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Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Sonya Britton Trophy


Here are the results of the Sonya Britton annual friendly for 2014

Gordon Lessells   and Rita Cassidy anchored the CBAI to victory as John Murchan tried his best but ultimately had to concede defeat. 
How about some videos
We found outside CityNorth hotel a very rare species THE FOB

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Declan the Don player plays WBridge5 for first time

Last night I logged into

to play my daily session of WBridge5 16 hands and after playing board 2 I noted the presence of troutman in the results. Troutman is the pseudo name of Declan the Don player who I have mentioned before as a solid Dublin citizen who is extremely good at DON but when he found out about bridge he was totally INTRIGUED by the game.

Anyway if I was sitting on a chair I might have fallen off as Declan had said in the past .. "Eamon I will need lots of time before I venture into this bridge. Those bridge lads would not be too good at fishing on their first day out. .. I would not be able to play this bridge after 7 or 8 pints ... Thats why you win at DON because you only come into the pub at 1125pm and I am already well started"

Anyway sure enough there is troutman after playing board 2 and outscoring all the regulars.
Of course being in the highest scoring contract and getting 11 tricks helped.
However pretty good for a man who has never seen a bridge lesson or read a book on bridge but has stepped into a bridge club for a look.

Declan the Dub watched Maurice Quinn from a distance and said ... "And I thought life would be over when I am too old to swing a fly rod " ... Now I see there is more to life ...Look at that experienced lad over there ...playing cards ..enjoying his can of guinness and he actually still can win despite being aged about 85."
"He is my idol ambition is to partner that guy"'

Above is Declan the Don player doing what he is expert in ...catching fish...


Galligan played another 16 boards of the Spingold quarter final this morning and got done again.
The Jack robots roared into 6H on a board when the Spingold NS's failed to get past game.
Galligan loses 8 imps after making a mini comeback. 

However all is not lost but I will need a large 16 boards to get up to middle of the field.
of course I am comparing with the NS of both teams which might be the stronger pair. 
This is where Butler Teams falls down when posted in major Euro and World events.
A pair like Hanlon McGann might be sent out to battle with the other teams toughest pair or toughest system.
Thus getting scored tougher and looking like they played worse.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Galligan plays Spingold Quarter Final with Jack5 (Its not easy)

By all accounts Thomas Hanlon performed extremely well in the Spingold Trophy. 2014. 
This is one of the US Nationals major events .. 
Spingold Reisigner Vanderbilt and Bermuda Bowl would be termed the majors of the bridge world.
Thomas and his team of Fred Gitelman Justin Lall Brad Moss and Les Amoils reached the quarter finals where they fell by 1 IMP to the LAVAZZA team. 

A team mate of Thomas indicated to me during the 1st stanza of the quarter final that ....
"Hanlon is awesome" and qualified it by replying to my comment of "Not better than you surely"

"He is this week for sure" 

Galligan figured he might play the Spingold quarter final and see how much he could beat Hanlon and the Grue team by. However it is not working out too well. Does this mean Hanlon and pals are really so much better than Galligan or could it be that my Jack does not push close enough to the par. 
Anyway Galligan needs to examine whats going on. 
Strangely enough back around 2005 Galligan was lucky enough to fall into a group of young bridge players that included Justin Lall and Agustin Madala. The rest of the gang were pretty mean players also. 
Maybe things will improve in the 2nd half or maybe I need to upgrade to Jack 6. 
Camrose Trials

Meanwhile I see a new Camrose Trials notice appearing yesterday. Amazing how 5 eminent and intelligent and very experienced bridge players and administrators can manage to send out a set of qualifying requirements for the major event of the CBAI calendar and a few weeks later retract those requirements and replace them with a totally different and 10 times tougher requirement. 
This means "They did not do it right the first time" 

When I saw the first notice my first thought was any regular attender of CBAI National competition can now enter the trials accompanied by 5 novices. Of course this is an exaggeration but the new qualifying requirements meant the Camrose Trials had become open to any person even a non-bridge player.
I thought it very strange but no longer being a serious bridge player I just left it alone. 
I recalled a time 2 years ago when the 2 best juniors in the country could not gain entry to the Camrose Trials as they were not deemed good enough and now this thing of a team with total of 700 B points can play. So 1 John Phelan could bring himself and 5 retired Waterford hurlers to play in the Camrose Trials as he owns 700 B points. .
One suspects that maybe somebody sent CBAI the wrong draft notice as the original was like an April Fools joke. 
Ballybunion Congress
Ballybunion Congress is on sometime in August but I don't see any literature on the expected sites of CBAI and Bridge Ireland. Both of them only have mention of 2013 event. I think it is around August 22-24 weekend but I cannot be certain. Actually I just found it mentioned in CBAI calendar. 

