News & Updates

The Hinde Quarters Archives - 2013

A bi-monthly column by John Hinde with his reflections on the Calgary Bridge Community, past, present and future

December 24, 2013 - Bits and Bobs

I found it gratifying that so many of you took my advice and enjoyed Jack’s video of the dragon and the boar sharing a feast on Komodo island. Sharing might not be the most appropriate word, especially at the moment when they bumped noses.

Feeling not quite so gratified, more like deflated when I seem to be the only one who can’t tell the difference between a bear and a wild boar! I did get educated though. I now know that dragons are poisonous, they bite their prey and unless they happen to be arguing with a boar, they just wait for the prey to die and then feast on it at their leisure.

A gruesome thought, maybe not to your liking. Instead of travelling far and wide, you might be planning to spend your Christmas around Calgary enjoying the bird life. You already missed Rae Cram’s husband, Phil, hosting a field trip in the city but you still have time to sign up for one of Doug Collister’s events.

Take your pick of December 27th checking out the Sheep River, Turner Valley neck of the woods; or if that’s too soon after Christmas, explore the Sundre and Snake’s Head district the day after New Years Day. If you want to know more about the opportunities of exploring wild life around the city, google nature news Calgary and all will be revealed. No dragons though!

If I can sneak this in whilst Paula is not looking I’m seriously thinking of becoming a “twitcher” myself. Oops too late, she caught me.

December 19, 2013 - My Magic Wand

It is not very often that many of us get to wave our magic wand and something good happens but it did for me, really, I mean it, read on. A year or so ago I did the waving bit and hey presto on a quiet seven o clock evening, out popped the three best kept bridge secrets in Calgary. Not only that, they are all occurring within a ten minute walk of where I live.

The first one is Pat’s Invitational game held at Southwood United Church on Elbow Drive, every Monday evening at 7pm. What’s so special about this game? Well firstly it’s a team game, not as common as they used to be, secondly it’s divided into two sections depending on how many master points you have amassed (slowly acquired). Somewhere between 20 and 30 tables are the norm and it goes without saying that this just doesn’t happen by magic. Pat tried that route but she didn’t have my touch. Instead it happens because she and Barry spend time every week on the phone setting up the teams. The beauty of the game is that yes they do get the odd sprinkling of hot shots, yes they do get a goodly share of mentors doing their thing with their disciples but more importantly, there is a majority of us average bridge players happy to be there, enjoying the evening.

The second piece of magic occurs on Wednesday night again at 7pm. Still within the ten minute walk bit but you have to cross Elbow Drive to the Community centre. I really do not know when and where the Haggins arrived on the scene .Like many of you, I used to play bridge 4,5,6, times a week until I suddenly developed a passion for lawn bowling and I quit the game altogether for some five or six years. Then when I came back to my senses and started playing again, there were the Haggins doing all kinds of good things.

Indeed, lots of good things but the cream of the crop has to be their Wednesday evening game aimed at players with less than 50 masterpoints. They will commonly attract between six and ten tables of fast up and coming players and with this in mind either Marilyn or Murray will give a twenty minute lesson before the game starts. All this is good but there’s more, everyone gossips, they laugh, they tell funny stories and do a wonderful job of reminding us that bridge is big enough to accommodate all the skill levels.

On top of that they will usually have anywhere from one to six tables of a supervised bid and play game. It has to be said that these latter players have often recently finished a series of bridge lessons given by either Linda Walker or Ken Scott together with Karen Mitchell. The ultimate high light of all this activity is the pleasure the whole room gets when someone takes the next step. A bid and play pair graduating into the game and from time to time achieving 50%.

Something else new is that Barbara Wallat and Pauline Mathezer recently ventured over to the South Ladies game and came away all happy. Their being so happy, encouraged Bonnie Vars and Janet Hughes to follow them the next week and so our game grows. Another rich reward for the Haggins is when some of the group get brave enough to try a sectional or a regional. Try a regional he says, Dorothy Mersereau and Marcia Andreychuk got their first gold points points at Red Deer just this past summer.

