Unit 141 Newsletter        December 2011

   Philadelphia Contract Bridge Association


In This Issue

  • December Doings 

  • Sleepless in... 

  • Reunion

  • Masters Points

  • 0-99 Success!

  • Sponsorships

  • In Memoriam

  • Table Tips

  • Club News
  • Upcoming Events


    District 4 STaC

    December 5-11


    Dave Treadwell Sectional

    December 27-31


    Conshohocken Sectional

    January 6-8


    Unit 190 STaC

    February 6-12


    Valley Forge Regional

    February 27-March 4


    Send your comments and suggestions for future articles to Allison Brandt at allison@dovetailpress.com

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    December Doings


    collageCold weather means it's time to find indoor entertainment

    and that can mean only thing--bridge!


    Look for a game during STaC week, December 5-11. Silver points will be available at most local clubs. Check with your director for schedules and details. 


    Sleepless in Seattle
    Bill Gates
    Yes, Bill Gates made an appearance at the Seattle Nationals.
    A three-hour time change meant that any intrepid Unit 141ers who made the trip to the Seattle Nationals were finishing play each day at around 2:30 AM Eastern time. It was worth the late hours, though, since Seattle was a great host city.
    A number of local players earned fine results in the tough NABC+ events. You can read those results and other features in the ACBL Daily Bulletins found online.


    Seattle Reunion Leads to Victory
    With a total of 4900 points, Howard Kahlenberg's Knockout team in Seattle landed in Bracket 3. The total points, however, didn't accurately describe the humorous and disparate spread among the team members. According to Kahlenberg, "Two of our teammates had 2600 and 2100 points, but the other two had 200 points and 0."
    The team reunited a group of old friends, most of whom met and learned bridge 20 years ago at Penn. All of them except Kahlenberg, who lives in Philly, now live in and work in Seattle.
    Distance, time, and low masterpoint totals were no issue for this team. They easily survived an initial 3-way and then won every comparison in their head-to-head matches en route to victory and 17 gold points.


    Masters Points
    Our conversations with the Unit's top players
    This month, the Unit 141 Newsletter debuts a new regular feature. We have the great honor of interviewing top Unit 141 players about their experience, history, and thoughts on the game we all love. We kick off the series with bridge champions, teachers, and Philadelphia residents, JoAnn and Danny Sprung.
    JoAnn's many accomplishments include a championship in the World Mixed Teams and back-to-back wins in the National Mixed Pairs (with Ken Cohen and Danny). She is a Woman's International Life Master. Danny has won the National Mixed Pairs and is a World Master.
    During this interview, we were lucky enough to be visited by the Sprung's friends, former Unit 141ers, and Rosenblum World Champions John Diamond and Brian Platnick. You will see their comments sprinkled throughout the interview as well.


    141: How did you start playing bridge?
    JoAnn Sprung: I was going to college and sitting in a commuters' lounge when a group dealt me in. They all started yelling at me while we played, but that didn't stop me.
    Danny Sprung: I started by watching my parents.


    141: What is your most memorable win?
    JoAnn: Winning the National Mixed Pairs with Danny.
    Danny: Winning the National Mixed Pairs with JoAnn. But JoAnn's World Championship win in Philly last year was a big deal too.
    141: What's your favorite convention?
    JoAnn: Good-Bad Two No Trump
    Danny: We play transfers after a 1 club opening so I'd say that. But I think that everyone should play the "Keller" convention, which means that you should be like Helen Keller at the table: blind to your partner's mistakes, deaf to criticism, and dumb about giving it.

    John Diamond: Drury

    Brian Platnick: Blackwood


    141: What do you think is the worst convention? What won't you play?

    JoAnn: 2 hearts as a double negative over a 2 club opening.

    Danny: Puppet Stayman and coded 9s and 10s. I'm not crazy about Bergen raises either.


    141: You have both played bridge with a lot of great and interesting players. Other than your spouse, who is your favorite partner?

    JoAnn: Betty Ann Kennedy

    Danny: Paul Lewis


    141: From a fan's perspective, who is your all-time favorite player?

    JoAnn: Sidney Lazard, he is a true gentleman.

    Danny: Benito Garazzo


    141: And what if you could only play one more round of bridge. Living or dead, what player would you pick as your partner?

    JoAnn: Benito Garazzo

    Danny: Well, if Benito is taken, I might pick Howard Schenken.

    Brian: Jeff Meckstroth


    141: You're both teachers. What do you like about teaching?

    JoAnn: I get to talk...

    Danny: ...and people listen [laughter].

    JoAnn: I also like entertaining and the interaction you have with people.

    Danny: I like it when you see the lightbulb go on for a student.


    141: Bridge isn't always smooth sailing. What pet peeves do you have at the table?

    JoAnn: Card snapping!

    Danny: Equivocators - opponents who won't given you a straight answer when you ask them a question at the table.

    Brian: People who won't stop "post-morteming" at the table.


    141: What's your best bridge tip for advancing players?

    JoAnn: Bid no-trump before the opponents do.

    Danny: "Push 'em to 3 and let 'em be."

    Brian: Don't think about the last hand.


    141: What is your best idea for how to improve the game for the future?

    JoAnn: There are too many tounaments and events within tournaments. Have fewer events at all levels.

