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All comments by Bobby Levin
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Hi Sriram-I think I never waste time thinking about whats going on at the other table or whos playing and whos gonna do what because in the last few years I have gone from the Fleisher team with all top levels experts to the Nickell team where again the caliber is tip top. There are certainly regionals Steve and I go to where our teammates are weaker and if the opponents are playing well against us we know we are in trouble and we know we have to loosen up the ship to get back into the game but in those situations we do the best we can and take whatever results there are with a grain of salt.
April 10, 2014
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Hi Maurice-this reminds me of something funny that Meckstroth-Rodwell and I still joke about. We used to play with Bud Reinhold back in the 70s and actually won the Bermuda Bowl with him in '81. He used to drink pretty good and was often in a stupor every night. He would always blurt out in the middle of a conversation-“that was the greatest hand I have ever seen-I will never forget that hand as long as I live.” We would all just look at him like what the hell are you babbling about now. He would then turn to me and say “what was my hand Bobby”? Anyway the recent Vanderbilt will certainly be up there as a memory. Winning the World Open pairs finally was great although at the time I had a very bad taste in my mouth. And winning the Platinum pairs last month with Richie Coren, one of my best friends for the last 40+ years were so awesome for me when I think back of all the months I went to visit him in the hospital while he lay in a coma, his head about 4 times the size it is now, with almost no chance of recovery.
April 10, 2014
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Hi Gabi-I was taught as a kid that bidding was 85% of the game. At the top level everyone plays their hands well most of the time so I still think thats were the money is. I think that top pairs underestimate how important defense is which is more of a partnership thing than people realize. I think Steve and I make a lot of money on defense in the long run, and since we have worked so hard at it its definitely the thing that makes us the most crazy when we are not on the same wavelength.
April 10, 2014
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Hi Ross-What keeps me going is what keeps everyone choosing to play bridge instead of being outside in the sun with you dog or your golf clubs. its the greatest game there is, always challenging you, and theres never a day you don't learn something from the stupid mistakes you continue to make. I love the competition, the rush from playing great and beating the best of the best. Also I was never smart enough to just buy stocks and let them grow so I have to continue to work for a living.
April 10, 2014
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Hi Mark-I'm not embarrassed but I do remember this incident. Thanks for bringing it up. We play about 1 regional a month, I'm on BBO often going through vugraph archives so I see many, many hands throughout the month and am always thinking about how we would handle a given situation. When I feel a sense of unsure I write it down in a file we have titled “things we need to discuss” and eventually we put aside a few days at a time a go through this huge file to deal with issues. Its so much easier these days to improve your bridge at a rapid rate than it was 30-40 years ago where you would play your 1 or 2 sessions when you could and learn whatever you could-I would say in those days I did most of my learning reading the Bridge World.
April 10, 2014
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Hi Hanoi-lotta questions here-
Having Eric Kokish as coach has been fabulous for Steve and I-he has been very helpful in aiding our constant improvements and has given us many exercises that have made us realize many weakness in certain situations
I think cheating is always gonna be a problem-especially at the top where is so much money involved in being winners. I have felt cheated. In Monaco at the Cavendish there were a few pairs that did things against us that were not possible. A pair comes to the table 5 minutes late walking by many tables where the first board is in play. They open 1nt-12-14 and partner staymans and bids 3nt with 20hcp and 3 tens. I lead a club from kjxxx giving them a trick and then I get endplayed because I have exposed the club layout–they make 4. How many pairs do you think went plus with their cards? Zero is the answer-we lose many imps. So to answer your question, cheating goes on not just in bad tempo but board clipping, placement of bids in trays, coughing and probably other ways that are above my head.
Steve keeps score, although his handwriting is unreadable, in fact it is so bad he often has no idea what he has written.
I think there is very, very little drug problems in bridge these days-I would have said it was a lot worse 20-30 years ago.
