Linda Lee — My personal bridge blog

Whatever has happened to the ACBL Bulletin

The July edition of the 2008 Bulletin arrived on my desk this morning.  Over the years I more or less got used to ignoring it.  It was full of tournament results and later articles for beginners and very little that an "expert" might want to read.  Over the last few years that started to change.  I have always liked the Granovetter column and it was a fast fun and occasionally instructive read.  The best part was the letters to the editors and of course the Eddy Kantar play problems.  Beyond that I would flip the pages and look to see if there was anything else of interest.  It didn’t usually take that long to finish.

But when I read the Bulletin today I realized that there had been a gradual transformation and there was a lot more fun stuff.  Let me start with one article that might interest you.  There was a discussion of the stop card with all sorts of comments including an editorial by Brent Manley.  Apparently a reader had written a letter to the editor questioning the value of the stop card.  This caused lots of other letters, apparently all agreeing that it was of no use at all and actually fostered cheating or at least unethical practices by calling attention to some bids.  I thought about this.  Yes, it was true.  The stop card had served its purpose.  It was unnecessary and did more harm than good.  As someone who usually plays online I tried to remember did people still use it?  It seemed to me than when I was playing in tournaments it was hardly used at all.  So I agree with all the readers, lets ban the darn thing.

Than there was a letter about players not wanting to play against pros.  I guess at some level the idea of professional bridge players and how they affect the tournament world just won’t go away.  The reader suggest very high masterpoint limit events (like 5000) which would allow in most of us (at least those who have lives) but exclude most experts.  I think the role of professionals in bridge is still evolving and I would like to see all pro events (like world championships) but perhaps that is impossible.  Its not that I don’t want to play against them (see next paragraph) but I want to see them play against each other and show us a lot of really top expert bridge.  But I suppose there is an argument for amateur events.

Then in George Jacobs article something I enjoyed Stacy (his wife?) and a number of mostly very young but talented players won the top flight of a knockout beating a star team Bob Hamman (with Jerry Helms, Berkowitz-Cohen, Levin and Weinstein) as well as a mostly star team which included Meckwell.  I thought that must have been fun.   I would have like to go to Gaitlinburg and I admit lost to teams like that.

Sabine Auken wrote a really fun column where you have to guess who was the young player (18) and who were the older ones based on some hands from a team league she played in.  However, she didn’t get me on the grand slam off an ace.I have seen too many competitive auctions where someone just bids the grand.  

I really like anything Larry Cohen writes.  His "The Real Deal" column is always interesting and its fun to see how an expert can get "got" by a relatively innocent opponent.  I won’t spoil the story for you.

I will spoil one story because I loved this hand.  Barry Rigal wrote a very good article about the Cavendish Pairs.  Here is the hand and see if you can figure out the great defensive play that Bob Hamman made.

  S J8742  
  H 762  
  D K  
  C AKQ9 Hamman
S 65   S KQ109
H 8   H KJ95
D 108743   D Q65
C 87652   C 43
  S A3  
  H AQ1043  
  D AJ92  
  C J10  

South plays in 6H.  The auction is not reported.  West leads the S6 after Bob Hamman has doubled a spade bid.  Declarer wins the SA, cashed the DK and played three rounds of clubs – over to you?

Bob Hamman ruffed with the HK.  If he had ruffed low than South would overruff, ruff a diamond.  Whatever line declare takes now will likely make the contract.  (Try your favourite).  But what did you do when you see the HK.  South did what most of us would do he threw his spade loser.  Now he had a reasonable but losing option.  He played to ruff two diamonds in dummy and drop the HJ.

Of course one special section for me this month was the Book Reviews and there was The Lone Wolff scoring an A++ as the lead off book.  I have to say that I think that the reviewer needs to rethink their marking scheme since another book scored an A++, a series scored an A+ a fourth book scored an A and there was a lonesome B at the end.  It seemed like mark inflation.  Does someone tell the reviewer that pretty well everything has to get an A so give the real A’s an A+?

Nevertheless if you haven’t had a chance to read the Lone Wolff check it out at You can read a long excerpt from it.

Well done Brent.  I have already spent 45 minutes on the darn magazine and I still have lots to go.  I will save it for later.


So here it is 45 minutes later and I still have lots to read.  I will save it for later.  Great job Brent Manley.


PaulJuly 9th, 2008 at 12:26 pm

Yet to receive my copy of the bulletin (it takes its time crossing the pond), but I always find the random use of the stop card at the Nationals unsettling.

In UK tournaments the stop card is always used and the players would be very unhappy if it were removed.

I blame the ACBL for making use of the stop card optional when it is was first introduced. It has always been mandatory here with the introduction of bidding boxes and everyone is happy!

Dave SmithJuly 10th, 2008 at 3:00 pm

The August Bridge Bulletin will have coverage of the Canadian Women’s Team Trials. I’m guessing you might find that interesting, if not painful.

LindaJuly 11th, 2008 at 11:03 am

While it is always a bit painful to lose by a small margin I have moved on. Often a good thing comes out of a bad thing. While I miss playing with Isabelle (we are taking the summer off) I now have the opportunity to learn a forcing club system and play with Colin. Colin is a wonderful player and I learn a lot from him and our discussions. It also has opened up a chance to go to Australia and New Zealand which I am anticipating with some excitement.

It is always interesting to read about an event that you played in and that was important to you. I am happy that Brent has starting to give real coverage to our trials.

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