District 25
NEBridge - Bob Bertoni's Inbox 2019-2021

During his period as District Director Bob Bertoni sent out congratulatory emails to New England bridge players who had advanced in rank during the previous month. Some of the recipients sent responses, and Bob selected a few of the most interesting ones to be posted on his website, District25Directpr.org. Since New England no longer has a District Director, it seemed prudent to capture the comments and photos that Bob had posted and put them in the format that was used both before and after his term. One additional response was added at the bottom.. That player did not receive a congratulatory email for making Gold Life Master in October 2021, but he had strong opinions about the future of bridge in New England. This will serve as his forum.

First and foremost, I want to say thank you for this opportunity. I am very grateful that you reached out to me and I am excited to share my story. Although I am new to Bridge, I was welcomed to the Bridge community with great enthusiasm and I have had a great experience thus far. I think Bridge is a great way to connect with friends and family and I want to commend you, and the rest of the administration, for creating and maintaining a community that is inviting, welcoming, and fun for new players. I think Bridge is a great game and it should get the publicity that it deserves, as well as more players. That being said, my story…

Although I only started playing Bridge in March, 2020, my BBO profile says that I made my account in 2018. This is because I first heard of Bridge during my 2018 summer vacation at Cape Cod visiting family friends, Jim and Marcia Buss. I was 11 years old. Jim asked me if I had ever heard of the game Bridge. When I said, “no”, he offered to start teaching me. As you know, it is very difficult to teach someone Bridge in one day. So instead, when we left the cape, Jim gave me a book called “Bridge For Everyone” by D. W. Crisfield. In the beginning, I was reading the book but wasn’t playing. After a while it got pretty boring, and I eventually stopped reading the book. Bridge was temporarily out of my life.

My aunt has a friend Andrew (Hanes) who is a lifelong Bridge player and Bridge teacher. About a year ago we had a conversation about Bridge. We agreed that it would be more fun to learn if I had someone to play with. Although we discussed playing 1 day a week it never panned out for one reason or another until we eventually forgot about it. In March 2020 all work and school stopped due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Andrew reached out to me about playing together online. He was a great teacher, and I was stuck at home with plenty of time to study. Andrew then introduced me to a USBF Jr. player named Ethan Wood. Now I had two great mentors. I was doing learning sessions with either of them 3 times a week and studying on the off days. Between my great interest and enthusiasm, and having two top notch mentors, I was learning pretty fast in those first two months. Things just kept going up from there. In May 2020, Ethan invited me to play with him in his local club. I played a club tournament twice a month online which earned me my first black masterpoints. Things kept on this way for a few months and I kept learning and developing.

My first big tournament was on July 25th. I played online in the Youth NABC pairs tournament. Since I didn’t know any youth Bridge players other than Ethan, he helped me find a partner. The first partner he found for me backed out two days before the tournament. I was set up with another partner and it worked out well. We got 45 and 38 percent in matchpoints. I felt great about that outcome considering we were both beginners and had never played together before. In August, Ethan set me up to play a Pro-Am tournament with his friend
Robin Hillyard. The Pro-Am went well. We were 4th in our section with a 55.44% which earned us 0.69 black points. Robin is another great teacher. We have continued playing speedballs occasionally. Between tournaments I continue training sessions with Andrew
and Ethan so my skill is steadily developing.

From August until now, I steadily earned points through ACBL Daylongs. However, these points didn’t all count since many of them had been scored when I hadn’t yet registered my ACBL account. On October 6th, ACBL registered my new points and showed a total of 5.95. This was enough for me to achieve my Junior Master Status. I am very proud of my achievement. It took me 7 and a half months and I couldn't have done it without the help of all my great teachers.

I have only played Bridge for a short time, and yet I feel I know it so well. As I said, I havenever even played in person Bridge which is something I am excited to do. Bridge is a great game and the wonderful community that surrounds it makes it all the better. I am extremely glad that I decided to play Bridge because it is something I will enjoy for the rest of my life. That is my Bridge story so far and I look forward to seeing the way the rest of my Bridge story will unfold.

