Join Bridge Winners
All comments by Peter Hasenson
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
No. There are players who are up for election and/or delegates and suspending play allows everyone who wishes to, to attend.
June 6, 2018
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
How I Like To Play Bridge
By Somerset Maugham

I am not at all the proper person to write an article on bridge, for I am an indifferent player and my chief asset as a partner is that I never have thought myself anything else. Nor would it ever have occurred to me to embark on such an undertaking if Charles Goren hadn’t asked me to write an introduction to a book on bidding that he was about to publish.

Everyone knows that Charles Goren is one of the greatest bridge players in the world, and I accepted his suggestion with alacrity. It was a great compliment he paid me, and I felt proud as a lieutenant might feel if he were bidden by his admiral to lead the flagship into battle. But having a practical side to an otherwise idealistic nature, I told him I thought I should let him know at once what my terms were. He paled. They were that he should dine and play bridge with me. He heaved a sip of relief and accepted. Of course 1 knew I should lose my money, but I was certain that the fun it would be must make whatever it cost well worth it. I have played only half a dozen times with life masters and it is rash to generalize on such slight experience, but it has seemed to me that they are easier to play with than players of the second or third class, for you know they have a good reason for doing what they do, and when they make a bid, mean what they say. Bridge is a much more difficult game when one has to deal with players who trust their hunches rather than their common sense and allow their wishes to warp their judgment. My story has a happy ending. On that momentous evening I held all the aces and kings and rose from the table the only winner.

When, then, I came to read Charles Goren's Standard Rook on Bidding in order to write my introduction, I felt I could never hope to remember all the rules it gave and that to try to do so would only confuse me. But presently it dawned upon me that very few of them, not more than half a dozen perhaps, obligatory rules which must he followed as you follow those of any game and that the rest depended on horse sense, so that if you had that and were prepared to abide by it, you need not clutter up your brain with any great number of precepts. The moral was clear: if you have a cool head, the ability to put two and two together and get the right answer, and if you will tell the exact truth about your hand, you will be a useful partner and a formidable opponent.

But having finished my pieces, I found that I had various things to say about bridge which I had not had occasion to say. I am going to say them now.

The first thing I want to do is to remonstrate with the people who don’t play bridge.

They are apt to be hoity toity with those of us who do and tell us they can’t understand how presumably intelligent persons can waste their time on such an idle pastime. That is stuff and nonsense. Everyone has a certain amount of leisure and everyone needs distraction, and when you come to inquire of these supercilious folk how they prefer to occupy their leisure and in what they seek their distraction, the chances are that they will say in conversation. The conversationalist needs an audience, and it is true that the bridge table robs him of it. No wonder he is bitter. But the fact is that few people can talk entertainingly for three or four hours at a time. It needs gifts that few of us possess, and even the most brilliant talker grows tedious if he goes on too long; and when, as he is apt to do, he monopolizes the conversation, he is intolerable. I dare say it profits the soul more to read great literature than to play bridge, but not many of us are prepared to spend our leisure in that improving pursuit. When we can’t get a game of bridge, we are more likely to take up a detective story. I have read hundreds of them myself, but I cannot put my hand on my heart and say that I am conscious of receiving more spiritual benefit from reading the latest whodunit than from playing half a dozen hard fought rubbers.

No, let the carping carp, they don’t know what they miss. If I had my way, I would have children taught bridge as a matter of course, just as they are taught dancing. In the end it will be more useful to them for you cannot with seemliness continue to dance when you are bald and pot¬bellied; nor, for the matter of that, can you with satisfaction to yourself or pleasure to your partners continue to play tennis or golf when you are past middle age; but you can play bridge as long as you can sit up at a table and tell one card from another. In fact, when all else fails sport, love, ambition, bridge remains a solace and an entertainment.

But though I think everybody should learn bridge, I do not think everybody should play it. Not lessons, books, or practice will make players of those who have no card sense. These unfortunate creatures must look upon it as a defect of nature, like tone deafness or colour blind¬ness, and resign themselves to solitaire, crossword puzzles, or what not.