Ballybunion often runs a Junior Bridge train in but I don't know any details. 
The juniors will be tired after their trips to Germany. 
Meanwhile somebody from Wexford was missing Declan the Dub. Declan actually watched the Spingold quarter final on BBO until about 4am (session 3) He did not fully understand what was going on but he knew that Team Lavazza had got a comeback going on. He remains INTRIGUED by the game of bridge. 
Last night I went up to Declans fishing club and witness an expert fly fisherman in his battle with the fish.
There is lots more to fly fishing than tying on a fly and casting it out. 

Example 1 .. no point in casting out a red fly when the trout are eating black flies
Example 2 point in casting out a dry fly when the trout are eating nymphs

Declan soon had 2 14 inch trout landed on "buzzers" as he called them. 

Fly fishing is like bridge ... if you going to reel in the opponent you got to present the bait in a natural 
manner. Like one time in Drogheda I had a 5-3 side suit fit but unfortunately 4 top losers in 4H.
They led my side suit and I ducked smoothly ...risking an extra undertrick. ...
They continued smoothly and I reeled them in ... 17 years later he is still wondering what happened.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Galligan tames GIB and Euro championship and Spingold

This afternoon I was having a few games with the GIB robots on Bridgebase Online. As can be seen in the screenshot myself and my robot partner nailed the opposition robots in 3S doubled. Bridge went thru a spate of THE LAW and THE LOTT (law of total tricks) some years ago. All the lazy lads and lassies heard about this magical thing that you bid as high as your number of trumps. So OFF they went.
And Galligan was there waiting to catch them and they wondered about this LAW and LOTT.
Recently the old LAW has made its way into Malahide Bridge Club and the lazy lads and lasses are learning the LAW. Lucky for them Galligan has graduated to directing so I only get to prick up my ears when I hear the magical words "THE LAW" or TOTAL TRICKS as another bad score is written off as unlucky for the LAW.
I used to have books on the the LAW and I also thought it was great but once I learned its better have the opponents doing it I gave my LAW book away to a friend from Wexford Jim Sexton.
Meanwhile the European championships are done with for both Adults and Juniors. The Open Team of Mark Moran Rory Boland John Carroll Tommy Garvey Thomas Hanlon Hugh McGann performed fairly well in making the 2nd stage but need to look after several leaky boards to become competitive in the Final stages. Poker players use some version of HM2 or HM3 to find leaks in their game ..Holden Manager .... Ireland need to make a program called Bridge leak manager.
Anyway as far as I recall Team Barton has a 3 year plan to make the Bermuda Bowl in 2017 so we will see how that goes.. 2017 is held in France and that means France qualify as hosts. Maybe Ireland should host the Bermuda Bowl and then we can play again. Of course the big issue is that most of the top 12 European Teams are fully proffessional and a little bidding practice and a few house games and chewing up some punters in Irish trials is not enough to give amateurs a fighting chance. The current Irish OPEN  team though far more proffessional than any opposition on the home front will probably need to devote one day a week totally to bridge for starters.
The Irish juniors also ventured forward although they went with lots of hope rather than any expectation.
Recently a group of young players have developed at the Gonzaga College in Ranalagh. Despite playing only about 18 months they were able to destroy all longer playing opponents in the Irish Schools championships. However it was the Irish Schools championships and would be middle of the road Intermediate B at the top end so not too strong. 18 pairs of Irish juniors descended on the European Juniors Championships and most of them ended near the bottom of their respective fields.
A couple of pairs made valiant attempts to reach the finals of their respective events but eventually the heat got to them. so a player told me.
The Ladies Team started out very well and despite getting destroyed by Russia in round 7 they still had chances of a Venice Cup qualification up to about round 15 when Sweden emptied the dumper truck of large stones on them. Further crushing defeats against Poland and Austria ended the fading hopes.
However one does note that Ireland ladies did defeat the Netherlands who won the event in the opening round 14-6 and they did crush the 8th place finishers Romania 20-0. However those results were early on in rounds 1 and 2 so maybe the effects of their heavy training program was still paying off dividends.
In short the Irish ladies team needs to add 50% to their games to be competitive at the top end of womans bridge. Can it be done ... they will say unlikely ..but I personally think we can field 3 pairs who are 50% improved on the current team ..... This could be the exact same pairs if the work is done ...
As for the Seniors ..well I am not familiar with their team selection process but if Adam Mesbur and Nick Fitzgibbon are on my team ... I am going to warm the bench unless one of them has left the country where the event is taking place.. Ireland Seniors went very well to qualify into the final 10 teams out of the Swiss.
However unfortunately Adam and Nick were not present for 2 matches and Team Ireland got destroyed in those matches. To repeat ...if I am on their team .. I am sitting on the bench while our European GOLD medalists just turn up and their presence alone is worth 20 imps ..
Now Adam and Nick might get slapped for 1400 and lose 14 imps but they will be capable of gathering 10 imps on the next board to make up for it ... Other pairs might lose a 2nd 14 imps and thus be 28 imps down. Anyway Big chance missed for Ireland to take a place at the Seniors Bermuda Bowl in 2015.
The answer for all Irish bridge players is ... More training ..and then some more training ...
Perseverance and determination defeats genius and  talent so get training as we are a little short on genius and talent. This is all players not just international aspirants.
Meanwhile our well known bridge  genius is out in Las Vegas battling  against the bridge giants. This is in the Spingold Trophy one of the top bridge events in the world. World champions ate 10 a penny in this event and even being a world champion does not guarantee one a top seeding.
Vugraph of this event will start at 9pm tonight and there might be 2 matches covered. Usually starts with top seeds and after that they move to the closest fought matches. I once got to vugraph one of these major matches ..sitting behind Meckstroth and Rodwell typing in their moves.
Speaking of Meckstroth he looks a much slimmer animal in the most recent picture. Hopefully it is a training regime as opposed to something else.
Thomas Hanlon plays on a team with Fred Gitleman Les Amoils Bred Moss and Justin Lall.. For some reason Joe Grue is the NPC. I remember when I worked in Rochester Minnesota there was a bridge regional event in the hotel I was staying in and somebody pointed out the Grue family winning some prize. This was 1998 and Joe Grue was a 14 year old kid with a sleepy eye. I think he has got better at bridge since and I did a quick search to make sure he was not sick or dying.. Turns out he is just unavailable to play in the event.