Eric Miele
Leominster, MA

I began my Bridge journey when I was an adolescent playing in High School with my father, and then continued in college at Vassar where I would often stay up all night playing with my friends. I stopped completely when I went to medical school because I didn't have the time or any partners who were interested. I didn't start again until Bob Gaudet introduced me to duplicate bridge in 2008. I quickly became addicted and have enthusiastically played since then. The game is all about partnerships, so a shout out to my first partner, Sue Saponaro, for playing with me in the beginning and sticking with me through many mistakes. I was helped along by my teachers, Joe Cappannelli and Joe DeGaetano, and by my tournament partners Wendy Jarrett (always cheerfully there for me on both coasts) and Livingston Carroll. Many thanks as well to my other partners in Boston, and now to my new partners in San Francisco for all of the support and encouragement. I only hope that I will again play in person with all my friends on the other side of this pandemic.

Ronnie Fuchs
San Francisco, CA

I am writing to let you know how much I have appreciated the efforts, enthusiasm and commitment of my bridge coach, Richard DeMartino. It was much to his credit that I was able to achieve the status of being awarded the ACBL Silver LIfe Master.

As a national bridge champion, his extensive experience, devotion to and achievements in the game have provided him with the skill necessary to enthuse players such as myself and, for that, we are all very grateful.

He has shown extraordinary patience and, more importantly, has always been willing to answer questions and solve problems when they have occurred. The efforts he has consistently put in are truly recognized and appreciated .

Over the past few weeks, during the COVID-19 lockdown, he was always willing to set up Zoom calls to further our practice and help us in these particularly difficult times - without cost. The time he spent preparing materials for the convention was especially helpful as well as the challenge questions he distributed.

I wanted to take this opportunity to recognize Richard’s efforts and bring these to the notice of the board and all the bridge players.


Christina Hare

Fairfield, CT

Thanks for the good wishes, Bob.

I think, like most bridge players, I achieved this milestone by playing with good partners, people who were willing to take a chance on me when I was starting out and those who play with me now. Bob Carvin asked me to play in the pro/am at Watertown several years ago. That began a mentoring relationship that lasts to this day; Bob’s contributions to my becoming a better player are immeasurable. I’d love to see more of that generosity in our game; it would be great if all of us found a way to give back to the game we love.
An often overlooked benefit of playing bridge is the friendships that grow out of our mutual interest. I cannot count the wonderful friendships that began at the bridge table, both as partners and opponents.

It’s important to study and continue to learn, to play with people you enjoy and never forget to have fun.

Maureen Bitler
Hingham, MA

Dear Bob,

Thank you for notifying me that I have now earned the distinction of Bronze Life Master. I’ve had an interesting journey reaching this level. Every month when I received the ACBL Bridge Bulletin, listed on the back cover I would watch my point count of 499.59 never move.

In Las Vegas, I lived in a community where they had a non-sanctioned duplicate game, so even though I couldn’t earn any points there, there many life masters & excellent players, ACBL members, like me, who took advantage of the convenience of playing near home. So even though I played all these years, I didn’t stand a chance of getting to the next level.

One nice thing about playing bridge, is that no matter what city I’ve ever visited or lived in I could walk into any local club & pick up a partner. I moved here from Las Vegas about a year ago & recently started playing bridge locally only to find that in most clubs here, unless you come with a partner you can’t play.

Since I didn’t know anyone here I asked my daughter, Lanette Sweeney, if she would be willing to learn. She started taking lessons from a wonderful woman & great bridge player in our area, Judy Hyde. So even though I knew my daughter wasn’t ready to play at the club level, I was so anxious to play that I brought her along. Previously I had played with a few people in this area, but even though I only needed a fraction of a point to reach the Bronze level, it wasn’t to be.

Well, lo and behold, my daughter actually surprised me that night, played exceptionally well, and we scored well enough to earn the half or three-quarters of a point I needed to become a Bronze Life Master!

It’s quite exciting to realize my daughter, who didn’t know how to play bridge a few months ago, was the one who got me over the hump!

