The Hinde Quarters
A bi-monthly column by John Hinde with his reflections on the Calgary Bridge Community, past, present and future
May 29 , 2016 - The End is Nigh
Finally run out of stuff to go mumbling on about. It’s all my fault, not playing as much bridge these days and not surprisingly, am not picking up on the gossip. Back when I started the Hindequarters, I believed that most of us like to see our name in print, if I was right, I kind of succeeded, well over 200 at last count.
Times have changed, it used to be that I knew everybody and if you know someone you can kind of poke a little fun without causing offense; these days, bridge is being so successful that I barely know any of the newcomers, great for bridge, not so good for me.
Why am I not playing so much as I used to? Six months ago Kathleen and I moved into a retirement home, Bonavista Village and now we find we have so many things to do that bridge has to take a back seat. Every week we have the opportunity to go places, we both like plays and we got to go to Rosebud Theatre, the Lunch box theatre and the Pumphouse is on the agenda. A recent trip to Saskatoon Farm was an experience, never before watched a Tom turkey court his prospective bride!
Staying around home, I get to improve my painting skills every Wednesday but my favorite day is Friday. Probably like most such homes at this time we are one big collection of white Anglo Saxons so it’s a treat to visit Canada at Lake Chapparel School every week; several of us get the chance to listen to grade one children reading. What’s with the Canada bit you ask? Just last week I listened to a Chinese girl followed by a Japanese boy, then a middle eastern boy and lastly the cutest little girl, black as the ace of spades.
Arrive back home just in time for Happy Hour where we get the chance to catch up with our neighbors not to mention the gossip. Talking of neighbors, they’ve pretty well ceased to exist out in the real world but not here, we can sit out on the back deck and wave them over!
So there, it’s been lots of fun and now I only have to say thank you to David Swadron for putting up with me all this time.
May 8, 2016 - Proof of the Pudding
If anyone wanted proof of my belief that if you want something done, ask a busy woman, then it was there to be had on Friday afternoon at the South Ladies Bridge Club. Not one busy lady but nigh on one hundred of them.
Hard to believe but these ladies raised $1500 in support of the Fort McMurray Fire Relief Fund, not only that, it had previously been established that the sum would be matched by Safeway!
Where did all this money come from? To start with, the club had it’s biggest attendance in many a long time in honor of the occasion. Twenty three tables and every penny of the table fees was donated to the cause and if this wasn’t enough all of the ladies present gave their personal contribution to swell the coffers.
Not only that, Crystal Mann waived her afternoon director’s fee and going one step further, the Haysboro Community Centre forwent their rent for the day.
A truly amazing achievement and to quote Diana Burn, every single one of the ladies deserves a ”huge thank you”.
April 22, 2016 - Landed Immigrants
That’s what they called us a gazillion years ago when us limeys came to Canada. Bound to forget more than one but the Sharpes spring to mind; and Keith Moores, Diane Burn and Shelagh Nadir would be a trio to quickly roll off my tongue.
What’s so important about us lot all of a sudden? Nothing special, but I guess it has to be the fact that I ran into Joan Clark and her husband at the fish and chip shop this weekend. What’s so surprising about that you may well ask. Well considering that Joan lives within walking distance of Market Mall and the British Chippy lies close to the city’s southern border, it must say something about which is the best such eating place in Calgary. Just thought I’d mention it in case!
Seems to be the season for running into old friends. Had the pleasure of playing rubber bridge this week with Anne Marie Kingston, how many years must it be since we last met?
So… back to the landed immigrant bit, us Brits are in two minds about the upcoming referendum suddenly becoming known as Britex! Kind of slightly on the subject, the New Zealanders just had a similar vote on whether to keep the Union Jack on their flag, they said yes, keep it, we hate change! A little bit different to the way the rest of the world is thinking.
It is beginning to seem to me that the rest of us don’t vote FOR anything or anybody ever more. We are all bound and determined to vote AGAINST whatever we have right now. It happened right here in Alberta, closely followed by the general election and by all indications it’s about to happen in the States and that brings me back to Britex.
Scary thought but the odds are that nobody is going to weigh the pros and cons, no one is going to listen to the prime minister or to anyone else for that matter. A simple decision, if we’re in, it’s time to get out! I seriously doubt if President Obama did any good either, urging the Brits to stay, if he’s all for it then it must be time to vote against it!
Having had my little rant and rave, it’s time to point out that we’re different, at the upcoming AGM in June, we are all going to vote for the status quo, there’s no two ways about it, it just can’t get any better than what we have!