Bridge is the most entertaining and intelligent card game the wit of man has so far devised, and I deplore the fact that so many people go cut of their way to make it a bore. There are the people who, after a hand has been played, will tell you all the thirteen cards they held. Well, you’d seen them played, so you know; but even if you didn’t, why should they suppose you care? Then there are the people who during the deal or when you’re sorting your cards start to tell you about Aunt Annie’s operation or the trouble they’re having with decorators in their new apartment. There is no stopping them.
“One heart,” you say.
They take no notice.
“My dear, I've had three cooks in the last two weeks and not one of them could boil an egg.”
“One heart,” you repeat
“Well I’ll tell you what happened to me,” says your partner. “I got a couple. They drove up in their car, looked at the house, and didn’t even come in. They just drove away, and I was expecting eight people to lunch on Sunday.”
“One heart,” you say.
“You know that Betty’s got a new beau?” the player on your right puts in.
“Oh, you mean Harry,” replies the player on your left. “I've known that for months. She always has liked heels.”
Just to get a little attention, you have a mind to say, Seven no trumps, but of course it might be expensive and your partner wouldn’t be sympa¬thetic, so you meekly repeat, “One heart.”

But this is nothing compared with the post-mortem. It is the com¬monest nuisance that besets the game. It is not only boring, but useless, for if you cannot see a mistake when you have made it, no argument will convince you of your error; and if you do see it, the probability is that your vanity will prevent you from acknowledging it; so the critic may just as well hold his piece and deal the next hand It is a very good rule, when your partner points out a mistake you have made, to agree with him promptly and when on the next hand he lets you down fourteen hundred by grossly overcalling, to tell him cheerfully not to give it another thought. Of such, you will say, is the Kingdom of Heaven, and I heartily agree.

From time to time I have read books on bridge, profiting by them as much as it was in my sinful nature to do and I have been surprised that they lay no more stress than they do on the advantage it is to you to find out as quickly as you can something of the nature of the persons you are playing with.

I had a friend once who held the opinion that you could tell the character of people by the way they played. I think he was generalizing, on the single instance of himself. He played a bold, generous, and dashing game, and he liked to think of himself as a dashing, generous and bold fellow. He was a picture dealer and by the proper exercise of qualities on which he prided himself succeeded for many years in selling many second-rate old masters to the rich at fantastic prices. Well, I don’t know whether there was truth in this notion but I’m pretty sure it is a distinct help if you can guess the peculiarities of your partners and opponents with accuracy. There is the diffident player who con¬sistently undercalls, the aggressive player who as consistently overcalls; there is the cautious player who follows the rule when it is obvious that the ride doesn’t apply; there is the sly player who thinks you are such a fool he can fox you every time. All these you can size up pretty quickly and deal with according to their idiosyncrasies. But there is one player whom I have never learned how to cope with and that is the player who never stops to consider that you also hold thirteen cards; he will ignore your bids, he will pay no attention to your warnings, come hell or high water he will take command of the hand and when he has been doubled and gone down several tricks, he’ll ascribe it to nothing but bad luck. You are fortunate if he doesn’t smile blandly and say, Well, I think it was worth it, partner. I am still looking for the book that will show me how to deal with him. Shooting is too quick and too painless, and besides, there might not be another fourth available.

As I look now at what I have written, it seems to me that the essentials for playing a good game of bridge are to be truthful, clearheaded, and considerate, prudent but not, averse to taking a risk, and not to cry over spilt milk. And incidentally those are perhaps also the essentials for playing the more important game of life.
June 6, 2018
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
Sat morning is EBL Congress
June 6, 2018
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
Thx, John. Corrected.
June 5, 2018
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
@KD: The author of the list is anglocentric!!
June 3, 2018
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
June 3, 2018
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
@AC: You may well be right but as I haven't read it, I can't really comment…
June 3, 2018
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
Message received with thanks. Of course you may use the photo :)
May 31, 2018
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
Nice photo of Gianariggo at top of article :)

PS It's my copyright - I shot it on 23rd August 2012 in Lille!!
May 30, 2018
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
In 2014 there were two candidates for President, Yves Aubry (65 votes) and Panos Gerontopoulos (49).