Results and Bulletins can be found at the link above.

I met Justin Lall Bred Moss Fred Gitleman in the past. I only know Les Amoils from a few bidding practice sessions with Thomas Hanlon on BBO. Fred used to come over and smoke with me at US Nationals in SanFrancisco in 2007. I asked why not smoke with your bridge friends. He said " I see them every month so no panic" Fred is one of the owners of Bridgebase Online and played for USA in the Buffet Cup in Ireland in 2006.

God be with the days when Eamon Galligan and Donal Bell worked a massive photocopier thru the night at the 1991 European Bridge championships in Killarney. Just to ensure the folk had a copy of the Bulletin at their breakfast table. We managed to photocopy a few bridge books as well. I still have my photocopy of Adventures in Cardplay ... Mind you I also now own 2 copies of the real book but back in the day bridge books were expensive and drink was cheaper.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Camrose Trials 2014 Get into training

Camrose Trials coming up at the end of next month. Maybe some pairs might wish to enter the Galligan bidding gym for a small fee. Several Irish pairs of Open Ladies and Seniors have done some work in Galligans gym with lots of good feedback. So if anybody wants its or 087 9032505. One does not need to be a prospective international to benefit. Bidding happens on every hand. 

I showed an inter B player a hand the other day and told him his partner opened 1NT 12-14.


and asked him what does he bid etc ... He responded Stayman of course ..what else ..

Then I told him ... Your right hand opponent overcalled 2S ..

Now what do you bid ... He was badly stuck and said I guess I pass and hope they go down.

Moral of the story is ... if you have not done competitive bidding all the system in the world won't help you. I took away half this persons bidding arsenal with one non vul overcall. Now he is in very murky waters as nothing is discussed. He almost told me I am not allowed to overcall without asking permission first. 

Paul Porteus survived a grueling election to win the prize of Committee member of the European Bridge Union. No doubt some big boss has a plan to use CityWest as a venue for some major bridge event in the near future. Maybe we could run the Bermuda Bowl soon. 

I hear a rumour that 36 junior bridge players will head out to Germany this weekend to launch an assault on the European Junior Pairs events. It must be a massive event if Ireland has 36 then a large country might have 100. 

