Hakan Berk, president of the University of Maryland Bridge Club, recently sent in this update on University of Maryland bridge.
1. UMD Bridge Team Competed in Collegiate NABC in August
The UMD Bridge Team qualified to compete in Atlanta during the last school year. Six members won a fully paid flight and hotel with $200 stipend each. The Terps were very close to making the top 8 and the quarterfinals, but alas they were knocked out. Overall the experience for the team was very positive. Here are responses from team members providing feedback about their experiences.
2. UMD Adding Sunday Practice
After coming back from Atlanta, the team was motivated to try to be a top-four team in 2019; just attending the tournament was no longer enough. Therefore they started a Sunday bridge club practice (3-5pm) for members looking to up their game to the next level in addition to the weekly meetings. These were really productive, as it gave a lot more time to go into necessary bidding conventions such as New Minor Forcing, 4th Suit Forcing, Smolen, Lebensohl, etc. A core group attends these meetings and wants to compete again in the Collegiate competition in the spring semester.
3. Bridge Course at UMD
Through a long process, Hakan was able to get a math course approved through a program called STIC (Student Instructed Courses). It is a 1-credit course that meets once a week that will cover probability and bridge, and how the two are intertwined. February update: The class is now completely full, with 20 students (a number of whom are learning bridge for the first time)! Hakan looks forward to a fun semester teaching this class.
4. Next Steps
As next semester is Hakan's final semester at the University of Maryland, the next steps are to help qualify the team for the next Collegiates and to find a successor who will be running the club next year. While the club may not be as geared towards teaching, just having a place for students to practice and play bridge will be optimal.
Congratulations to Stephan Billstein, Lloyd Bowling, Ivy Broder, Terry Coates, Daniel Friedman, Gale Greenbaum, Jacqueline Leifer, Steven Leifer, Shaye Hester, John Horner, Joanne Massey Howes, Robert Kerr, Bob Lawrence, Gerald Lerner, Linda Meade, James Metzger, Judith Perrier, Sarath Silva, Brian Sutton, Barry Tash, and Barbara Teng. All of these players became life masters during 2018. A few of them have shared their stories of their journeys to life master status. If you are a 2018 new life master and would like to have your bridge story added to this item, please email it to Ldajmarshall@msn.com.
Steve and Jacki Leifer met 44 years ago while playing social bridge in law school at Cornell. Steve asked Jacki up to his dorm room to see his bridge books, she amazingly fell for that line, and yada yada yada, 3 years later they were married. They played social bridge for a couple of years, but then experienced a bridge hiatus for a couple of decades while raising their two sons, Brad and Daniel, and focusing on their legal careers. When they reconnected with the game, they realized that basic Charlie Goren bridge was a thing of the ancient past, so they took a few lessons and eventually summoned up the nerve to try duplicate. Jacki is still practicing with the firm of Feldesman Tucker Leifer Fidell in downtown DC. She represents community health centers all over the country, serves as General Counsel to the National Association of Community Health Centers, and teaches at George Washington University. Steve is blissfully unemployed, having recently retired from the firm of Baker Botts, where in his most recent position he served as Chair of the Environmental Department. Steve and Jacki live in Potomac, MD and generally play on weekends at the Rockville Duplicate Bridge Club. They also play at several North Carolina clubs when they visit their home in Holden Beach.
Bob Lawrence discovered bridge during his last year in college. He learned the then popular bidding conventions, 4-card majors with frequent psychs (his favorite bid) and then Kaplan-Scheinwold (K-S was more disciplined but less exciting). After college, he played for a few years learning new conventions like the Goren's version of Precision and a bit about card playing technique. He even won the Montgomery County recreation department pairs bridge tournament. But the need to earn a living and raise a family caused him to part ways with duplicate bridge and he dropped out of the bridge scene and out of the ACBL.
Forty or so years later, Bob again discovered duplicate bridge, with all of the changes during the last 40 years. Mark Lavine of the Rockville Duplicate Bridge Club kindly arranged a number of partners for Bob, and ultimately he found two: Rick, who helps Bob with declarer play and defense, and Barbara who schools Bob in bidding. Bob rejoined the ACBL and set off with two other non life masters all trying to improve. Within 2 years Rick became a life master and Barbara soon thereafter.
When Bob rejoined the ACBL, the ACBL didn't have a record of his prior masterpoints. In cleaning out the basement, however, Bob found an old postcard from ACBL showing his 75 masterpoints from the '70's and was able tohave them reinstated. Last March Bob read the CEO Corner column of the ACBL Bulletin and learned that at the 2017 fall meeting, the ACBL Board decided to allow members who had joined prior to 2010 but whose membership had lapsed at some point to return to the old 300 point limit for life master. Due to this change more than 11,000 active members of ACBL benefited and 476 active members instantly became Life Masters. ACBL had somehow not applied that rule to Bob, though. But Bob had kept that postcard from the basement, and was able to show that he was a member before 2010. Bob became Instant Life Master #477! Bob, Rick, and Barbara are still enjoying the game and trying to improve.
