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Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Declan the Donplayer ACHIEVES

Late each Wednesday night up to about midnight the dunce with the laptop can be seen beavering away in the local community centre bar attempting to get his 70 hands played by the weekly closing time for Bridge Now.

About 4 years ago one of the local reprobates took an interest in this bizarre game of bridge as the locals call it. "That's an old dears game Eamon " they say ..
I reply .. "Lads we are old dears .. " ... as we are mostly past 50 and heading for 60 .. and beyond.

Anyway one of the major reprobates took a large interest in this game and this was Declan the Donplayer ...real name Declan McKenna .. painter decorator drinker gambler dancer singer .. you name it he does it ... father carer fisherman card cheat  and ,,,,,,,,,,,,,now bridge player.

Problem is Declan is different than most other bridge players ... He loves the game even though he has only set foot  in  a bridge club once. Everytime I meet him ... "Eamon I love this game and thanks for showing me" ...Now I am going to beat you ..

Of course I never believed him as I am a National champion several times ..and he is a 1 time visitor to a bridge club. It could not happen or could it ..

Early last week maybe around Monday or Tuesday ...I met Declan the Donplayer and he was indicating the time might be here .... He asks .. "How is your Bridge Now going this week"
As I was having a bad week and was chasing hard to reach 60% average ...I told him "Not too good but not bad enough that you will get near me .. " ... "We will see about that Eamon ... Declan is thinking about 62% this week ..... I thought he was messing but I had a doubt in my mind as   Declan the Donplayer loves this game and has progressed to scoring over 55% the odd week.

So to cut a long story short ...

Above is a screenshot from

It shows several Irish players I have flagged as friends or people I know in real life who are all regular bridge players some good and some international and some lesser players.
Karl Cashen and BJ O'Brien are well known at the top of the Irish game.
Most of the rest are above average Malahide players .. The number on the left is placing out of just over 700 players this 56% got you into the top 200.
Sitting in 40th place for the week is a very proud Declan the Donplayer ...and even prouder Eamon Galligan who educated this player by answering his questions.

I met Declan the Donplayer last night and he was engrossed in the weekly game of DON but as soon as he lost a game and was sat out he was over to me .... "Eamon did you look at the ranking for last week .. Eamon did you look upwards and see Declan the Donplayer looking down on you"

So we agreed that each week for the foreseeable future I would spot him 10% and the winner gets a pint. Anyone who does not post a score loses that week. The secret is Declan only goes past 19 boards when he has a good head of steam up.
Meanwhile we also have Shane Maxwell another bridge learner. Shane has visited Malahide Regional Bridge Club twice and does not believe in playing in the novice game .. or inter B game ..
Its straight in there with anything from 50 years experience downwards.
A few weeks ago Shane came to Malahide and got a bad trimming ...
I asked him .."Well how do you feel now " ... "I feel embarrassed " replies Shane ..

On the way home .. I asked him .. "Is there anything I can do for you from a bridge point of view"
Shane said nothing ... .

Nearing his home I asked again ..
Shane replies .. "There is actually .. Could you write out what my upbids mean ... "
Upbids says I ????

Turned out that in his world an upbid was a single raise or a double raise ...
like 1H P 2H .. or 1H P 3H ...

So next morning I duly emailed Shane a pdf of a bidding system ...

Going back a little ... I taught Shane bridge in 15 minutes one night when he had a few beers on and now he has progressed to being able to play in some kind of way.
Last year I ran into Shane in the local beer club and we were discussing bridge and I was very confused by what he was saying.
Eventually I figured it out.

Way back on the night I taught Shane I told him about GAME bid bonuses ...but I only got as far as the 3NT or else he missed the 4H 4S ..5C 5D part ...
Shane was playing bridge for 2 years online thinking the 3 Level was game bid in every suit ..
ala 3NT is game ... It was quite a revelation for both of us ..

Last week I met Shane again ... and he was talking about handicap points in bridge ...
I was totally lost again ...... A few days later I worked it out ...