Gail Perry
South Hadley, MA

Dear Bob,

What good news for me this is! I thought I would have to earn the last scrap of points in Cromwell next week, but apparently my 6th place fractional point in Hartford this week did it.

Here's my story, such as it is, and probably not that unique.

I learned bridge from my mother 68 years ago, when I was 12. Fast forward to age 40 when I met a serious bridge player who taught me the modern ropes and took me to tournaments. After that relationship ended, many bridgeless years went by until I found my way to the Hartford Bridge Club and the warm welcome of Donna Feir. She had helped me get my life master status once upon a time, in a team game in Springfield, back when there were Springfield regionals. I played at HBC for 10 years with many partners but it wasn't until I moved to Northampton that I found a steady partnership with Bob Sagor. The very first time I played with him, in a swiss team event in Cromwell, he decided we were losing, so bid a desperate 7 no trump. I made it and we won that round, and came in in the event. Having evolved into something of a bridge missionary, I'm on the Board of the Northampton Bridge Club, teach beginners, have started a daytime game, and work to expand the number of players in the area.

Judy Hyde
Northampton, MA

My bridge “career” started as a child – watching my parents play on Friday nights. I wanted to play so much and my Dad said “not until you can memorize all the cards”. Now to someone else that would sound like “leave us alone, please”. To me it was “learn to memorize and fast”.

In the mid-90’s I began duplicate bridge. Instead of getting lessons right away, my partner and I decided to play at a tournament – the individual in Newton – we had no clue what was going on – boards – new partner, etc. This lovely man came up to us and gave us his card to call him if we were interested in learning. I tip my hat the late and great Bill Bingham for teaching us how to play.

I could only play on weekends – thus, tournaments. So much fun and so many great people – I began volunteering with Unit and the District - set-up a couple New Hampshire sectionals (one in a skate board park) and then ran the Newcomers Section at the 1999 Nationals in Boston.

Life took over and I dropped out of bridge a few years later. Little did I know that the ACBL would change the requirements for life master to 500. When I came back to bridge about 5 years ago, to play bridge at The Spot, Dean said to me that he had never seen anyone who left the game with 297 master points! Well, I learned that I needed 203 more points for life master.

Well, here I am now. So many awesome partners, so many fun tournaments and games, and so much more ahead of me. Yeah!!

Rosemary Tator
Chelmsford, MA

How did I achieve this status? Like anyone else, I guess. Playing a lot, constantly improving my game by going through the hands I blew (common game analysers and acbl magazine very helpful) and trying to not make the same mistakes again, going to a lot of tournaments. I have had long term partners and that helps. After a while and through many trials and errors, we became a well oiled machine, having fewer and fewer bidding and defending misunderstandings. Persevering!!!!!

The next level? I doubt I'll be alive to see it happen.?? That's 1500 points away. I average about 150 points a year( now that I don't attend too many tournaments anymore) and that would be about 10 years from now!

You want to know what the district can do to improve. Well, there IS a problem but I don't know that it is solvable. Our regionals and sectionals are on the small side. As a result, in order to have enough teams (knockouts and and swiss events) you have to lump all the A players together. People like myself, who are the minnows in this pool, are forced to play against people who have 10,000+ points and who are way, way above me in talent. The last time I played in a swiss at a regional, A was separated from the B,C field. I had a decent team ( together we had over 12,000 points) but we were the babies and it was a bloodbath. We didn't lose... We were annihilated! It was not a fun experience. It was painful.We all decided then and there to never play any team games in the unit or district again.

