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All comments by Simon Stocken
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Great to see this - alas the Youth Bridge section on BW gets many fewer views.

I intend to be revisiting Raibidpura in October.
Aug. 10, 2017
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what are these new conventions allowed?
Aug. 9, 2017
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Great writing. Great hand. Raising the bar - bridge book awaited….
Aug. 9, 2017
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It's looking like I may be home alone in France tomorrow before I head to Lyon for Friday. If that works - not sure what you had in mind didn't know rubber bridge was a thing on BBO
Aug. 9, 2017
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Gambling 2NT - it's never let me down in 3rd seat.
Aug. 8, 2017
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which time-zone are you yachting in?
Aug. 8, 2017
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If I were cellphone cheat, I'd have one on the table and another phone(s) elsewhere. I would not want to waste time while it booted up. So having-the-cellphone-visible-rule is wonderful for any prospective cellphone cheat.
Aug. 8, 2017
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I'm hoping this story involves scuba diving….
Aug. 5, 2017
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The gambling defence to the gambling 3NT. Instinct is a fine thing a the card table…
Aug. 4, 2017
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Since April 7th Schengen countries (the 26 and some Scandinavian countries) introduced much stricter security for those arriving from outside Schengen - terrorist precautions.

Many airports are massively understaffed - one official checking is not unusual apparently.

There is also often on the way out an extra layer of checking when you think you have plenty of time to catch your flight having been through the normal checks.

Arriving three hours prior to a flight is the current recommendation.

August is a busy time.

Brexit implications and insinuations have been suggested (an unnamed British minister) but really it's about extra security.
Aug. 4, 2017
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Thanks Gerben.
Most helpful.
Aug. 4, 2017
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I am a UK player/teacher who came to Toronto for the Nationals primarily to network with other teachers. I arrived without a partner and ended up playing with 9 different partners.

I like to play in the open events and to compete against the best - three years back in Vegas I'd played the Spingold with a scratch team and had been drawn against Monaco. (we lost 100-150)

I advertised on the partnership board as well as Bridge Winners for a partner for the LM pairs - the Von Zedtwitz.
I received a response via email and enquired about my partner's status.
He dodged the question but said he was a bridge teacher. I mistakenly assumed this meant he knew what he was up to.

We met and discussed system over a coffee and then went to enter. At the last minute my partner suggested we enter the Young Pairs instead. “It might be my only chance of winning an event” he tells me - alarm bells should have been ringing at this stage.

We entered and played two sessions of qualifying finishing with 54%. The point of realisation occurred on the 5th board when my partner holding

xx
QJ9xx
J8x
A9x

is on lead against 1NT (Pass) 4H Pass 4S End

He finds the 8 of diamonds lead. I'm holding Q109x (dummy has two small) and insert the 10 and am surprised to see this force the Ace at trick one. I later quiz my partner on his choice of lead and he explains that he has made a MUD lead. The next 47 boards are painful - he passes my Blackwood etc etc. On board 52 he is finally receptive to hearing what a MUD lead actually adds up to…..

I wander into Operations the following morning and get talking to Richard Beye who explains to me that I'm not eligible for this event. For me I am utterly relieved. Even with my partner's incompetence it seemed likely we would make it to Day 3 and I would have to endure 4 more sessions with one of the most unpleasant and incompetent partners I have ever played against - sorry with. So I am disqualified and communicate this information to my partner. In the mean-time I decide to play a Side pairs with a partner found for me at the partnership desk - a lovely man.
My partner for the Young pairs does not take this at all well but that is another story….

I was ignorant of the restrictions and regulations (and for the most part still am). I have no idea what points I'm receiving or what brackets I am allowed into or not allowed into. I am not attempting to defend my position here - my ignorance was my fault. I assumed holding very few points that entering the Young Pairs was fine.

I later pair up with a strong team and we are assigned a 2250 points rating and are prevented from entering the open bracket for a KO teams event. So we play weak opposition and make it to the final. Our team-mates had not informed us however that they could not make the final - they had a flight home to Europe. We were relaxed with this and got permission to bring in substitutes. One of our subs was a 5000 points player. The other was a last-minute pickup partner from the desk who turned out to be a rubber bridge player and a poker player. He was a natural and a total pleasure to play with. Over 24 boards he hardly put a foot wrong. He had very few points which did not reflect his ability.

As one of our substitutes had 5000 points we were told we could play the final but we couldn't officially win - the B bracket had a cap - as a team we were all completely happy with this outcome and were grateful that we had even been allowed to play.
We ‘won’ the final.

I communicated my confusion to the people in Operations and they recognised that points assignments for International players was an issue. Hopefully a solution will be forthcoming.

I think I speak for most international players who attend NABCs. We want to play at the highest level possible presuming we have earned that right - being an ex-junior squad player - I believe I have the ability to compete against whatever opposition sits down. I have little interest in playing B bracketed events.

I still have little comprehension of the ACBL points system and the eligibility/restrictions for players who are assigned a ‘number’. The Master Point race is something I lost interest in years ago in the UK. Reading the comments in this thread has left me even more bemused.

