Join Bridge Winners
All comments by Alan Applebaum
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I have never played bridge in a senior center, but my vast experience both playing bridge in clubs and volunteering at a senior center tells me it is probably a very, very bad idea.
Sept. 21
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This is, by far, the best film about tournament bridge that I have seen, in large part because it does not appear to have been created to market the game.
Sept. 11
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Well it's not just about inflation. To paraphrase Maggie from Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, you can play bridge young without money, but you can't play bridge old without it. When I was on the tournament trail in the 70s, we slept four to a room, lived on junk food, I didn't even have a driver's license and if I just HAD to fly to a tournament (extremely rare) there was a thing called Youth Fare.

So as you say Mark, aging matters, not just because older folks don't like to travel (and I count myself in this category) but when they do, they want a few creature comforts and may need some others as well due to medical issues.

Similarly, when young I certainly did not care about the cultural or consumer delights available in the tournament city and would always prefer, say, Columbus to New York or San Francisco. When you are playing three or even four sessions a day, what difference does it make what is outside the hotel?
Aug. 23
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There is a small push toward passing if opener could have super-accepted.
July 18
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I'm sure Lew Gamerman, who is approximately 70 years old, will appreciate being called a “rising talent”. He has been the dominant force in his age bracket in midnight games for many years.
July 15
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I agree but the real villain is 2C limit+. Unless you are playing weak NT, you really need to distinguish a limit raise from a forcing raise. The auction is just too hard to handle otherwise.
July 11
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They once made me play down when I had a winner of two Spingolds and a Vanderbilt on my team. I did not complain until after the fact, but when I did, the district changed their rules and made the top bracket always open (and flexible in size). I would think in today's environment, with so few “A” teams, this would be a non-problem as long as bracket size is flexible.
July 11
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Richard is in the ballpark here. Today's wargames are not as insanely complex as Advanced Squad Leader but they are way, way better games. Some of them even have cards!
July 11
Alan Applebaum edited this comment July 11
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One of the many reasons robot bridge is more enjoyable than FTF bridge is that you are the only one thinking. It is a much faster game with virtually no “downtime”.

As far as the pros go, well, their desires just reflect the desires of their clients. Since the clients are the ones who really want to play bridge the most and they are basically funding the large tournaments, why not just hand them the keys and let them decide how to run things?
July 11
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We might disagree about the reason for the decline in social bridge but I agree 100% that the pool of competitive players has to come from a much larger pool of social players. Since it was not the ACBL's historical mission to build the pool of social players, it seems wrong to me to assign the ACBL the blame for its attendance decline. The recent silliness over brackets and masterpoints is a symptom, not a cause.
July 11
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I think the consensus above is mostly right - that is, “too many competing activities” and “shorter attention spans/available time commitments.” I reject the “get off my lawn” view that “kids today” won't commit to a long learning curve. They will, if they have time and peer support. Similarly, while I defer to Adam and others who do more work with juniors than I do, while the barrier to entry for ACBL-level bridge might be too high, the barrier for social bridge isn't.

But I think David Burn really has it. Lots of games have been invented, lived and died since 1925. Some have staying power, others don't, but there is a natural life cycle. Once games become super-scientific, the “fun” aspect loses ground to the “work” aspect. That is not just about complexity per se, but the amount of “overhead” needed to play at a high level. Call it “hypertrophy”. Some other examples: chess, where you need to memorize a bunch of openings 20 moves deep; Scrabble, where you need to memorize a specialized dictionary; baseball, where you need to substitute the exact player for each specific situation based on a dozen statistical metrics. I think it is inevitable for any game that stimulates the competitive urge.

I play a lot of other games that are at least as complex as bridge. They may or may not be as intellectually rich as bridge, but they are just more fun.

Bridge came along at the perfect time to become wildly popular and has hung on for another 50+ years after those conditions had dissipated. That's pretty good!
July 11
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I have to laugh at Mark's example. Around 8-10 years ago my LHO opened a 15-17 NT, my partner bid 2H (majors) and RHO doubled after a full two minute tank. I inquired and double was penalty. LHO pulled and the opponents reached 3NT, making 630. 2HX was cold.

