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All comments by Matthew Granovetter
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Hi, Brian
It’s unusual to have a job where you need to work on Shabbos, but bridge is one of them. A rabbi of a synagogue also must “work” on Shabbos, and during the High Holy Days, even on Yom Kippur, a cantor can be hired to help inspire the service with his voice. A famous example of an observant Jew who occasionally worked on Shabbos is Joe Lieberman, who was a US Senator — he was known to walk five miles to the capital building on Shabbos to cast a vote. But he couldn’t write because that’s one of the 39 Melachos (these are forbidden actions, based on work on the Mishkan — the tabernacle — when the Jews were in the desert). “Working” refers to doing one of these actions.

Here are more details from the Chabad site.

The 39 Melachot
There are thirty-nine general categories of labor that are forbidden on Shabbat. Each of these categories include a range of derivative laws and activities, some of which are described in “The Shabbat Laws.” The melachot are generally divided into six groups, classified according to the Mishkan's activities with which they are associated.
Field Work
• Sowing
• Plowing
• Reaping
• Binding Sheaves
• Threshing
• Winnowing
• Selecting
• Grinding
• Sifting
• Kneading
• Baking
Making Material Curtains
• Shearing Wool
• Cleaning
• Combing
• Dyeing
• Spinning
• Stretching the Threads
• Making Loops
• Weaving Threads
• Separating the Threads
• Tying a Knot
• Untying a Knot
• Sewing
• Tearing
Making Leather Curtains
• Trapping
• Slaughtering
• Skinning
• Tanning
• Smoothing
• Ruling Lines
• Cutting
Making the Beams of the Mishkan
• Writing
• Erasing
The Putting up and Taking down of the Mishkan
• Building
• Breaking Down
The Mishkan's Final Touches
• Extinguishing a Fire
• Kindling a Fire
• Striking the Final Hammer Blow
• Carrying
Sept. 14
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Suggest that the Trials begin on Sunday or Monday instead of Friday. Then the round-robin will not be affected by these religious issues.
Sept. 12
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Regarding natural and supernatural, we all live in the USA, and the USBF represents the USA in world tournaments. The USA allows for the supernatural, and was even founded as a country with the purpose of allowing freedom of religion. Therefore, it would be a nice idea if the USBF made insignificant allowances for some of the supernaturalists to participate.
Sept. 12
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We all agree. The key word here is “significantly.”
Sept. 12
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“The way things ought to be” is subjective. As a bridge promoter, I have seen that the way championship bridge is best promoted to the public is without screens and with galleries of kibitzers around each table, where the press can take photos and the audience can applaud. Yes, it lessons the fairness of the game, as it allows for more possibilities of misinformation, but it makes for a more popular exhibit to fans and the general public. So what ought to be depends on what you're aiming for. Sometimes, you compromise in one area to gain a lot in another. The Sunday Times Pairs, for example, which you won with Barnet, would not have worked with screens.
Sept. 12
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I'm not sure about that. If I commit to being orthodox in my religion, I have no choice but to follow G-d's commandments. To put it on another level, if your wife asks you to hold her purse for a minute while she gets her coffee, do you have a choice? If partner doubles one heart and it goes pass, and you hold 4333 with zero HCPs, do you have a choice to bid anything but 1S?
Sept. 12
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Danny and Marty and Alan are on target. I have yet to see from my opponents a scribbled explanation that details a complicated system bid. That's why careful editing of the CC and SSF is so good, as often you can just show your opponent where the bid is on the CC or SSF. If an opponent has a more detailed question, it's usually answerable by a yes or no or number. Example: When I played with Zia behind the screen, I didn't write that his cuebid was suspect, but I pointed to “cuebid” and turned my hand left and right as if to say - it's supposed to be - my opp got the message. After that experience I wrote “it's supposed to be, but you never know with him” on my pointer.LOL