April 10, 2016 - Celebration Day
It all happened last Saturday, it was all Delores Headley’s idea, a special celebration of a very special person, our very own Steve Bates. Our very own, because although he may be known all over North America as one of the best tournament directors in the bridge world, he’s very much one of us.
Judy Gartaganis did a great job describing Steve’s career, so good in fact, that I think there was a moment or so when there was the suggestion of a blush on his cheeks! Al Simon recalled the time, oh my goodness, more than thirty years ago when he recommended Steve to Phil Wood as a likely, future, could be, director.
The evening quickly developed into a party, the bar opened early on and then the food! All of it brought by you lot and what a great job you did. Two items that remain in my mind; firstly the strawberries, never seen such huge berries before, huge usually means tasteless but not this time, delicious came close to being the right word. Then the other specialty was the asparagus sandwiches created by Olga Furlan, no surprise here, this lady is famous for being a wonderful cook.
Mae Jardine and I were present at our first sectional in many a long year and it was a delight to run into people that we normally never get to see. Caroleigh Houghton, Anahid Reid and Barbara Wallat being but three that spring to mind.
Back to Dolores, earlier in the week I had asked her what was the special occasion we were about to celebrate in Steve’s career? Only to be told that it was no particular occasion, just a way of saying thank you. She added that it was also by way of being her swan song. She’s bound and determined to maybe not give up but certainly slowdown in doing what she has done for bridge these last 30, 40 years. You would have had a hard time noticing the slowing down bit the other day though. There she was hard at work in the kitchen, didn’t even have time to play bridge!
March 24, 2016 - Second Day of Spring
My goodness what a day, I do believe I’m close to being right when I added up that some 250 bridge players attended the three clubs, okay there were probably a handful of you fanatics that played both in the afternoon and evening games but I’m still left with my mouth wide open!
However there’s more to spring than bridge. Both our neighbors, one on either side, tell me that the green shoots sprouting up at the rear of our cottage are daffodils, never been fortunate enough to have grown them before, not even that sure that I know how to spell it!
Lots going on at the village these days. I recently had to get finger printed by the police. Just about everyone reacts with a “what did you do”? Everyone except Pat Slack, she was on the ball enough to ask what did I volunteer for? She was right too. I was trying to get clearance to go to a school in Lake Chapparell every Friday afternoon and once there, listen to some grade 1 students read to me. There are four or five of us old fogeys do this and believe me, it’s something to be enjoyed.
Educational too, I can’t begin to remember whether I could read at that age, probably not, for kindergarten wasn’t that common back in those days. Educational in the sense that we get to find out about how smart the kids are these days. One little girl will read a book that she wrote all by herself!
What else is going on you ask? Tuesdays we conscientiously go to our sit and be fit class and then on Wednesday I get to be helped with my aspiration to be a painter, no ambitions towards catching up with Janet Gent but the trying bit is lots of fun.
Back to it being springtime. Being well into my third year of scribbling, I can’t remember whether I have boasted here before that there’s nary a single one of you lot, who knows that Easter occurs every year on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the first day of spring. You’all be sure to remember that now!
March 11, 2016 - Arts and Crafts
Today my cat calendar quotes Albert Schweitzer as saying “there are two means of refuge from the miseries of life; music and cats” He was well on the way to being right, although he did forget to add a third, playing bridge! Staying on the same subject for a moment, can you think of a more peaceful sound on earth than that of a cat purring?
Okay, back to arts and crafts. Listening to music plays a big part in many of our lives. Mae Jardine is probably the biggest aficionado of us all but she has close friends, who are just as heavy into all kinds of music. Much of the time she and Marian Pennell will be sitting next to each other at the Jack Singer Concert Hall for the music and if it’s not there, you’ll find them at the Jubilee Auditorium, wrapped up in the opera.
Then there’s the brand new Bella Concert Hall at Mount Royal University, reputed to have one of the best acoustics in North America. I hear all about these goings on when I listen to these ladies discussing the current week’s concerts with Rod Hilderman at the bridge table, another dyed in the wool enthusiast.
It doesn’t stop at live performances either; there’s movies at Chinook Centre featuring mostly operas filmed at the world’s most famous venues. Covent Garden, La Scala, the Metropolitan Opera House in New York and I don’t dare miss out the Paris Opera. Do ordinary folk like you and I go to see these shows, I ask? You’d better believe it, is the answer; in fact if you don’t reserve your seats well in advance, forget it!