The answer? I don't know. Handicap? Don't separate A out from the rest? No idea. But the way it is done now is not equitable. Also, I have played in team games where, having won 6 out of 8 matches, we still didn't even make the leader board. Why? Because our wins were small (by 3-4 points). I have felt, for a long time, that the win-loss style is much fairer than the 20 or 30 point scales. Win, losses was the way it was done 40 years ago when I first started to play teams and, in my opinion, that is the way it should be. Look at all other sports: in every single sport, if the team has more points at the end of the game( no matter HOW many more), they win!!!! That's how, in my opinion, it should be in team play in bridge. Not how much you win by, but the simple fact that you DID

One other thing the district might consider. Have many events for gold be a single session. Why? Because I hear people saying they are older now and can't handle two sessions any more. In many of our regionals, most of the single session events are for silver only. Therefore, if a person can't handle double sessions anymore, they can't play for gold. The bulk of our players in the ACBL are 70+ years old. It would be helpful (and maybe increase the turnout) if you would consider having single session gold events. 

Duplicate Bridge is my passion and has been since I started back in 1975. It is never boring, always a learning experience, great for the brain cells, always a challenge, and a  fun social activity! People who don't play have no idea what they are missing. And as a director, I see many people first coming into the game when they retire. Three hours a day of challenging, brain-straining, satisfying fun!

Rita Baudo
Yarmouth Port, MA

It took me a full year to achieve Club Master status, primarily because I only play once a week at sanctioned games in either North Smithfield, Warwick or Providence, Rhode Island. I learned the basic elements of the game while attending college many years ago and started showing up solo at the North Smithfield location back in February. I was fortunate to be "accidentally" paired with an excellent veteran player named Bill Cowdell, whose regular partners happened to be spending the winter months in Florida. Bill taught me the ins and outs of playing winning duplicate bridge. He'd regularly devote 15 to 20 minutes before each session to reviewing conventions and bidding sequences with me. When I made mistakes at the table, which often occurred, he'd patiently them point out after completing the hand. We even finished first a couple of times. Once Bill's regular partners returned, I alternated playing with a couple of lower-level partners, with whom I've added four first-place finishes to my resume. I look forward to acquiring many more master points in the future.

Gary Gallucci
Johnston, RI

When I retired from Raytheon in 1993 i started playing bridge after taking the beginners course offered by Concord adult education. That progressed into playing in local clubs. I then moved to Maine in 1998 and played with a steady partner in local and regional games. In 2007 I again moved to a very rural portion of Maine and it was difficult to find a nearby club or travel to sectionals, regionals etc. I started to play at the Capitol City club but traveling 45 miles became a chore. I then started playing on BBO and finally gained enough points.

Frank Shorey
Anston, ME




I was slowly inching my way towards Silver Life Master when I decided to retire in July 2018, earlier than I had planned.

With more free time, I naturally spent it playing bridge, finally going over in November.

With bridge being a partnership game, I'd be remiss in not mentioning my 4 regular partners, Greg Klinker, Eva Landy, Chris Soares and Deborah Simpson.

Having good partner is a big plus!

I went over the 1000 mark in a club game at the Viking Club in Portsmouth RI playing with Deb.

Steve Myerson
Portsbouth, RI

Hi Bob,

Thank you very much for your email. I cannot express in written English very well. I would like to give you several facts which may be helpful to you.
1. I Learned to play bridge when I was a college student in Peking University. I restarted to play bridge about 2 years ago when my son, Shen Duan showed interest in bridge.
2. We entered semi-final in 2018 GNT Flight C at Atlanta, and second place in 2019 NAP Flight C Qualifying Game of 25 District.
3. The bridge books I read in this year or I am reading, which are very helpful to improve bridge skills include:
Two Over One Game Force, by Max Hardy
Workbook on the Two over one, by Mike Lawrence
Standard Modern Precision, by Daniel Neill
Precision in the 90s, by Barry Rigal
Precision Today, by David Berkowitz and Brent Manley
To Bid or Not to Bid, by Larry Cohen
Complete Book on Overcalls at Contract Bridge, by Mike Lawrence
Slam Bidding, by Marty Bergen
Accurate Cardplay, by Terence Reese and Rodger Trezel
Imaginative Cardplay, by Terence Reese and Rodger Trezel
Bridge Squeezes, by Clyde E. Love

The leaders of 25 District did great job in the past. I believe you can do better. If there is anything I can do for our community, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Thank you again for your concern,

