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Against Whom Have You Played? The unique opportunities of bridge

#1 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2021-August-04, 18:04

I learned to play bridge rather late - around 22 or 23 years old, back in 1973. By 1974 I was playing all the time at San Roque bridge club in Santa Barbara, California where Peter Rank played frequently, and coming home with raging headaches trying so hard to learn the game. What eventually drew me in totally, though, was the idea that if you paid your entry fee, you could play against world champions, national champions, and people whose names were scattered across bridge books. It's like paying a piddling entry fee and getting to bat against Sandy Kofax or box against Mohammed Ali. So, in that spirit, I thought I would make a list of the great players I have had the good luck to have played against - simply because I paid my entry fee.

And fellow bridge players, please follow suit and add names from their experience. Here goes mine of the ones I can remember:

Sam Stayman - one time in a Dallas regional
Oswald Jacoby - once after calling to to a Dallas bridge club, being paired, and showing up to play in a local game. There he was.
Mike Passell.
Paul Soloway
Bobby Wolff
Barry Crane
Peter Weichsel
Alan Sontag
Mark Lair
Dr. John Fischer
Kerri Shuman
Eddie Wold
Jeff Meckstroth
Bob Hamman
Marshall Miles

and, of course, Justin Lall

PS: Dennis Sorensen, Billy Miller, Peter Rank.
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Black Lives Matter.
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#2 User is offline   manudude03 

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Posted 2021-August-04, 19:33

I'd say the biggest names (at least internationally speaking) I've played against would be:

Thomas Bessis
Agustin Madala
Krzysztof Martens
Alfredo Versace (though he was actually at the other table)

It was looking likely I'd get the chance to play against (and maybe even with) Geir Helgemo, until the Coronavirus started.
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#3 User is offline   Cyberyeti 

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Posted 2021-August-05, 02:05

The most stellar field I ever played in was the 1999? mindsports olympiad pairs where we qualified for the 24 pair final and finished 12th. In that event we played:

Rubin and Granovetter
Zia and Chemla

plus a host of other less well known internationals

It also featured a multiple teams event where Zia turned up playing with 3 beautiful ladies who seemed to be beginners.
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#4 User is online   paulg 

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Posted 2021-August-05, 02:44

I've played in the BBL Gold Cup a few times with nige1 as a teammate.
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#5 User is offline   apollo1201 

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Posted 2021-August-05, 05:19

View Postmanudude03, on 2021-August-04, 19:33, said:

I'd say the biggest names (at least internationally speaking) I've played against would be:

Thomas Bessis
Agustin Madala
Krzysztof Martens
Alfredo Versace (though he was actually at the other table)



Haha I ve played *with* Thomas😉
Against as well
But he is as nice both ways!
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#6 User is online   nige1 

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Posted 2021-August-05, 11:01

View Postpaulg, on 2021-August-05, 02:44, said:

I've played in the BBL Gold Cup a few times with nige1 as a teammate.
Polite and pleasant players, I've had the privilege to partner: Bob Rowlands, Hugh Kelsey, Eric Crowhurst, John Matheson, John McLaren, Jacky Patterson, David Liggat, Tom Culbertson, Joe Amsbury, Carolyn Peploe, Elizabeth McGowan, Nicola Smith. Hedy Brown, Laura Cecilia Porro, Stuart Maurice, Michel Lebel, David Mossop, Mike Bell, Tom Townsend, David and Janet Barnes.

Bridge is a great leveller. I've also played against most of the top players e.g. Omar Sharif, Rixi Marcus, Terence Reese, Boris Schapiro, Zia Mahmoud, (In the Common Market Mixed Teams Championship, I made a ridiculous 6XX against Benito Garozzo :)
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#7 User is offline   Cyberyeti 

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Posted 2021-August-05, 11:14

View Postnige1, on 2021-August-05, 11:01, said:

Bridge is a great leveller. I've also played against most of the top players e.g. Omar Sharif, Rixi Marcus, Terence Reese, Boris Schapiro, Zia Mahmoud, (In the Common Market Mixed Teams Championship, I made a ridiculous 6XX against Benito Garozzo :)


One of my proudest moments was a semi psyche against Zia and Chemla which led to me playing in 2 undoubled with a 10 card fit and a combined 15 count, this was not a good board for them.
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#8 User is offline   FelicityR 

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Posted 2021-August-06, 04:03

View PostCyberyeti, on 2021-August-05, 11:14, said:

One of my proudest moments was a semi psyche against Zia and Chemla which led to me playing in 2 undoubled with a 10 card fit and a combined 15 count, this was not a good board for them.


One of my partner's (Berneice, an older lady who has since passed away) greatest moments was playing against Tony Forrester and Roman Stolsky(?) back in the 1980s at an EBU Congress. Our team of four (no better than average club players at the time) had won our first match and then was paired against the best young players in England. Tony Forrester is still a regular in the England team partnering Andrew Robson, and has been one of England's best players for many, many years.