Trying hard not to sound impatient, it was here that Marilyn suggested it would be a good idea if I got up to date; reminding me that these two young ladies only this month returned from the Phoenix National Tournament with a whole bunch of gold points tucked away in their excess baggage.

The third apparition my wand produced was the Haggin’s Thursday evening game back at the Church. Typically attracting 12 -15 tables, did they ever surpass themselves in October. The occasion was the annual Erin Berry Rookie-Master game, largely organised by Emelie Quenelle. Everybody was delighted to have a turn out of 26 tables but delight turned into euphoria when it transpired that this was the biggest game in the whole country. Wait, there’s more; three of our pairs finished in the top five, again in the whole of Canada. Al and Lynn Penner, Joanne Zinter with Steve Lawrence and Gil Fagnou paired with Garth Wiggins all ended up virtually in a three way tie with 60% games. Remarkable does not come close to describing this result; biggest game out of 20 participating clubs plus three of the five best pairs in a field of 142!

Lastly, as a special treat for those of you who’ve been patient enough to read this far; there’s yet one more best kept secret close to my home. For years St. Andrews United Church held a once a month non sanctioned game on a Saturday afternoon, averaging some 10 tables. With the church being recently sold, you might have expected the game to fold but not on your life. They are moving to a location on Southport Road, hopefully in January; if you want to know more e mail Alex Campbell at As an aside Alex is the son of Vivian Campbell whom many of you know and the brother of the same Linda Walker mentioned earlier on.

Murray and Marilyn Haggins of Bridge Nutz comment: We would like to thank John very much for all the help he has given us. We could not have done it without him. He walks in and takes over the "bid n play" players. He is a huge asset and the novices think he walks on water. When they make the step over to the game, John is beaming with pride. We couldn't get a better assistant....thanks John we all love you....M and M

December 10, 2013 - Cruising's for the Birds

I never cease to be amazed that a city like Calgary in a land locked province can play such a major part in the world of cruise ships. Who were the first couple to venture into this unlikely place? Paula and Jack Sisko of course. Back in 1997, not even being aware of the multiple ways of getting started, they connected with a travel agent, promising 31 customers. As it happened the Holland America line was in need of a couple of bridge gurus and they were on their way. Caribbean Sea here we come.

Having got their feet wet, not literally I might add, they travelled the world in earnest. All six continents, all seven seas and the canals that join them up, the Panama 8 times no less, plus the Suez Canal. Naturally, they have their favourite spots, examples being Thursday Island off the coast of Australia, Zanzibar in East Africa and Devil’s Island a part of what was French Guiana. Talking of which, along with a myriad of treasured memories, they do have a bad one from time to time; it was on Devil’s Island that for some reason, Jack went wandering off alone. Bad decision, he tripped over a loose rock on the trail, badly damaged his foot and is still wondering whether his golf game will ever get back to where it was.

That was a rare exception though. Both of them are nature lovers, specifically birds. When they are not at sea, off the pair of them will go; botanical gardens, swamps, lagoons, sewage ponds, you name it. If you want to stay in Paula’s good books, do not phone her asking if it’s okay to feed bread to the sparrows in your yard. Kind of, she will reply but it’s junk food. Is it whole wheat bread she will continue and if the answer is no, it will take a month or two before she will deign to play with you again.

What has all this got to with bridge you may well ask. A lot, because when they are at sea, it’s the reason they are able to keep furthering our game. Typically for those interested, there will be lessons in the morning, both beginners and intermediate, each for an hour or so. Then in the afternoon the customers have the choice of either a social or duplicate bridge game; the numbers will vary but on only one occasion was there not a duplicate game; however it goes without saying that it was the same day the rubber game was just a bouncing!

Recently they switched cruise lines and signed up to sail on the Regent Seven Seas Voyager, far and away the most beautiful ship they have yet to experience. Their first trip was to ports of call in New Zealand , Australia and Indonesia, ending up in Singapore. Not many us know that Jack is a keen photographer but do try to get him to show you his pictures taken on the Indonesian island of Komodo, one is of a dragon native to the island and another, would you believe, is of a huge black bear feasting on a deer!

