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All comments by Peter Hasenson
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The event was double round robin of 12 board sets. So, in reality, there were only 2 match ups, each comprising a single round robin over two days. It is interesting to note that the winners scored pretty consistently - +56.75 IMP & +53.75 IMPs for the two RR. Only two other pairs were plus IMP for both sets. Bakhshi/Malinowski (+71.25 & 5.62) and Byrne/Dyke (+43.75 & 17.50). At the other end of the scale, only two pairs were negative IMP both RR.
Jan. 17
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Congratulations to Jeffrey Allerton & Chris Jagger (winners) and to David Bakhshi & Artur Malinowski (runners up).

http://www.ebu.co.uk/dynamic/results/

http://www.ebu.co.uk/results/664
Jan. 15
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Here in UK we are extremely fortunate to have a Supreme Court whose justices are NOT political appointees
Jan. 14
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@David: Unfortunately it is not possible to conduct a poll on BW which allows two picks but I am informed by Eugene this may be possible in the future…
Jan. 13
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I would suggest that nothing promotes team harmony better than success on the green baize by all three pairs, regardless of their feelings for one another. Keep bringing back good cards and all will be forgiven (in the short term at least) :)
Jan. 11
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@Alan: I believe there have been (successful) pairs that did not get on, never mind teammates!
Jan. 11
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KD not voting for KD/MB…Interesting! And Townsend also doesn't seem to fancy his chances!
Jan. 10
Peter Hasenson edited this comment Jan. 10
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Who wants to be a … Bridge Teacher?
By Mike Pomfrey
BM May 2001

When I took redundancy from the Civil Service some four years ago to become a bridge professional I little guessed what a precarious existence it would be. A very few people make a comfortable living from journalism or from sponsorship, but the market, at least in the UK, is small. I chose the teaching option, there being few bridge teachers in my area. It’s been rewarding, but not in financial terms. Some writing for the EBU’s Bridge for All has been welcome and working with Trevor King on Alpine Bridge holidays is great fun, though that has some way to go to become a profitable venture. So the dread prospect of returning to full-time office life was seriously looming.

Everyone dreams of winning the lottery or of some other quick route to security so when the unashamedly populist but addictive Who Wants To Be A Millionaire appeared on our screens I was immediately attracted. I could do that, I thought, but getting there would be another matter. I must have tried around 100 times.

Bill Hirst had persuaded me to play in the 2001 Australian Gold Coast congress. I couldn’t possibly afford it but went anyway and of course it was fantastic. I returned on Wednesday February 28th, thoroughly jet-lagged, made a desultory phone call to Millionaire and was given a standard multiple choice question. These are usually pretty trivial but mine was on American sitcoms, about which I know absolutely nothing. I made a wild guess which proved to be correct and joined a list of probably several hundred thousand other aspirants.

I got home from a bridge class on the Friday (two turned up) to find a message on the answerphone from Celador, the programme makers, asking me to ring back ASAP. I was on a short list of 100! But now comes the really random hurdle. They give you another question, which has a numerical answer, but which is often so obscure that you couldn’t possibly know it. You have to make a guess, within ten seconds, and whoever is closest (out of ten of you) gets on the show. I was asked the width, in inches, of a water polo goal. I desperately tried to imagine one – ‘five seconds left’ said the voice - and I blurted out “120”. I put the phone down and thought, “you idiot, it’s nowhere near that big, you’ve blown it”. I lay awake that night wondering if I could possibly be right, ran down to the local library in the morning and discovered the actual width is three metres, about 118 inches. No sleep that night either with the excitement that I might have made it. Celador rang back on Sunday to confirm that I was indeed closest, to make arrangements for me to travel down to the studios at Elstree, and of course to condemn me to yet another sleepless night.

Daughter Lizzie was home for the weekend from Birmingham University and she jumped at the chance to be my studio guest. She insisted I take her good luck mascot, Mini Moose (99p from IKEA). Moose has successfully steered Lizzie through A levels and her friends through interviews, but he’d yet to be tested on a really long shot, like her driving tests (I try to get advance warning of those so I can be in another county, or even another country).

To digress for a moment. When Lizzie was seven I tried to teach her to play bridge. In the very first session she was defending my Four Heart contract and steadfastly clung on to the master trump as I ran winners in a side suit. Eventually she gained the lead, cashed the trump and beat the contract. I asked, why she hadn’t ruffed earlier ‘because then I’d have had to lead diamond,' she replied scornfully, if any idiot could recognise endplay, analysis that would have been beyond the great majority regular players at your local club. ‘Move over Nicola and Pat, he comes the next world champion,’ I thought, but sadly she immediate lost interest in such an easy game. She's just started playing under Mike Amos's tutelage, and showing dangerous signs of addiction.