HCP..... he understood it as HANDICAP POINTS ...he is a golfer ...
He knew it was 4321 for Ace King Queen Jack ...but nobody ever mentioned


Shane scores regularly on   in the 39% to 49% range
He is not up with Declan the Donplayer yet but he also loves the game.
So there you have it ... part of my life on the bridge periphery .. .

Shortly I am off to Malahide to demonstrate the dealing machine .... 10 people claim it does not work.  Last night I dealt two sets of 30 deals in 10 minutes each. The black clouds hovered over me but gradually they softened and turned white..

Dealing machine 1100 from
is going like a bullet train ... sometimes the cards come out so fast they fly out the end of the machine. Several folk are doubtful if the machine is fit for purpose.
Galligan sits down and the motors start whirring and the cards fly into the card holders ...

The dark  clouds slowly turn a white shade of pale.

We also have a brand new Mark 5 machine and it also deals like a dream in Galligans hands but sometimes it pulls through 2 cards. However I think it needs some deeper thought.
Maybe there is more to this issue. Could someone be licking the cards or putting shaving cream on them.

Strangely enough Eamon Galligan and Tom Gilligan can work it fine ..

Anyway my robin is outside looking for some crumbs .... soon the squirrel will appear on the window looking for fruit or nuts

Its all go in Swords ..

UPDATE on Dealing machines ...

Mark 5 machine would only deal 1 card if any at all so it needed some tender care and attention.
Eventually it was persuaded to deal a few boards in a row. However it is now in the washing machine on a spin cycle. I need to learn how to clean it. I will get it back to the way it was when I took it out of the box brand new. However Andrew is not sure about the design.

I think it just needs a good cleaning and some daily maintenance.

Machine 1100 is still going like a rocket ..
Andrew dealt some boards this morning for Friday night .. He remains to be convinced though.
Andrew works on the statistics ..10 people cannot be wrong and 1 person right. The saga continues but the boards keep getting dealt.

Sunday, November 05, 2017

Bridgez is a good practice website


Ye could do worse than playing the 16 board daily Bridgez tournament. Several well known Irish players partake from time to time. you get a monthly rating and various reports.

I got some good boards today. 

Meanwhile up in Donegal former Donegal bridge star almost won the Donegal Congress Teams.
Results on 

Monday, October 30, 2017


The 6 man Coyne squad of Gay Keaveney Pat McDevitt Ciaran Coyne Peter Goodman Enda Glynn and David Walsh took the first and only prize in the Camrose Trials this weekend.

I think the prizes are a weekend in Belfast and another weekend in Gormanstown.

I might be playing the hands later in the year against my Jack robots to see if I can beat the Coyne team. However first I have to finish winning the Lady Milne trials. I am only in 7th place after 30 boards of the 150.

Congratulations to the Coyne team on their victory. We did tip them or Fitzgibbon as the winners
and we did indicate the 4 man team might struggle with stamina. A 6 man team gives the pairs a chance for a break and a chance to mentally refresh.

The Coyne weekend looked like a well planned operation. Play 2 sets and sitout. Then play 2 more and sitout and so on for all 3 pairs. The Keavney McDevitt pairing contributed 2.2 imps a board for the final 24 board match ...a decent run rate.

I notice the Phelan yacht went backwards fast as they moved into rougher waters after a fair  weather start. The bigger boats of the top end of the draw caused larger wash on Lake Templogue surface.

As a player who managed to gain entry to his first trials on a holding of 9 B points when Derek Stokes was retired from directing the trials. He offered me a chance to play and had enough B points for the 2 of us to gain entry. We placed 2nd last of a field of about 22 pairs. However the experience moved  me forward in bridge very quickly. I expect the same to happen for several of the newer Camrose trialists if they put in the work. You cannot pretend to be a bridge player.

An Inter B player from Malahide recently posed me a question

"Is Adam Mesbur any good at bridge "

He indicated that their paths crossed in a work related environment many years ago.

I indicated "good" would hardly describe it ... some other word several levels above ...

Camrose Trials 2017 Match 8.5

Meanwhile out in Templogue a shocked Fitgibbon quartet have started well in the 2nd stanza. Eamon sits here in Swords playing the daily Wbridge5 tournament.

