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All comments by Karen Walker
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Many thanks for the great ideas. I thought I had done a fair amount of research, but I learned a lot here.

Thanks Jan, Cenk and Kevin for the info about Bridge+More, which I had never heard of. Their web site has a lot of information, but it's vague about some important details, most notably the price. With the need for a device and a tablet at every table, my guess is that it will be more expensive than the dealing machines. It's a very interesting concept, though, and I plan to look into it.

One concern about Bridge+More is that unless there's a way for two tables to share one dealer's output, it appears that a club would have to buy more units than it typically needs. A few times a year, we have a game of 12 or 13 tables, so we'd have to buy 13 units or not use the system for the big games.

I didn't know the Bridgemates offered a way for players to input their hands. Unfortunately, we have Bridgepads, which don't have that capability. It seems to be a good solution if, as Barry pointed out, people can be “trained” to do it accurately.

In the past, I had players fill in their hands on paper forms after the first round and I keyed in the hands in Dealmaster. It was time-consuming and frustrating, partly because of illegible penmanship (I had no idea there were so many ways to write the letter Q), but mainly because players seemed to have attacks of ADD when asked to do this chore. A K432 suit would be written as 2-3-x-X, and it was a miracle if all the hands had 52 cards.

Bridge Composer sounds indispensable. We have the program on the club computer, but I haven't used it yet. I'll do some practicing with it in the near future.

The advice about brands of cards is helpful. That was an issue that hadn't even occurred to me.

Thanks again for the help. If you think of anything else, please share and I'll keep learning.
Nov. 5, 2015
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Thanks for the post, Yehudit. This is a fun read and a welcome break from all the news about the dark side of our game.
Oct. 23, 2015
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My most memorable mistake happened at my first duplicate, and it was memorialized in verse. It's a 100-percent true story.
http://kwbridge.com/c_tod.htm
Oct. 23, 2015
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I spent decades begging students in my English composition classes to eliminate those phrases from their essays and research papers. It's obvious this is his opinion. There's no need to insert deadwood to “soften” it.
Oct. 14, 2015
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It's not a matter of the exact time of the evening session. It's that if the main event is morning-afternoon, the evening session will be poorly attended and people won't want to play in it, no matter what time it starts.
Sept. 17, 2015
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Next year, Bud, how about scheduling your only full-week tournament in Champaign (May 24-30)? I'll buy you a drink in the hospitality suite.
Sept. 17, 2015
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We do 9:30, 1:30 & 7:00 at our small regional. We get fairly good attendance in the mornings and players seem to like the evening games – maybe because there's food after the session and free drinks in the hospitality suite.

We also have locals who still have day jobs, and they appreciate being able to work a half-day and then play in a two-session event that starts after lunch.

My head director keeps nagging me to change to 10:00, 3:00 & 7:30, claiming that other tournaments have seen big increases in attendance when they switched to the “daylight” schedule.

I've balked for a number of reasons, one being that I hate the idea of turning the evening games into a ghost town. Those who want to play three sessions a day are going to pass if the evening option is a 4-table side game or a KO that gets cancelled. Our town doesn't offer an exciting night life, so the only thing for players to do is go to dinner and then watch reruns on TV in their hotel rooms.

So I'll keep fending off the director's requests until public demand forces me to change to the early schedule – or we all get so old that no one can stay awake past 8:00.

And yes, there are way too many tournaments. One year, ACBL scheduled NINE regionals in the eastern third of the country during Memorial Day week, plus a sectional in a big city three hours from us. That was a money-loser for all ten tournaments.
Sept. 17, 2015
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That happened to me the second time I played duplicate. The director rattled off a rule, but I misunderstood and thought the penalty was that I had to leave the card up for the rest of the hand. I had five penalty cards before the hand was over.

The players and maybe even the director made some attempt to stop me each time, but all I heard was “No!” and a crescendo of laughter. Trial by fire at the campus club.
Sept. 11, 2015
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Even the best directors occasionally get the laws wrong, especially when it's an unusual situation. It probably happens more often with experienced directors because they try to rely on memory. Newer directors tend to show up at the table with the book.

I've had directors refuse to show me the rule book or even consult it privately. That was back in my younger days, when my plea was probably along the lines of, “I'm sure that's wrong. I want to see it in print.”

The last time this happened, I tried, “That's quite an unusual penalty. I'm a club director and would like to know how to find it if it ever comes up at my games. Could you show me which rule it is in the book?” Worked much better.
Sept. 11, 2015
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Nine members on a committee is almost unmanageable. I have served on committees with four to seven members, and even seven was too many. It's not just a vote. The issues are clarified by a back-and-forth discussion, and that doesn't happen easily in a big group.

