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All comments by Karen Walker
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Thanks for the explanation, Kyle. I wondered how this was measured.

I know these scientific factoids are misleading, but the anecdotal evidence is overwhelming. I taught 18-20 year olds for more than 30 years, and their ability to concentrate and finish projects declined rapidly the last ten years.

And then there was my last “conversation” with a 12-year-old. He asked me a question and five seconds into my answer, he had whipped out his phone. I might as well have been talking to an amoeba.
July 12
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Human attention span supposedly began declining around 2000, which just happened to be the beginning of the smart-phone revolution. A Microsoft study claimed the average attention span to focus on a task went from 12 seconds in the year 2000 to less than 8 seconds in 2013 – one second shorter than a goldfish.

That was six years ago. Amoebas may be beating us now.
July 11
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I share some of these opinions about the detrimental effects of essentially selling masterpoints, but I don't think it's killing our game. Quite the opposite.

I wish we could go back to the days when the game was so popular – and there was so little competition from tech and TV – that people were willing to invest time and effort into learning and improving. Back then, we could count on newcomers to enter the Open Pairs, lose and come back for more.

Our society has changed, though. The bright juniors you work with see the benefits of playing against better competition, but they are a tiny percentage of the potential market for our game. ACBL now has to cater to people who have become accustomed to instant gratification – and who have plenty of other recreational choices if they don't get it from bridge.

The vast majority of current players (and probably future ones) don't aspire to greatness. If they don't enjoy losing to experts, they shouldn't have to – nor should they be belittled because they just want to play against those with similar skill and win masterpoints.

Our tournaments would be even smaller if ACBL hadn't adapted to the preferences of these mainstream players. In some ways, it may appear that we're caving in to the “everyone must win” mentality. I see it, though, as more of a “Let's have a tournament where everyone has fun” approach.

If we someday have to offer 0-2000 Gold Rush events to entice those who don't want to “play up”, I don't begrudge the accommodation. I'll play in my events and those who want a “safe space” can play in theirs and we'll all have our own brands of fun.
July 6
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Nine-table game, so there were still four rounds left. The alternative was removing the board and giving those eight pairs (plus my pair) percent-of-game matchpoints for the board they didn't play.
June 17
Karen Walker edited this comment June 17
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In a club game, after a 1C opening on my right, I overcalled 1S with AQJ of spades and a 3-3-3-4 13-count. It went all pass, dummy came down with xx of spades and I went down two for -100. The opponents could score what appeared to be an easy +110 in 2S, so I expected a good result.

The board had been played six times so far and it was a zero. All the other pairs holding my opponents' cards had played 1NT for +90 or had gone down in 2S.

The next week, I picked up the same hand, unshuffled from the previous game. We had plenty of time for a redeal, so I experimented by overcalling 1S again. Just like the week before, everyone passed and I went -100.

This time, though, our -100 was a top so far. Four other tables had all scored +110 in 2S. Not a single player had recognized the deal from the week before, but their bidding and play had definitely improved.

My novice partner was thrilled when she saw the traveler. While giggling about how she had never had a top score before, she became horrified to see me reshuffling. Even after I explained what happened, she still couldn't understand why we couldn't keep that score.
June 16
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When I learned, I don't remember anyone ever teaching me a strategy for planning all 13 tricks. The instruction didn't go much beyond “pull trumps”, then “there's a suit with some length and/or honors; you want to lead it”.

I had been playing duplicate only a few months when I was recruited to teach a beginner class for the local Adult Education program. That's where I finally learned how to plan the play. To present ideas that beginners could understand, I had to think logically about the “why's” behind what I had been taught and summarize it into simple concepts. In doing so, I discovered how to think about the whole hand instead of just the individual suits.

Rodwell's teaching plan is no doubt superior for anyone who wants to become an expert declarer. At the beginner level, though, I think the standard approach – count winners in NT, losers in suits – works fine. The vast majority of the people I teach want to join a social-bridge group or maybe play in the novice game at the duplicate club. They would be overwhelmed by anything more complex.

I like Jeff's approach of asking students to identify which tricks they will be “trying to take”. I had never worded it that way, but I will in the future. Thanks for bringing up this topic and sharing your ideas.
June 15
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St. Louis is not usually bitter cold in March, but it's still what I would call cold and it still snows. The 2013 NABC ended with a blizzard that dumped more than 12" on the city.
June 13
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District 8 has had a bi-monthly newsletter with a Master Solvers-style forum for more than 35 years.
http://advocate.district8acbl.com/apr19/f-apr19.htm

We don't have as many well-known experts on our panel as District 22 has, but they offer good ideas and we get a lot of reader participation.
June 7
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What is that synonym for “deliberate”? No longer appropriate, I assume, as the word is that Kevin has speeded up in his middle age.