This year they voyaged on the Oceania, sailing up the Amazon river to Manaus; I must remember to ask them if that is far enough upstream to witness the two differently coloured currents, flowing side by side until they eventually merge.

It was back on the Voyager, that yet another of my many pipedreams was shattered. Going back to what I originally thought was a rarity, prairie dwellers playing a big part on a cruise ship; I had this vision of my going up the gang plank together with Jack and Paula only to meet half way, Brian and Joy disembarking. It almost happened, it would have, if I’d been able to spend some six hours on the gang plank.

One good thing did come out of all this. To my credit, I now know not to call one of these ocean going vessels a boat! On the other hand, I would be surprised if there isn’t a more appropriate word for a gangplank. Yes I know there’s some of you out there who knew these things already and that more than a few of you have gurued on a cruise ship but you have to admit that Paula and Jack were the first! Your day will come!

November 26, 2013 - Alive and Well

We bridge players are all so very lucky. If we are not going to run out of partners or opponents in the next few years, it’s because we have so many hard working visionaries bringing along the next crop of bridge addicts. We have a plethora of teachers doing their thing and we will be sure to talk of them another day.

For the moment, let’s talk about the mentoring programme that got started back in 2008; it has to be by far the best idea that the Unit has endorsed in many a long year. It was the brainchild of Ken Scott; his idea being that an up-and-coming player would get to play with and learn from, someone more experienced.

The initial idea was gold and has borne fruit over the years due to the herculean efforts of various coordinators. Abdul Fakih was the first helmsman, followed by who else but Carol Lee Bellam together with Diane Campbell. After Carol Lee’s untimely passing, Diane was joined by her good friend Janet Sharpe and they steered the programme for 4 years, before this spring handing over the reins to Nancy Stewart.

Nancy tells me that the program starts up every May when all the clubs cooperate in having sign up sheets readily available for both sides of the fence, mentor and mentee. With this being Nancy’s first year on the job, she is only too ready to give thanks to those people who helped her into the saddle. Diane gave her the spread sheet whilst Marilyn Swadron and Linda Heidemann were there with lots of good ideas and willing to share them with her.

The whole concept lives and dies by the willingness of our more experienced players to share their knowledge and their time with us all. Fortunately, there is no problem in this regard; this year Nancy was able to match up over 60 pairs. To make the job a little easier, more than a handful of mentors are willing to take on two or even three up and comers; Diane, Abdul, Ken, Marilyn, Janet and Nancy herself all spring to mind. In addition there are those who choose to continue coaching last year’s disciple.

Every match up is a win-win situation. The student gets to be a better player, which goes hand in hand with them increasingly enjoying the game. But wait, there’s more. The mentor contracts to play six games and on top of the feel-good payback, he/she gets three free plays as a reward. It’s the Unit that picks up the tab for this, investing in the order of $500 every year; not peanuts but it could be more. Nowadays Janet Sharpe is looking after the free play aspect of the programme and she tells me that many of the mentors just happen to not use their free plays; not only that, some of the club owners conveniently forget to submit the vouchers to the Unit for reimbursement.

Just one more thing. Last week I had the pleasure of playing with Nancy and she reminded me that over and above the mentors on her list, there is a significant number of our fellow members that have arranged to play with their own choice of people. Far too many to list and no doubt some she doesn’t even know about but Keith Moores and Ed Faichuk did rate a mention.

Is it any wonder that bridge is alive and well in Calgary!

November 12, 2013 - North Ladies Bridge Club

Whoever coined the expression "if you want something done, ask a busy woman” must have known Lois Solinger. Arriving from Niagara Falls in 1967, one of her first acts was to start a bridge club exclusively for ladies. The only problem was how to contact the ladies who might be interested in such a club. As it happened, being a member of the Calgary Newcomers gave her the opportunity to meet many who were looking for a new interest and willing to help. Lois was on her way.