Boards 4 and 5 yielded me a 95% and a 96% scores. This can also happen any pair in the Camrose Trials if the boards contain the imps and the pair contains the skills and knowledge.

Anyone want to take up the Daily Challenge on the above website. You can challenge legendary Army bridge player Elvis or top Northern Ireland star MrT2000 or the more ordinary eamongall.

Anyway back to for the end of Match 8.

Fitzgibbon is on the move but running out of boards and still trailing by 2 imps to the SouthEast Warriors. However they have climbed back into 2nd place. However Coyne is still holding Onishuk at bay.
With 2 boards to go on Match 8 Coyne has reeled Onishuk in and its a draw. This means Coyne has also probably seen off all challengers. Mind you I think Coyne has still to play the rampaging O'Gorman squad who have as expected and mentioned in a previous issue of this blog come on strong.
Nah I got that wrong ....

The final round is Coyne v Ekman .. Fitzgibbon v Elvin .. Onishuk v O'Gorman
MacCormac plays Doyle and Phelan plays Donnelly in dead rubber matches.
An unlikely loss for Coyne and a large win for O'Gornan ..could see the rankings change.
Fitzgibbon also needs a large win after getting ambushed for a winning draw by Doyle.

However the Ekman team does not have the killer instinct required to trouble the vastly experienced Coyne team. The mainly Connacht based squad has recently signed up honorary Leitrim man Peter Goodman to the squad. They also managed to distract David Walsh from one of his other loves

He repairs and sells technology for Galway area geeks and ordinary folk who still use laptops like me in between the odd game of bridge.

Camrose Trials 2017 after Match 7 of 9

The final day of the Camrose Trials 2017 has just started. The main matches of Round 8 are Coyne versus Onishuk and a side order of Fitzgibbon versus Doyle. Fitzgibbon and Onishuk both need to score heavy in this match to reel in Coyne. However Coyne is a 6 player squad and their lowest scoring pair upped their run rate considerably yesterday. Strangely Onishuk have started the bumbling KK pair. Kelan volunteered a full VP of slow play on his partner in Match 7 allied to a 2 VP penalty for his phone going off during play. Phone are meant to be visible and turned off while bridge is in play. This is currently the biggest rule in trials bridge at the moment. Boland and McAulliffe have been playing very well for Team Onishuk but Kelan Karel have put in lots of work over the last few years. However they failed to fire in the recent Jim Cahill Premier Pairs held in October.
Meanwhile the unheralded and struggling South East team of Jim Doyle has jumped out to an unexpected  22-1 lead after 4 boards against the powerful Fitzgibbon team. All this points to Team Coyne placing first and being selected for the party in Gormanston in March.
However the Onishuk Clifford pair have a good scoring rate of 0.6 imps a board if they appear in the 2nd half.
Update after about  8 boards of Match 8

The South East Warriors have increased their lead against Fitgibbon to 30-3. This is a strange position for Team Doyle who have averaged less than 2.5 VPs per match so far. However its going to require a large turnaround for Fitzzgibbon to get back in contention. However there is no better pair in Ireland then Fitzgibbon Mesbur to grind down the opponents. These two players have enormous bridge skills and experience. Allied to the incredible ability of BJ O'Brien to find rabbits in hats and the solid if boring bridge of Ranald Milne one expects a comeback but we are now down to 16 boards to save the trials. After 9 boards Doyle has stretched the lead to 35-3. The outlier is here to sing it seems. Eventually Fitzgibbon runs out of boards. Only 16 boards left and 32 imps in the bin.

Meanwhile Onishuk is doing the business against Coyne and is within 5 VPS at this stage in the direct match.

A further but unlikely scenario is that Fearghal or someone unwittingly swopped the bridgemate.