As I remember we were vulnerable and they were not, and I believe the scoring was slightly different back then, non-vulnerable undertricks were less penalised, and after two passes Tony Forrester opened 1 in third position. I had a big hand, equivalent to a 2 opener, and I overcalled 2 which back then wasn't Michaels but a bid showing a very strong hand. I forget how the rest of the bidding went until the final round but it was frantic as I remember, where Tony Forrester called 6, I must have bid at the seven level with a void, and Roman Stolsky then bid 7 as a sacrifice. My partner thought for a minute then called 7NT and that was the end of the auction. I can't even remember my hand but I do remember feeling panic thinking if we go down it's going to be a disaster. Fortunately, my partner had the A and 7NT made.

When we'd played our eight or nine boards, we went back to our teammates who immediately asked whether we had bid the grand slam on board x. Yes, we said pleased as punch (happy). However, we still managed to lose the individual match by 18-2 or something like that. Soon after I met my husband and bridge was shelved for my nursing career.

I probably have played against some other good players back then however, that particular board became etched on my memory. 7NT against Tony Forrester. That doesn't happen every day of the week :)
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#9 User is offline   Cyberyeti 

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Posted 2021-August-06, 04:51

Roman Smolski is the guy, and yes it was 100/300/500/700/900 etc at that point.

Other fond memories:

as a 12 year old playing in the final of the schools pairs, you got a free entry to the easter congress teams, we beat a team containing the Pottage brothers, then beat the guy who ran schools bridge in our county on our way to finishing around 50%.

Beating Gold/Townsend etc in the last 16 of the Gold cup before losing to Frances et al in the last 8 the first year they won it.
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#10 User is offline   helene_t 

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Posted 2021-August-06, 17:21

Joris van Lankveld played at the same club as I in Amsterdam. Phil and Alex from the Scottish team played at my club in Lancaster.

I also played against Bep Vriend /Anton Maas at an Easter drive. And Berry Westra and various Dutch juniors.

The Icelandic world champs at the pula festival. Sabine Auken at another festival.

Garozzo in a JEC match.
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#11 User is offline   mikeh 

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Posted 2021-August-06, 18:33

I got to play with Grant Baze, as a teammate in a Regional and as his partner for the knockouts, with his client sitting out the second half of each match.

I have played several times with Passell as a teammate. Fred Gitelman was on my 2000 BB team.

As for opponents,I’ll miss some for sure, but in no particular order: Hamman, Wolff, Soloway, Lawrence, Rodwell, Meckstroth, Zia, Rosenberg, Lauria, Versace, Sementa, Bocchi, Duboin, Fantoni, Nunes, Chagas, Dwyer, Bathurst, Grue, Woolridge, J. Lall, Wold, Bramley, Lazard, Weischel, Sontag, Hampson, Moss, Greco, Fredin, Granovetter, Berkowitz, several Cohens (including Larry and Billy), Lair, Crane, Eisenberg, Ron Anderson, Michael Becker, Garozzo, the Dutch BB team in Veldhoven, when they won (I don’t recall who was in or out), Levin, Weinstein

My WC appearances have not been very successful, but we had our moments. We blitzed Lavazza in the Rosenblum round-robin in 2010…and edged them (different lineups) in the round robin in the 2000 BB. We came from behind to beat a team with, iirc, Dwyer, Bathurst and Lall in the round of 32 in a Spingold, where we started the final set down 18, their client on the bench, and me going down 6 vulnerable in 1N…on board one, on vugraph. I could have cashed out for down 4🤪. The comeback started on the second board when one of the pro opps committed a red v white second seat 2H on something like xx Q109xxx Qxxx x,raised to 4H by his partner and doubled in passout seat by my partner, holding in essence nothing but AKJ. I had a good passed hand, and the pro, playing my partner for a key missing card went 1100….the vugraph operator scored it as 800, which was good for the spectators since it meant we won by four (in reality, 8).
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#12 User is offline   jillybean 

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Posted 2021-August-07, 04:36

4 of us entered the 2011 Seattle NABC, Women's BAM. I'm not even sure if we were all LM's.

Tobi Sokolow, Jill Levin, Jill Meyers, Janice Seamon-Molson, Debbie Rosenberg, Jenny Wolpert, Benedicte Cronier, Sabine Auken, Daniela von Arnim
Sylvia Moss, Migry Zur Campanile, Jo Anna Stansby, Kerri Sanborn, Shannon Cappelletti, Irina Levitina, Beth Palmer, Lynn Deas, Peggy Kaplan

Needless to say, we only needed to purchase one entry for this event but it was exciting and got me wanting to play more.