The club’s first home was at the YMCA on Northmount Drive; with yet another first, she set up a child care programme as a vital part of the club, something else that no one had ever thought of as being remotely important!

The club’s first director was Lois herself but in 1975 she went back to work and was succeeded by Helen Walker, who looked after the games for around the next 20 years. When it was time for Helen to move on, the club relocated to the now defunct Bow River Bridge Club. The turn of the turn of the century marked the occasion to move to it’s present home on Varsity Drive and time for new directors, Susan Clayton, followed for the longest time by Bob Van Wort, culminating this last year or so in having Murray Haggins and Pat Purvis taking turns.

Their game is every Tuesday afternoon and has the reputation of being one of the friendliest in town. Averaging some 12 - 15 tables a week, it is also one of the most successful in the city. Every lady attending contributes to the game in some way; admission is a paltry $6 and if you can believe it, that includes free cookies and more often than not all the homemade baking you can put away.

With such a reputation, some 3 years ago, Calgary’s men folk started clamouring at the door to share in all this fun and after considerable discussion the ladies relented and allowed them in –although only on the last Tuesday in the month. One benefit of this decision was that as recently as April of this year, when the club was invited to host a Helen Shields Rookie Master game. it ended up being the second biggest in the country. Partly because of the men but mainly due to the work of Emilie Quennell and Warren Richards who were the people doing the heavy lifting.

Being one of the only two sanctioned non profit clubs in town, the North Ladies are respected, indeed well known for their charity raising drives. They run 9 such efforts every year and they alternate, donating the proceeds one month to the Canadian Bridge Federation, who choose their charity; the next month to one of the club’s choice. For some years they supported the Women’s Shelter, and they still like to remember a silent auction that raised over $700 for them in one sitting. Since the sad passing away of Carol Lee Bellam, the club pays tribute to her memory in April with a game in support of ALS research and we are not talking chicken feed here, contributions exceeding $1500 a year are not unusual.

They are also very good about remembering their past and their present. Every November they have a memorial game honouring their long time director, Helen Walker, all the proceeds going to cancer research and the recent passing of Connie Pflanz was recently honored with a charity game favouring the Movement Disorder Clinic at the Foothills Hospital.

As a last word, none of these good things just happen by accident and….. oops, I just got a glimpse of Lois nodding approvingly at the way the past president, Betty Schmidt, is looking after the current crop. Who are the current crop? Let’s see now. Marilyn Haggins and Helen Dillen steer the boat; Joan Johnston and Jan Mohr look after the money and Susan Besant keeps the records. Who else now? If you think you’re having fun, it’s because of the social organisers, Mary Abel, Charlene Delcourt and Edna Gosbee. Joan Finlay will always fix you up with a partner and overseeing all this as the club manager is Paula Sisko, no wonder it runs smoothly.

Admirable as the club is and there are no two ways about that; I have to confess that in the not too distant future, when the traffic on Crowchild Trail has eased up a little, I am going to venture across town and check out what the South Ladies are getting up to.

October 31, 2013 - Round the World in Three Hours

It could only happen at the bridge table. Playing E-W, we decide to start our trip close to home and sat down at Marlene Fuller’s table. Many of you regularly go to tournaments in Shelby and Great Falls but not so many of you are aware that soon after crossing the border you pass through Marlene’s home town, Sunburst. Another something of a secret, is that the popular Earl’s restaurant chain, started out as Fuller’s restaurants, I’ll leave you to guess the rest. A clue might be that she is still a person of last resort when the big decisions are being made.

Now our trip starts in earnest. At the next table is an Irish colleen, Ann Slattery no less. I once described Ann to her face as being a cheerful little miss and I’m not quite sure she has ever forgiven me. She is a delight to play with or even against, but having said that, we are lucky to have her at the bridge table at all, she lives a stone’s throw away from the Spruce Meadows arena and more often than not has to pack a lunch to even get here.

