I attended a
tournament on LI early in 2006 and was playing in what I
call “The Mexican League”(The Sen-Yor Pairs) when I felt
faint. I am diabetic, so I knew I needed food to stabilize
my blood sugar. I left and returned with a snack. Next
round, a woman arrived at the table and, after a moment,
said, “That Stinks.”
I replied, “I’ll be
done in a moment.” That didn’t help, however, as the
complaining continued. “It smells,” said the woman. “I
guess you don’t care who you offend!”
I placed my snack on
the floor and started bidding. By chance, I was the next
dummy, so I finished my food, drawing a final, somewhat
louder complaint: “That Stunk!"
Care to guess what
the offending food was. No, not a tuna sandwich. Nor was
it cabbage or anything with onion. It was—are you ready?—a
My wife Janet and I
take pride in dealing with husband and wife issues as they
relate to bridge. Whether our result at the table is good
or bad, we try hard to say nothing. About 10 years ago
playing in a regional Swiss teams in the NYC area, this
philosophy was put to the test.
In the seventh
round, we played against Steve Weinstein and Fred Stewart,
ACBL Players of the year for 1995. On the second board
Janet and I royally screwed up the defense against a
vulnerable 4H, and there was no doubt that we had lost 13
imps. But Janet and I said nothing and slogged on. We
completed the match, losing by a few imps. After Fred and
Janet left the table, Steve congratulated me for the way
we handled the bad result. I didn’t have a chance to
As things happened,
it was our day to win. I bumped into Steve in the bar that
night. Again, he congratulated me on our deportment. I
responded by laughing uproariously. “What’s so funny?”
Steve asked. I had to tell them the truth:
“The reason that Janet and I said nothing after blowing
the 13 imps was that we had a big fight this morning, and
we weren’t speaking to each other!”
Rewards of Teaching
I gave a lesson on Key Card Blackwood and my eager
students had these hands to negotiate:
♦ KQx ♦
They bid the hand beautifully:
(1) strong spade raise
(2) Key cards?
(3) 0-3 (its easier to learn 0-3/1-4
(4) Got the queen of spades?
(5) Yes, I do
(6) If you do, I have no losers.
almost. To try to sneak in a card-combination lesson into
this slam hand, I split the opposing spades 4-1, with Jxxx
being in the hand to the right of the declarer. If the
declarer plays off the K-Q of spades, the void is revealed
and the marked finesse against the remaining Jx should be
this declarer played off the ace of spades first and their
expert-like bidding went for naught as the hand could no
longer be made.
“Nice try”, I encouraged.
we discussed the wisdom of preserving a finesse
position(known as a tennace) for as long as possible.
went on to the next hand.
with the wisdom of finesses, my students bid beautifully
again on the next hand—they bid to 7S again on the
(2) encouraging for slam
(3) Key Cards?
(4) 2, but no queen
(5) Here we go again
declarer won the diamond J lead in her hand, crossed to
the ace of clubs and led the 5 of spades from dummy.
Recalling the importance of finesses, when second hand
followed with the 6, declarer finessed the 8!
It won the trick!
When I got
home I asked Janet to pour me a LARGE drink—I had another
class to teach that night.
the first session of a pair game at a regional tournament
I happened to hear two players—obviously
partners—discussing the first session. One of them kept
looking at their convention card, repeatedly turning it
over and back, over and back. As he did he asked his
partner with a furrowed brow: “I thought we agreed to play
Long ago, a
woman at our club committed an infraction such that her
partner was barred from the rest of the auction. So, she
had to guess the best final contract for the partnership.
Well, she had quite a good hand—a NT hand—and after
several seconds of thought you could tell the “light bulb”
went off and her face lit up. After her RHO opened the
bidding with a pass, she made her choice:
December 22, 2006 director Karen Ewald posted a scoresheet
on the Franklin Bridge Centre (Franklin Square, NY) bulletin
board for all to see--one of the most amazing you’ll ever
come across. No one could say it was a “dull board.” Nor,
could anyone blame such a hand on “those damn computer
deals.” It was hand shuffled. The actual layout is lost for
antiquity, but at least we can preserve the results:
Pair # Pair #
Contract By Made Down NS
1 4 6♥x E
2 6 5♠x N 5
3 8 5♥x E
4 1 5♠x N
5 3 4♠x N 4
6 5 4♠x N 4
7 7 5♥x E
An observation: I
don’t know the hand, but from the scoresheet perhaps we can
conclude that 4S by North could always be made. However,
the score NS achieved when table 4 played 4S make me believe
that that particular North is a bit declarer-challenged and
maybe could use the benefit of my services!
Where are the
Many years ago
I was playing with a student. My left- hand opponent opened
1NT(15-17) and all passed. The dummy was ordinary and the
play perfunctory. However I did notice that spades hadn’t
been played much and not many were in sight. So after the
hand was over I asked my partner to show me her hand. When I
saw what it was I asked: “Why didn’t you bid your spades?”
defiantly said she had done what I had told her. She said:
“Mel, you said that to use Cappelletti I need to have at
least 10 high card points. I have only 8.”
Well, that was
true enough. In those days to that student I suggested a 10
HCP minimum as a general proposition. So she had done
right, sort of. The onoy problem with her thinking was that
she had more spades than points—she had 9!
About 15 years
ago an ederly woman named Paulie Rainer was playing in a
duplicate game one Sunday at our local club out on Long
Island. By chance, I was playing there, too. In the middle
of the game, Paulie—easily then in her eighties—gasped once
or twice and toppled over!
No kidding, Paulie
was in distress.
someone quickly called 911 and in a flash two paramedics
came charging into the club to aid poor Paulie.