Meiyan Duan
Andover, MA

Thank you for your kind words. I have attached a photo per your request. I am a 53 year old married man, retired from the US Navy after 23 years of service and currently work as a facilities manager at a local hospital. While I was exposed to bridge as a youngster, I joined the ACBL and the Newtown, CT Bridge club in February of 2018 with zero master points. I was fortunate enough to play with some more experienced players who mentored me and took advantage of a number of lesson series given by the manager of the Newtown Bridge Club, Ms. Susan Fronapfel. I paired up with another member of the club with approximately the same number of master points as I had and together we have been working hard to improve our game. We have competed in a number of tournaments in CT, NY and MA with success including an overall win in the March 2018 STAC tournament. In the 0-5MP range, I finished 3rd in the United States ACBL Mini-McKenney (First in CT) and first in the Helen Shanbrom Ace of Clubs with a total of 106.76MP. I look forward to advancing in rank but the opportunities for me to obtain the colored points I need are a significant challenge due to work and family obligations. More opportunities to earn gold, red and silver points locally would very helpful. I would also like some more advanced lessons and mentorship opportunities, but it seems that virtually all lessons locally available are geared more toward beginners which I find of limited benefit.

Please feel free to share the above information and feel free to contact me if you'd like more information.

Gregory Rich
Newtown, CT

Thank you for your email. I was happy to receive my Club Master award.

My mom played and must have learned from her. Played some in high school. After our youngest went to college, I started to play party/contract bridge at the Community Center. That was about 10 years ago.

>It was over a year ago someone introduced me to the duplicate bridge lesson in Burlington Bridge Club in Williston, VT, It was then did my interest level start.

Burlington Bridge Club has a warm welcoming way on their teaching and running games. It is great meeting new people who enjoy bridge. I’m lucky to have a partner that also wants to learn. When we play she writes down the bidding and afterwards we review the results. We rehash what we should have done wrong or right. The Club offers lessons and we attend. Once a week there is a beginner play where you can ask questions. The instructors are so helpful.

My partner and I have bravely played against Life Masters and they have been very patient with us. This is our way to help them get points.

Our goal has been to not come in last. Recently we have achieved that.

We continue to learn more in order to improve our chances for points. Look at me. Yea. My partner will be soon.

If you need more details let me know. Thanks for your interest in my bridge story. Sincerely, KC

KC Barton
South Hero, VT

Thrilled to reach my personal goal of becoming a Silver Life Master, I am honored to respond to Bob Bertoni’s request for my comments. As a competitive athlete who had both knees and both hips replaced, I took up bridge after becoming an “empty nester.” I became a caretaker for my husband when he was diagnosed with Alzheimers, so ANY opportunity to enjoy both playing the game of bridge and being with interesting people became an important part of my life. I loved the games at Temple Reyim, Newton, not only because it was close-by but also because of the diversity of players, especially in the Tuesday evening games. There were so many brilliant men and women players, many of whom had emigrated from a variety of different countries. Over the years there were a few people whom I remember for being particularly generous in offering a quietly spoken positive comment or constructive suggestion: dear Mel Marcus, Shoam, Zack, Lloyd. Sheila is not aware how much I learned from hearing her orally list her losers after each hand she played, a discipline very difficult for me but one I aspire to achieving. After moving permanently to New Hampshire after finding a memory unit in a facility with wonderful caretakers for my husband, I have made wonderful new friends through joining the Eastman Bridge Club games in NH as well as a Quechee, VT game.

Nancy Fleming
Sunapee, NH

I began playing bridge in college and continued to play all through my adult and professional life. I have always loved the game and thought that upon retiring I might play it more seriously.

So in 2017, I joined the Derry NH duplicate bridge club and soon thereafter joined the ACBL. One of my bucket list items was to play in a tournament and maybe to become a “master” of some sort . At this point both of those goals have been reached. But I am not resting on my laurels! I might not live long enough to achieve the next rank (I am 80 years old) but I sure am going to try. I have met some really great people (along with a few curmudgeons) along the way, and look forward to meeting many more.