Sept. 12
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I was wondering if the tablets are for the play of the cards as well. I think this innovation is leading eventually to a four-room tournament, where all Norths, Wests, Souths and Easts congregate in their own room and desk. For example, if there 16 tables in play, all Norths play in the North room. Then we can use computers and type without worry about noise (typing is faster than touching for we older generation). I assume we'll be answering questions from both opponents as well. It might increase the time factor. In our own “North room” however, we can call the director, without attention to the other players at our“ table”. We can relax, chomp on pop corn, and talk to ourselves too! LOL
Sept. 12
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You're both right. LOL. You choose not to have the choice. We're all familiar with Sandy Koufax's choice of not pitching in the opening game of the 1965 World Series because it was on Yom Kippur. He was not orthodox, but he felt he had no choice. Because of his fame, he represented the Jewish people. The Dodgers were supportive. Drysdale lost game one and Koufax lost game two, but the Dodgers won anyway with Koufax winning game 7 on two days' rest and the MVP. :)
Another analogy: you're playing bridge and you have six spades to the queen and out, and partner opens one notrump. Do you have a choice? You transfer to 2S, because you chose to play the game of bridge, where sometimes there is no choice of bids.
Sept. 12
Matthew Granovetter edited this comment 23 hours ago
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In Beijing in 2008, at my own expense, I had to arrive more than a week before the event. The championships started on a Sunday. I could not fly land on Saturday, and flights landing on Friday were too close for comfort in the afternoon before sundown. I could not fly earlier in the week because it was Rosh Hashana, so I had to fly the week before that on a Tuesday to get there Thursday, 10 days earlier. This turned out to be lucky, because I met wonderful people at the Chabad House in Beijing, and spent the New Year there, and then when I went to the hotel early, I met Jose' Damani in the lobby. He showed me the schedule, and when I pointed out that Yom Kippur was on Thursday, he immediately changed the scheduled off-day from Wednesday to Thursday to accommodate all the Jewish players from around the world (many of those not strongly observant still wished to have Yom Kippur off, as it is a fast day and considered the holiest day of the year). I escorted many of these players to the Wednesday night last meal at Dini's Kosher Chinese restaurant and then the Hilton Hotel where services were held.
Sept. 12
Matthew Granovetter edited this comment Sept. 12
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Our experiences in WBF events and Europe have been completely positive. IMO the WBF has no policy regarding the pointer system. When I've used it on several occasions, the directors did not seem to care and the players were happy to get a clear-cut easy to read typed explanation with the touch of a finger. I think the pointer system is superior to written explanations, except in one way: it doesn't provide proof of the explanation afterwards, if it's needed for an arbitration (when a player claims he has misbid or misplayed because he received the wrong explanation AND the person who gave the explanation disputes that he gave the wrong explanation).
Sept. 12
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Hi. I found out about this forum a couple days ago, and Jan added me, so I could read the comments and participate, albeit a little late. I’m currently in the middle of writing an autobiography focusing on my career in bridge and return to Judaism, and the complications (often humorous) of combining the two. (I don’t have a catchy title yet and welcome suggestions!)