Initially, 17 candidates applied for Exco. One candidate subsequently withdrew and another was not present and thus, according to the statutes, the final number was 15 candidates.

Following a secret ballot, the President announced that 114 ballots had been handed out and reported the respective votes for each candidate as follows:


Mr Jan Kamras 80 votes

Mr Eitan Levy 80 votes

Mr Marc De Pauw 73 votes

Mr Josef Harsanyi 70 votes

Mr Radoslaw Kielbasinski 68 votes

Mrs Sevinç Atay 64 votes

Mr Eric Laurant 63 votes

Mr Jafet Ólafsson 63 votes

Mr Filippo Palma 59 votes

Mr Paul Porteous 54 votes

Mr Jurica Carić 53 votes

Mr David Harris 49 votes

Not Elected

Mr Panos Gerontopoulos 41 votes

Mr Patrick Bogacki 37 votes

Mr Pim Vaders 27 votes

Edited from:
May 26, 2018
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
As only two from any one NBO are able to ‘win’, I assume the 13th ranked person would be declared elected at their expense.

Should Yves Aubry be re-elected President, it appears that only one other French candidate would be eligible for election to the Executive Committee.
May 25, 2018
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
7. Number of Votes that may be cast by an NBO

a) For the post of President an NBO may cast up to the number of votes which it is entitled under Statute 6.1.

b) For the election of Executive Committee members an NBO may cast up to the number of votes it is entitled under Statute 6.1, each vote for up to twelve (but not more than twelve, nor less than six) of the candidates.
May 25, 2018
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
5. Restrictions on NBO Representation on the Executive Committee

No more than two citizens or bona fide residents of any country represented by its NBO may simultaneously be members of the thirteen member Executive Committee (EBL President plus twelve Executive Committee members).
May 25, 2018
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
Martin Hoffman on bridge with Zia Mahmood…

"I first noticed Zia when I was Host at Stefan's Bridge club and he was playing in the small stakes game. I watched him play and I could see an extraordinary talent. It was not long before he graduated to the higher stakes game. There Sam Lev and him were killing the game. They were consistent winners.

The first event where I was invovled with Zia was the Spring Foursomes when I partnered Jane and Zia partnered his Pakistani friend Atta Ulla. We had a convincing win. Our next venture was the London Pairs championship where Zia and I finished last. The following day the Directors told me that they stayed up all night wondering what went wrong with the scores. As I had been winning everything they were convinced that the scores had been put in the wrong way round. How else could they explain that I was rank bottom. This sometimes happens when your luck is completely out and you lose heart. The next day we played in the London teams championship and we won easily.

We now made plans to go to Monte Carlo for the International Invitation teams. Our team mates were Sam Lev of Israel and Nuri Pakzad of Iran. After the first match which we won narrowly I noticed that Lev and Nuri were not too happy together, so I as Captain, decided to change the line-up. I would play with Nuri and Zia with Lev. This was a resounding success as we were winning every match so big that on the last day we could not be caught. As this event carried big prize money, Lev and I were very happy for Nuri and Zia both handed the total prize money to us.

Our next tournament was in Crans sur Sierre in Switzerland where our team mates were two moderate players from London but were very good friends. One of them covering my expenses. We came equal first with the French World Champions, but for an error in scoring which was too late to rectify, we would have been clear winners.

We now went on to Lyon in the south of France for a big tournament. Coming to the last session we had a useful lead, but were overtaken by Paul Chemla and C.Mari, the leading French pair. The last event I played with Zia was in Iceland where I was a little jet-lagged and didn't play my best. We still came third which in retrospect was not such a bad result as there were many top players for all over the world and the field was very strong.

Since Zia moved to America having bought an apartment in Trump Tower, New York, he has become a household name in the bridge world on both sides of the Atlantic. He is the second most admired player in the world after Omar Sharif."
May 16, 2018
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
Farewell, my friend. You were a true card playing genius and a lovely, warm human being. My sincerest condolences to Audrey.