A short hop to the next table and we have Mae Jardine, born and bred in Scotland. A bridge player to be feared with oodles of master points; but what always impresses me about her is that she is far and away the most efficient north in the room when it comes to passing the boards lower. You never have to wait if you are sitting downstream from Mae. I congratulated her on this trait, she thanked me politely but added that the real reason she does it, is because she can’t stand being poked in the back!

Over the North Sea to Holland and we come up against Ineke Boudewijn, she seems to have found the time to play bridge in between her recent three river boat cruises. As I write, Ineke is a hop skip and a jump away from becoming a life master; she only needs a handful of silver points, so let’s hope she just got them at the recent sectional. As an aside, she just played these three boards as though she was already there!

It would be nice now to take a leisurely cruise from Amsterdam sailing the length of the Mediterranean to Egypt, but we’re almost a full board behind, so instead we quickly stumble over to Gamil Tadros’ table playing with his son, Maurice. For those of you who don’t know, until he retired, Gamil was the number one bridge designing engineer in the whole world, witness the bridge over to Prince Edward Island, 8 miles long no less. Going back to Maurice, if my granddaughter was only a few years older, I would be encouraging her to set her cap at him- he’s so handsome!

Next, we do have time to enjoy the trip to the next table, oops I meant to say Turkey. Tina Gokturk welcomes us with her usual smile but we are not fooled one little bit. We know that we are about to be taken to the cleaners, even if it is in the nicest possible way. One of my pipedreams is to organize a match between the two best male bridge players in the city playing against Tina paired up with Jean Ward. We could have a vu graph, a commentator, we could sell tickets. I could set up shop as a bookmaker and walk away with a fortune when the two ladies triumph. Oh well John, dream on, as we leave Istanbul clutching our three bottom boards.

This time we decide to do something different; we drive through Turkey, across Iran into Pakistan stopping at Karachi, and who do we find there but Abdul Fakih; tough field sitting N-S today. I like to tease Abdul by telling him that I tape the BBC world news every day and find it odd that Pakistan has an ongoing problem to avoid being the main topic in the headlines. Bless him, he puts up with my nonsense, I hope so anyway. This year has been so very different, headlines of a far different sort, I think I am right in saying that Abdul has two highly educated, very successful sisters; and along with all of us, they must be so very proud of Malala.

There is often confusion in section B finding your way to table one and today is no different. We thought we were expected at Mumbai or Delhi, so imagine how pleased we are to find ourselves at a seaside resort in Kerala, on the west coast of India. Mixed feelings though, our opponents are Paul and Pushpa Satinder, charming couple they may be, but what chance am I going to have armed with my high school diploma playing against a couple of PhDs! Not only that, I guess we picked the wrong day by finding them together, more often than not they play apart, giving the rest of us some kind of a chance.

A few minutes ago, I was enjoying a gin and tonic under the shade of a palm tree and now I’m still sipping on the same drink but sitting in a sampan floating in Hongkong harbour. Here we are with Dick Yuen discussing the meaning of a 2S response to a 1NT opening bid. Having got me educated on that, we turn our attention to immigration. He, my wife and I, all arrived in Canada some 45 years ago and this leads me at great length, to go on and on about how we came to the decision. I wanted to go to Australia but Kathleen said “that’s too far from my mom”. She suggested Canada and my response was “ it’s too cold!” You don’t need me to tell you who came out on top in that discussion.

It could only happen at the bridge table. Nine different nationalities and not one cross word. Could it be Canada or is it bridge?

October 26, 2013 - Egg on My Face (A postscript to my October 19th column)

There was I knowing full well that my readership had grown to the number of fingers on one hand and suddenly I get swamped with e mails complaining that I had forgotten about the use of 2D as an overcall’

1C…....……2D, weak premptive
1D….....….2D, showing both majors
1H, 1S……2D, natural, that’s a switch
1NT....……2D, showing D and a higher suit
1NT…….…2D, showing D and H
1NT….……2D, showing both majors

But this is not the reason I have egg on my face, it’s far worse than that. The other day, I waffled on about some nut case coming up with another lulu and what did I run into the very next day? Abdul Fakir, for whom I have the utmost respect, coming up with a really useful variant. A 2D opening bid shows either an 18 or 19 HCPs balanced hand or a 8 ½ playing tricks hand. What a great idea!

