Charleston Bridge Club
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A Fond Farewell to the The Grand Dame

After Mary told us about Reese's most recent triumphs and clever thoughts and about what was happening in the lives of her granddaughters, she would tell you about the most recent grand slam she bid.  Mary sniffed out grands the way a retriever sniffs out prey.  She was often the only person in the room who found them and one of the things she was exuberant about.  At the game on Thursday, her regular partner Vicki or as Mary referred to her - "My Vicki" - found the grand and bid it.  Her partner, Mary, another one made it.    When Vicki called me over to show me the score, I instantly flashed to Mary Carden delightedly showing me score sheets with grands.

Mary loved many things about her life and she shared them all.  She was a regular on Thursdays, playing bridge with her Vicki and bidding her grands.  Mary, we miss you.!

Last updated : Jun 29, 2016 16:53 CDT
So Much More Than Masterpoints

“How many Master points did you get?”  or “I got x number of master points.”  The number of attendance points, I mean master points doled out is not the be all and end all of an experience at a tournament.  Bridge is one of the few sports where one can play against and learn from the best for the price of admission.   A letter to the editor in the June 2016 ACBL Bridge Bulletin p.8 does a wonderful job describing what it means to participate in a tournament for the experience.

Mind over masterpoints

So we lost at the Reno NABC and had a rewarding time doing it.  Playing against more skillful and experienced players, it was my most successful “losing” effort to date.  Carol Dweck’s book “Mindset” discusses the difference between approaching challenges of all kinds with a fixed mindset versus a growth mindset.  She writes that a fixed mindset is defined by an outcome.  Challenge and interest go hand in hand and challenge is why so many of us initially got hooked on this fantastic game.  With a growth mindset value comes from the challenge and from learning, regardless of the outcome.  Success and thrills come from learning but not from being flawless or winning it all.

        Success by points and outcomes at the table is not the way any of us started learning bridge.  The ACBL’s effort to make masterpoints more available at all levels of play is catering to the notion that we all have a fixed mindset approach to the game.  Dweck feels it is important to ditch the notion that validation comes from success (masterpoints won).

        My partner and I made it to day two of the Silodor Open Pairs and the Jacoby Open Swiss Teams.  I did not expect either.  We did not end up in the overalls in either event, but we did have a full four days of experiences.  We had a “Meckwellian response” auction against Rodwell and Meckstroth.  Team Zimmermann told us they played everything standard but, of course, with a variable 1NT.  I declared a tough 4ª against Team Garozzo.  We defended a hand against Kit Woolsey whose book on defense I was reading on the way to Reno.  John Kranyak gave me a comment about a suit combination that I now know.  Fred Stewart bid a lovely grand slam against us.  All the teams on day two knew we were strangers to that event, and they could not have been more cordial or well-wishing.

        A fixed mindset thrives when things are safely within its grasp at the local club, in gold rush pairs or playing only in your bracket.  A growth mindset puts itself out there and grows.  The stars of the world in tennis, soccer or gold do not welcome you to their venue.  All of our national and local stars are willingly and cordially there to play against you in NABCs, regionals and sectionals if you want to play against them.  The ACBL invites us all to sit at the table with the pros.  This offers all bridge players a unique opportunity to rediscover the growth mindset that engaged us in the first place and banish that fatiguing and strangling fixed mindset.

        Move up.  Play up and take pride in your accomplishments that are never going to be measured by masterpoints, trophies or your name in the Bridge Bulletin.”


I am so happy that I cut my teeth when events were flighted.  This means that all the As Bs and Cs played in separate events, not together.  One never had to leave their flight and could always play against similar master point holders.  But and this is what makes bridge so special, one was always allowed to “play up”.  A C player could enter a Flight A event.  As a new player I played in Flight A events as soon as I learned that I was allowed to do so.  I rarely took home masterpoints.  Instead I learned, got trounced and learned some more.  I learned to measure progress as beating one pair on one hand. 

Playing bridge is so much more than masterpoints.  Next time ask someone returning from a tournament to tell you about a lead they made, or a hand they played.  Ask them if they played any of the greats.  Put the focus back on bridge.



Last updated : Aug 4, 2016 21:34 CDT
What is a Legal No Trump Opening Bid?

I received an email quoted below from the ACBL defining opening notrump bids.  If you open notrump with a singleton please read so that your bid is legal.

Opening 1NT with a singleton:  It’s officially legal

The ACBL Board of Directors removed a legal gray area surrounding semi-balanced notrump openers when it approved a change to the definition of a notrump opening in the General Convention Chart. The change allows players to open 1NT with hands that include a singleton ace, king or queen, as long as they do not also contain a doubleton.

Here is the new definition, effective Aug. 1:

A notrump opening or overcall is natural if, by agreement, it contains no void, at most one singleton which must be the A, K or Q and no more than two doubletons. If the hand contains a singleton, it may have no doubleton.”

This includes hand patterns such as 5-4-3-1, 6-3-3-1 and 4-4-4-1, in addition to those that were previously allowed, such as 4-3-3-3, 5-3-3-2 and 5-4-2-2.

The change was recommended by the Competitions and Conventions Committee, a group of players appointed by the Board, in an effort to bring regulations in line with popular and expert practice, said ACBL Field Manager Sol Weinstein, who supervises tournament directors.

Before, opening notrump with a singleton was considered a psych. It was legal to do, but players could not have an agreement to open such hands 1NT or 2NT. The lack of clarity was a thorny issue for directors.