It brings back a memory from Reno where I was on a team with Kevin and the aforementioned Bill Doroshow. Waiting for them to come back to compare, I saw Bill striding quickly and waving his arms, with Kevin trailing him and smirking.

A few steps before he reached the table, Bill stopped and turned and announced:
“Here's the new rule. You can be fast and bad, or you can be slow and good. But you CANNOT be #$%!@-ing SLOW AND BAD!”

I have repeated that advice many times, usually to myself.
June 5
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I played against Barry probably half a dozen times, and he was always pleasant. I once asked him “Who shot J.R.” and he seemed to enjoy chatting about the possibilities.

He was usually collecting tops from me, so it was easy to be friendly. When I finally got my one and only good result from him, I was surprised to see that he could be gracious to his opponents (but not his partner) even in defeat.

Like many of Barry's opponents, we had let him push us to an uncomfortable contract. My partner was declarer in 4C, doubled by Barry. As partner took the 13th trick, which was our tenth winner, there was so much tension at the table that I could hear my heart pounding.

After a long, torturous silence, Barry looked up at his partner, Jan Janitschke, and said, very calmly, “We would have beaten this if you had led low from Kx of spades.”

He was right, of course, but his admonition was unreasonable since declarer had opened 1S. There was no arguing with the master, though. Janitschke nodded and offered multiple apologies – you're right, I'm sorry, I should have put more thought into it.

All that self-flagellation seemed to satisfy Barry, who finally managed a weak smile. He then turned to my partner and said, “Very nicely played”, stacked up his convention card and Virginia Slims and moved on to the next table.
May 15
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Richard Willey:
>Our national organization should be creating a
>brand for bridge and carrying out a coordinated
>marketing campaign.

Comment 1: I don't believe that the ACBL has EVER does anything like you describe.

========================

Actually, they did try it years ago. ACBL hired a marketing firm and gave them a lot of money to do research and develop a campaign, but it was not successful.

Maybe Don Mamula can provide details. My memory is that they hired the “wrong” firm, which was essentially just a few people who were friends of Board members, and that the plan they presented was vague and virtually useless.
April 12
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Randy Breuer: “So let me ask I am presuming you have done this for many years do you think the BOD just assumes club owners are mostly like you do it for love of game?”

I don't think Board members intend to ignore the needs of club owners. I think they get caught up in the bureaucracy and believe that the short-term micro-managing they're doing now is actually important. It's difficult to be the one Board member who changes that culture by presenting and martialing support for a “big idea”.

From humorist Dave Barry's list of “25 Things I Have Learned in 50 Years”:

16. If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be “meetings.”
April 12
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Richard Willey: “Comment 4: ‘Bridge is Cool’ ”

I will add College Bridge Online, Bridge Bites newspaper columns, Bridge Life magazine, EasyBridge, Bridge America, Bridgefeed.

These were all attempts to promote bridge to various audiences, but they suffered from a lack of publicity and interest. Few, if any, could be termed a success. Most were experiments that seemed like good ideas, but weren’t backed up by market research and weren’t part of a coordinated plan.

Yes, hiring a marketing firm to develop a strategic plan will be expensive. In the long run, though, it's more cost-effective than continuing to fund disjointed programs that don't work.
April 12
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I run one of those small, middle-of-the-country clubs. I can break even with 3.5 tables a night, but even when there are more tables, it is not profitable. If I amortized all my costs – dealing machine, electronic scorepads, cards and other supplies – I might be in the black by around 2040.

Like many other owners of small clubs, I don't do this for financial gain. The rewards are personal and intangible, but they are fading as the tables dwindle. It's depressing to do all this work every week for just 12-16 people.

The more tables I host, the more money ACBL makes, so there should be an incentive to do more to make clubs profitable. The Board, though, spends virtually all its time on minutiae – masterpoint charts, tournament schedules, bylaws amendments, the occasional lawsuit. Read the minutes from their meetings and you won't see a single mention of marketing, promotion, strategic planning or any other issue that deals with our big problems.

What club owners need from ACBL is a commitment to and an invesment in building demand for our product. We can do only so much to promote bridge in our local areas. Our national organization should be creating a brand for bridge and carrying out a coordinated marketing campaign. Until the Board and the League's leadership take that seriously, more and more clubs will fail and ACBL's bottom line will suffer.
April 12
Karen Walker edited this comment April 12
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An opponent, a very sweet lady from my local club, once asked me if she could look at the back of her bidding cards.

