Before anyone reads the copies of an exchange of mails below, please bear in mind that neither of us anticipated at the time of writing that we would ever want them published.
Bear in mind also that this is a very up-to date story. I was due to partner this 83 year old on Thursday 27th March. He had to cancel at the last minute because he was to go into hospital the next day. He is now recovering at home from that relatively routine operation, and is hoping to be fit enough to partner me on Thursday 7th March 2019. He saw a copy of the draft of the article below to agree or amend. With a request from me that the lasr paragraphs relating to my own innocuous health problem be deleted. On the grounds that it might detract from his plight.
But he insists it should be included to help his cause. So here we go with the uncensored tale.
MY BRIDGE IN LEEDS
I happened to be in Chapel Allerton visiting an old (non bridge playing) friend when I decided to visit the local Club for the first time 18 months ago. A more welcoming and progressive club you could not find. It is also the biggest club I have played at in the UK. With tournaments for all levels. Including sessions that prove challenging for a player who is warming up for another World Championships in Wuhan, China, this coming September.
On Tuesdays and Thursdays, knowledgeable hosts are available for single players. Turning up unannounced, I was introduced to a good player who I shall call Charles to protect his modesty. Although it is not relevant to his play, he has Parkinsons. We played regularly every time I popped back to my new found UK base. But our results never matched the standard we were capable of achieving and which our standard of play deserved. Not, that is, until a year later. That was when I decided it was time to do something about the problem.
Starting with a message from Charles, our mail correspondence copied below gives you some idea of the friendliness and warmth of my reception at the club - and reveals a lot that bridge players ought to know about Parkinsons.
On Fri, Aug 10, 2018 at 10:47 my partner Charles wrote:
"We could have come third with 52%. The others must have played badly too
On 11 August, yours truly replied
"I think our result was a fair one for the way we played. Especially when we got off to such a terrible start.
I probably won`t be back in Leeds for 5 months, but I will look forward to playing with you again on my next visit.
In case you wonder why I enjoy playing with you, it is your joie de vivre. You do your best, never panic or get overawed despite your physical limitations, never dwell on mistakes - and always enjoy your game. Exactly the same philosophy as me. And, yes, I made a couple of big mistakes Thursday, so it would indeed have been 52% without those errors of mine.
Your score should regularly be much higher than it is. With Bob as well. Why do I say that, you may ask. Because if I was ever directing at Leeds (and I have been asked to do so by Leslie and two others), I would not uphold the right of the person who objected to me bidding after you had deliberated two minutes before passing. I won`t go into all the reasons why he was wrong to say what he did. But I will give you an explanation and / or write a letter to your President on the subject if you find it happens again to you. In brief, your physical handicap means you should be exceptionally allowed extra time to make even a pass.
The fact that you passed in no way could have led me to the conclusion that you might have as many as 14 points. Had I thought that, I would have bid 4 spades (rather than 2S) over opponent`s opening two heart bid. In a club which claims to have friendly bridge sessions, that complainant deserves a reprimand from the President for taking advantge of an opponent`s physical handicap to gain an advantage for his side.
Not to mention that incident a year ago where (Mr X) conveniently forgot to change our score from a zero to 100% in the knowledge that neither you or I would make a complaint.
Enough said. Except to say that it all means that you are without doubt a much better player than your scores suggest!!!
Charles then signed off:
"Thanks for your lovely words, you old shmoozer. Thanks for playing with me
All the same, I get the score I deserve"
Fast forward another 6 months:
CASE STUDY 2
NERJA, Malaga, Spain
There were another two sufferers (Parkinsons / Stroke victims) on the little bridge break I had in Nerja last Monday and Tuesday. Fantastic holiday and mentally stimulating. I was able to talk about it frankly to a chosen few because there are at least another four sufferers in the Fuengirola club where I directed last year. One of them, a former Essex county player, came top of the class in over 50% of the tournaments he played at that club in 2017/8.
But the "P" word is (very understandably) as taboo as the "C" word (cancer) for most people at the bridge and dinner tables. With the result that both the sufferers and the fit people are generally frightened to bring the topics up. Again for understandable reasons. If you are one of those, read on.
The day I left Nerja I flew to Leeds again. When Charles was forced to cancel the game I had booked with him the day after my arrival, I unexpectedly had three hours to put pen to paper and wish him a speedy recovery. I continued my mail by asking how he felt about telling his story on my website. To help other Parkinsons victims. Like those in Nerja and Fuengirola. He agreed to do so.
Starting with the rest of my get well message to Charles in hospital last Friday 28/2, the mails these past few days have gone thus:
"...yet sufferers like you are only too happy to talk about their illness. Knowing all about it thanks to you, I have been able to fight your corner to stop other players actually profiting from your illness. But I am sure you can express it in more tactful terms. Then perhaps we can make people realise next Thursday that us winning the comp by 5% was not a flash in the pan. In fact, if there was a handicap prize that gives a fair allowance for disability, you might even win every week at Leeds playing with Bob. (You have my permission to show him this)
On a serious note again. In answer to your query, X ray will show up what it usually shows up after I have been coughing up a lot of blood for several days. Since the age of 14, I have to give my chest a bash 3 times a day, every day. As I have got older, this self inflicted punishment - sometimes for an hour a day in total - causes capillary blood vessels inside to burst. A side effect I have to put up with after contracting a winter virus. Because I was allergic to penicillin.
The quacks I see for the first time in these multi-doctor surgeries always worry about it and suspect lung cancer. It is me that has to comfort the doctors! But I never convince them well enough. So, as also happened this time last year, they insist on wasting health service funds on an X Ray."
End of story.