On a positive - huge thanks to Richard Garlick who manned the partnership desk, day in day out. My only bad experience came not through him but via the card I myself posted. Also to Rick Beye in Operations who helped me navigate this minefield.
Aug. 4, 2017
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My father taught me and my three siblings aged 7-12. I was 10. Two hands a night and we kept little note books. Mum had some precious relief. Both parents had represented Ireland after meeting at Trinity College Dublin. When I played at school we weren't allowed to double!
Three years later we ventured into our local (Doncaster, South Yorkshire) bridge club, each partnering an adult - we came 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th and never looked back.

I left University and knocked on the door of The London School of Bridge where I had played money bridge on occasion. I was hired to run the cut-in rubber bridge game for two nights a week, before Andrew Robson gave me a full-time job at the Acol club.

I kept a record of my sessions at the LSB - 19 profitable 5 negative over three months. The highlight being against a drunken Persian lady, Kitty who liked to bid. My partner and I kept the rubber going as long as we could - always going for slam on the game hands - and the 500s, 800s and 1100s accrued fast. When we finally won the rubber the deficit was 5200 and Kitty to her credit pulled out two £50 notes to cover her partner's losses. That doubled my wages for the week…

25 years later all four of us are full-time bridge teachers and my parents both teach on the holidays my brothers and sister run. I'm the sole employee of a Foundation dedicated to teach bridge to children and in schools.
Aug. 3, 2017
Simon Stocken edited this comment Aug. 3, 2017
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I teamed up with a pair from Sweden who had knocked out Schul in the Spingold First round (Team Rodin). My partner was a 21 year old Irish Junior. I played U25 England squad some years back. We were not allowed to enter the open bracket and were assigned a nominal 2250 MPs each. So we got to play bridge against much weaker players.

International players (players from outside the ACBL) - (by and large) have no interest in master points from other NBOs. The most interesting prospect for me (and I assume other international players) is to play against the best - three years ago I faced team Monaco in Round 1 of the Spingold with a brand new partner, playing 64 boards against the Norwegians, while our team-mates took on the Italians and then the sponsor. That day was a highlight of my experience at the Nationals - (we lost 100-150 fwiw)

I also nearly got into some deep water because my pick-up partner for the LM Pairs for which I had a waiver at the last minute suggested playing in the 0-2500 bracket (alarm bells were ringing at this point). I played a day with him, watched him pass RKCB and other crimes and misdemeanours. I go into Operations on Day 2 having qualified to hear that I am not eligible to play in this event (through my own ignorance) and at this point I am disqualified…. which I may add was a huge relief.

I talked to Operations and they recognise that assigning a master point value for international players is an issue.
I think it would be helpful to have a more coherent policy.
July 31, 2017
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A good ‘headline’ always helps to attract interest. Often that headline can be slightly misleading and I have no problem with that.

Playing in the Spingold and being better rested for that is an excellent reason not to pursue a very slim chance of recovering the match. Their opponents were also clearly in the zone.
July 24, 2017
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Agreed - it seems there's a few to choose from. You will also attract some European watchers if you show the young Swedes.
July 24, 2017
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It was my first ever baseball game - the toilet giveaway was bizarre. The Oakland Athletics were very poor or was it the great pitching from the Blue Jays? - I'm still somewhat mystified by all of it, coming from the land of cricket where a 5-day match can end in a thrilling draw….which understandably sounds even more bizarre.

It was a great experience all told - retracting roof, orange jump suits, lawn-mowers being given away, fake grass, expensive beer and some good solid Irish company.

I did see my first ever live ‘home run’ in what amounted to a low-scoring game. I'm not yet a full convert to the game but like all sports it makes a difference if it's what you grew up with.
July 24, 2017
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Partner needed
I have team mates.
July 23, 2017
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I'm loving the discussion as it's highly informative. System with traditional negative double clearly has flaws.
The 4NT suggestion for East seems sensible
2NT by West more so
July 21, 2017
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Some observations having been here a week - I'm from the UK.

Uber is not as cheap as it was on my last visit two years ago.
It still beats the regular cabs but not by so much.

City bikes are free on Wednesdays through July - you get 30 minutes free and then you have to change bike and so on. Toronto is well set up with its bike lanes. I know bridge players are not necessarily keen bicycle riders but it is a sedentary activity….

The AGO - Art Gallery of Ontario is free on Wednesday evenings - the shows still cost. I think the Georgia O'Keefe is $25

Weekend Traffic is appalling - it was genuinely quicker to walk than to be in a vehicle last weekend - there were some additional events in the city which exacerbated the situation.

The Mariposa boat cruises from 207 Queen's Key West just beyond the CN Tower (East) offers dinner and a fine trip round the lake. 6.30 - 10.00 offered a good sunset and a great view of the skyline.

For those who put a high price on shoes Canada's John Fluevog has a store on West Queen St (a mile West of the venue) I've never found a more comfortable pair of shoes - I've been looking forward to this for quite a few months as one pair is definitely not enough. I can't get these in Europe either.
July 20, 2017
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