    Danny: Have schools offer bridge as a for-credit college course.

    John: Do more to encourage younger people to play.


    141: So let's jump ship for a minute and talk about something other than bridge. What's your favorite food and drink?

    JoAnn: Chocolate; Rombauer chardonnay

    Danny: French fried potatoes; port


    141: Aside from something bridge-related, what would like to learn to do?

    JoAnn: Make the perfect souffle.

    Danny: Play the piano.


    141: We can't thank you enough for sharing your thoughts with us!

    JoAnn and Danny: Our pleasure.


    Overflow Attendence Makes 0-99 Tournament a Huge Success


    Unit 141 held its first ever 0-99 Sectional on November 14-15 in Doylestown and the combination of careful planning and player enthusiasm made it a runaway success.
    When coordinator Jane Ball first floated the idea, skeptics told her that people with under 100 points would not jump at the opportunity. "I kept hearing that we would be lucky to get about 6 tables." With Ball's careful planning and enthusiastic marketing, however, she smashed that expectation. At the end of the two-day tournament, the sectional had drawn over 100 tables. A second site was needed to accommodate the overflowing crowds.


    The Sectional included lectures by local professionals, experienced volunteers to act as guides and answer questions, four sessions of play, a lovely catered lunch, goody bags, and prizes.
    The tournament drew players from as far as Florida and Olympia, WA. Some players had never participated in a tournament before and appreciated the relaxed atmosphere where they could learn about bidding boxes, movements, and scoring. For many players, it was the first time they ever won a masterpoint and were thrilled by the experience.
    Most of the newcomers have requested a repeat performance and are waiting for Jane Ball to catch her breath and start planning again.

    A selection of tournament photos is shown here. To see all of the pictures, click this link to the District 4 website.
    Naomi Griffin and Hedy Shavel


    Russell McKinney and Diane Pennett


    Anne Cheney and Josephine Ferguson


    Art Simons and Fred Kurz


    David Hallman and Constance Abel


    Gail Bishop and Dorothy Disney


    Maryann Whitman, Naomi Griffin, and instructor Joann Glasson


    Summer 2012 Philly Nationals Provides Unique Holiday Gift Option


    Looking for an unusual holiday gift for your favorite bridge player? Tired of getting a fruitcake or razor yourself? Here's a special gift opportunity available because the Summer Nationals arrive in Philadelphia July 12-22, 2012. You can name a regional event in honor of your favorite bridge player or have one named for you.
    Naming an event supports bridge and expresses appreciation for the game and the player you choose to honor. The gift includes the player's name in all print and online schedules, a short write-up in the bulletin, a holiday card acknowledgement (for orders made by December 19), and more.
    A variety of packages is available, starting at $100 for a single-session event. For additional details and information, check out the information on the District 4 website or contact April Uhlenburg at auhlenburg@gmail.com or (484) 639-2610.


    In Memoriam


    Bridge player, teacher, and director Edie (Edith) Dockray died on November 16, 2011. Edie was the wife of fellow bridge player John Dockray. She was involved in both the Bridge Club of Delaware County and the Overbrook Golf Club. At the Overbrook Club, Edie ran the women's bridge program; the Overbrook Women's Bridge Championship has been named in her honor.


    Table Tips: What Not to Do (Part 3)

     cards and bidding box

    Last month, we continued a three-part series about what not to do at the bridge table. This month, we complete the series by talking about actions that involve objects at the table like the bidding box and that melting candy bar you've been saving in your bag.


    Tip #1: Don't fuss with or fiddle over the bidding box. Just reach over and pull a card when you're ready to bid. Think about how all of that unnecessary fondling actually conveys unauthorized information to your partner. According to the Laws (actually the Appendix), a bid is made when a card is pulled "with intent" so although it isn't strictly forbidden to fiddle, it isn't right and you shouldn't do it.


    Tip #2: Don't take advantage of your partner's hesitations, including over the bidding box. We've written about this issue in greater depth in an earlier issue, but here's a summary. If your partner sits and stews, stares at the bidding box, fondles it a while (see Tip #1), and then passes, you must also pass. You can't take advantage of your partner's clear discomfort to decide that you should take some action.


    Tip #3: Avoid eating at the table. If you must, be really careful about what you eat and how you clean up. Many foods are greasy, sticky, or both and can make the cards and the table greasy, sticky, or both...you get the point.


    Avoiding bad habits will give you more time to concentrate on the good ones and help each bridge game you play operate like the well-oiled machine we all want it to be. 


    Carl and Phil
    Carl Perchonock pulls a card on defense.

    Club News


    The Philadelphian Bridge Club will be hosting a holiday party on December 8 at 7 PM. All players are welcome to the join the game, but space is limited and reservations are recommended. More information is available at the club website: 



    The Yorktown Bridge Club will be running STaC games during the week of December 5 as well a "extra points" games during the week of December 19. Every Saturday includes a brunch at noon and game at 12:30. In addition, the club will be open on Christmas day, with a game at 12:30 and a luncheon before game time. For a full schedule, see the Yorktown Bridge Club website.


    Local clubs are encouraged to send announcements, schedules, updates, and special games for placement in upcoming newsletters.


    Unit 141 Newsletter, December 2011
    Volume 1, Issue 8
    Editor: Allison Brandt (allison@dovetailpress.com