A Little Background
When Pamela and I had our first baby, we realized there must be a higher power and after our second baby, we began to investigate and found Him through the help of Chabad, a Chassidic branch of Judaism. Then I read in the Talmud that “all card players go to Gehennim (hell)” so I asked my Rabbi if I had to give up playing bridge (although I never considered bridge a “card” game). He told me that the foremost purpose of religion is to make a dwelling place for G-d here on earth, i.e., to work within this natural world and the world inside our mind. He said that The Rebbe wants me to continue.

12 Years in Israel
In Netanya, we presented the problem of playing bridge on Shabbos to the Rabbi there, and he took the case to a panel of his peers in Jerusalem. (Can you imagine that forum? Rabbis discussing bridge!) Their ruling was based on Biblical laws, the 39 forbidden activities on Shabbos (as Marty Harris mentioned) and the spirit of Shabbos. I was not permitted to play bridge on Shabbos in Israel (or any holy holidays where work was forbidden), because tournaments are run by a Jewish state’s organization. I could play outside of Israel, but (ironically) only if I was getting paid and it was part of a week-long tournament. (I was also to ask my partner, if he was Jewish, not to write.) The point of getting paid was that playing bridge is not in the spirit of Sabbath, so why do it? However, if you have a contract for the week and it will not be fulfilled if you don’t play on Shabbos, there is room for leniency. (The wife of a rabbi once told me: “My husband’s biggest work day is Shabbos.”) But there is also the idea that a person cannot “appear” to be breaking the Shabbos laws. So maybe I should not even be seen playing bridge on Shabbos, and therefore, should not play in the first place. I’ve often had to weigh this problem against the loss of income and outreach.

Writing on Shabbos
In the year 2000, I was invited to play professionally in the trials in Memphis, and we reached the final where we lost to Nickell-Freeman, Hamman-Soloway and Meckwell and then lost the playoff match for USA2 to Rose Meltzer’s all-star team (she went on to win the Bermuda Bowl). For the next 18 years, at regionals and nationals, I’ve had the good fortune to play thousands of hands against America’s best players, sometimes on Shabbos, where I could not write. I never had a problem. Everyone has been amazingly accepting of our religious situation. For these occasions, I had a piece of paper made up with all the symbols, point counts, etc, and just pointed. During several USA events and world championships, I used this pointer system against teams from America, Japan, China, Russia, Germany, Hungary and Egypt, to name a few, and there was never a peep of objection. Even my partner Russ Ekeblad (not Jewish) made a copy of the pointer and used it on his side of the screen, because it was easier, quicker, quieter and more clear than writing. Some international opponents preferred it because English handwriting can be difficult to read. At times our opponents even used it!

It appears that nobody ever thought to ask himself: “If I make a bid based on misinformation, how will I verify what Matthew (or Russ, or Pamela) pointed to on the paper?” I think this is because most players are good sports, and it’s so unlikely that a ruling will be needed based on a disagreement between two sides about what information was provided. Does anyone know how many such cases there are at the trials?

In Conclusion
I’d like to answer more specific questions in the threads. I very much appreciate this wonderful forum. It demonstrates the quality of kindness and tolerance for other views that bridge players have. I want to wish everyone, Jewish or not, a healthy, successful and sweet new year, as Rosh Hashana (Head of the year) begins on Sunday night September 29. If anyone is in the Cincinnati area, please come to our home to celebrate with us.
Sept. 10
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So there are two opposite ways to play this hand. Discovery and Conceal.
Sept. 9
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Good point, maybe because at our bridge club, only some open.
Sept. 9
Matthew Granovetter edited this comment Sept. 9
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6-4 is possible, but 5-5 is probable.
Sept. 9
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I love Michael's point, and then Bernie wrote just what I was going to write in reply, but I came home too late. Another point is that since East might be brilliant, maybe he's partnered by a less brilliant student – it happens – and then South, in the scenario HK, HA, ruff, club ten lead, West may go up king with the CK or play low without thought without the king. There are lots of ways to discover!
Sept. 9
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So sorry to read this. Pamela and I were friends of Anders mostly because of the series of articles he wrote for our magazine, Bridge Today. They were about the theory that leading shortness against a suit contract is superior to trying to force declarer, even when you hold long trumps.
We naturally corresponded a lot between New York and Malmo, and later between Israel and Sweden. I refer to him all the time in my bridge classes or when I’m coaching. He was an original writer and thinker.
March 25
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Another practical simple solution is to run the open and women’s teams at the same time, and run the senior and mixed teams the same time. Everyone gets 2 events to play in. Saves money for the WBF as well. The women who qualify for the women’s teams can play the mixed provided they agree to drop off the women’s team if they win the mixed.
Aug. 27, 2018
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Congrats to the Glassons! I guess nice guys do finish first.
July 25, 2017
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Hey, Shireen, thanks a lot for reprinting this hand - LOL.. Now I have to order some sleeping pills…. :)
Oct. 23, 2015
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