District 25
NEBridge - DD Inbox April 2016

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 NEBridge.org. Below are a few memorable ones from players who advanced in April of 2016.

I started playing duplicate bridge in 1962 when I was in graduate school at the University of Michigan. My partner was another graduate student in the Physics Department. At lunch a few grad students and professors would gather in one of the labs and draw cards for partners. Those who drew cards below the top four cards would kibitz. We would write difficult hands on a napkin and analyze them after the lunch period. It was a great way to learn.

Our best result was coming in Second in the State of Michigan men’s pairs.

This was the time when the scandal with Terrence Reese had just broken. They were using finger signals to show the number of hearts that each held. The attached joke photo shows us holding cards the way Reese did. Our trophy for Second Place is on the table.

After graduation I did not play tournament bridge until retirement. Then my wife and I started to play.

Richard Phillips
Westport, MA

When I read this, I laughed and assumed I had nothing to say. I figure I will have to live at least a hundred more years to achieve life master. And then I thought about it again.

I started playing bridge as an eight-year old because I had a high-school age sister who wanted to learn. (It was 2 1/2 honor tricks to open.) Then she went off to college. I played in college when I got there — four hands before dinner in the "smoker". (Goren, 13 points to open.)

Then seven and a half years ago I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and, after Whipple surgery, three friends came to my house every other Monday night after chemo to play bridge — to cheer me up, to distract me. Elizabeth said her mother played something called "Chicago" so we tried that. Chemo ended and two friends happily gave up bridge, but Elizabeth and I started playing duplicate once a week. She has since become a committed bridge player and long ago raced off, leaving me in the dust.

But I still play, sometimes ambivalently. I look out the window and wonder what I'm doing inside on a beautiful day. I want to be skiing or playing golf or tennis, not sitting. I play once, maybe twice a week, and when I'm away for the summer I might not play at all. But in the last month or two, I've accepted that this IS my bridge game, and I like it and I'm going to stick with it. I can be competitive at the table, without being competitive about my game. I'm not going to play five times a week and online, but I can enjoy the hours I do spend, the teachers who are so encouraging and the partners who forgive.

Pat Rathbone
Watertown, MA

Mine is a very common story: played lots in college, stopped for a family and career, and came back to the game in retirement.

My suggestion is that the ACBL replace the horrible website we are forced to deal with. It's a navigational nightmare on a cell phone, and a click marathon every time one wants to check hands. At minimum it should be easy for your tech support team to make fields "sticky". There is absolutely no reason to have to click the same State, City, and Club fields each time. The system should remember what I last clicked, and take me to the most recent results. Should I wish to see other places/dates, then I would start clicking.

I love the Bridegmate and the ensuing displays of hands and results. It's the best way to learn. But please, give us a website that lives up to the same standard.

Bruce Garland
Lebanon, NH

Went to tournament in Watertown this past weekend. Played with Wayne Burt and we won the "E Section" Saturday morning to put me over the top. Had a great time playing Friday PM and both sessions on Saturday.

Bob Howard
Ogunquit, ME

My husband and I winter in Florida and I began playing bridge at the Vero Beach Bridge Club. VBBC offers many opportunities to new bridge players, including guest speakers, such as, Audrey Grant, Barbara Seagram. and Marty Bergen. They also offer a "learning section for 0-20" preceded by a lesson and then playing 14 or so boards. These opportunities have helped immensely. My partner and I have played at least twice a week and have ventured into open stratified pairs, too.

We are soon to return home to Raynham, Massachusetts 02767 (my partner returns to Ontario, Canada) and I am looking for ACBL bridge clubs near me and hopefully a mentor with whom I can play occasionally and a partner(s) with whom I can play more frequently for the 6 months I am home. If you can guide me in my search or offer any helpful suggestions, I would be most appreciative.

I love bridge because of the game and because of the qualities of respect, courtesy, and support that players and directors who play this wonderful game practice.   

Helen Cox
Rayham, MA 

I started playing bridge in college, learning in the usual way by the seat of my pants. Seems like there was always someone who was able to give us some new piece of information.   I continued playing after college with friends and couples. always enjoying the game. This continued with no formal instruction until the time came when I was more settled and made a commitment to improve my game. Took lessons at the Greenwich YWCA from both Rich DeMartino and Steve Becker. Than as life changes, I took a brief hiatus from bridge for about 30 years. One day, I suddenly found myself sitting at the bridge table and once again was hooked. This time I knew I had to take lessons. Just like old times…….Steve Becker was my teacher. The other fun part is my bridge partner in all of this, is my dear college friend. We have grown up together sharing many interests……including bridge. We are now both life masters. I do not plan on taking any more 30-year time outs.

Carole Greenberg
Stamford, CT