“Many players were doing it anyway,” Weinstein said, particularly when a different opening would create a problematic rebid. “They decided it’s not right to have a rule that’s contrary to the way bridge is being played.” The idea of expanding the definition has been discussed for years within the committee, but previous proposals have failed because they lacked the simplicity of the new definition.

“The Laws don’t allow you to limit bridge judgment,” Weinstein explained. “Regulations have to conform to the Laws.”

The new definition prohibits opening notrump with more shapely hands, such as 5-5-2-1, 6-4-2-1 or 7-2-2-2.  “All of this has to do with your agreements,” Weinstein noted. “That doesn’t prohibit an out-and-out psych, but you can’t keep doing that or it becomes an agreement, and an illegal one at that.”

The change does not impact the one allowable exception of a partnership agreement where 1NT is treated as a 100% forcing opening bid (and not considered “natural” with any distribution).  The use of such an unbalanced, non-natural 1NT opening must be alerted.


Last updated : Jan 9, 2017 08:07 CST
Lois and Tim Only Pair to Find Slam on Board 15

Finding a small slam is really tough on this hand, but first time partnership Lois and Tim did.  I don't know how their auction went, but this is one possibility.

Last updated : Sep 10, 2017 18:38 CDT
Grandly bid by David and Jennifer

David and Jennifer were the only pair to find the grand.  Following is one possible auction.

2♣ Game forcing   2 Second suit

2 Stronger than 4  2♠ First round spade control

3♣ First round club control   3 First round diamond control

4  2nd round diamond control  4♠ Second round control of spades

4NT 1430  5NT Even number of controls with a useful void.  The void must be clubs. hearts and diamonds are natural, The auction has shown first and second round spade controls and an even number of controls.  The only two controls East can have are diamonds and spades since West has the other three controls.  Therefore, the void must be clubs.

7 Count tricks.  3♠ 5 2 3♣  Ace and ruff  2 clubs in dummy for 15 tricks.

Another possible auction is to start with Jacoby 2NT if your partnership agreements allow you to use it with hands this strong.  This has the advantage of identifying the club shortness.


Last updated : Sep 10, 2017 18:39 CDT
Jeanette's Great Bid.

April 6 STaC using The Common Game Hands

Only 67 of 1071 pairs found the diamond slam on this hand. Thanks to Jeanette's use of a splinter to show her diamond support and shortness, we were one of those pairs for 94% of the matchpoints..  She splintered over the 2  response by making a double jump shift in clubs.  North bid hearts to show first round control and Jeanette asked for aces. 

1♠  2 
4♣  4 
4NT 5♣ 


Last updated : Sep 10, 2017 18:39 CDT
Power Rankings

Masterpoints are oftentimes referred to as attendance points and are not a good measure of how well a partnership or person plays.  Chris Champion devised the Power Ranking Scale in an effort to more accurately predict how well a person plays.  When you play better than the total of your masterpoints indicate in the Power Ranking System you are deemed an underrated Pair or player.  Following are the most underrated pairs in Unit 227 as of Sept 9, 2017. 

Most underrated pairs with at least 15 games togather
Rank UR PR/MP's MP's PairR Name Rank UR PR/MP's MP's PairR Name
1 10.75 2677 75 52.73 AKHTAR, Masood - REDDY, Palle 11 3.61 151 45 44.06 McJUNKIN, Mary - RUBIN, Sharon
2 7.27 4008 482 53.86 WHITEHEAD, Mark - HUGGER, Mark 12 3.19 22830 4821 57.60 COLE, Paul - GILPIN, Tom
3 6.62 570 57 47.68 MULLETT, Carolyn - LUKENS, Karen 13 2.87 4581 2136 54.83 ALTMAN, Nancy - ALTMAN, Arthur
4 6.35 31227 5563 61.76 OLSON, Ellen - OLSON, James 14 2.85 4309 1997 54.58 MASON, Frederick - DYER, Douglas
5 5.95 1494 204 50.79 SAMPLES, Mick - CAVENDER, Steve 15 2.44 3383 1743 53.30 SINGLETON, Robert - McCLURE, Lucille
6 5.26 182 21 44.52 ANDREWS, Frank - ANDREWS, Joyce 16 2.19 570 272 47.77 LEROY, Julia - CONNELLY, Georgette
7 4.92 331 61 46.17 RUBIN, Wendy - RUBIN, Richard 18 1.07 4259 3467 54.54 COLE, Paul - WARD, Bob
8 4.26 4373 1333 54.24 MUELLER, Gerard - COLE, Paul 19 0.99 1530 1152 49.99 HALL, Richard - SOHMA, Katsumi
9 3.96 12995 4948 58.50 OLSON, James - OLSON, David 20 0.97 1406 1033 49.82 CASTLE, Brenda - JOHNSON, Margaret
10 3.76 9607 3559 56.53 FOSTER, Charles - BOYD, Mary 21 0.95 1390 1063 50.46 SEAVER, Anne - CARTER, Judith


Learn more about the Power Ranking System

Last updated : Oct 26, 2017 20:28 CDT
STaC Results

Wow Congratulations

Overall STaC Results 36 Tables

A B C    
4th 4th   Mary Boyd Charlie Foster
7th 5th 1st Masood Akhtar Palle Reddy
    4th Charlie Dunn Ed Lewis
    6th Cookie Glasser Vicki Johnson


Last updated : Oct 26, 2017 20:30 CDT