Above is a link to watch legendary bridge TV star BJ O'Brien well known for his appearance on RTE television in the Consuming Passions series. His Senior Euro partner Michael McDonagh is featured also. 
BBO commentators commented on the stylish dress sense of the Irish pair. A world champion from a different country turned up for his bridge match in a pair of shorts. However I presume shorts are in the dress code else they would have asked him to remove them. 

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

England win 3 medals at European championships but Wbridge5 awesome

Nothing for Irish teams in the European championships which concluded yesterday in Croatia. 
However the 3 English teams all medaled so that is ok. We(vugraph operators and visitors to English bridge congresses) have met most of these players over the years from doing vugraph at Lady Milne or travelling to Brighton. We know Fiona Brown of English ladies probably the best as she is often here at some Irish events. So congratulations to them. We saw Tony Forrester make a fantastic 6S on a 4-3 fit in Gormanstown last year. We ate David Golds pizza as he encouraged us to get up there quick as in his experience it would be all gone quickly one early morning after a Camrose. We recall a very young David Bahkshi playing Junior or maybe Peggy Bayer for England in Howth in the 1990s ....Well lets say the vugraph theatre ran on transparencies and a thing that projected onto the wall. We wrote with a marker on the transparency. Bridgebase Online was somewhere in the future then. 

Irish teams have defeated English Open and Senior Teams but less so the ladies ...So where are our medals and Bermuda Bowl qualification places ... I think we need to find 15% improvement all over our teams. 
I don't know the answer to this but maybe somebody in CBAI can take some feedback in the direction of LESSONS LEARNED and look to the future.

Meanwhile last night myself and Jeannie Fitzgerald tackled WBridge5 16 board tourney. 
There were some wonderful hands last night and this one attracted my interest in my local drinking den. 

First of all here is how you can join this fantastic free tourney 0-16 boards a day

or download WBridge5 program and find Bridgez tab 

Well my partner showed me 13-17 according to the Wbridge5 programs output so I gently invited with 4NT. Now my robot bid 5D so I took the plunge to 6NT. I think most sane human beings would pass my 4NT and the story would not have happened.
Anyway there I am looking balefully at the 6NT and the only thing I can see is doubleton Diamond Ace with a good guess if its there. So I win the 7 of  Heart lead with the King and lead a diamond towards the Queen. The 10 of diamond pops up and my queen is eaten by the ACE... I am pondering what next ..maybe I can get some count on the hand or something and maybe East had JT doubleton. 
A voice interupts me ... "Eamon is the 16 hands going today ...what score have you got.. " 
Its Declan the Don player in his best inner city Dublin accent. ..."What do you mean you don't know what score you got ... Eamon ..the man who knows everything knows his score ... 
Well what have you got for the month then ... I says " Declan I don't know its only the first day ..
"Eamon well I know were only 39th place in June ... " 
"Declan but have of them chaps only played 5 or 6 boards in the month they don't count ..." 

"So whats going on here anyway .. " " Declan I am in a slam and need to make 12 tricks " 

So we had 1 trick in the bag the Heart King and had lost trick 2 to the Diamond Ace 

And before we could test any suits for count the robot fires back a diamond putting it up to us .. 
"I say Declan .. I going to play the KING and hope for Diamond JACK TEN doubleton ." 
"No no Eamon .. play the 9 ..its free money .. the 9 will win .. I bet you "
Now Declan does not play bridge as such .. but he knows stuff ..lots of stuff fly fishing and buying car engines off gypsies on tic and he plays the solitaire bridge on Bridgebase Online for fun. Has no clue what he is doing in the bidding as he has not learned that yet but he is intrigued with the game ..
"Ah Eamon I come in from work and I fire up the lapper and I play those robots for an hour or so " 
Declan is a major fan of Maurice Quinn as he kept a watchful eye on Maurice from a distance one night in Malahide Bridge club. " Eamon I wanted to be dead when I got to the stage I could not walk too well and needed help ... but now I want to be like Maurice .. game of cards and can of guinness and Eamon ...He even wins some nights "

I say Declan ..why the 9 ... Eamon its free money ... you said that if I have two cards then I play the highest one .. Does that robot play that way too .. I says "Yea I guess ..
Then Eamon ...if he got JT doubleton the other lad holds 87 and would have led the diamond 8 not the 7 ... and if he only has the 7 ..then the other lad started JT8 ..and would have played the 8 the first time as it is same as 10 ... 
I went downstairs for a boys room  and a smoke  and got chatting about World Cup. I came back up and Declan was gone back to his mates .. He glanced over with a satisfied look on his face ... " Told yah Eamon free money .. 9 of diamonds .. That stupid robot threw away all his spades and I done him like Seabiscuit ..
Time was tipping on and I had 5 more boards to play so I got stuck in and finished off the boards. When I got home later I examined the hand where  Declan played the diamond 9 ... because if the 9 won then I still only had 11 tricks .... Turned out Declan played off his winning Heart and 3 winning clubs and the chap in the WEST got caught with 4 spades and J8 of diamonds and only allowed keep 5 cards ...