October 19, 2013 - Everybody's Favorite Bid

It has to be 2 diamonds. I was recently playing against Lamya Abougoush and Don Gladman. Don opened 2 diamonds and before you know it, I’m on lead against 6 spades! I clearly found the wrong lead because Lamya claimed at trick two. This left me with lots of time to dwell on the versatility of the bid.

It never used to be that way, back in the thirties, (I’m told - I was in kindergarten) a 2D opening bid announced to the world that you had the goods in diamonds: ‘no fooling around partner, don’t you dare drop us in anything short of game’. But like everything else, it got changed.

Bridge has the habit of waiting until you have something mastered, then turning it upside down. So no surprise that guaranteeing a big hand in diamonds got changed into promising something less than an opening hand. Even then, little agreement; some said a six card suit with two of the top three honors, others three of the top five, and a significant minority said if you have six - any six - go for it. And they told me if I keep on trying, I will learn this game!

Blame it on the Italians. They came up with a brand new bidding system called Blue Club and an integral part of the system was Maxi Roman, a bid of 2D that served to describe a shapely seventeen plus high card point hand with a 4-4-4-1 or occasionally a 4-4-5-0 distribution. Responder had three options, a natural bid of 2H, or 2S, or an asking bid of 2NT --- where is your shortness? However the auction went from there, they ended up in at least a game somewhere. Nothing wrong with that you say, however I can’t think of anyone in the city that plays it.

Maybe we shouldn’t blame it on the Italians, it was probably an American who came up with a variant - Mini Roman. Same kind of approach, same shape, but this time only promising 11-15 HCPs. For some reason this convention took hold in the city and many pairs play it. But whoever heard of leaving well enough alone? Someone had to dicker with the 4-4-4-1 shape by insisting that the hand HAS to include four spades. This seemingly minor switch had the effect of altering the response that points to the singleton. Not a minor switch; now the answer is the suit under the singleton. Just imagine, a response of 3H signifies a singleton club because I have already guaranteed four spades! I was first made aware of this convention by Bill Basler but these days the flag bearer is Gamil Tadros and he already has his son, Maurice, and Anne Primeau standing by his side.

Enough of shape. What about the problem of holding 5 hearts and 4 spades and bidding the hand without giving the impression that we are strong enough to reverse? Silly question. What bid would you even consider other than 2D? Lots of pairs (Fi Nader and Dave Johnson for one) play this convention – ‘Flannery’ they call it. Not content with the basic treatment, I find there are added refinements. Diane Campbell, amongst others takes it a step further. She tried to teach me a twist whereby she transfers me into four of the preferred major. All very well except for the times when I open my weak 2D but my convention card says Flannery!

Having been rude about the Italians and the Americans, let’s turn our attention to the Brits. They came up with something called the multi coloured 2D bid. Wikipedia explains this as showing one of four different hands! Thank the good Lord that the ACBL had the wisdom to ban this monstrosity but don’t hold your breath, we’ll get another nut case coming up with another lulu before long.

There just has to be more 2D opening bids than I am aware of. We haven’t even given thought as to what the bid means by responder. A transfer to hearts? Forcing Stayman? No, I do not have a 4 card major. Yes, I do have a 4 card major but not a five. I do have an Ace or a King. A jump shift in the other minor. Phew, I’m out of breath. Not only does the list go on, it just keeps increasing by the day.

October 11, 2013 - An Old Wives Tale

Playing with Delores Hedley in a recent game, we started off playing against married couples for the first three rounds. Margit and Jim Davies, Willa and Don Dumka, then Delia and Bernie Michaud. The next round was the thing we all hate most, a sitout; but at least it gave us the opportunity to talk about whatever happened to pop into our heads. Delores commented that it was refreshing to see so many husbands and wives getting along at the bridge table in spite of the fact that there is an old wives tale suggesting that marriage partners are not supposed to make good bridge partners. Most tables still had a board to play, so I ventured to suggest that the tale probably dated back to a certain Mrs Bennett, who made headline news way back in 1929, for shooting her husband stone dead because he had just totally butchered a bridge hand.