When Linda Meade relocated from NY to NC for graduate school, the transition was traumatic. To native Carolinians, it was like an alien had invaded. Her thoughts about the local inhabitants were even less charitable. The only place she seemed to fit in was at a café where people gathered to play bridge. The amount of beer consumed did not help the level of play, but it was fun and Linda made friends.
Linda met her future husband for the first time at a duplicate game. Linda and her partner bid Blackwood incorrectly. The opponents misdefended the hand as a consequence, Linda and her partner got a top, and Linda's future husband was livid about the outcome. Two years later they met again, Linda forgot the unpleasantness of their first meeting, and they started dating. As the relationship progressed, their home life was happier if they played with other partners.
Bridge took precedence over scholastic responsibilities and probably delayed Linda's graduate degree by a year. Working and raising three children interfered with Linda's bridge life, and Linda didn’t play for about 35 years. Linda started playing in the novice game at Ohr Kodesh about 3 years ago and really appreciated the support Brian and Lois provided during that period. Barb Doran fixed Linda up with a partner for the local NAP finals and despite the fact that we had fewer than 50 points between us, we came in first in the under 500 flight. Oddly enough, our win involved another Blackwood misunderstanding (Linda's partner mistook her 6NT signoff as asking for queens, but fortunately 7NT made for a top). The District sent them to Reno, where they didn't qualify for the second day.
Now semi-retired, Linda plays way too much bridge and has many wonderful partners, most of whom have taken lessons and are very patient with Linda's lack of knowledge of formal bidding “rules.” Linda still doesn't play with her husband.
Judith Perrier is excited to have achieved the rank of life master, and has identified several key aspectsof her bridge practice that stand out as being valuable to her developing bridge path. First, she benefitted from selecting a supportive mentor who played with her in club games and tournaments and suggested conventions that improved partnership communication. In particular, she have been fortunate to establish a partnership with Aaron Navarro who provided helpful post-mortem analyses of challenging hands and inspired her to push forward when the chips were down. Second, she observed that her performance at the bridge table improved from reading good bridge materials, such as books by Dorothy Hayden Truscott and Eddie Kantor as well as the ACBL Bulletin. Third, she selects and retains considerate partners who are supportive and practice good bridge etiquette. A good poker face is a high priority. In balancing out the ecstasy of winning a game, she has also worked hard to learn from her mistakes and focus on the lure of the next game. Finally, as she continues to work her way to the next milestone of bronze life master, I find I benefit from a restful night’s sleep as well as a good herbal memory formula.
Gerald Lerner started playing bridge in 1959 while in high school and started a bridge club there. Gerald played in his first sectional at 16 and continued through college. He then had a 45 year diversion for his career as a systems engineer, and raising three kids, virtually no “live” bridge until the 2016 Washington DC Nationals where he won a two-session event and got his first colored points since college. He still plays online, and in a recent sectional with friends from my high school bridge.
Ivy Broder learned bridge by watching her parents’ social games and reading Sheinwold’s “52 Weeks to Winning Bridge.” As an early teen, Ivy played a few duplicate games with her Dad at the Summit Hotel in Manhattan and once at a tournament in Asbury Park, NJ. She was thrilled whenever they didn’t end up in last place. She tried the Bridge Club at Bronx HS of Science, but didn't stick with it because, as the only girl, she wasn't well-received. After a 45 year hiatus, in 2009, Ivy began playing twice a week for 4 months a year in Anguilla, where she started spending winters. Anguilla is a tiny island in the Caribbean with a rich bridge tradition. After her team won first place in an eastern Caribbean tournament in 2016, she decided to give bridge a try back in DC. Ivy was incredibly lucky to find some very experienced players who were willing to partner with a “newbie” with only 20+ MP. Within a year, she developed partnerships with other NLMs and began attending tournaments. The summer of 2018 was an especially good bridge season: Ivy and Linda Meade were first in one of the Gold Rush pair events in Reston, and Ivy and Bill Lowry were first in two team events in Atlanta (a 2-day KO and a Swiss event). Ivy also won lots of gold and red points with Bob O’Connor, Julie Marquette and Dave Espo in area regionals. Ivy highly recommends Anguilla for anyone thinking about a Carribean vacation with both beautiful beaches and ACBL-sanctioned bridge games.