Martin Hoffman - True Grit
By Liz Smith
EB August 1987

He has been described as a ‘bridge genius’; as ‘one of the world’s best dummy players’. His name, Martin Hoffman, is known throughout the bridge world. What isn’t so commonly known is the tragedy of his youth, and the amazing courage and determination required to survive it.

By the end of World War II Martin Hoffman’s entire family had been murdered by the Nazis. His parents, Herman and Toby, his sisters, Blanche and Betty, his younger brother, Bernie and his grandparents Wolf and Rachel Farkas. Miraculously, Martin alone survived. Even more miraculously, he harbours no hatred for the German race.

“Those responsible for the Holocaust were a minority. It wasn’t the fault of the entire German people. And the truth is, it could have happened practically anywhere. Most of humanity is capable of inhumanity. Some of the Austrian and Ukranian SS members committed even worse atrocities than the Germans. It was nothing to these people to tear a baby apart, limb by limb. German soldiers sometimes intervened to stop their excesses.

Austrians would now have you believe that Hitler was German and Beethoven Austrian. As you know, the reverse is true.”

Martin is a softly-spoken, mild-mannered man. He talks about his tragic past with detachment.

“I can’t dwell on the past. I can’t think about yesterday, or I wouldn’t be able to cope with today. When I returned to Prague in 1945 to discover that my family were all dead, yes, it was devastating. It took several years before I accepted what had happened. I used to wish, desperately, that just ONE member of my family had survived, to give me a reason for living.”

Born in 1929 into a middle-class, Jewish family, Martin was the second of four children. In 1937, as the result of an illness, Martin was sent to live with his maternal grandparents in the Carpathians, to enjoy the benefits of pure, mountain air.

He never saw his father or sisters again. Toby Hoffman visited him once, the following year, when he was not yet 9, and that was the last time he saw the mother he adored.

“What can I say about my mother? Everyone thinks their mother is the most beautiful woman in the world. She was so nice, so kind. I was very close to her and was one of her favourites, being the eldest son. She would never punish me, but get someone else to do it! Usually my Uncle Morris, whom I hated!

I was so young, and for a long time I felt bitter and resentful that she’d sent me away from her but, of course, unwittingly, she saved by life.”

Bernie, his younger brother, eventually joined Martin in the Carpathians and they received letters from the family until 1942 when the last one informed them that their parents, together with Blanche and Betty, were being deported to Theresienstadt camp. After the war Martin discovered that one of his sisters died there, although he doesn’t know which one. The rest of the family died in Auschwitz.
“I desperately missed my family. Of course, I didn’t know what had happened to them, but I never allowed myself to despair. I just kept telling myself that the war would end soon and we would be reunited. It was the only way to keep going.”

Eventually Martin, his grandparents and Bernie were arrested and deported to Auschwitz. As the prisoners being herded off the coaches, a Jewish worker from the camp came up and whispered to Martin.
“Tell them you’re 18!”
“Why?” asked Martin.
“Don’t ask questions, just do as I say!”, came urgent reply.
Up until then the German policy had been sickeningly simple - to kill all Jews. But they had now recognized the potential of using able-bodied Jews as slave-labour. Since they were going to die anyway, they may as well be worked to death. So, by the time Martin reached Auschwitz, only the old, the young and some of the women were sent immediately to the gas chambers.

A German was allocating the prisoners into two groups. Group A contained the young and old and feeble, Group B the able-bodied. Bernie, Martin and their grandparents were assigned to Group A. Although they didn’t yet know what this meant - death in the gas chambers - something warned Martin that he had to get away from this group. The words of the Jewish worker came back to him. “I'm eighteen!” he protested. Not surprisingly, as he was not yet thirteen, he wasn’t believed. But Martin was determined. As his brother and grandparents moved towards their assigned group, Martin broke away and ran over to the other one. Guards shouted at him to halt but Martin ignored them and hid amongst the men. With so many prisoners to deal with, Martin was forgotten for the moment and, for that night at least, he was safe.