Fortunately Calgary put the tale to bed many years ago and we still have a whole host of husbands and wives successfully, not to mention happily, playing together. Judy and Nick Gartaganis, not surprisingly, might be the first to spring to mind, especially after their most recent showing in Bali. I have known them since I got into the game in the early eighties and never heard a cross word between them at the bridge table; no doubt they wisely confine their comments to the drive home.

Continuing. Oh my goodness, I just took time out to go through our telephone list: did we ever put the tale to rest. Okay, let’s concentrate on the couples that rarely if ever, play with someone else. Pat and Barry Purvis must be number one, maybe it's because they play some weird system, loosely, and I mean loosely, based on precision. Dwelling on the same trap line at number two would be Marilyn and Garth Wiggins, they play a system similar to my own, just more successfully.

Marie and Jack Driscoll would be another pair that stick pretty close together at the bridge table yet looking at Jack's tan, I suspect that the golf course might also play a significant part in their lives. Our current president and his wife, Don and Cathy Basarsky are almost always seen together and our past president Jim Murphy and wife Chris are more often than not playing together in a team game, usually with cousin Patrick. Berny and Al Kahanoff are rarely seen apart and the same could be said of Ruth and John Gilchrist. Talking of the latter, just the other week they celebrated John’s birthday party; an annual event that rivals the Penticton barbecue as being the place for bridge players to gather.

Then of course, no talk of married bridge couples would be complete without mentioning Marilyn and Murray Haggins, they will break apart from time to time, only to scurry back together to play their weird system, you thought the Purvis convention card was different, you haven’t seen anything; (being a born and bred cockney, I wanted to write “you ain’t seen nuthin yet’, but management has strict rules on such things.

You only have to sit down at their table to find out how much Dinesh and Raj Agrawal enjoy playing together but they are both willing to break apart from time to time and play with some other lucky person. The same can be said of Janet and John Sharpe; speaking of Janet, try and get her to tell you the tale of when she was riding the elevator back to her hotel room with Diane Campbell. It’s a riot.

Enough of these wedded couples who have all been married some 5 or 10 years less than me. Let’s talk about the newlyweds. Janet and Chris Galbraith, both still working but always looking forward to playing in what few evening games still remain. Barbara and Steve Lawrence, now there’s a turn up for the books, who would ever have thought that a confirmed bachelor like Steve would ever get married, but then if a good woman decides it’s time, what else can a person do?

As a last word, a very much up and coming couple has to be Pauline and Rick Boyd, they have only been in the duplicate world for three or four years but they have fast become a force to be reckoned with. Having people like them bursting onto the Calgary bridge scene, it's good to know that we are not going to have a repeat of the 1929 fiasco and we don't have to worry about the police being called in to investigate a crime scene.

September 25, 2013 - Back in the Good Old Days

Way back when, in the good old days, no one could have possibly imagined the fantastic job that Joy and Brian Saville do when they hold their Christmas party. More bridge players than you get at a Regional Sunday team game. More food than even that many people can hope to eat and that's only the beginning.

It must have been ten or more years ago when I happened to be Vice President of the Unit and in charge of organizing the Annual General Meeting that I mailed out, yes, I mean mailed out, the invitations. Wine and cheese at 6:00; meeting 6:30 – 7:30; bridge 7:30 – 10:30 and dancing with an open bar from 10:30 until whenever. As I recall, ‘whenever’ turned out to be the early hours.

Thinking back to those days, I often wonder how none of us were ever smart enough to start a mentoring programme. Probably because none of us had ever heard of such a thing, but that is a feeble excuse if ever I heard one. Come to think of it, I don't even know who it was that had the idea this time around, but whoever it was, should be proud.

Another source of wonder is whatever happened to the Calgary Public School's continuing education programme which included bridge. It was under the auspices of the school board but it was really run by Lois Solinger. She organized the teachers, was responsible for the curriculum and made up the hands that served to illustrate the lessons.

