bridge with her – we had played socially – I was hesitant at first and I’ll tell you that story after – but decided to give it a try – that was sometime last April and here it is not even a year and I’m proud to have received enough points for Club Master.

I grew up playing a game we called 500 which I always thought was indigenous to the Hudson River Valley – come to find out it’s played all over the world – it’s a bidding game with right and left bowers (jacks)/joker and black twos and threes removed from the deck (you’re probably familiar with it) –the bidding only goes ONCE around. When I first learned to play bridge – over 50 years ago – I was thrilled that the bidding could go more than once around. In 500 you need to be very aggressive with the right hands – WELL wasn’t bridge welcoming – I got a chance to bid a second time – a chance to bid over my opponents and make a game - over the years I’ve played on and off – played on Metro North commuting to work for years – and socially as well – and am delighted to be playing now at the Newtown Club – very welcoming atmosphere – great people.

The HESITANT part of the story is this – some women who I know socially asked me to come and play with them – I know they were learning to play bridge – BUT- I didn’t know they were being taught to play duplicate not rubber of Chicago – and I was rather “turned off” by what seemed like an unwelcome atmosphere as there was only ONE table of bridge and they were being fussy about how you handled the cards/who was in charge/who said what/etc – what was the point – other than they wanted to practice – I played with them a couple of times and then declined – no sport in it to my mind – better to play rubber bridge and at least have a good contest going. SO that left a rather “bad taste in my mouth” for the duplicate methodology – UNTIL – my friend, Janet, and now PARD convinced me that I should give it a try – she felt we would do well together and indeed we do – so CREDIT to Janet for getting me started at the duplicate table.

I wish, Mark, that I had a picture to send along – used to have one on my system – it’s probably on my Linkedin account – couldn’t find it among my documents – have had major computer issues in the past – suspect it went among the missing in cyber space with other things I lost along the way –

Just a little aside – when we played 500 as kids if my grandmother bid 7 I knew she had 7 in her hand and I could take her up to 10 if I had the right cards – it was a very aggressive game and that has always been my approach to bridge – HOW MUCH IS IN THIS HAND – that’s what I love about the game – there are always those hands that don’t exactly “match” the rules and conventions of the modern game – and so you have to use your instincts – take a chance – go with your gut

Glenna McNally
Danbury, CT

Doug Pratt retired at 70 years of age after 12 years flying fighters and 33 most recent years as an Electrical Engineer in Norwalk CT. He used his analytical skills to seriously study the game of Bridge. It was not long before he discovered that logic and aggression do not guarantee success at the table. His favorite books after the 25 Convention books are books by David Bird and classic 2 over 1 books. New to Duplicate, he has played with many partners and taken advantage of the open pairs events at sectionals and regionals in New England. He is looking forward to more Swiss competition events and lessons for improving his play of the hand. After a little over four years of Duplicate he made life master.

To make ACBL better for those of us who started late and want to climb the Life Master ranking, I suggest a pigmented ladder that does not require decades of local club games to make the higher ranks. Tournaments provide opportunity to get sizable point awards all pigmented. I personally have given up on Black MPs and will satisfy myself with reaching advanced level requirements in pigmented points only. It would be helpful to be able to trade pigmented points for black at tournaments.

Doug Pratt
Norwalk, CT

It would certainly make sense to do a nice article, on all the partners, directors, and teachers, who have pulled and pushed me along this past year.

I was wondering how rare it is to reach the Club Master Status by earning points with 20 different partners?

Also, I am trying to work out how I could achieve a Triple-Double in my first 12 months as an ACBL Member.

20 Points, 20 Partners, 20 - 1st Time Partners, or better yet, 20 Locations?

I have scored full points, or fractions, with between 10-12 partners, on our first time playing together. So, it's possible to reach 20, if I have 1st time scoring with about 10 more partners.

I have scored points at 10 locations total, 8 Clubs and 2 Tournaments. Scoring at 10 more locations before my annual date of March 7, 2017, may be possible, but I might need some help getting that organized.

Part of my problem, is that I have a lot of trouble scoring, in 299'er games. All my points have been achieved in either Open games, or at a tournament.

Chuck McLaughlin
Carver, MA

Eric Schwartz

I started playing bridge when I was a freshman at Queens College, in New York City, where I grew up with players who were decidedly more talented than I, like Peter Weichsel, Alan Sontag, and Andy Bernstein. I kept on playing until I was 38, getting an expensive education in the Boston Chess Club money games, when I retired from the game for eighteen years. I came back to bridge in 1999.

Several years ago I decided to set a goal of reaching 5,000 MPs before my 75th birthday. I had a couple of good years (for me) and as last year got into Autumn, if became clear that I would make it: it was only a question of when. At this point I sort of got impatient, and turned to BBO, playing with robots up to ten times a day. I was winning over 30 points a month. My wife Linda Robinson wanted to be the one to put me over, so when I got up to 4995 I stopped playing online. We then went down to Johnston, R.I. for their sectional at the end of January, where, with our favorite teammates, Maxim Siline and Carrie (XiaoQian) Liu, we tied for fourth overall and made it with several points to spare.

District 25, from my perspective, runs very good Regionals. The only thing that they could add would be portable electric pencil sharpeners. I've mentioned this to Bob Bertoni, and at the last sectional in Watertown, there was one. It worked perfectly until it disappeared halfway through the evening session of the pair game.

The only thing you could add to help me attain my next bridge goal would be to provide several top players who would play with me for free. That won't happen, so I'll just have to improve. Playing on BBO has actually helped me with my card play. After several thousand hands, one sees patterns emerging that can apply to real life. So I'm going to keep at it. I would like to win a Flight A Knockout -- I guess that's my next goal.

Eric Schwartz
Arlington, MA