However, the Capos made regular inspections of the camp searching for victims they may have missed, and Martin was picked out on several occasions for the gas chambers. Amazingly, each time he managed to outwit his persecutors, either by hiding amongst the men or by swearing he was 18 years old.

Eventually he was tattoed and sent in a labour unit to Buno Monowitz where he worked in a factory set up by A G Farben, the German chemical company. At the end of the war he received compensation from the company.

Then he was transferred to Gross Rosen and again to Gleiwitz and finally to Buchenwald.

Thus started the most horrific period of Martin’s captivity. 10,000 prisoners set off on the 2 month march to Buchen¬wald. Conditions were freezing, there was little or no food, and those who showed signs of weakening were shot on the wayside and left to rot.

Martin recalls, “My arms and hands were literally frozen, but I was determined to live. I don’t really know how I managed to find the strength to survive, but I still clung on to the hope that I would see my family again. I didn’t even allow myself to think that they might be dead. It was hope, I think, that kept me alive. Or it was an act of God.”

Each prisoner was issued with one blanket. Losing that blanket was a death sentence as there was no chance of surviving even a single night without one. Martin lost his blanket.
“There was an SS guard who I had become friendly with during the march. He had lost an eye fighting on the Eastern front and had been drafted into the SS. He hadn’t volunteered. He was horrified by what he saw and tried to do what he could for us. When I lost my blanket he gave me his. He was able to get a replacement, you see. I needed a lot of luck, too, to survive the war. This was one instance of it.”

On the final part of the journey, covering several days, each prisoner was given just one piece of bread to last until their arrival.
“I knew that, sensibly, I ought to try to eke out the bread. However, people were being driven mad with starvation. If it had become known that I had some bread I would have been killed for it. So I ate it.”

Of the 10,000 who began the journey only 127 completed it, including the 14-year-old Martin Hoffman.

At Buchenwald he decided that his best chance of survival, now, was to get a job in the kitchens. If he could just get enough to eat … the war would surely end soon? He duly applied and was turned down when it was learned he was Jewish. Undeterred, he somehow managed to obtain a change of clothing and made attempts to alter his appearance. He re¬applied.
“Are you Jewish?” he was asked. “No, I’m a gypsy.”
Martin got the job. And the chance to live.

“It is impossible for people to contemplate the horrors of Buchenwald. There were so many dead, the crematoriums couldn’t keep pace. So there were piles of bodies everywhere. You’d wake in the morning and the man in the bunk next to you would be dead. You’d step down and the man in the bunk below would be dead. The smell of decay was everywhere.

“The things I saw, I couldn’t tell you. They’re too terrible to put in your magazine. One day I will tell my story. My wife has been trying to make me do it for ten years. I know I must.”

In 1945 Buchenwald was liberated by the US Third Army. Martin was 15. Against all odds, a mere child, with no money, resources, family or friends, had survived four years of the most incredible hardship, including being incarcerated in one of the most diabolical concentration camps of them all.

Talking to Martin today, it is impossible to believe he is the same person who survived all that. He is so ‘normal’, so unembittered, so matter-of-fact. You feel he ought to be angy, to be demanding retribution. Instead, he claims to be happy.
“People who commit such atrocities, they’re not normal, they are mentally ill. In this country you have parents who batter children, or sexually abuse them - such behaviour isn’t ‘normal’. You don’t hate such people. You just pray that none of them will ever have the sort of power that Hitler did.”
Apart from his immediate family, Martin had five uncles, three aunts and 14 cousins; Only one cousin, one aunt and three uncles survived the war.

Martin came to Britain in 1945, courtesy of a childrens’ transfer funded by the Central British Fund. He was sent to a childrens’ hostel in the Lake District and, later, to London.

He started training as a diamond cutter after meeting a family in Torquay who offered him a job. The family lived in Finchley and Martin moved in with them. One rainy afternoon they taught him to play whist. Martin enjoyed it so much he attended a whist drive that night at the church hall. He won first prize and was accused of being a professional!