Stephanie Curcio
Londonderry, NH



Dear Bob,

Thank you for your kind message and for nice, informative personal web page you created. About two years ago as I retired from my career in Software Engineering at Digital/Compaq/HP I started to play bridge regularly, initially at a non-sanctioned Duplicate Club in Shrewsbury, MA. If I only knew what is going to happen next, I would have retired and joined ACBL much earlier. I simply got lucky. I found a partner John Lukach at the Shrewsbury Senior Center Bridge Club. We joined ACBL late last year when BBO offered cash incentive for joining ACBL.

Next was a book: “Standard Bidding with SAYC” and slow process of building our partnership. We started our conquest in January 2019 at the wonderful Wachusett Bridge Club. There we won most of the club games, playing regularly both at Holden and at Shrewsbury. We even found courage to play one two session game at Sturbridge and won our first gold points. ACBL rules and tournament organization enabled me and my wife to play together. She will play with me at the next club game at the Wachusett Bridge Club, my home club.,
the only affordable, limited to players with

less than 299 masterpoints game in Central Massachusetts. At the Wachusett club I met a wonderful human being, Club Director, Ruby Life Master, Mr. Alan Berg. His dedication to directing the games, to teaching and helping players advance their game is enormous. I admire him deeply and consider him not only my Master but a role model for me to follow. I am impressed by organization of ACBL tournaments at all levels I played so far. I wish I had more money so I could play more often. I wish all clubs in Central Massachusetts had a nice web presence, like Holden does.

I wish there was a game on BBO for 299ers. I am learning the law of the game and intend to use it as a defensive measure against those who try to intimidate us. I dream of becoming a licensed ACBL director and teacher and to repay my debt to the bridge community.

I would like to make the social Shrewsbury game organized and played at the level of ACBL clubs.

First half of 2019 was the best six months of my life. Thank you.

Jerzy Kielbasinski
Worcester, MA

I like meeting people, making friends and playing games that test my left brain skills. Last year I retired as a Senior Vertical Marketing Specialist from Canon USA, saw an online ad about the Newtown Bridge Club and started on my path to seriously learn how to play duplicate bridge. I had played social bridge before, but duplicate bridge requires a whole new level of focus and learning. At first it slow getting the basics right and mastering a few conventions. I played with over 27 partners, and had a good attitude about the game. Don’t get frustrated and always find a way to enjoy playing with people you are with.

Key to Success
• Learning how to play from Susan Fronapfel from her bridge lessons and her pregame tips sessions at the Newtown Bridge Club which have been excellent in building the right foundation and understanding of how to play.
• Playing regularly with 4 partners, each having different skills, who push me all the time to learn new conventions to build our portfolio bidding tools and to communicate bids more effectively.
• Having an open mind, stepping up and not being afraid to play in higher level games
• Practicing, learning and playing competitively online against robots
• Writing down conventions and studying from the greats ones (Amy Grant, Larry Cohen, Barbara Seagram, etc)
• Reviewing game results in detail with my partner
• Bidding strategically and assessing when best to sacrifice a bid to win a hand
• Focusing on Master Point target levels and tracking results information,

In May of 2018 I started playing duplicate bridge. It is a very different from the type of social game I played in college. In duplicate bridge, the bidding needs to be precise and effective, and the scores matter against other tables. Bidding properly and communicating with your partner is critical to winning.

It took all of my first nine months to obtain 5 Master Points and become a Jr. Master, I was playing mostly Chat Bridge games, getting small fractions of points when we won. In that period, I would play with anyone who would play with me, which did not make my game consistent. And I would methodically learn the basics as I played.

In January of 2019, I shifted to playing in higher level games and became more selective choosing who I played with. Increased the number of days playing bridge from 2 to 4 and added online play in March with robots at night. I took the game a little more serious in learning and building skills and trying very hard to figure what my partner was communicating to me. The results so far have been pretty dramatic

I currently have 60+ Master Points, have achieved 3 Level in Master ranks, and last month was number # 1 in District 25 Unit 126 the Mini-McKenney 5 to 20, Helen Shanbrom Ace of Clubs 5 to 20, and Online Races 5 to 20.

