Linda Lee — My personal bridge blog

ABTA in New Orleans and our travels.

Ray and I had a terrific time in New Orleans and our journey there and back.  While the ABTA meeting was the highlight there were many other great times.  First the ABTA: we really enjoyed the portion of the ABTA meetings we attended.  The teacher of the year was of course a real highlight.  Just before that Ray discussed some of our new books and also all about ebooks in his presentation.  It was one of his best presentations and it was interesting to see that a small smattering of teachers currently had ebook readers.  We speculated that a lot more hands would be raised next year if Ray asked them again if they owned a reader.

I heard a bit of a talk by Fred Gitelman.  He had a lot of interesting things to say but as part of it he tried to convince the teachers that the online interface was the best.  I am not convinced.  I still like the old one a lot better.  It also has a chat room (on in the old interface) where a student or a partner and I can both look at a deal together and discuss it.

Larry Cohen had an interesting talk which started out suggesting (strongly) that teachers should teach beginners 2 over 1.  In some later discussions I couldn’t find a single convert.  Larry’s argument was that although it made the auctions over 1NT (forcing) very difficult it simplified the auctions over a 2/1 since you now know that you are forced to game.  Well that may be true but you still have to discuss the meaning of 2/1 auctions and how to know if either partner has a minimum or more than a minimum and many of the forcing notrump auctions only work well with relays.  And the teachers were concerned that their friends and partners wouldn’t have a clue what they were doing.  Larry says that in 10 years everybody will be taught 2/1 just like today they are taught invitational raises and not forcing raises.  I guess we will see.

He also had a lot to say about how to handle high level major preempts.  The issue he discussed was the meaning of a double of four of a major.  Was a double of 4 takeout and a double of 4penalty?  He didn’t think that made any sense and he doesn’t know why people would teach that.  You pretty well never have a penalty double of 4 (well at least not a trump stack).  I agree with him but the way I think of it is that the higher the contract you are doubling the more the double shows cards and is not specifically takeout.  Nor does it promise the unbid major.  I think this is true of 4 as well as 4 .  But you even have to think about the double of 3 (although here with a balanced good hand you may be able to bid 3NT).  But what would you do with A2 KJ2 AKJ5 K982?  If you double 4 I suppose you have to sit for 4 (and of course doubling 4 is just as bad especially if you reverse the spades and hearts).  I guess I would want to defend doubled a lot of the time and maybe play 4NT some of the time and then again opposite an unpassed partner lots of contracts might be possible.    I didn’t hear the whole talk so maybe he had some solutions.  If I ask Ray he will just say “you can’t be perfect over preempts.”

Some of our authors gave talks at the tournament or at the ABTA conference including Julian Laderman who gave me an incredible hug (figuratively) when he said that if we had published the revised Love Bridge Squeezes Complete before he wrote A Bridge To Simple Squeezes then he wouldn’t have bothered.  That was a great compliment coming from such an interesting bridge writer and top-class mathematician.

Then there was the ABTA boat cruise.  It was a lot of fun with a terrific jazz trio and the food was surprisingly good.  In fact this was pretty true of New Orleans generally, lots of music and the food was good.  On the boat cruise our big moment was when they announced the winner of the Beginner Book of the Year: Barabara Seagram and David Bird, Planning the Play of A Bridge Hand and the Intermediate Book of the year: Eddie Kantar’s Take All Your Chances.  Ray got to accept for Eddie who couldn’t travel to the tournament.  So there we were, winner of both book awards!

We had fun talking to all three of the book sellers who were there at New Orleans.  These days there are a lot of vendors and we had dinner with one of them, David Poriss, who refuses to retire after many attempts.  David had some interesting and some sad stories to tell.

One of the best parts of our New Orleans stay was my birthday dinner.  We went to a restaurant that had Zydeco music.  Zydeco music is Cajun folk/country music.  The music has a fast and strong beat.  The lyrics seem very country to me.  There was a singer or two or three, an accordion, guitar, fiddle and various other instruments.  The place had a large dance floor and as soon as the music started it was full.  Many of the dancers were obviously regulars.  The food was great and we celebrated with a dessert of bread pudding and key lime pie .. quite Southern.

As I had hoped, the US was shopper’s paradise and we visited a few malls around New Orleans where I did load up with clothes.  But Ray thought it was just fine because everything was incredibly inexpensive, I mean huge discounts.  All the stores and malls we visited were pretty empty with quite a few boarded up stores.  That part was a bit discouraging.

Still, all in all the ABTA was a hoot and it just shows you can have a great time at a bridge tournament and never play a card.  On the way home we visited the ACBL headquarters, but more about that in another blog.

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