Surprise, surprise, at least to me. They will also have movies on the arts as well. One such being the life story of the famed Spanish painter, Goya. One regret Mae had was that she hadn’t invited Janet Gent to join her at this showing. Why does Janet rate a mention you may well ask? You clearly have no idea what an accomplished artist she has become in just the last few years.
Neither had I but now I know better. The next time you get to play against Diane Campbell, get her to show you a photograph on her smart phone; it’s a photo of a painting Janet did of her granddaughter; !WOW! doesn’t even come close to describing my reaction!
March 4, 2016 - Big Decision
It was. It was. Two years ago to the day. There I was languishing in the Humane Society, approaching middle age. For those of you who don’t know too much about us cats, that’s around 6, 7, 8 years old.
Not an easy decision but they seemed the kind of boring, ho hum people who might look after me in my declining years! So I did, made up my mind, went home with them! Lucky me!
They had me worried this year though, went and moved house, never even asked me what I thought. Anyway, here we are with a porch out in front, a deck at the back and if I want to go out, checking on the neighbourhood, no problem, I can even go out the back and come in the front or vice versa.
Don’t get too appreciative of my two staff though. I’m the best thing that ever happened to them, not for always and ever maybe, but certainly since their last cat!
February 15, 2016 - No Surprise
We should not be surprised I know, but by now we’re all getting used to the idea that when the Unit puts on a show, it’s bound to be something to remember. The recent master/novice game was no exception.
With Gale Bews and Ken Anderson organizing it, their second Annual Team Game was an outstanding success. Once again held at the Kerby Centre on a Saturday evening, giving everyone the chance to be there; these two were on the phone for what seemed like months and succeeded in ending up with 28 tables!
To do this, they explored every corner of the city where bridge is played. West Hillhurst, Confederation Park, the Shell Oil club, not to mention the Haggins regulars in south Calgary. However, drawn from none of these games was perhaps one of the most interesting novices; Crystal Mann persuaded Vera Ross to throw her hat in the ring and I mention this, partly because this lady is about to celebrate her 91st. birthday but also because having taken up the game only a few months ago, her team won three games and finished up in 5th spot; fifth out of 28, pretty impressive!
The evening got started at 5.30 with every one enjoying a pot luck supper. All the goodies were brought by the ‘masters’ and if you happened to be fond of chili you were in for a special treat. Our unit president’s dish is one that I can vouch for, having tasted it before. There were lots of other goodies too, ending with what seemed like an endless choice of desserts.
Once the game got started the noise level dropped considerably and the two directors Doug Mann and Clarende Dube were able to hear themselves think. Playing in a team game was a new experience for an overwhelming number of the newer players, but one to be enjoyed. Thinking back to my first team games, they were memorable because in a pairs game, if you asked me how many spades I held on board 23, two hours ago you were wasting your time, but ask me the same question only a few hands back and the odds improve considerably.
Who came out on top this particular evening? Everyone, but if you’re talking about the result, Anne Olthof and Nancy Hughes won all four games, as did Devra Drysdale and Kim Rahme. Equally important though, is the fact that out of the 56 novices in the game, 22 of them don’t even belong to the ACBL yet, and I mean yet, no doubt things are about to change!
February 12, 2016 - Once in a While
It’s not very often but every now and again we do find something that we can all agree on; but this week it happened. The big news was the return of Carole Anne Snow to the fold. It was way back in November when she left us for a brief week or so to undergo a routine operation on her leg. Brief, routine, my eye! However she’s back and was welcomed by all her friends. On a good day she would have crowned it all by cleaning house in the north half of section B but that would have only been the case if she had not been playing with me as her partner.
What else happened this week? I have to confess to being disappointed when Garry Ramsden-Wood handed me a pre alert warning that he and his partner were playing some weird convention whereby a 2 of a suit opening bid showed a 6 card suit, any 6 card suit no less, quality being neither here nor there. The only positive meaning being that it denied an opening hand.
Why do people presumably lie awake at night dreaming up these weird ways of fouling up the best game in the world? Is it really some way of trying for a better result? Or is it yet another way of driving out newcomers? Hopefully neither, let’s hope it’s merely a restless mind groping for something new.
If the latter, then I have a solution to their problem. The new craze sweeping the world is the adult coloring book mania. What started as a niche hobby has now turned into an international trend, as such books are finding themselves on more and more bestseller’s lists throughout the world. Why, you may well ask?