I will also hazard a guess that it WAS difficult to get members to serve on the Passell case, and those who volunteered did not do it gladly. No one is anxious to be put in the position of judging and sentencing a popular player, no matter how interesting or celebrated the case.

To read the other thread, those who did serve are now just a little less popular than Steve Bartman and should go into hiding if their names ever become public. The inflammatory “discussions” going on there may have these players thinking long and hard before they volunteer again.
Aug. 20, 2015
Karen Walker edited this comment Aug. 20, 2015
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Why do you assume that the “total idiot” was on the Bulletin staff? I have worked on the DB staff and I can tell you that in the past, we would not have been authorized to make a decision about publishing something of this nature. The printing of anything regarding League policy or actions was always a directive from an ACBL staffer or Board member and was subject to their approval.

Neither is it clear that idiocy played any part in this. My understanding is that regulations require that members be notified of committee actions and that the DB had little or no discretion in how to word the report.

Maybe that policy should be changed, but for now, all we can assume is that everyone involved was just doing what the regulations required.
Aug. 18, 2015
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I was originally scheduled to serve on this committee, so I have read all the documentation. For reasons not related to Mike, I had to withdraw. Serendipity.

The charges and supporting evidence created questions in my mind about intent and motive. If intentional, why would he so freely admit that he was responsible for touching the cards after the play? And why risk an act that was so likely to be discovered by the opposing team?

Someone who was trying to cheat – and I do know players who are capable of this – would either deny it or claim that the opponents accidentally mixed the cards when returning them to the board. Or maybe invoke the precedent of claiming that stress/depression/the voices in my head made me do it.

Thanks, Mike, for being so candid in sharing the details. I had hoped there was a plausible explanation and I was relieved to read your version, which was consistent with the facts in the charging documents.

About the Bridgewinners discussions:

I read the other thread, and I would not characterize it as a “mob”. With some over-the-top exceptions, even the more strident posters’ tone was a conditional “IF he cheated, bar him for life”. For the most part, it was a protracted discussion of minutiae, punctuated by some wild, but not necessarily accusatory, speculation. That’s a common malady on Internet discussion sites, especially when the vast majority of the posters have Y chromosomes.

Some who described the previous thread as a lynch mob are now guilty of creating another one by making precipitous accusations against the committee. They had a thankless job. We have no idea of what came up in the actual testimony and deliberations nor what constraints were placed on them, and we probably never will. Without these facts, the outrage is unjustified.

Ditto regarding the Daily Bulletin staff. They were required to report the findings and use that language, and they made a wise decision to wait until the last day to publish it. If they hadn’t published it at all, there would be 400 messages on Bridgewinners complaining about transparency and cover-ups.
Aug. 18, 2015
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Thanks, Peg, for sharing the perspective of tournament organizers. As the long-time chair of our local tournament, I'll add my agreement.

One issue for tournament chairmen is partnerships, and if awards are reduced – or entry fees increased – for 6-person teams, it's going to be more difficult to accommodate those who need partners. Our partnership chairmen often have to set up 5- and 6-person teams, and there are many times that I've asked an established team to add a single or pair who couldn't find team-mates. It's a lot easier to get people to cooperate if they know they'll be saving a few bucks on the entry fee without having to give up masterpoints.

I disagree with the idea that 6-person teams cost the tournament money because they're paying less per person toward the overhead, cost of snacks, etc. That's based on the premise that if you charged more and paid lower awards to multiple-person teams, all those extra people would form new 4-person teams and pay separate, “full” entry fees.

In practice, that would not happen. Some pro teams would stay home. Some of those fifths and sixths would not come to the tournament at all. Other teams would burn out and leave early.

I often play on 6-person teams, and some of my team-mates do care about the masterpoints. If the awards are reduced and they want to play with just four, I can do that, but it will affect how many events I enter. If I have to play every board, every session, without a break, I'm ready to go home after three or four days. The net result is that the tournament gets fewer dollars from me and my team in entry fees.

As a tournament chairman, I don't care about the proportionate fairness of six people paying the same entry fee as four. I would much rather have 6-person teams who enter every event than 4-person teams who go home mid-week. If ACBL has to provide the “unfair” incentive of equal masterpoints to every team member to encourage that participation, I'm all for it.
July 28, 2015
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For some historical perspective:
ACBL tried the “Pro Rush” concept back in the late 1970s. I don't remember the official names, but pair games at the nationals were divided into events called something like “Professional” and “Amateur” and all pro-client pairs were required to play in the Pro flight.