Solo was his next passion, which he played regularly, losing all of his money. One day at the solo club he was asked to make up a four at bridge.
“What do I do?” asked Martin.
“Just say ‘pass’ when it’s your turn.” was the reply.
Martin ‘passed’ all afternoon and won 15/-… And so began the bridge career of a man who has been described as “the best dummy player in Europe”.
“I’m not sure about ‘the best dummy player’. I’m certainly one of the best analysts. I play so quickly, you see. Sometimes I’m going so fast I make a mistake because I haven't been able to pull up in time!

“I've never aspired to international competition be¬cause I don’t have the killer instinct. Anyway, the prizes are so small. I play for enjoyment.”

Despite that, Martin has won every competition in this country, barring the Gold Cup.

Today he has been happily married to his wife, Audrey, for ten years. He never proposed. On his return from a holiday abroad, Audrey informed him that she’d made arrangements for them to be married.
“I didn’t dare argue”, recalls Martin. “In any case, I hate rows. Also, I didn’t want to lose her.”
And Audrey has been running things ever since. For a man who is so totally disorganised and absent-minded that he daren’t even learn to drive a car, she is the perfect partner. She is also an immensely kind woman, who loves people and will go out of her way to help anyone.

The fact that she and Martin have successfully weathered ten years together must be largely due to her unselfish and compromising attitude towards their marriage, for Martin is clearly not an easy man to live with. He is incredibly restless, hating to be in one place for any length of time, constantly shifting from one conversational subject to another. With no warning at all, he’ll suddenly stand up and announce he’s going out.

Audrey copes by giving him as much rein as he wants and getting on with her own life, but always providing the security he’s never had before.
“I couldn’t stand a marriage where we were always in each other’s pockets, so we suit each other,” she says. “But it has taken an awfully long time for Martin to learn to trust me. He’s only just beginning to believe that he won’t come home one night and find that I’ve disappeared.”

In between frequent trips abroad to play in tournaments, Martin runs SAM Bridge Holidays with Audrey and Stefan Grzeszczynski (he can’t pronounce it either!). They offer holidays in this country and abroad, and attract the less experienced players who enjoy the organised sightseeing as much as the bridge. Audrey provides the organisation and care of customers, Stefan the charm and Martin the bridge expertise.

While Audrey is setting up the evening duplicate and reminding everyone that dinner is at 7.30, Stefan will be soothing ruffled bridge partners or carrying luggage, and Martin will be hovering, waiting to start his seminar.

I joined them on a trip to Wales, wondering how Martin could possibly last out a FIVE-HOUR coach trip. Audrey bounced up and down the coach chatting to everyone, Stefan dealt patiently with a stream of people bringing him their bridge problems and Martin buried his nose in the Sporting Life between long bouts of sleep!

Clearly, the 70 customers thoroughly enjoyed their weekend. The seminars were particularly popular, with no-one finding it incongruous (unlike me) that a man who is considered by his peers to be a bridge genius, should be standing in a small hotel in the middle of Wales, patiently lecturing to a group of beginners.

A million miles from Buchenwald.

Forty years ago Martin Hoffman forced himself to put away the past and get on with life. Let’s hope that life will continue to get on with him as well as it’s doing at present.
May 16, 2018
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
@Jeff: I agree with your ideas but just to say that 165,000 x 365 = 60,225,000!
May 9, 2018
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
Ned: I would be amazed if the Acol does not win on all of your criteria but I am have been amazed before. BTW, Richmond BC is in ‘Middlesex’ but claims to be in Surrey!
May 3, 2018
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
Richard: Take your pick - I believe you will find the Acol BC wins on all three of your criteria
May 3, 2018
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
@Chris: Andrew Robson Bridge Club is not the largest bridge club in London. The Acol Bridge Club is. And they, like ARBC are not part of the English Bridge Union set up and hence also do not issue Master Points.
May 3, 2018
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
April 30, 2018

Bottom Home Top