A well known doctor, a neuropsychologist yet, whatever one of them might be, writes that coloring allows us to switch off our minds from other thoughts and “focus on the moment”; sounds like a good idea to me. I can’t think of a more important momentary moment than trying to bring home a 6NT contract doubled and redoubled! Just thought I’d suggest it.
Things are going to get better though. Sanity will return. We’ll soon have Abdul back from Pakistan and Keith Moores surely must soon be back from wherever.
January 26, 2016 - Change for the Next Round
And lo and behold, it’s Rae Cram playing with Ron Pritchard; how come you get to play with all the pretty girls? I ask Ron. Don’t you compare me with Maged he replies, but yes, she is pretty, he hastened to add.
Ron is my guru when it comes to the subject of keeping fit; I had been trying to buy a thingie we use at my sit and be fit class and found it difficult to buy something when you don’t even know what it’s called! Ron straightened me out, it’s called a “resistance tubing band” and having already tried the keep healthy shops and sports equipment stores, it turned out it was readily available at Walmart, once I knew what I was looking for!
Next round is Lamya playing together with Nancy and Lamya comes up with a new theory enabling all of us to improve our play; to hell with all that that reading stuff I was waffling on about a while back. She figured we all need to sit down with a psychiatrist for a while, get our heads cleared and hey, you’d better watch out when you come up against us next week! Nancy agreed and took it a step further by suggesting we bring in such a person at the next sectional, regional, to straighten us all out!
East-West higher, boards lower but don’t you know it? It’s a skip and worse yet, a sit out, so now what? Glad you asked. My goodness. How could I? Just about forgot the goings on at the sectional last week. I wasn’t there but the big news was that Dolores Hedley was just a’ bubbling! She’d just cleaned house in the Sunday Swiss Teams event! Okay, not quite all by herself, she did have Frank Ayer, Lois Dunsmore and Elsie Johnson stringing along as well but there wasn’t room for any of them on the table, when she was up there, dancing, overjoyed! Don’t let her know you read it here but a quiet congratulation would not come amiss.
There was I thinking that a’bubbling wasn’t a real word, something I’d made up and what do you know, not a week’s gone by and here it is again! Osama Elshafey is the culprit this time, partnered by Hilary Bean, they racked up better than a 60% game to come first in their section at the Monday afternoon Bidwell game. Osama’s smile is always infectious but I don’t recall seeing the bubbling bit before!
January 13, 2016 - Reading the Riot Act
Us lot who still have a lot to learn about the game, frequently get told to read, read, read! Come to think about it, that was the same advice I heard being given to a budding playwright the other day on Hardtalk. Maybe it’s the answer to all our problems; if so, we’re in luck, Murray Haggins seems to have taken over the role of the Unit librarian, he told me this week he has something like 40-50 bridge books lent out to us "wannabees".
Then there’s Dennis Ooms who I hope is going to lend me his copy of a book advocating opening 1NT holding a singleton! Get real was my snap reaction but when he told me the name of the author, I quickly backed down and decided I’d better read it first. Who is the author? Typical me, I’ve forgotten but I’ll let you know.
Away from bridge, Bob Boissin’s collection of books is something to be envied and more importantly he’s willing to loan them out; but maybe not to me anymore! He did just that and only a few days later I came up with some cock and bull story that it had been stolen right out from my house. As it happened the occasion was a time when the house was on the market and fortunately my wife found the book shoved into a drawer out of sight of potential buyers.
The Calgary Public Library is doing it’s best to encourage us to read; they decided to remove the annual membership fee at the beginning of 2015 and amazingly the number of people holding a library card since then has ballooned from 400,000 to well over half a million. Is that something to do with the economy? Twelve bucks is twelve bucks after all. Could be and I quote, “when times are tough, the library is there for people in terms of information for careers, going back to school or just finding yourself something good to read whilst getting through all this stuff.”
Another way of reading is one that I’m on the verge of exploring; again using the library. Two or three years ago I bought myself an e reader and over Christmas I got to take it out of the box! Now I plan on learning how to use it in the sense of borrowing e books from the library. They even have a two hour course on how to get started, so once again, stay tuned.
Talking of reading; this was a big week for me, the readership of this blog rose from a regular two, occasional three, and skyrocketed up into four! What happened? I bumped into Helga Baldwinson at the coffee pot and bless her she let fall that she actually reads this stuff; not always of course but from time to time and that’s often enough for me to use the skyrocket word!
Click HERE to view John's columns from 2015 (and previous years)