April 10, 2014
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Hi Alvin-thx for the correction-I actually meant Rabbi Leonard Helman who was a wonderful man, may he rest in peace.
April 10, 2014
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Hi Jordan-ok ok no one forgets-I was just kidding around don't get all Canuckied with me–you guys who grew up with Kokish should have grown some thicker skin by now.
April 10, 2014
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Hi Gary-this hand was interesting for a few reasons-I was able to screw this hand up for so many reasons. i had qj10x,axx,aj10,kxx–when Helness balanced with a X-of course we have played a million boards against these guys-they always choose us-we always choose them-because we all have a great time and theres never a moment of an ethics problem or anything but just pure fun,laughing, and intense bridge. Anyway, I thought when Helenss X'ed he showed 9-11 probably on the upper end and guaranteed 3 spades. I was wrong about the 3 spades part. I therefore thought the odds of us having a spade fit were much less. (it went X-p-p and Steve bid 2c showing clubs and a higher) Since spades were remote, Steve was either 4-4 in clubs and diamonds or hearts. The most likely 5 card suit he could have was clubs-so I went with playing 2c instead of choosing to XX which in this hand woulda gotten us to 2s. We took our 8 board break after this hand-I asked Steve what he thought I should have done and he admonished me for not XX in a snippy little way. I replied-“Oh well I'm not surprise, I knew I would FK up this match” and we went back and bid a great slam and had a few good other boards to finish the set.
I don't really understand where you are going with this what goes through my mind when I have a bad result stuff? We have bad results all the time and I try to take out my next hand and focus on what convention might apply or what I should be thinking about. Of course once in a while the thought sneaks in my head about what a piece of shit Weinstein is, but I don't dwell on it.
April 10, 2014
Bobby Levin edited this comment April 10, 2014
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Hi John-Steve and I started playing around 1998. I had been in a long time partnership with Peter Weichsel and Steve had been playing with his step dad Fred Stewart. I needed a change for sure and wanted to play with someone who was young, hungry and had huge potential. Steve was already a very accomplished champion but had always played a big club system and his bidding was lets just say very rough around the edges. He was willing to work hard and become my clone. That isn't to say that I have learned tons from him also. My grandmother always told me the most important decison in your life is who you are gonna marry. What she didn't tell me is the 2nd most important thing in my life was gonna be who I choose for a bridge partner. It took me some time but I eventually got both of them right.
April 10, 2014
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Hi Barry-this is a tough question to answer without naming names. To me the best players who are also the trickiest players because they make great plays with incredible tempo and are fearless is Meckstroth, Zia, and Geoff Hampson. These are guys I wanna have a very “clear head” when I am playing them.
April 10, 2014
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Hey Josh-when you have been around as long as I have you have finally given a good beating to people you thought you could never beat and have taken an ass kicking from certain people that make you want to rip your hair out. When things are going well I can kick Helgamo's ass and when things are going bad I couldn't get an average against that nice Rabbi from Chicago that just passed away.I hope its because you guys are still young and I haven't played many boards against you and its so ironic that you have asked me this question but I have yet to have a good board against you and Roger Lee and I'm hoping at least that changes against you in the Grand Nationals in May. Balicki-Zmud have always been tough for me but I'm sure there are many others that struggle with them.

April 10, 2014
Bobby Levin edited this comment April 10, 2014
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Hi Peg-we don't really discuss as much bridge as you think-most of what we talk about concerns her methods with her partners. Of course she has picked up many tidbits from either Steve disagreements or me bashing someones brains in about something rediculous I think they have done. Jill is much more of a if you don't have something nice to say don't say anything type of person. I think our approaches to bridge and our philosophies about how to play are very different and since what we both do seems to work for both of us we just let eachother stay in our own comfort zones and do what works for each of us individually.
April 10, 2014
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Hey Greg-well first of all thanks for the compliment. To play me? I would have to go with Andy Garcia. Jon Voight, Chris Walken and Al Pacino I hope are all too old.