In a regional Swiss, I had opened 1H, she doubled and my partner redoubled, Pass, Pass back to her. She spent a full minute squirming and sighing, then asked if it was legal to check the bidding cards. I said technically no, but go ahead.

She said oh no, not if the rules don't allow it. I pulled out the 1H card for her, but she refused to look. She was becoming very distressed when my partner, who thought of himself as quite a ladies' man, took her hand and cooed, “Margaret, dear, I suggest you bid a suit.”

She giggled and blushed and immediately put a Pass card on the table. I offered her a mulligan. She refused again and I made nine tricks.

I was kicking myself for saying “technically, no”, but she came up after the match to say how much fun it was playing against me and that very charming gentleman. Evidently, a little flirting can ease the sting of minus 1520 and go a long way toward keeping bridge alive.
April 6
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This is an interesting poll. Thanks for starting the discussion.

Regarding events with age limits, I think 60+ is a ridiculous cutoff for what are billed as restricted events. When senior events were first introduced, their purpose was to give older players a “safe space” where they didn't have to compete against young and middle-aged experts. Now, they're essentially open events that are as tough to win as most of the open NABC events.

With our current demographics, the age limit for a “restricted” senior event should be 70 or 75, maybe 80. If the choice had been available, I would have voted to include senior NABC events but eliminate the Super Senior Pairs from GLM status.

At the risk of being labeled a Gender Traitor, I voted for the choice that would eliminate all women-only events from GLM qualifying status. It's not because there aren't great women players who enter. It's because these events exclude so many partnerships and draw so few tables.

As Bob Heitzman suggests, more worthy of GLM status is placing second in the LM, Blue Ribbon or Platinum Pairs. That's a greater achievement than winning any of the two-day events.

In general, I think it's already difficult enough to make GLM, so the current requirements are okay. Just getting to 10,000 points is a hurdle for many. If I ever make GLM, it will be in the nursing-home doop unless they lower the point requirement to 9500.
April 6
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I agree with Dave on two out of three points:

1) You were civil and complimentary. Others were not.

2) Objective questions and comments about lawful procedure change the focus of the original post (unnecessarily, in my view), but I agree they can be educational.
They are lectures when they take on the a-good-player-should-know-better tone and attempt to shoot Eric down for admiring how Will handled the situation.

3) Thumper was the speaker, prompted by his mother to repeat his father's admonition. I'd watch the movie again to confirm, but I still have some PTSD from the last viewing.
April 5
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I saw the title and assumed this would be an intense technical analysis of some arcane squeeze. I often skip those posts, but I'm glad I gave this one a look.

Thanks for sharing. This was fun and heartening and very well-written.
April 5
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Sheesh, this is a tough crowd.

This happens all the time in new partnerships. You have a bidding misunderstanding, you can't remember what your actual agreement was, you don't know if it was your mistake or partner's.

Meanwhile, the opponents have made the opening lead and are waiting for you to play.

So it took Will a few minutes to figure it all out. When he finally did, he did the right thing.

Launching off into lectures about which subsections of which laws he might have skirted is not exactly keeping with the topic nor the spirit of the post. And rebuking Eric for “erroneously” complimenting his partner is just plain wrong.

I would quote Thumper here, but I doubt it would do any good.
April 5
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This is a worthwhile topic for discussion, but I wish it hadn't started with such loaded survey questions. “The only reason I pay my dues is to get a paper bulletin” makes it impossible for me and many others to say no.

There are numerous reasons that I pay dues, and receiving the Bulletin is pretty far down the list. There are also many reasons that I think the paper copy is superior to the electronic version, and they are not centered just on my personal preference.

The most important is that the keys to member retention are engagement and communication. The printed Bulletin improves both because it's easy to read and, like most magazines, tends to be read at more than one sitting. The Bulletin in the mailbox is a regular and tangible reminder of the value of membership.

An electronic version becomes just one of billions of web sites. Its real and perceived value drops and so does readership. You can't pick up a web site, flip through the pages and read for just a few minutes. You have to be motivated to sit in front of a screen, go to the site, log in, master the navigation and try to ignore all the distractions that are present when you do anything on a computer or phone.

My Bulletins don't go from the coffee table to the recycling bin. I give them to students and make them available at my local club for new players. On others, I affix stickers with our club name and web site and I and other club members place them in waiting rooms at doctor and dentist offices, car-repair shops, hair salons and other businesses.
April 5
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