Join Bridge Winners
All comments by Jonathan Campbell
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
That was the range for the Baron 1NT, counting a 10 as 1/2 point IIRC. But there were a lot of hands that would be a weak 1NT opener today that Baron wouldn't treat that way due to honour location and rebidding considerations. As if point count didn't already carry things too far…
Aug. 22
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
I don’t know whether McKenney ever physically went to the UK, or if his writings detailing the suit preference signal just happened to be the first published there and led some to name the technique after him. He was the bridge columnist for the NEA syndicate for over 20 years (a post assumed by Oswald Jacoby after McKenney’s death in 1950, the column lives on today written by Philip Alder). McKenney didn’t have his own pet system like Culbertson so he frequently wrote articles about different methods.
Aug. 7
Jonathan Campbell edited this comment Aug. 7
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
For what it's worth, here's an excerpt from an article by William E. McKenney published in 1931. This was part of a long series he wrote surveying bidding methods you might find at the time, at least in the Eastern United States, including various artificial one-club and two-club systems (I have all the articles if anyone is interested):

“Bidding of Four-Card Suits Ahead of Longer Suits

”The writer has long advocated the bidding of four-card suits ahead of five or even six-card suits; e.g. you hold the king and queen and two small diamonds and the ace and king and three small spades. The writer prefers to start the bidding with one diamond and then on the second round of bidding to show the spade suit. In this manner your partner can easily read that your hand contains four diamonds and five spades.

“Under this system of bidding, the second suit shown almost always contains five or six cards. While it is quite true that in some cases you must bid four-card suits, the majority of hands arise where the distribution is four-five.

”The most important reason for bidding the four-card suit first is that while the size of the contract is small the four-card suit can be shown. When the size of the contract is increased, we show the suit containing the longer number. Often when you start off with the five-card suit first, the bidding becomes so high that it is impossible to show the second suit, and it may be that only in the short suit is there game."
Aug. 7
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
I answered the first one, which is why I think people aren't taking up bridge, and “other” to account for the fact that people who do play bridge are participating less because of advancing age/health issues more than anything else. The bracketing/stratification issues debated here may influence what some people decide to play (different events or maybe staying at the club instead of playing tournaments), but I don't think it drives them away from the game.

When bridge flourished, it was very different from the ecosystem that we have now. People learned and played socially. Of course, there wasn't as much to do. Many married women were home during the day, kids were just turned loose outside and told to be back for dinner. In the evenings you could play bridge with your neighbours, listen to the radio, read, sit on the front porch, or get on a streetcar to go someplace.

As I've read about it I found that clubs of the day catered to this type of bridge, too. The top bridge clubs in the golden age had good food, bars, and you could play other games besides bridge (pinochle, gin rummy, backgammon, whatever). Basically an urban country club without a golf course. And the bridge on offer included cut-in rubber or Chicago so you could come in and play as much as you wanted for whatever stake you were willing to pay, then leave when you'd had enough (or not).

Playing that type of bridge had a different technical standard that wouldn't be satisfying to a lot of dedicated tournament players. If you had read Goren's “Contract Bridge in a Nutshell” or even a free booklet you got with a tank of gas or pack of cigarettes, you had enough reference material to get “in the swim”. Duplicates were relatively rare; many of the leading clubs in big cities in the US and the UK still spoken of now (the Regency or Lederer's, for example) had maybe a weekly evening duplicate and masterpoint games were even rarer (sometimes only once a month). Tournaments were not as big a part of the scene.

How many legendary bridge careers started by learning “on the fly” at a young age because a social game needed a “fourth”? (Two examples off the top of my head: Charles Goren and Dorothy Hayden Truscott).
July 12
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
The Four Aces in the US started doing something very similar somewhere in the late thirties or early forties. It wasn't in the system book they published in 1935 but Goren mentioned it as one of four “expert variations” on standard bidding methods in his 1944 “Standard Book of Bidding”. Goren attributed it to the Aces, but I wonder whether they picked it up from Kempson either by reading his book or meeting him when they travelled to Europe in the thirties.
May 24
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
Mike: a groomsman is to a bridesmaid as the best man is to the maid of honour i.e. additional male attendants. You have to suit up, but you don't have responsibility for not losing the rings. Numbers vary according to how big a wedding party is planned. I was one of seven groomsmen at a wedding 28 years ago, I was the best man at my brother's wedding with 3 other groomsmen opposite a maid of honour and three bridesmaids, but when I got married we only each had one attendant so there was a maid of honour and a best man and that was it.
May 23
Jonathan Campbell edited this comment May 23
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
Goren did the four aces +1 adjustment for NT bids as well, it was the only adjustment he applied in those cases. It's on the first page of the chapter on point count for NT bidding of his “Point Count Bidding in Contract Bridge”.
May 9
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
After the first commercial break in Jeopardy, there is (is there still? I haven't watched in years) a “human interest” segment where Alex Trebek talks to each contestant about something personal to them like hobbies or achievements (they must have to provide this sort of information when they become contestants). Having to come up with a lot of these little talks with James Holzhauer, have they managed to ask him about playing bridge yet? That might be the best publicity the bridge community could hope for out of this…
May 9
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
Goren's distributional count had a lot of little adjustment rules that codify hand evaluation principles better players apply subconsciously.