On the other side of the coin, it is hard not to be amazed at the number of students that the Glencoe Club has learning how to play our game; largely because of the devoted hard work of Nancy Klym and Bev Mason. What's more, these two ladies are very successful in channelling  their students in our direction.

In the good old days there were not so many different bidding systems as there are today, at least that's the way I somewhat hazily remember it. Gordie Sharp had just about single handedly converted our bridge world into playing 2 over 1, so much so, that when you sat down with a new partner, all you had to say was that we're playing Calgary Casual, right?

Going back to all those new players that we all welcome, little do they realize how lucky they are not to have to wait 20 minutes or more, and even that’s assuming he or she was a mathematical genius, for the Director to make the results sheet available. Now all they have to do is to stroll over to a wall and if that’s too much trouble, wait until they get back home.

Again going back, this time when I got into bridge in 1983, probably the best player in the city at that time was Subash Gupta. Judy and Nick Gartaganis remember him well and were justifiably pleased with themselves when their team recently beat a Gupta team in France. But back to the early eighties. After a typical game at the Martinique, all the up and coming, anxious-to-learn players would head to the Trocadero restaurant on 14th Street to listen to Subash hold forth on the night’s hands.

I probably should be more careful with my tongue when I comment on who was, who is, and who will be the best player in the city. But then you don’t need my opinion, just take a look at the monthly master point list.  What I can comment on and this time only going back a couple of years, I’m back to dwelling on that Thursday afternoon ‘Traditional’ at the Martinique. But then I march to a different drummer than many of you, of all the fliers and newspapers that pass through our house, I only ever look at the liquor store ads!

September 15, 2013 - Au Revoir to Maureen Bailey

Au revoir, hasta la vista, or even a simple “until the next time”. Be that as it may, we are all going to have get used to the idea that for the first time in 45 years we cannot depend on having Maureen around.

The story goes all the way back to when Maureen and Delores Hedley just happened to become neighbors. Both ladies had preschool children, an instant bond right there. For whatever reason, Delores decided to take bridge lessons and came back home bewildered - we all know that feeling - only to find out that Maureen could actually play the game and what’s more was able to explain the gobbledegook stuff to her.

That was the beginning of the Maureen we know today. From being friends and neighbors these two young ladies became joined at the hip. Maureen's church had a weekly social bridge game together with a childcare program service and they were off to the races – hooked & addicted, just like you and me!

For the very same reason - the child care bit, the next step was to the South Ladies’ game. In those days it was held at a Lakeview church but in a very short time moved to St. Andrews church on Heritage Drive. Lois Solinger was the driving force at tht time but Maureen vividly remembers Bev Miles and Carol Martell as being two of the better players who were always prepared to give them encouragement.

We have all taken the next big step, albeit scared out of our minds, but nevertheless determined. In those days the Martinique Bridge Studio was downtown and run by Walt Alex but their interest was the novice game on a Monday evening with Tom Webb as the Director.

Talking of being the Director, Maureen and Delores had long both had pipedreams; Maureen to become a Director and Delores to own a bridge club. Both dreams came true but not surprisingly, Maureen was first to achieve her ambition. We are going back nigh on 40 years now but there she was directing at the South Ladies and the Glencoe Club. This 2013 summer finally brought an end to her days as possibly the best Director this bridge community has ever had and the Glencoe people saluted the occasion with a thank you game at their Golf and Country Club. It had to be there because so many people wanted to be part of the appreciation.

My own personal attachment to Maureen was when we were part owners of the Martinique Bridge Studio some 10 to 15 years ago. Needless to say, Maureen outlasted me and was still there the day the club closed its doors. None of any of this story could have happened without the help of Maureen’s husband, Bruce, who was always the key player in the background. Like for instance, when he was responsible for the bar at the Martinique and there goes one of my favourite memories, sipping on a ‘Traditional’ half way through the Thursday afternoon game. Oh well, if we are all lucky we will continue to see Maureen from time to time for many years to come.