She was lying
on her back on the floor, breathing thank God, when they
arrived. One of them wanted to administer something of aid
to Paulie and asked her preventively: “I want to give
you[such and such] are you allergic? Do you have a history
a beat, Paulie replied:
[It’s a true
story. I was there and heard her say it. Paulie lived
several years more before passing away, peacefully I am told]
A friend of
mine once complained to me that he’s given up preempting
while playing with his then favorite partner. “Whenever I
preempt”, he lamented, “partner puts down a singleton--and
when he has a doubleton, he raises me!”
At the World
Championships in Montreal in 2002, a bunch of us were
having a great meal at a fabulous go-to-as-many-of the
restaurants. Somehow the conversation turned away from
bridge and to--of all things—shower techniques. More
specifically the question arose:
done showering what part of your body do you dry first and
then in what order do you continue.
person to answer said, “well, first I do my mid section
then I go up to my head and then down to my legs—sort of
MUD style: middle, up, down. The next and last one to
respond sheepishly reported that he did his head first and
worked down from there-—“Top of Nothing” is the way he
NYC Reisingers KO has been kind to me. Over the years I
have reached the final seven times and have won it twice.
I guess that sort of makes me the bridge version of the
In one of my
early appearances in this event, I was facing a strong
team and as the first half moved along it was becoming
increasingly clear that my partner and I were not having a
good day. (left hook) Lose 12! (right cross) Lose 8!
(Uppercut) lose 13! Board after board. It never seemed to
By the time the
first half ended and I staggered away from the table, I
estimated (VERY optimistically) that I was down at least
45 imps. Oh, well, maybe my teammates had a good card and
we’d have some chance for a comeback in the second half.
But as those
thoughts crossed my mind, my teammate, Gene Prosnitz,
waddled across the room with the plaintiff cry:
we need help!
withdrew down 93.
January, 2005, I held in 3rd position:
wrong, I decided to open 2♦—my
version of a 3rd seat non-vulnerable weak
two-bid. My left-hand opponent overcalled 2♠
and it went p-p-p. My partner led the ace of diamonds and
a surprising dummy hit:
support! I guess the dummy never heard the old adage:
“Support With Support.” But I guess my partner (student)
hadn’t heard of it either because she held:
Has my dummy
play gotten that bad??!! Not even a little boost to 3♦?
4-card trump support and a side void??!!
bidder and I decided to form a law firm, Cohen and
Colchamiro. Our ads will read:
We sue for
In the Nationals
in St. Louis in 1997, my wife Janet had the following
right-hand opponent opened 1H and vulnerable vs not
vulnerable, she bid 4♦—at
different colors she might well have bid 5♦.
Anyway, her left-hand opponent bid 4♥
and it went p-p-p.
enterprising sort, Janet went for the “newspaper” lead—the
5 of diamonds, trying to get Mel on lead for a spade ruff.
But the first trick went rather strangely: It went
5,3,4,2! She couldn’t get off lead!
was the full hand:
♠ QJxx ♠
I guess The
declarer, “Tussie” (Alan Susskind) thought he was on
defense and was just following the “rules:”
2nd Hand Low!
story was told to me long ago by my old friend National
Champion Ronnie Blau)
Way back in the
1970s, Ronnie decided to go into NYC (he lives on Long
Island) to “kibitz” the finals of the local Reisingers,
the very strong NY area KO that has been contested each
year to this day since 1929, as part of the oldest
continuously played regional in the US, The Eastern States
Regional--played on Memorial Day weekend each year in
Just before his
ride came to pick him up, Ronnie’s wife, Honey, asked
Ronnie “Dear, can you give me some money. I’m a little
short.?” Of course Ronnie did, but that left him with only
a $100 bill—real money in those days (not that it’s
So off Ronnie
went to Manhattan and Kibitzed—and Kibitzed and Kibitzed.
The match was going on forever. Finally in frustration—and
long after his car ride back to LI had already left,
Ronnie decided to leave. His choices were the Long Island
Railroad or a cab. Ronnie decided to take a cab.
that he had only a $100 bill and anticipating that the
cabby might not be able to make change, he went over to
the legendary Hall of Famer Al Roth to ask for change.
he asked: “Mr. Roth, do you have change of $100? “No”
replied Al. “But,” he continued, “See that man over
there?”(Pointing to the gambler, raconteur and flamboyant
Hall of Famer Johnny Crawford)? “Ask Crawford. He always
carries a bundle.”
So off Ronnie
went and again deferentially asked: “Excuse me Mr.
Crawford. Do you have change of $100?” Crawford looked
back at Ronnie and, with some derision in voice, growled,
“son, $100 is change!”
What’s in a
story was told to me about 10 years ago by New Englander
and long time player Frank Mastrola]
For many years
serious bridge players have amused themselves (over adult
beverages) by concocting "All-Time Teams". That is, teams
of players sharing a similar characteristic e.g. The All
Tall Team, The All-Heavyweight Team, etc. These teams must
be made up of ACBL members who live in the USA. One of my
favorites is the All-Funny Names Team.
One of my
friends from Delaware was a gentleman named
Orlin Norder, who's
wife's Name was
and Orpha Norder,
had a bridge playing friend from New England by the name
of Norbert Fessle. They asked Norbert to select a partner
that would "fit" their team of four for a regional KO
Teams event. Norbert phoned them a few days later and told
them "Mission accomplished".
The day of the
event he introduced them to his selected partner from
South Carolina Hapholt Neuffer. Thus, was created the team
and Orpha Norder,
Norbert Fessel and
Just imagine Tom
Brokaw trying to pronounce that on the evening news!