On this hand I don't think I would open 2NT but I'm not offended by the thought.

I doubt many people apply them anymore because Goren is no longer the “primer”/“bible” that most North Americans learn from/refer to when in doubt.

Other than being a lot of memory work, when properly applied (Goren spent much of his later career warning against abuses of them) they do a decent job for people who need the help.

(An alternate view: Richard Pavlicek's teachings are to upgrade 1 point when holding 4+ aces and tens combined).
May 9
Jonathan Campbell edited this comment May 9
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
Or that it has a safety factor of two (one in aerospace).
May 1
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
I've typed in and erased two lengthy responses/commentaries, but I'm sure nobody wants to read a long one.

I think the quote under discussion may be about Goren in earlier, better times than his last Nationals appearance in 1967. If you keep reading Mr. Wolff's book, there is much more detail immediately following:

https://books.google.ca/books?id=FksZwNVP56oC&lpg=PP1&pg=PA26#v=onepage&q&f=false">https://books.google.ca/books?id=FksZwNVP56oC&lpg=PP1&pg=PA26#v=onepage&q&f=false

It's a sad story, to say the least. Alan Truscott speculated in the NY Times Bridge Book that Goren developed Alzheimer's and that forced his retirement from public life. I'm not aware that this was ever published or confirmed elsewhere.

I also think that there's a sort of “Three Faces of Goren”: there's the Goren the Book that people love to cite, Goren the Public Image, and, lastly, Goren the Man. We know the least about that last one, and probably never will know a lot.
April 17
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
If you want a rabbit hole to go down, I think that all of Life magazine's back issues are readable on Google Books.
April 15
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
Not that I would never do it or consider doing it, but with my luck opening 1NT would either (1) end in the wrong contract where the right one could only be found after 1, or (2) find partner with 5-5 majors expecting a fit in one of them (maybe not a problem for certain methods).

Hypothetically if I chose 1NT, I would preemptively mix a diamond in with my hearts in case I needed to act sheepish later.

And it helps, I have found, to be willing to apologise for things like this.
April 13
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
Here's a Goren story from Sports Illustrated about him playing with the Dodgers (using a trunk in the locker room as a table) as they were leaving Brooklyn:

https://www.si.com/vault/1958/04/14/668675/you-cant-beat-the-cards
March 14
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
IIRC, only Vitamin Flintheart (anyone remember that character?) ever called him “Richard”.
March 10
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
Yes, Richard is Oswald Jacoby. And I'd be willing to bet that his teammate in some of his thirties triumphs in the database right now “Bruce Chester” is actually David Burnstine/Bruce, and “Elizabeth Hopkins” is Michael Gottlieb.

Howard Schenken doesn't show up if you search for him either. A conspiracy theorist might think that someone was trying to erase the Four Aces from bridge history ;)
March 10
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
And all on top of an illustrious career as a crimefighter…

(Edit: Somebody in ACBL IT is having us on with a made-up name while they're detecting (see what they did there?) why many people are not showing up in the winners database.)
March 10
Jonathan Campbell edited this comment March 10
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
Caveat: that page seems to have some flaws with respect to older data. For instance if you try to search for Oswald Jacoby you won't find him, and if you look at events from way back (even into the 1970s, at a quick glance) you may not see all members of an event-winning team. I had some email correspondence with someone at ACBL awhile back that indicated there's some kind of a database/indexing issue that apparently they haven't fixed yet.
March 9
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
I agree with the Blue and Gold books’ importance and have them in my collection, however they’re still so easy to come by that I wonder whether a reprint is necessary. I was thinking of the rarer works that were starved for oxygen by Culbertson in their day (on this side of the Atlantic, anyway).
Jan. 6
Jonathan Campbell edited this comment Jan. 6
You are ignoring the author of this comment. Click to temporarily show the comment.
I’m not sure which of these qualify as worthwhile for bridge reasons rather than as historical artifacts, but in no particular order:

-The first edition of the Encyclopedia of Contract Bridge that was published in 1935 (by the Culbertson organization, the ACBL’s first edition was not published til 1964).

-Vanderbilt’s original book on the Vanderbilt club (which can be read online at the Hathitrust library - if you are interested I can post a link).

-The books on the legendary Culbertson-WhomeverIWantToMakeAnExampleOfAtTheMoment matches of the 1930s

-“Master Contract” and “Money Contract” by P. Hal Sims

-“Lenz on Bridge” vols. 1 & 2

-Goren’s earliest books from the 1930s, “Highlights of Winning Bridge” and “Winning Bridge Made Easy” (to see where it all started…), and if 1942 is not stretching too far “Better Bridge for Better Players”

-Buller’s books

-The very first edition of the Acol book from 1938 (although later editions from the 1940s were probably reasonably faithful representations of the system as well; it was not until 1952 that Jack Marx felt the need to publicly disown Terence Reese and Ben Cohen’s books as diverging from the spirit of Acol as Marx and Simon conceived it).
Jan. 5
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
.

Bottom Home Top