Running scores at
On a another item completely I took delivery of a new Mark V dealing machine for Malahide Regional Bridge Club, It looks like a cross between a Dealer4 and a Duplimate machine.
Declan Murray will love this one. We were using an early model of Duplimate for the last few weeks and it started to come into its own in the last week or so once we learned its strange ways.
I think the Mark V has a camera instead of a barcode reader but I only had a cursory glance.
Meanwhile I spotted a nice piece of software from Poland ..   a fine piece of kit for a nerd bridge player.

The programmer Piotr Beling even responded positively to my suggestion that his software could do with some PBN output script. After examining his output I guess I can make a script myself to create PBN files but Piotr indicated the next release might have PBN.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Camrose Trials 2017 Half-time review

In the 2017 renewal of the Camrose Trials Onishuk powered by winning performances by Boland McAuliffe and Onishuk Clifford lead at the half-way point. Their 3rd pair Kelan/Karel have found the boards unsuitable so far.
Meanwhile Team Phelan is going well due to a powerful 0.69 imps per board from the Phelan household. One might note the presence of 6NT-1 on a hand that looks cold especially on the Club to Ace lead versus the Elvin team. However this is only 0.1 of the score. There is still 0.59 per board on
the rest of the boards. I better not play that pair for money. However they are going to need some pick up from their team mates to win the event. However the Phelan squad have been here before.

Team Coyne is also powering along with their top 2 pairs near 0.5 imps a board and their 3rd pair of Keaveney McDevitt is average so far.

Team Fitzgibbon powered by a surprising  0.55 imps per board collection from Ranald Milne and BJ O'Brien allied to the expected steady 0.3 imps per board of Nick and Adam are sitting comfortably in 3rd place. A small worry is what appears to be 2 time penalties of 0.5 VPs against presumably the more thoughtful side of the team. They shared the penalty with their opponents.

The Donnelly team made up of what appears to be most of the probably Junior Camrose team are motoring along in 5th place and well in contention. Synnott is past Junior Camrose age I think and I don't know about Gormally.

Team O'Gorman is strolling along at average pace in 6th place and that level of performance is not going to win the event. Still having to play 1st 3rd and 4th places so a decent pick up in performance could see them compete for the prize.

Further down Gilliland Whelan are finding the going tough but with team mates Connor and Doyle also below average nothing is being lost and good experience is being gained by all.

The Elvin team backboned by the elegant bridge player that is Peter Pigot and the "Art of Declarer Play" author Justin Corfield has struggled thru the first half. The arrival of Holland Cotter might help but that means either of the aforementioned elegant players are on the bench.

Ekman has suffered 2 heavy losses and two small wins don't make up for that. Both pairs are leaking 0,5 imps a board so are not going to win many matches.

The final team of MacCormac are struggling despite a Friday cameo by the well known chess player Paul Delaney. Delaney also owns some National Bridge titles. The 2 MacCormac pairs are underperforming compared to their normal level. I might challenge MacCormac mcMaugh to a money game at this rate.

All information is published on the Fearghal O'Boyle website. Last year while directing in Ballinasloe someone asked me if I was ..

The Trials continue in Templeogue Bridge Centre on Sunday and Monday.
Spectators are welcome.
has all the information and running scores ..

Friday, October 27, 2017

Camrose Trials Weekend

Today I noticed that the Camrose Trials are taking place for the 2nd Ireland Team in the 2018 Camrose Trophy. Team Moran is already pre-selected and I think that's a fair selection as they are playing well and working hard.
Now this weekends event looks like a good game of bridge.

I notice already that Wojech Gorchyca has morphed into Paul Delaney. Delaney is a pretty powerful player to bring in as a sub if such is the case. Delaney is also a sometime partner of Marcin. Maybe Delaney is on the team but just not listed on fob,ie.

So we have 10 teams in the battle ...I will rate the teams out of 1000 per team
I rated players on a sliding scale from 10 for the strongest players in the field down
to 1 for the least experienced.

