Hope things are more respectfully and equitably handled in other bridge Units than here in Las Vegas. We seem to be undergoing a brutally unpopular Bridge Revolution where unilateral Board decisions are rendered and carried out without the normal respectful consideration of others entitled to render approval or disapproval. ‘One Man Shows’ seem to be the order of the day although those in the hinterlands who are out of touch are no doubt unaware of the blatant discord that has pervaded the ranks of Unit 373. Read the rest of this entry »
November 3rd. I returned home this afternoon to find a sad (though not unexpected) telephone message from Sidney Lazard’s wife Betsey that Sidney is now at rest after a rather lingering illness. Both Bobby and I have enjoyed longtime friendships with Sidney .. mine stemming from his relationship with Norman and Edgar for what seemed like an eternity — while Bobby and Sidney enjoyed a partnership which dates back to the mid sixties. I am awaiting a return call from Betsey and will share whatever information is available.
To be quite candid and crude .. my most accurately descriptive reply would be into the proverbial ‘crapper.’ Everywhere one looks .. be it our local scene, national or international venues, ugly situations non-conducive to happy campers seem to have engulfed our game.
Right here, in Vegas, we are experiencing vocal discontent and disappointment, despite sincere and earnest latecomers on the scene trying desperately to fix what’s broke — namely, the unit morale and obvious discontentment and unhappy reflections of the present site selections. This disaster would have been resolved and put to rest two years ago had we not witnessed personal ego/control freak issues. Obviously, the stressful worldwide recession has played a huge part in the difficulties encountered and the site selection problems we face as I write; but, that is something we have to live with (and work around), eventually restoring our tournaments to national prominence as we are a Utopian bridge resort site. At one time, our Sectionals (with such great drawing cards via headliners, casinos, elegant restaurants, etc.) were showstoppers .. sometimes outdrawing even a few Regionals. I find the scenario so very sad as I reflect upon hundreds and hundreds of tournaments I attended and counted the minutes till the entry desk opened. Alas, no more. It is definitely an uphill battle and I pray for a turnabout.
The national scene is a far cry from when I started attending nearby NABCs back in 1957. The events were splendorous .. including the manner of dress as well as the respectful conversations exchanged .. regardless of table results. I savor those memories of the elegant old timers who (with few exceptions) conducted themselves with aplomb and dignity. Criticism was not expressed rudely across the table and polite partners did not discredit the opponents in their presence. That was unheard of! And, although sponsorship had already appeared on the scene, money had not yet publicly reared its ugly head and changed the direction and personalities of those involved. No need to elaborate on what affect professionalism has had on bridge .. even to the point of featuring weak players of substantial means to be representing our country which, to me, is an embarrassment to the game. Of course, there are a handful of exceptions but I always believed world championships were intended to be a conglomerate of the best of what each country could produce to battle their peers.
However, the ugliest possible issue has now arisen (both here .. but mainly abroad .. although the U. S. can hardly enter the court with clean hands): Cheating in events sponsored by the World Bridge Federation. Perhaps I am ‘hit’ harder than most, being married to a man who has unselfishly (pro bono) devoted over sixty of this eighty-three years to high level bridge, serving in more official and unofficial capacities than anyone in the history of the game. I am not alluding to his trophies, commendations, and awards .. but rather to his involvement in giving his entire being to cleaning up the game, ridding it of despicable, underhanded deliberate cheaters and checking every nook and cranny to make certain others were not lurking there .. ready to pounce upon unsuspecting victims)!
Though the current cheating adventures (hardly a secret) were dropped upon the Bridge Winners Site like an atomic bomb, a huge prior awareness by top players became immediately evident. It was like waiting for the proverbial ‘pin’ to drop. and, thank heaven it did! With Boye Brogeland and Kit Woolsey at the helm (plus the eager help of countless qualified techies examining videos and scrutinizing hundreds of hands), this unified team (which has earned the gratitude and respect of thousands of supporters and fans) is unrelenting in justifying their findings with an undeniable determination to putting an end to these appalling practices .. regardless of the shame it brings to the game or specific individuals.
CHEATING AT BRIDGE HAS GONE ON LONG ENOUGH. IT IS TIME TO ACKNOWLEDGE IT, PROCESS OUT ALL THE CULPRITS AND RESTORE OUR UNIQUE GAME TO ITS ORIGINAL RIGHTFUL PLACE IN THE SUN!
At our occasional Ladies Monday luncheon tete-a-tete (which include bridge players of all ilks .. active, retired, somewhat inactive and in-between), someone piped up asking if there wasn’t a Sectional coming up soon and where. I was floored for a minute as this event is a bit off the beaten path .. any way you look at it. I retorted it was a three day event .. being held next Thursday, Friday and Saturday with ten and three starting times. When asked for more details, I briefed them of the following: Because of earlier confrontations about the site and tardiness in coming to a decision, we are departing from the normal site choices. This LV tournament is being held at an unusual location: The Donald J. Reynolds Scouting Center on Paradise Road down by the Airport. Unlike most tournament locales, there is no overnight sleeping facilities but there are some hotels not too far. In the absence of restaurants .. hot coffee (regular and decaf), hot tea and cold sodas are available at the cost of $1.00 each and six different box lunches are there for the asking (if you order before 10 a.m.). Prices are not listed but the varieties are quite appealing. Guest lecturers, JoAnn and Danny Sprung, will be present on Thursday and Friday at 2:30 .. half hour before the afternoon sessions. There is plenty of free parking and you figure to get home at a reasonable time. My luncheon buddies were startled by the unusual change of venue and suddenly someone asked in which hotel will the March tournament be held. After a hushed silence (as I believe it is still undecided), someone giggled suggesting .. "Maybe the Girl Scout Center?" With that .. we all headed toward our cars. Check out the flyer for more particulars to see if it works for you.