Declan just presumed the robot was stupid but the truth is a non-bridge player just figured out a hand to play the diamond 9 and then executed a squeeze on WEST ... without having a clue what he had done ..or did he know ... I will ask him tonight .. 

Then as we are going home early this morning ... "Eamon who is the bald lad on youtube I was watching playing the bridge ... He looks like he knows everything.. Does he play the 16 board tournement ??"
I says .. thats bjoboru and he plays it .. 
"Ah yeah eamon he was ahead of you on the month of June ..I saw him 67% ...He must be good"
Would he be better than my man Maurice ,, 
Declan BJ has a bit to go to catch up on Maurice .. but BJ is not a bad player.. He just is not the finished article..
"But Eamon that bald lad has a great laugh ...I saw him laughing on youtube but I did not get the joke. " 

Monday, June 30, 2014

Irish Seniors narrowly fail to make Seniors Bermuda Bowl but Porteus will be there

England won the European Seniors Gold medal in Croatia on Saturday. Ironically Ireland Seniors put 52 imps past them in Round 1 of the Final in a 30 imp beating. 9 matches later England have the Gold medals and Ireland will watch the Bermuda Bowl from the sidelines.

Now it says on Twitter that Ireland qualified for the d'Orsi Bowl but I am not so sure.
A medal was probably too much to hope for but remember most of the 20 points differential came from the match with Poland and another good amount from the match with Hungary. 
Team Sports is strange especially if you are playing 4 from 6 in each match. The chance was there but the hands could not grab it. England ran away with it in the end. The same England Team that Ireland beat by 30 imps 2 days before. Then to cap it all Bulgaria sneaked in for 6th place while Belgium and Ireland thought they were in a playoff for 6th. I don't know the detail of team selection but if I was an Ireland opponent I would be very happy to see Adam and Nick sitting in the vugraph theatre. We knew the story from the 96 board training session held in Regent Bridge Club 40 days prior to the European championships. 

BJ O'Brien reads the dinner menu prior to going into battle against England in the first round of the European Seniors Final. (well it cannot be his conventions as he just flipped over to page 2 and we all know BJ never read past front page of conventions)
BJ OBrien and Michael McDonagh best dressed couple in European Bridge championships.
Some other lads turned up in football togs and runners but our Liz and Colleen would not like that.
Meanwhile today is moving day in the Open Teams Final and I expect our Open Team to gather up 48 VPS from the 3 matches. That means winning each match by at least 26 imps. Not a big ask from a team that has beaten several Bermuda Bowl shoe ins already in this event. Lets see how it goes.
As Thomas Hanlon says "Its never over until it is over" 
So Go Ireland ...
Just so those players know I watch nearly every board. Those lads get to sitout 1/3 of the matches.
The supporter gets no sitouts. We have to watch and support.
Meanwhile the Ladies also need to make a move. They are in a good position for a team that is not playing well. So maybe the ladies can play well for the last 5 matches and qualify for the Venice Cup. 
That would be good. Like Eamon is not much good at poker but if he gets good cards and some callers and the good cards hold up he will win. Friday night before start of the bridge championships Eamon beat off 289 players in a free roll to win 250 dollars. I don't know poker but I know about position.
So Mna na hEireann ...go for it ..

However we will have one winner in these championships. Yesterday Paul Porteus beat off some other runners to emerge as one of the 12 Executive members of the European Bridge League Council .
The Great Mullall who is a well known student of people said in the past that while he himself is a great motivator mainly due to my physical attributes ... "I would have no chance against Paul Porteus who is a great politician. Porteus would have you doing stuff before you even realized you are doing it. "
However the echelons of rhe EBL is a strange world. Some lad called Panos ran for President against the office holder and ended up without even a seat on the Executive. 
He even had a website which is worth a read if one wants. 
So watch this space and see Paul Porteus running the Bermuda Bowl in 2019 or next time it returns to Europe.