I really enjoy the people part of bridge. The Newtown Bridge and the Westport Come Play Bridge clubs are where I play frequently. The directors at each are club I find helpful, and the people playing at both clubs have been super nice.

John Tucci
Sandy Hook, CT

Dear Mr. Bertoni:

I greatly appreciated your e-mail dated Sept. 6 congratulating me on becoming a Club Master!  Forgive me for not thanking you sooner.
I learned how to play bridge in high school in Milwaukee, WI back in 1963-1965.  However, I had not not played again until I took advantage of "drop in bridge" at the Lexington Senior Center two years ago.  My how things have changed!  I began reading all sorts of books about bridge.  Eventually I branched out to other senior centers including ones in Waltham and Winchester.  These were all rubber bridge games.

One day about a year ago I happened to sit next to a kind gentleman at a church dinner in Lexington and he told me about duplicate bridge and offered suggestions about what books to study.  I decided to try it and became hooked!
I often play at the Family Family Friendly bridge club in Arlington as well as the Beech Street Center in Belmont.  I also  enjoy playing at the Bridge Spot in Woburn. 

Last winter I went to my first and only bridge Sectional "tournament" in Watertown.  My partner and I came in 1st in our division despite the fact that I had never even met that partner before.  Such is the beauty of the ACBL standard rules of playing bridge!
In the Winter of 2019 I decided to get serious about taking lessons.  I went crazy taking lessons and they have definitely improved my game results.  I love the challenge of the game itself plus the social aspects as well.  I have met many wonderful people and feel very blessed.  I began a new series of lessons this Fall.

Thank you again for your kind letter.  If you would like to discuss anything further, please feel free to call my cell.
Best regards,

Judith A. Sacknoff
Lexington, MA

I played a lot of bridge in college, too much to be honest, but that was fifty years ago. I had actually played duplicate once and if remember correctly, scored .06 master points. But, since my wife doesn’t play and few or none of my friends play, I had played virtually no bridge since college.

Our local community center offers things like “open bridge,” “intermediate bridge,” and “duplicate bridge.” After thinking about it for months, one day in November, I finally stopped in to check it out. I wondered how far over my head the games would be. There were perhaps three tables, and one table had only three people, so I played. A lot came back to me, a lot had to be relearned, and some new things had to be learned. Mike Hess, an instructor who is pretty well known in southwestern Connecticut, was the moderator and coach in these games, so there was plenty of instruction as we played. I learned about bid boxes, and also learned that everyone there plays strong 2 clubs, weak two bids, Stayman, and Jacoby transfers. I did know about these systems, but had not played them. I was encouraged to get a book – Bridge for Everyone, by Crisfield, which everyone had. They also used the “No Fear Bridge Cheat Sheet” which I downloaded and studied.

I discovered SAYC, and downloaded the SAYC System Booklet and convention card. I discovered BBO on line, and found that I could play duplicate on my computer, for free, and not only see what other people bid and made, but how they did it. An incredible learning tool. I also played in some of the daylong tournaments for masterpoints. Then I got a more advanced book, Standard Bidding with SAYC, which also helped, and Audrey Grant’s Play of the Hand. I discovered the Two Over One system, which I think is terrific, and studied the videos at leanbridge.nyc. I highly recommend them. The local coached sessions were great, and I had needed them, but now I really wanted a faster moving game. I stopped in one day in December at the 7NoTrump club in Stamford, and was blown away by the technology that bridge uses today. Joe Grill was super-helpful, and answered all my questions. He said he would find me a partner if I needed one, and so he did. We had some success, and even won one of the Thursday morning games.

When the regional came up in Orange in March, I was interested. My partner couldn’t make it, but they said they would find me a partner. I played three sessions, with three different partners. No one showed up looking for a partner, but there were volunteers that helped run the event, and were available to fill in. In the second session, my partner had a lot of points and so we played in the open session. I was nervous and played poorly, even revoking on one hand, and leading out of turn on another. But my partner was cool, and I relaxed a bit. In the third session, a 299er, we scored 0.53 silver points. Another great learning experience.

