Letter from a Player

My Brief Bridge Story
March, 2017
By Chorng-hour Yang

I played casual bridge in college and graduate school and the first few years of my business career.  When I took more responsible position and I was busy and travelled very frequently, I could not play bridge any more. Until in early 2000, I changed my career to less demanding work, I started to pick up the game again at the invitation of my friend, Lihang Chow. First we played social bridge, then we played competitive bridge, I joined ACBL.

In early days of 2000, I primarily played the Swiss team games at tournament and limited pairs game; because I was still working, I could only participate weekends and limited evening events. Then, I temporarily relocated to Iowa, I played quite a few games at Clive bridge club near Des Moines IA, when I worked for a company nearby in 2000 and 2001. I found out I was not too bad in playing bridge, I was winning and got master points (MP). One of the most memorablegames is that I played with a partner who had less than 5 MP, I had about 20 MP, we came out first place at E/W at a section tournament in Des Moines. Then we teamed up with a pair from Minnesota (they had 0 MP before the game), who won the N/S pairs, to play the Swiss team game. Our team came out first at Swiss team game on thefollowing Sunday.

Before 2008 I just had 1 regular partner, Lihang Chow, we played a few club games when my schedule allowed during the evening.  After I retired, I started to play with another partner, Dan Lubetkin, so I had two regular partners, 2 times a week with each partners. We played some tournaments as well.  Lihang wanted to take time off bridge 3 years ago, I picked up my former college classmate, CZ Wan, who just lost his wife due to pancreatic cancer. Plying bridge allows him to forget some of his sorrow. CZ played very good bridge in college, who was champion of college tournaments in Taiwan in late 1960’s. CZ and I played 3 times a week at clubs and we play some tournaments. CZ has another partner, they played 2 times a week plus some tournaments. CZ Wan started from 0 MP, he won first place in Mini–McKenney at District 3 in his MP range, 3 years in a row.  Now Lihang came back to play sometime at White Meadow Lake.

 It took a while for me to become Life Master at 2008. After I retired at 2008, I can played 5 plus times a week in 6 clubs within 25 minutes of drive from my home. I earned Lifer Master (300 MP) in 2008, Bronze in LM 2010, Silver LM in 2014, and Ruby LM in 2017.

I enjoy bridge games in clubs, where have very friendly people and responsible directors. If my regular partner could not play, director will find a partner for me. One thing I enjoy a lot is to play with different partners using my partner’s bidding system. Strange enough, most of the time, we would be in the money. Last year in June and July, we got to the first place with 8 different partners.

Two most notable stories I had with new partners are:

  1. A few years ago, at Denville bridge club, BJ Moore, the director, asked me to do her  a favor to play with a new comer, Adrienne Rothblatt, who knew how to play bridge but had never paly duplicate bridge before. We played the game and ended up in first place. He joined ACBL right away. But there is a sad ending, Adrienne passed away last September due to pancreatic cancer.

  2. Last year, I played Pro–Am game with Barbara Agius, we got to the first place and a trophy at Unit 106.

Playing with a different partner makes you a better player!

Bridge is a game which can teach a person many things. For example:

  1. Bridge is a friendly competitive game, be ready to compete. But it is just a game, do not get too upset when losing a hand, play another hand.

  2. You need to take calculated risks, balance between maximizing winning points and minimizing losing points against opponent.  You can’t be too optimistic, nor too pessimistic, be reasonable is the key.

  3. To reach a best contract, you need to make a decision based on imperfect information, just like many aspects of life.

  4. As a declarer, you not only need to count possible winners, but also need to avoid possible losers. You need to strike a balance between these two principles.

  5. The trick of winning bridge is to find a right partner, treat your partner right and trust him or her.

  6. Everyone makes mistakes, minimize mistakes between partnership bidding, and playing and take advantages of opponents’ mistakes will help to you to win.

  7. Bridge is easy to learn; however, the more you play, the more you know there is room for you to improve.

I gained quite a lot by playing bridge:

  1. Meet a lot of nice people, players and directors in many different places; share good stories of life, and sadness when someone got sick, or worse, passed away. I feel I achieve something by making friends.

  2. Keep my brain working by following the rules; winning master points and get to another level are secondary, it is just additional bonus.

  3. Keep my mind off things, between bridge and golf, my retirement life is never boring.

  4. Learn how to deal people properly, with partners, opponents, and directors.

  5. Have fun either winning or losing, of course, share the joy of winning with partners, especially with new partners.

I notice that membership of ACBL is shrinking and getting older, we do need to get more players to join. It is a very rewarding game, which I have experienced myself. I have to thank my wife for her understanding.  Of course I need to thank my partners who help me to win and tolerate my mistakes.  I am a very lucky person, who can enjoy playing bridge.

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