Only this was not perpetrated by by two novices in a club game. It was perpetrated by two world-class players in the Spingold. Yes, opener had 14 with a long minor and a small doubleton heart, and the opps were red vs white at IMPs but still, I would have thought this auction was completely impossible unless opener had a stiff or void in hearts. After the match I asked two other world-class players and both said that pulling the double was “automatic”, I suppose implying that pass was not a logical alternative.

Neither I nor my partner even called the director. Why? A combination of (a) intimidation, (b) not wanting to poison the atmosphere at the table, © assuming we would not get a ruling due to the “bigfoot” nature of the opponents and (d) not wanting the opponents to bear down on us for the rest of the match. According to my world-class advisors, we would have lost the ruling anyway.

My only point is that the whole issue is miserable and does not go away just because the players are out of the novice stage.
July 8
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Well yes David - a few years back, playing in a sectional pair game, I had counted RHO's HCP and dropped his partner's doubleton Q offside. After the hand, RHO asked me why I did that and I said “well if you had the Q you might have opened the bidding.” He didn't say anything, just eyed me suspiciously. I realized later that I could have said “If you had the Q IN ADDITION TO THE 10 HCP YOU ALREADY SHOWED, you might have opened the bidding” - but that might have sounded patronizing!!
July 8
Alan Applebaum edited this comment July 8
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Years ago I was playing with a near-beginner against a pro and client in a regional pair game. My partner, having overcalled 1S, led the spade Q against a suit contract. Declarer, the pro, very reasonably, ducked with K109x in dummy and xx in hand, and when the suit was continued, ducked again, losing to my Jx. It is one of my fondest bridge memories.
July 7
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Jeff,

I don't accept the premise that it should be a “goal” to induce the 5-8 teams to play with the 1-4 teams.

A test case roughly along these lines occurred at a regional I attended about six years ago. Only one team wanted to play in Flight A and the masterpoint gap between that team and the 6 Flight B teams was similar to your scenario. In that case, a member of the Flight A team managed to convince the Flight B teams that their overall masterpoint yield would be higher if they played with the Flight A team, even if it won, than if they played without the Flight A team. Accordingly all seven teams played in one KO, with the Flight A team under a significant IMP handicap in all matches. Notwithstanding the handicap, the Flight A team won all of its matches by huge margins, and everyone was disgruntled. Yes, the Flight A team “got to play in a KO” in a case where, if no accommodation had been made, it would not have. However it was a miserable waste of time for all concerned.

Maybe professionals trying to make a living would be happy to play in an event like this, but I don't know who else would - surely not the strong teams looking for strong competition, and not the weak teams looking for weak competition.
July 7
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I think that the OP has touched upon the near-fatal flaw that bridge has. It is not complexity per se that is off-putting. It is the complexities involved in concealing information from one's partner and disclosing it to the opponents, that are superimposed on the fairly simple mechanics of the game itself, that are difficult to grasp and unpleasant to deal with, before we even get into violations of the disclosure rules. The amount of energy that needs to be expended to comply with, and correct violations of, the disclosure rules is just too big a component.
July 6
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Danny, you have got it, right here:

“When you are 20, you ‘know’ you will get better”

Yes, that's why we went up against the “iron” back in the day. Not because it was the only game in town. Because this might be the time we can beat them, because we are better than the last time we played them!

The supply of serious players who are 20 and “know they will get better” has declined about 99% from its peak, as has the pool of “people who know how to play bridge” from which such 20-year-olds are drawn. Neither is the fault of the ACBL, and neither can be cured by the ACBL.
July 5
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What are people assuming is the upper limit on 1S?
June 29
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Partner rates to have at least four hearts on this bidding, and accordingly, I am passing before they start doubling.
June 12
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There are some 15s that would be a headache to lead from and in those cases you might not want to double, but here, you have a safe lead.

One problem with not doubling with this hand is that your range is too wide for the partnership to handle. If you want partner to balance on a 5-4-3-1 8-count, are you now going to bury him by forcing to game?
June 12
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