I think the bridge community is terrific, and I can’t think of a single thing that would have made it better. What can you do to help me reach the next level? Make this virus go away so we can play again! On-line is just not the same.

Jack Miller
Wilton, CT

I've been playing Duplicate Bridge since the mid-50's, and when I started, it was very difficult to obtain points. The players of today have a huge advantage of attaining goals such as I just received, as ACBL has changed their point giving to make it much easier for the players of today to reach their goals.

At 83 years of age I can never attain anything higher than gold status, and it seems unfair.

Maybe we should have to play lower fees at tournaments since we supported the game for a longer time. Seniors, such as myself, find it very expensive and get no breaks, as seniors doing other endeavors do.

Stanley Rose
Parts Unknown

I had played a little bridge in college, then stopped for many years. Then I retired, my husband passed away, and I needed some new interests. A friend suggested bridge. At first, I didn’t think I would be interested. My friend suggested I take a bridge class, but I wasn’t ready. She suggested that I might like to read a bridge book. Nothing clicked. Then I discovered online bridge and, as the saying goes, the rest is history! I found that I loved playing online! After playing online against robots for a while, I started attending the Newcomers Group at Family Friendly Bridge in Arlington, MA. I realized that I had found my bridge “home”! Bob Gaudet, the FFB Director, has been an inspiration to me as a mentor, teacher, leader, and pillar of the community. I continued to go to the Newcomer’s Group while also starting to play occasionally in the club’s open games. I even played in the 49’ers section of two Sectional Tournaments. Incredibly, my partner and I came in first in one of them! Now that the coronavirus has changed everything, I am grateful to Bob for his tireless efforts in enabling us to play club games online.

Nancy Rosenfield
Lexington, MA

I just love tournament bridge. Since I reconnected with the game in 2004 I have played at least one full sanctioned session with 127 different partners, including Bob Bertoni and the current Regional Director, Mark Aquino. Because I absolutely hate playing online, I spent most of the first two years of the pandemic working on projects unrelated to bridge. I finally got my 2500th point a few months after the Hartford Bridge Club reopened its doors in the summer of 2021.

I have already written a lot on this website and a gargantuan amount on my own website, Wavada.org, about the past. I want to share a few thoughts about the future, which looks very bleak to me. I worry about bridge clubs, and I worry about regional tournaments. I don't see how, given the attitude of the ACBL, that more than a handful of face-to-face clubs will survive. Some "online clubs" will thrive for a while, but I don't think that what is played there is real bridge. Anyway, how will they attract new players to the game? The average age in the ACBL is 74. In 2004 when I joined the ACBL I was 55.75 years old. Eighteen years later I am still in the younger 50 percent of members! Attracting younger people to the game requires effort and outreach. Real clubs can provide that.

I have devoted much of the last ten years of my life to the promotion of regional tournaments. They are expensive both for the players and the district. Many of the tournaments that D25 has held have lost money. Before the pandemic a lot of people—especially Bob Bertoni—worked very hard to design tournaments that could attract enough players so that the district's finances remained sound. Bob and the others succeeded at this IMHO because of two things: excellent sites and very attractive schedules that took advantage of the monopoly that regional tournaments had on awarding of gold points. Both of these have been dealt crushing blows during the epidemic. It is much more difficult to find hotels with the facilities to support tournaments (the district's Tournament Manager says that not a single hotel in CT fits the bill!), and the ACBL has now held several online tournaments that awarded gold points.

Moreover, there are new problems for both clubs and regional tournaments. Some players won't play if there are any restrictions for health reasons. Others won't attend unless the probability of getting the disease is nearly zero. No one can please both groups.

Many clubs were struggling before the pandemic, and many districts had almost given up on regional tournaments. The cards are now so overwhelmingly stacked against both that I find it impossible to imagine either suriving the next few years in any form that resembles what so many of us knew and loved.

I fervently hope that I am wrong.

Mike Wavada
Enfield, CT