Being on Millionaire is really good fun. First, you meet your fellow, contestants for lunch. Everyone’s really friendly, you all wish each other luck … and of course you are all sizing each other up. In the afternoon you get a rehearsal. Phil takes you through the fastest finger procedure. Believe me; it's nowhere near as easy as it looks on the telly. Your four options are in a rectangular pattern on the screen you have to get the order in your head before you hit the button, which are in a line below the screen (and quite small, so you have to be careful) and then you have to remember to hit the OK. Afterwards you get to answer a couple of practice questions in the chair, which by comparison is far less stressful. Then it's off to wardrobe, dinner, make up, fit microphones and finally on to the set for the real thing!

There was a contestant carried over from the previous night. He was going along fine when a key psychological moment occurred. Have you ever been in a safe 3NT at match pointed pairs, there's slightly risky finesse for an overtrick, you're about to take it… and a little doubt appears in you mind. It nags at you, grows and grows … and you chicken out. Well that's what happened to Dave. Hi was about to say ‘final answer when it dawned on him how much he was risking, and from that moment he was doomed. Those of us waiting recognized it and started flexing our fingers. This is the really tense bit; this is what you’ve come here for.

Our fastest finger question was on political parties. Phil had emphasised that it's all very well being fastest, but it's more important to be right, so don't rush it. I ignored him, convinced that several of my fellow contestants would be quick, and went all out for it. It was a big disappointment to find that Norman, who had been practicing for months, had pipped me to the chair by a third of a second. Norman is a lovely bloke who was going strongly until he blew all his lifelines on a stinker of a question and suddenly it was all to play for again. We had to put four of Snow White's dwarves in alphabetical order - dead simple, but try it at speed - and this time I made it to the chair. There's a short break while they shift the furniture around - otherwise, apart from a little editing, the timing feels very like the programme you see on the screen.

Actually being in the chair wasn't scary at all. It helps to be used to facing a class, and playing high level bridge does train you to think clearly under pressure. But Chris Tarrant is brilliant at putting you at ease, you feel he's on your side and, most importantly, he gets the audience on your side as well. So, a few preliminaries, a reference to Moose, and we're off.

The first question was on boy bands. ‘Oh, no, not popular culture,’ I groaned, but fortunately it proved obvious. After that it was plain sailing, apart from asking the audience about Zoe Ball's father, until the £32,000 question. This is a big milestone and I had determined not to pass at that point. £32,000 would mean a few years grace to try to get the teaching career moving. So, which Hollywood actor founded the Sundance Institute? Well, everyone knows that Robert Redford played the Sundance Kid, so it had to be him, even though I didn't know for sure. It was an anxious wait before Chris said “you just won £32,000” and mercifully we ran out of time at that point, just when I badly needed a breather.

Most of the contestants and their guests had accepted Celador's offer to put us up at a hotel. After a quick drink in the studio bar we were whisked off to consume copious quantities of red wine (my round of course). All the others were incredibly supportive, wishing me luck for the next night, which is a hard thing to do when you could have been in the same position yourself.

A funny thing happened the following morning. Lizzie and I did a little modest shopping and in the shopping mall was a gleaming yellow Toyota MR2 sports car. I thought it was a lottery and, feeling lucky, I asked to buy a ticket. ‘It’s not a lottery, it's a promotion,' said the girl disdainfully. ‘And I can tell you can’t afford it' remained unspoken but clearly implied. (I had a test drive in one the other day, by the way - a transport of delight but no room for the golf clubs.)

So back to the studio in the afternoon to meet the next night's contestants who would be going for it once I had finished. Being an old television hand by now it was amusing to move around, chatting easily with Chris who usually turns up on the set at rehearsals. Then onto the same routine as the previous night - wardrobe, makeup, mike and off to the set.

As the moment approached for our entry into the arena the Floor Manager came up. He was concerned that Moose, who occupied my breast pocket, was making life difficult for the camera crew. But Chris stepped in and, sensitive not to break my mood, insisted Moose should stay. Nice touch.

Back in the chair I felt not at all nervous but very tired. Would the brain function? Fortunately the answer to the £64,000 question popped straight into my head. It was such a relief, knowing the adrenalin was going to keep me focused. From then on I could really enjoy the show and try to make it entertaining.