1. Nick Fitzgibbon 775
2. Ciaran Coyne  733
3, Derek O'Gorman 600
4.Thomas McCormac 580
5,Anna Onishuk 575
6,Richard Elvin 517
7,John Phelan 425
8,Michael Donnelly 400
9.Stefan Ekman 325
10 Jim Doyle 225

So Eamon expects Coyne or Fitzgibbon to win but O'Gorman MacCormac or Onishuk could make
it if they perform to the best of their ability or if somehow they have added some recent bridge skills
thru training sessions. Fitzgibbon might suffer from Milne O'Brien stamina issues being a 4 man team. MacCormac seems to be using Paul Delaney along with his 4 named players.

I note the presence of 5 lady players in the event but only one in their regular lady partnership.
A leading Irish bridge columnist indicated the Jim Cahill Premier Pairs would have provided a good training session for the Lady Milne squad. Any Lady Milne squad pair could have entered Camrose Trials but there is only one pair. These Camrose Trials have most of the 12 Premier Pairs playing so is also a decent event.

Lets see how good my tipping is...

Live Camrose in running results are on

Lady Milne Trials Match 5 and 6

Sometime in the last week I must have played Match 5 of the Lady Milne Trials.

Board 11 saw 15 hcp opposite 8 hcp and a 5-4 spade fit and a singleton in each hand.
However 4 pairs did not get to the unbeatable 4S. This allowed me 4 imps against the datum of 320.

Board 13 saw 1 pair Jeannie Fitzgerald and Emer Joyce arrive in a delicate 4-3 4H contract which had no beating. 4H 5C and A of diamonds. The rest of us generally hung out in 3NT or 5C going down.

Board 14 saw me leaving out 1NT to the East West robots. One pair on this 20-20 hand reached the incredible contract of 3NT... Pender McDonagh.. Down 3 only cost them 3 imps. I mean 16 opposite 4 does one arrive in 3NT.

Board 15 saw my robot opps bid a reasonable 4S which had no play and went 3 off for 150.
One of the leading ladies pairs stopped off to double Whelan and O'Donovan in 2H and then allowed
the top score of 200 EW to slip away and lost 670 and 11 imps. Most pairs dropping a couple of tricks in 4S.

Board 16 I gained 7 imps when I persuaded my robots to languish in 3S with 13 opposite 13.
6 clubs was the top spot but 5C up 1 was enough to gain 5 imps on the field. 4S was good too.
However 3NT was hopeless but Cotter Kelly were allowed make it. 2 others attempted 3NT and went down.

Board 18 saw me gain 5 imps in making 120 in 1NT. Incredibly Joyce and Fitzgerald stole away with 10 tricks in 3NT when there is no play for it. 7 tricks double dummy and they are gone off with 10 tricks.

Board 19 saw me lose 5 imps to my robots making 5Ds which is cold despite missing the AK and trumps. One unfortunate pair attempted 6C and this was not a success missing the AK diamonds and suffering a diamond ruff to boot.

Board 21 was a painful hand for me. The robots rolled home an easy 12 tricks in 4H and I lost 6 imps on the field despite 13 tricks available. The whole thing depends on picking off a doubleton Heart Queen. However 3 pairs went light in the 4S contract.

Board 25 the robots allowed me away in 4S when most of the field went down as expected.
Sometimes robots are generous. However I losr imps several times on nothing boards.
Finally on board 28 came the moment I was waiting for. Holding AKJx of spades my robot opponents bid to 2S and my partner backed in with a double. 
I decided passing 2S was a little risky so bid 3H. 
The robots pushed on to 3S and I was able to drop the hammer.

1    10 Joan Kenny & Teresa Rigney                   82.98
  2     3 Dolores Gilliland & Sandra Newell            75.68
  3     6 Anna Onishuk & Lucy Phelan                   74.54
  4    14 Valerie Burke-Moran & Ann O'Connell          72.78
  5    11 Aoife Mac Hale & Antoinette McGee            68.68
  6    12 Cathy Bearpark & Liz Ann O'Reilly            68.01
  7    17 Jack & Eamon Galligan                        65.84
  8    15 Jeannie Fitzgerald & Emer Joyce              64.11
  9     9 Marian Croke & Catherine Lonergan            63.30
 10     2 Eileen O'Donovan & Maria Whelan              58.66
 11     7 Betty Cotter & Jean Kelly                    56.54
 12    18 Jacky & Jackie                               54.16
 13     5 Liz Taaffe & Kathleen Vaughan                53.74
 14     1 Jill Kulchycky & Avril Whelan                51.11
 15     8 Hilary McDonagh & Gilda Pender               48.06
 16     4 Louise Mitchell & Maureen Pattinson          46.94
 17    13 Bernie Lodewijks & Mary Stanley              38.87

Still only in 7th place but chasing hard as I have to reach the number 1 position.
Still 90 boards to go I think ..