Oh yes, and I have played against MikeH. (not in the same event)
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And no matter what methods you play, it is essential, for anyone aspiring to learn to be a good player, to learn the importance of bidding shape properly. - MikeH

SLOW DOWN! This is not a speedball :)
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#13 User is offline   nullve 

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Posted 2021-August-07, 04:43

View PostWinstonm, on 2021-August-04, 18:04, said:

Barry Crane

View Postmikeh, on 2021-August-06, 18:33, said:

Crane

What was it like to play against him?
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#14 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2021-August-07, 17:33

I found him to be pleasant every time. Excellent declarer. Aggressive opening bids - he liked to stake an early claim to the spade suit.
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Black Lives Matter.
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#15 User is offline   mikeh 

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Posted 2021-August-07, 23:09

I wasn’t a very good player when I played, several times, against him. I do remember playing in a regional where he was playing on a team with Soloway, Wold, Anderson, and one of (iirc) the Hseih kids…two brothers who in consecutive years became the youngest LM in ACBL history. The kid I played against had NO idea about the game, but his parents bought him a team of superstars. I remember Crane complaining that he had to sit out while the kid played.

My other memory of playing against him was when my then partner and I were screwing around with a canapé system, not knowing anything about how to play it. He reached 3N after we opened and we ran our longer suit. He was very pleasant, laughing at the result.

My only other memory was getting into the elevator with him. Someone mentioned how many NABC events he’d won, and he added that he’d been second…he gave an exact figure, but I can’t remember it.

He had amazing table feel. From what I later read about his bidding methods, they were astoundingly crude, but he believed strongly in getting into auctions on very tenuous values at a time when most good players bid, by his and today’s standards, very conservatively if the opps opened.

I’d love to know whether his style would work as well for him today, when ‘everybody’ bids on nothing. Back then, he created far more action than did most experts, and he could read average opponents very well
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#16 User is offline   morecharac 

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Posted 2021-August-07, 23:26

Jerry Helms, at a small regional near where I now live.

In a Swiss Teams match, where we lost by 1 VP.
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#17 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2021-August-08, 09:01

View Postmikeh, on 2021-August-07, 23:09, said:

I wasn’t a very good player when I played, several times, against him. I do remember playing in a regional where he was playing on a team with Soloway, Wold, Anderson, and one of (iirc) the Hseih kids…two brothers who in consecutive years became the youngest LM in ACBL history. The kid I played against had NO idea about the game, but his parents bought him a team of superstars. I remember Crane complaining that he had to sit out while the kid played.

My other memory of playing against him was when my then partner and I were screwing around with a canapé system, not knowing anything about how to play it. He reached 3N after we opened and we ran our longer suit. He was very pleasant, laughing at the result.

My only other memory was getting into the elevator with him. Someone mentioned how many NABC events he’d won, and he added that he’d been second…he gave an exact figure, but I can’t remember it.

He had amazing table feel. From what I later read about his bidding methods, they were astoundingly crude, but he believed strongly in getting into auctions on very tenuous values at a time when most good players bid, by his and today’s standards, very conservatively if the opps opened.

I’d love to know whether his style would work as well for him today, when ‘everybody’ bids on nothing. Back then, he created far more action than did most experts, and he could read average opponents very well

When I first played against him, he opened 1S in 1st seat with a 4333 11 count made up of 4 queens and the K of spades. Kerri raised to 3 forcing spades with her 17. Simple, but it worked.(due to my misdefense)
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Black Lives Matter.
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#18 User is offline   eagles123 

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Posted 2021-August-08, 15:27

Played with Vampyr once and lived to tell the tale :lol: (She was lovely)

also played with Cyberyeti who was also great, unfortunately I was nervous and forgot how to play bridge!

Played with Alex (Wank) a couple of times, great guy


A few big names in JEC matches as well, but don't really trust any of them in hindsight with his tendency to hire cheats. Although Versace, who is by all accounts a good'un, bidding 7D off the Ace of Diamonds was a good lesson in even the best get it wrong sometimes.


And my favourite story, me and my partner Ronnie played the ACOL invitational pairs maybe 2017/2018. Ronnie is one of the nicest blokes you could ever meet, but the bridge is questionable, the system is very limited, i.e. regular blackwood. Anyway we got to the vugraph table against Zia/Bakshi and first board we bid to 6N! .... okay, 7N+++++ is laydown, but still fun against two world class players we bid to a slam in our first vugraph showing :)
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#19 User is offline   blackshoe 

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Posted 2021-August-11, 15:12

I don't think I'd want to box against Muhammed Ali on his worst day. Even if I were young again. :ph34r:
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#20 User is offline   pescetom 

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Posted 2021-August-11, 15:42

View Postblackshoe, on 2021-August-11, 15:12, said:

I don't think I'd want to box against Muhammed Ali on his worst day. Even if I were young again. :ph34r:

I was made for boxing, but instead of teaching me technique and letting me gain experience, they matched me up against those who already had both and I rapidly decided that there must be less painful sports. I did ok at rugby and well at cycling and athletics, but learnt bridge too late and am struggling a bit.

Only played against the Italians so far and rarely with my preferrred companion either. Have run up against Duboin, Bocchi, Madala, Sementa, Mortarotti, Ortensi as a player too. The most amusing encounter was against Versace who was as puzzled as I was about my partner's bidding and graciously conceded a top in a national tournament :)
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