It was a failed experiment that lasted maybe a year. The Pro event was very small, and there were plenty of pro-client pairs who entered the Amateur event because the qualifications were impossible to enforce. Some might have been slumming for easier masterpoints, but in many cases, the pro pairs just didn't want to be forced to advertise financial arrangements that should be confidential.
July 27, 2015
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I'm enjoying these stories, although they make me a bit sad that attitudes have changed so much.

When I was a novice, our team played a big, gruff player who always scared me a bit. Unhappy with how his partner played during the match, he stood up after the last board and announced, in a booming voice that attracted the attention of several other tables, “It's embarrassing to lose to a team this effing bad.”

That story might not seem to demonstrate the benefits of playing against experts, but it motivated me. I was insulted but also amused. I don't even remember if we actually won the match, but having the Big Expert think that he lost, even for a moment, felt like a victory. We later became friends and team-mates.

Today, his outburst would be a ZT penalty and the novice might have been so offended that she would quit bridge forever. I don't want to go back to that lack of civility, but I wish more of today's new players had the toughness to laugh off the occasional bad actor and the motivation to keep competing in spite of failures.

I don't know if it's possible to revive that attitude, and I'm not sure the problem centers on masterpoints. Our society puts so much emphasis on instant gratification and self-esteem that people have become less patient with activities that make them feel inferior, even for a short time. They also have more choices, so if they don't experience fairly fast success at bridge, they move on.

I agree with everything Peg said, especially about selling the concept as competing against the player we were yesterday. It's a pretty small target audience, but if enough people are encouraged to try, the numbers might be there.
July 12, 2015
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I would expect the editors to work on Truscott's column because it originated with the NYT and was then syndicated out to other papers. My understanding was that Alder had his own syndicate and the NYT was just one of the papers that subscribed to his packages of columns.

If Alder is actually under contract to the NYT to write the original columns, not just provide them with the syndicated versions, then I agree, their editors would be responsible for polishing up the copy before the columns were sent to other newspapers. If that's the case, then giving Alder the axe means they're losing the syndication fees.

It also means that unless Alder takes over the syndication and keeps writing, newspapers throughout the country will have to find another supplier. That will give them an easy excuse to stop running their bridge columns, too.

Alder's column runs in my local paper. It disappeared a few months ago and the objections poured in. The editors assured everyone that it was not gone, just moved to a different part of the paper – the classified ads section (which is fast becoming the next candidate for elimination). Looks like it might be gone for good now.
April 29, 2015
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I don't believe Mrs. Mattoon's claim. They might have to spend some time formatting the copy to fit it on the page, but there's no way that a copy editor is checking the column for accuracy of the bridge analysis.
April 29, 2015
Karen Walker edited this comment April 29, 2015
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The issue isn't really whether or not avid bridge players can find another column. It's the loss of exposure and relevance. I've had many students tell me that they took my class because they had always been intrigued by the bridge column in the local newspaper and thought it looked like an interesting game.

My personal opinion is that Alder's column could be a lot better (the opening quotes waste space and make irrelevant, sometimes silly tie-ins to the bridge material). Good or bad, though, its presence in the paper is important in maintaining the public's awareness of our game.
April 29, 2015
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Such sad news. The first time I met Garey was when he (with Clarence Goppert and team-mates) showed up at the White Squirrel Sectional in Olney IL. We were all quite surprised to see a pro team at our “backwater” tournament.

I had about 20 masterpoints and was very nervous when we played Garey in the Swiss Teams. After he made a 4H contract, I was shaking my head. He correctly read my “I'm sure I could have beat this” expression and politely asked if I would like to know why he made it.

He first offered a compliment on how I had defended the hand up to the critical point, then explained why my club switch had given him his tenth trick and how I could have figured it out.

I was profuse in thanking him and apologizing to my partner. He finally saved me from total self-deprecation by squeezing my hand and saying, “A lot of players would have made the same lead, dear.”

To this day, I think of that match – and Garey's kind advice to a novice – whenever I see that suit combination (Qxx in my hand and 10xx in the dummy on my right).

The bridge world has lost a great player and gentleman.
Feb. 6, 2015
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Tom Dodd and Chris Habegger from South Bend IN. I think they were the champs for almost a year in the late 1980s.
Jan. 27, 2015
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