Join Bridge Winners
All comments by Larry Lang
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Ed,
Good idea. I'll try it. I know who these people are, so it won't take a lot of effort.

We tried the handicap idea, and in general, people don't like it, because now they are branded as being handicapped.
July 10, 2015
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I could not agree more. I think 5th grade is best.
July 10, 2015
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Actually, it's all relative. I live in a town that once had more PhDs per capita than any other city in the United States. We developed one incarnation of the A-Bomb, and you had to have a security clearance to live in Richland, and some excuse for being here.
At tournaments, the Tri-Cities clearly has better than average players for the size of the population. But Seattle, and to a lesser extent Spokane has a bigger population to draw from, and their top players are better than our top players.
We suffer from demographics. The best players here have been playing forever. They're not interested in learning anymore. They play the hands well, but their bidding has not advanced. The ACBL claims this isn't happening, but it is. And where I live, it is so obvious it hurts.
July 10, 2015
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My favorite stories involve the same partner, the late Alyce Ko.

She had just finished playing with her niece in California and had been introduced to this new concept, “Weak Jump Shifts”. She wanted to know if we played them, and I gave her a firm no.

In the first of a two session open pairs, I made a jump shift to 2 spades (strong) you could see the wheels going around in her head. She managed to bid again.

Then, ignoring my good fortune, I repeated the suit, bidding 3 Spades, trying for slam. She passed. We were in 3 spades making 5, for a top, because everyone else was in 6, going down one. I didn't feel bad. This one hand allowed us to win the open pairs on Saturday and I was high point man for the tournament.

Later, at a National Tournament in Portland (Life Master Pairs) I insisted we needed to jazz up our system by playing 10 to 12 no trumps not vulnerable, with a crazy rebid structure when I opened one of a minor to show the different ranges. She never did get it. Every third auction she alerted. They asked her why, and she didn't know why but we were playing a 10 to 12 no trump not vulnerable and it had something to do with that.

We won the event (the only National Event I've ever won) and got 50 master points and $50 worth of script which was quite a bit in those days. Did I feel bad? No. But she did – saying we won because we didn't know what we were doing, and she didn't like it.

I don't know what the moral is, but I had fun.
July 10, 2015
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And there's another irony. If I get to a bad slam that makes on a miracle, I don't mind. I suppose I should apologize, but I don't. (Also, I never say “Thank-you” when the suit splits well. I hate it when people do that.)
If get to the only reasonable contract,a slam, and if I get a top,
I guess I don't apologize either. But for some reason I feel sorry for the opponents.
July 10, 2015
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Actually Cam,
I'm usually on the opposite side of such occurences. I play in a club where probably 80% of the players don't understand showing controls. (I'm a fan of Italian Cue Bidding). When my partner and I come along and bid a slam, often they get a zero. I've seen some opponents close to tears. They were having a good game, and now they have a zero through no fault of their own.
For some reason, if I get caught up in a free for all auction, and the opponents get the worst of it, I don't mind.
But I really don't enjoy being the Big Bad Wolf that shows up at their door, bidding a slam, that everyone should bid, and they get a zero.
I don't have any suggestions on how to mitigate that problem, nor do I believe it should be mitigated, but I don't like it.
July 10, 2015
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I do worry about it. You don't hear rumblings, they just quit. And often their partner quits with them.
I could offer a prize for worst score of the week, but that seems counter productive.
I agree, Master Points are almost worthless. But how do we show these people that we appreciate them, and they are not just goats that are slaughtered on the altar of duplicate Bridge?
If the ACBL wishes to increase participation, perhaps this is a question that needs an answer.
July 10, 2015
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Actually, ACBL did nothing. We did not take advantage of any of their financial incentive programs or their advice.
It was all EasyBridge! The EasyBridge! mantra is that you cannot convert people who play duplicate at home. You can only recruit recent retirees and card players “off the cabbage truck.” The trick is to get them hooked into duplicate, before they realize what is happening to them, and make it as fun as possible, and as non-competitive as possible. You pretend you're educating them, but you don't. You just see that they have as good a time as possible, and you pretend that they are becoming bridge experts.

We had lots of younger people show up as well, but they all left, because none of their peers play. If you are 20 to 30 years old, and all you play against are old people (not to insult old people) what do you do? You're not going to find any good looking chicks, so you leave.
July 10, 2015
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Ed,
I agree with you, surprisingly. I was trying to raise a “profound” question, and apparently it's not all that profound.
So here is another question. I have players in the club that I run – who are very loyal, they add a tremendous amount of fun to the game, and all I want is for them to keep coming back. But they seldom place and I'm afraid they'll get discouraged. What am I to do?
July 10, 2015
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I guess I'm asking a question that I haven't stated very well. With computers and pre-dealt hands, and the like, we may be approaching an era in which we can make duplicate bridge more “fair”.
But should we even attempt it? Is the inherent randomness in the game a good thing or a bad thing?
July 10, 2015
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Your advice seems good. However, most opponents know me pretty well, and they appreciate it more if I give a snarl.
July 10, 2015
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I don't like pandering either. We agree.
And frankly, recruiting retired people has saved our Unit. It's added another 10 years to our viability. But I do see a day of reckoning coming, when we run out of recruiting tricks, and then I don't know what we're going to do.
July 10, 2015
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David,
How about the line that “It is a fallacy to argue that membership numbers are headed off a cliff, as many of these members quit or die in the next decade. – the tiresome argument – isn't true”