The best moment was phone a friend. As most of the world knows, I had asked my ex-wife Georgie to be one of my five possible contacts. It seemed the obvious thing to do; she's very knowledgeable, I trust her judgment and was happy to offer her a percentage of anything she helped me win. And when the £250,000 question came up -'What's the symbol on the national flag of India?' - I was sure she'd know. Of course, Chris milked it for all it was worth. When he asked me if he should tell her how much money was involved I was emphatic that she would want to know. So it proved, causing a burst of laughter in the studio.

So, after I gave my final answer and before he confirmed whether it was right, Chris raised the tension by calling a break for adverts. During the break, off camera, he swore at himself in front of the audience for prolonging the agony and called up to Lizzie, ‘How are you feeling?’ ‘I’m fine, I know the answer,' came the reply. What a family of smartasses.

The £500,000 question was a doddle. I know they're only easy if you know the answer but I'd seen capybara in a zoo only last year. I didn't know who Tomas Masaryk was, for a million quid (Georgie's mum does). I've wondered since if I might have been able to work it out, especially if I'd saved the 50/50 lifeline, but hell, who's complaining about half a million.
Jan. 9
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Another team of bridge players has taken on “the most formidable quiz team in the country” on the BBC show Eggheads, following the appearance of the Lavender Bridge Mob, from Lavender BC, on the programme last month.

The Five Diamonds - Nick Smith, Chris Cooper, Emily Middleton, Marc Lee and Denis Gough - appeared on the show on Thursday 9th April 2015.

*Spoiler alert*

They won. The team performed very well, with only one of the team losing to the opposing Egghead in the first stage, and they then went on to scoop the prize after the final went to sudden death. They will perhaps spend the jackpot by visiting the model village of Stewartby - and if you know which county it is in then you should perhaps be on the Eggheads team, as that was the question which tripped them up.

http://www.ebu.co.uk/node/2005

A team from Lavender Bridge Club appeared on the BBC quiz show Eggheads.

http://www.ebu.co.uk/node/1979
Jan. 8
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I have
Jan. 4
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@John: A short history at:

https://acblstory.wordpress.com/2012/06/04/acbl-bridge-beat-65-race-to-life-master/

PS A happy new year to you
Jan. 2
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Wow, what a story!
Dec. 18, 2017
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I do not care much for the systemic call of 3D if it can show as poor a suit as this. What's the value of such a call?
Dec. 12, 2017
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Many millions of $$$ have been spent on chess programs. I am not a chess player but I understand the best programs are far better than humans these days. Very little has been spent on bridge programs. What would be interesting to hypothesize is if the same amount of $$$ had been spent on bridge AI as Chess AI would the results be equally impressive. I doubt it.
Dec. 6, 2017
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A lot depends on the state of the match. Clearly towards the end and judging that one is behind, action seems obvious. Early doors however…
Dec. 3, 2017
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Cheats.

The dwindling number of tournament bridge players.

The lack of a pro circuit with meaningful prize money.

Major NBOs being represented in major international team events by ‘wealthy but not first rank’ players. PS I accept however the economic realities.

Over officious officials and administrative incompetence and wastage.

Administrators who only think an idea is a good one if they themselves propose it.

‘Bridge lawyers’.

People who give poor explanations of their calls especially those that are the first to complain if you do not have a suitable convention card.

Losing to an inferior team.

Not beating a ‘better team’.

And #1 - not being a Bermuda Bowl winner!
Dec. 3, 2017
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@Richard: Which two pairs would you have dropped for Gold & Table Leg and Bell & Table Leg?
Nov. 29, 2017
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The Selection Committee have accepted applications from the following pairs to participate in the trials to represent the England Open team at the 2018 European Team Championships:

Espen Erichsen & Glyn Liggins; Neil Rosen & Martin Jones; Michael Byrne & Kieran Dyke; Heather Dhondy & Brian Callaghan; Tom Townsend & Alex Hydes; Phil King & Andrew McIntosh; David Bakhshi & Artur Malinowski; Simon Cope & Peter Crouch; Jeffrey Allerton & Chris Jagger; Frances Hinden & Graham Osborne
Reserves: Tom Paske & Ed Jones

The trials, scored by Ximps, will be held over 4 full days, 12th to 15th January 2018, at the Young Chelsea BC. The 2018 European Team Championships will take place in Ostend, Belgium on 6th - 16th June.

http://www.ebu.co.uk/node/2925
Nov. 29, 2017
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Well played Alon & Dennis :)
Nov. 26, 2017
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