April 10, 2014
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Hi Anne-I can honestly say I have no recall of this incident although if I did I'm sure my answer would be the same.
April 10, 2014
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Hi Dan-the way I handle stress is simple-I tell myself if I am slow and careful I can figure anything out and will make the right bids-if I'm a careless lazy slob then I'm probably gonna get a good ass kicking like I deserve.
Congrats on the Spingold win is a little premature but I hope you are right. Damn, you Canucks don't know a Vanderbilt from a Spingold yet? You guys need to form a decent team and win one of those things so you will know whats what in the future.
April 10, 2014
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Hi Steve-If we suspect a pair is cheating we try to keep their bids consistantly in the tray together and we try to keep the tempo even so the breaks in tempo are not so obvious. We are not really equipped to deal with cheaters and I don't think I could catch them if I saw their fingers in my pockets. Steve as an expert poker player would have a better chance. I can tell you from experience of my own when I played with cheaters (of course I didn't know it at the time) that they were such repulsive individuals that I had no interest in discussing bridge or their results with them and therefore had no idea they were cheating until they got caught. so its difficult for me to judge whether the teammates of cheaters should know whats going on.
April 10, 2014
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Hi Bob-I don't think we really have tactics to generate action–like most good pairs we can bid very light opposite a passed partner but we tend to do it for good reasons-like say a good suit. There is so much “action” to be created with just good judgement and good card play and good understandings and its so easy to sit there and win 25 imps quickly on 3 boards in a row even at the top level that I always think its right to just sit there and do the right thing and you will win. I play pairs the same way, and have had much success in national pairs with nonprofessionals.
What Meckstroth said was very nice, and he was in the room, but he was not playing. You can draw your own conclusions.
April 10, 2014
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Hi Steve-capturing the minds of young bridge players could start with putting the beautiful young faces of bridge on the cover of the bulletin, like Jenny Wolpert,Sandra Rimstedt,even the mugs of Shane Blanchard and Johnny Kran would be so much better than these fat, old bald people they like to put on the front cover.
What Eddie Wold is doing is fantastic and it would be brilliant for the ACBL and other bridge organizations around the world to get involved in creating college courses for students not only giving young people another social outlet but bringing more youth into the game.
I wrote a bridge book about 10 years ago but never published it. Its different than most bridge books. Its about all the stupid things I have done in key matches in my life-and the life aspects relating to it. Of course the 1-1 spade fit I discussed earlier was a full chapter. The problem with the book was although it makes me look like an idiot which is fair game-it also has some negativity about other real life people. My lawyer wife said I have to take out this and that and finally I said to hell with it. Maybe if I outlive all the people in the book that might wanna sue me I'll publish it someday. Problem with that is guys like Richie Schwartz live forever.
While the 4th quarter was exciting for you I thought we were having a very solid game and then 7s and then they took a phantom for 500 and then Helgi misguessed 3nt so I thought we won easily although I don't waste too much time thinking about whats happening at the other table, just try to keep focused on my next hand. I will say when I realize we won by 2 that was such a rush, there were so many situations where my instincts were bad and I was about to do something really stupid and I recovered. Honestly I'm still on cloud 9!!!!!!
April 10, 2014
Bobby Levin edited this comment April 10, 2014
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Hi Jack-I'm sure Steve and I knew of eachother back then but didn't know eachother well. I had had a great hand against Steve and Fred in the finals of the Reisingers where Fred opened 2d weak and we got to 4h and Steve lead the 3 of diamonds, the dummy had xxxx in diamonds and I had K2. It went Ace on my right and I quickly dropped the K. My mother was watching and of course she thought I made a huge mistake and her eyes were bulging out of her head. Luckily Fred didn't look at her, and he returned something else so they didn't get their “ruff.” I would say this happened close to 1986. I'm sorry I don't remember why I played with Kerri.
April 10, 2014
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