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Lady Milne Match 4 ..board 7 killed me

I am just after finishing Lady Milne trials match 4 and thought I did pretty good although missed a few chances near the end on boards 9 and 10. However there are no mulligans allowed so we don't go back and replay any board.
On scoring up I find out I got killed on Board 7 where the Jack robots East West bid and made 4H against me. Going to look at this board now and see if I butchered the defence or it was a bad lead or what. I am losing 11 imps on the board against the Ladies datum. That's like half a match.
Just like the slam on board 30 of last match.

There is nothing I can do against 4H no matter how I defend.
Simple and maybe double dummy line of spade towards QT7 and playing 7
or running the 8 eventually set up the spades for a diamond discard. However we won't suffer on that simple line that works. Also after my 1!C opening and Heart King appearance any declarer is in good shape regarding the big cards..
Finally the line of play which would produce a fine burst of energy ...
There is some kind of guard squeeze which operates ..
On the run of the Hearts even after playing a spade to the 10 (a lesser play)
South gets squeezed out of his(in my case) 3rd diamond or 3rd spade..and the spade Queen is up for a diamond discard ...or the 3rd diamond in declarers hand grows up.
No problem Eamon loses 11 imps to the Ladies field ...

I guess Jack can play a bit of bridge ...

Somebody on 5H-2 ..Somebody in 4S-2 Two folk down in 4H.
Its just impossible to go down in this contract of 4H.

Eamon is the poor sod in the 17v 18 pairing losing 11 imps 

Monday, October 16, 2017

Playing the Lady Milne trials

I am currently playing the Lady Milne trials as North South using my Jack computer bridge program as partner and opponents. After 30 boards and thus 3 10 board matches I am holding down 10 place of the 15 pairs plus myself and the Jack pair. I lost heavily on board 30 where my Jack partner roared into a failing slam.

Oddly enough my robot found the Heart Queen lead and this left me in a making position
but playing honestly I tried for some sort of Spade King Heart Jack squeeze before taking the spade finesse and going down. Only one other pair ventured into the slam. I even told my robot NO HEART FIT AND NO CLUB FIT but there was no stopping it. Still if I had known a HEART QUEEN from Qx was possible I would have gained some imps instead of losing imps.
One working finesse can meant 15-5 win or 5-15 loss. Still I am ahead of 6 pairs after 30 boards.

1     6 Anna Onishuk & Lucy Phelan                   39.79
  2    10 Joan Kenny & Teresa Rigney                   38.44
  3     3 Dolores Gilliland & Sandra Newell            35.93
  4    12 Cathy Bearpark & Liz Ann O'Reilly            35.53
  5     9 Marian Croke & Catherine Lonergan            33.57
  6    11 Aoife Mac Hale & Antoinette McGee            33.05
  7     1 Jill Kulchycky & Avril Whelan                32.99
  8     2 Eileen O'Donovan & Maria Whelan              32.36
  9     8 Hilary McDonagh & Gilda Pender               31.10
 10    17 Jack & Eamon Galligan                        30.08
 11    18 Jacky & Jackie                               29.92
 12    15 Jeannie Fitzgerald & Emer Joyce              28.82
 13    14 Valerie Burke-Moran & Ann O'Connell          27.04
 14     5 Liz Taaffe & Kathleen Vaughan                26.17
 15     4 Louise Mitchell & Maureen Pattinson          23.28
 16     7 Betty Cotter & Jean Kelly                    22.21
 17    13 Bernie Lodewijks & Mary Stanley              21.72