I like old people. I'm one of them. We're not always wondering where the next sexual tryst will come from, and it can take a load off one's mind. But facts are facts, and Paul Linxwiler is not only insulting, he is “Dead” wrong in his conclusions. You may die with lots of bridge players around, but I won't, and I have no interest in bridge robots.
July 10, 2015
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The magic number is 63. That's how old I am.

When I went to college, the bridge games in the Student Union Building had declined from maybe 10 to 2 and then to one. I was one of the youngest bridge players in our Unit in 1970, and I still am, with a couple of exceptions.
We've done a great job recruiting new players that used to play in College and now they've retired. But they're all older than I am.

63 years old is the bottom of the barrel. Apparently Mr. Linxwiler can't see that, but he can be forgiven because of his advanced age.
July 10, 2015
Larry Lang edited this comment July 10, 2015
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I guess I pretty much agree with both of you. The only program I know that has been successful is in Scandinavia. Get into the school programs somehow.

It seems the ACBL could be more helpful there – but still a daunting task.
June 28, 2015
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Ed,
I haven't been very clear, so I'll clarify. At our club we post results by sending them out over Email. I'm the club manager, it's my choice. All clubs within my Unit post electronically one way or another.

We use BridgeMates, and like them. They pay for themselves. I wrote a program that merges the contract (as recorded by BridgeMate) with each result on the recap sheet. The players love that feature. And the price was right. Free. I used a horrible language. VB.NET. It took me 2 days.

Believe it or not, there is an inverse correlation between the delivery speed of results and how long people visit afterwards. And global climate change caused by human activity does exist.

I consider Mathew Kidd to be the opposite of a technologist. He is willing to consider all sorts of different approaches (technologies) to do what he wants to do. If I remember correctly, he even considers .NET to be a viable tool set. We may not agree on the importance of those goals, but never the less he is not wed to a single approach.

If someone says, “I have a Mac, and it would be nice to have ACBLScore be Mac compatible, and it's worth X dollars to me.” I call that user feedback. All user feedback is worthy of attention.

If someone says, “There are Y Mac Users in the ACBL, Mac compatibility would be worth X to them, and it would cost Z dollars to develop that feature.” That person is an analyst. I respect analysts.

If someone says, “I like Macs and therefore ACBLScore has to be Mac compatible.” I call that person a technologist. I have no respect for that kind of sloppy analysis.

If someone says to me, “ACBLScore+ has to be written to run on the Internet” – without any cost analysis. I consider that person to be a technologist, unless they've really done their homework. And I'm not convinced that the homework is getting done up front.

I was told by the former ACBL CEO that Object Oriented Pascal is not a modern language, and would not be considered, even as a temporary staging platform while bringing up new features for ACBLSCore+. That's a technologist – an ignorant one at that. I don't know where that statement came from. If it came from Hammond, then shame on him. If not – then there is some other technologist lurking around.

June 27, 2015
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I am not making any judgments about Nicholas. I don't necessarily consider Nicholas to be a technologist. I found his list of new benefits to be remarkably small in comparison to $2M, but that's my only gripe.

I define a technologist as a person who has a nail, and therefore believes all solutions involve a nail and a hammer.

I can respect anyone who says, “Bridge Players would like X, and the best way to get there is to do Y, and the price is reasonable, so let's do it.”

When I hear, we must replace ACBLScore because it is old technology – without any statement of what the new ACBLScore will accomplish – or how much it will cost – without any cost analysis – that's crazy.

June 27, 2015
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I was only half kidding when I said “too stubborn to die.”

I see the same kind of thing here in the Tri-Cities.

I hope to fall over dead when I'm too old to play decent Bridge.
June 27, 2015
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Tom,
Thanks. It always helps to know what other clubs are seeing.

I have a question. Easybridge! worked for us as well. Not a raging success, but better than anything else we've tried. I only ran one cycle, assuming we had mined just about all the new Bridge Players that are available in our area. Our population is about 100,000.

Are you still running Easybridge – first month free and all that? Is it still working?

June 27, 2015
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I agree. In older times, more people worked at the coal mine, or farming, or at a boring blue collar job. And when they came home they were ready for mental stimulation.

In my case, as a younger guy, it seemed like I worked until my brain was ready to pop. When I came home I was ready for either a stiff drink or a 4 mile walk. I went out to play bridge anyway.

But that's not normal. It's called “obsessive”. Once again, technology has made a big difference in recreational activities.

June 27, 2015
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