I am dumbfounded when I reflect upon my bridge involvement prior to the Internet Era. In fact, it is hard to fathom how much it has affected my entire way of life. In the 'olden days' when I was young and eager to attend tournaments, especially the Nationals, I would count the minutes till the plane left. I was packed two days in advance and raring to go. That seems like an eternity ago to me… and in reality, it was! If you were forced to pass up a tournament or two, there was usually a time delay learning what was going on. Luckily, by some magic stroke of fate (or a technical miracle), along came BBO and enriched our lives beyond anyone's imagination. I will always consider it the greatest bridge achievement which has engulfed us in luxury and comfort by the flick of a button and tap of a key.
I loved the sociability of the NABCs (and world championships, courtesy of two exceptionally talented husbands); but nowadays the inconvenience and cost of travel (especially airport security which is a mandatory evil) has made me appreciate even more how much less stress we endure with the introduction of so many brilliant modern facilities now available. Better yet… insignificant costs attached to the upgrade allows us to savor the joy of the game from the confines of one's own dwelling. Who would ever have thunk world championships could be kibitzed via one's iPad… merely lying in bed?
Another incredible technique, of which bridge devotees were not aware (including yours truly) was introduced to us in conjunction with the alleged cheating incidents. The great advancement relates to monitoring by effective videotaping… particularly enabling great detective work by our finest expert players/technicians to help prove or disprove recent accusations… which is an unbelievable contribution toward ridding the bridge scene of unwelcome happenings.
This week, with two US teams in contention in the Bermuda Bowl, I found myself glued to either my office computer or bedroom iPad rooting for their survival with the chance of meeting one another in the semi-finals. Alas, no more… but USA2 is in for the long haul and has some exciting and challenging match ups ahead of them. Of course, my view of world championships is far removed from Bobby's as he has performed in more of these ultra high-level mind battles than you can shake a stick at. We began reminiscing about his international encounters before I appeared on the scene in 2003. In fact, the last Bermuda Bowl in which he played was my first experience kibitzing him in Monaco. Out of curiosity, since I knew the BB was such a prestigious contest for which one must qualify, I naively asked: "In how many did you participate as a contender?" "Twelve," he replied, "but that was a long time ago" he added. I inquired, "how did you do?" Looking down modestly, he replied: "Won seven, with four seconds and ended up third when you kibitzed." Guess I was not his lucky charm… but I must admit that is one helluva record in spite of me!
Residing in Las Vegas (exactly ten years this month) has introduced us to a totally different style of living to which Bobby (a native Texan) and I (from the City of Brotherly Love) have never been exposed! When we married twelve years ago, living in Nevada was not even a wee consideration .. but as one grows older we have both learned life is so full of surprises. In fact, it happened to me in living color this evening before dinner as I sat down at my favorite Blackjack Table at The Sun Coast. A younger woman (who could be practically anyone to an octogenarian) was seated on my left and as the dealer was preparing for the next go-round, the lady introduced herself and said she lived here but was originally from Hawaii. I introduced myself and said my husband was parking the car and would arrive at the table shortly. Between shuffles, we chatted about our backgrounds and when she learned we were bridge players (especially of Bobby’s prowess), it got her attention. She proudly remarked her daughter had a dear friend living in Vegas who recently married a sensational bridge player who has played in many far off lands. "Sure," I thought silently to myself! Maybe she was confusing bridge with poker or backgammon. And .. besides everyone has a different conception of what a "sensational" player really is. I didn’t press the issue and we continued exchanging chips with the dealer for a while and then she excused herself and returned with cell phone in hand. She was bubbling to pass on the name of the mysterious bridegroom. Suddenly my jaw dropped as she inquired if Bobby and I ever heard of Geoff Hampson?" I didn’t even know he lived in Vegas nor that he recently married. Amazing the things one can learn at a blackjack table!!!
Following the publication of The Lone Wolff by MPP, I realized (after learning so many more interludes Bobby experienced over seven decades), that since another site approves personal rants and ramblings, it was time for me to share so much more that was left unsaid. Just consider it an addendum from The Lone Wolffess… Read the rest of this entry »
After weeks of Internet blurbs, stories, tales, accusations, et al. — any bridge player who can count to thirteen (even slowly) has been overwhelmed by the many versions of who has been doing what to whom — be it locally, nationally or internationally and suspicions of the time frames. Oft-times they sounded like fantasies or exaggerations and so many different valid contributors offered such outrageous suggestions and implications, one could not distinguish fact from fiction. At times, I suspected some blatherers of possessing sick senses of humor … but, hey .. we have been blessed with Freedom of Speech (sometimes a bit overdone). Where I was born and raised, it was a strong American principle! Read the rest of this entry »
Reflecting upon the Bridge Winners blogsite, it is no doubt a marvelous venue to educate the world of bridge to the happenings in distant corners of the universe to which they would not normally be privy. However, concerning the recent ‘alleged’ cheating issue introduced two weeks ago, the discussions involve some never-ending versions, numerous ugly contesting opinions and has turned into a free for all (beyond ridiculous), unbecoming both the ingenuity of the site and our once-marvelous game. Read the rest of this entry »