Thursday, December 03, 2015

Ruth Giddings Irish bridge legend RIP.

Multiple Irish National champion (won 6 Nationals in 1 year) found a way to go down in 6D

I came across this hand this morning where a well known Irish player found a way to make only 11 tricks in 6 Diamonds. Me a lesser player according to the legend gathered in 13 tricks in the 3NT.

The above site is one of the better sites to play bridge online these days. You get a robot partner and 2 robot opponents. So if you complain your robot is poor also got to accept you have twice as many poor opponents. A fine site for anyone to practice their bridge with no partner required.

Sadly a true bridge legend passed away recently. Ruth Giddings played most of her bridge long before my time. However on January 1st 2001 (I think we had a some kind of tornado out around Clonee). It was a Sunday and the annual Wigoder Teams was taking place in the Regent. I was on a Team with Maurice Quinn Joe McHale and Joe Walshe but that is not what this story is about.

We played the 1st session and I had my cheese and turkey sandwiches ready to go.
I went to sit down to eat my sandwiches and realized there was only 1 other person present.

Ruth Giddings ........

So I sat opposite and took out my sandwiches made with bread probably dating back to Xmas Day.
Half way through the first I realized some mould was present and mentioned it.

"Divil a harm it will do you " said Ruth

Later on I mentioned I was going out for a smoke ..

Ruth asked .. " Do you smoke and expressed a negative vibe"

I said "Yes and No" (as 20 cigs could last me 10 days or more ..

Ruth said .. There is no YES and NO in smoking .. you either smoke or you don't
She told me she used to smoke 40 a day (as it was fashionable) but stopped about 50 years before 1951..

Ruth did not win on that occasion but I won as I got maybe 1.5 hours of conversation with a bridge legend and I never did go out for that cigarette and I did eat every piece of the mouldy bread.

Like every bridge player that exists we all remember our successes but seem to compartmentize our failures. Back in 1994 myself and Maurice Quinn arrived at the table of Ruth Giddings and Barbara Seligman... a legendary pairing at the time .. and in their prime ... Ruth was only about 80 years old then. We played 2 boards and left the two shocked opponents behind. Later on I saw on my scoresheet that we had taken every single matchpoint on those 2 boards ... 1.0 and 1.0 ..
I met Ruth downstairs later and she told me ..."Never before did I get 0 matchpoints from a set of boards"

Another night back around 1989 when I was attempting to join the Regent Bridge club and back then you had to play a game or 2 with your proposers ... I had managed to get Des Scannell and Michael McGloughlin to sign my application. So I was in playing one of my mandatory games with Des Scannell and we had some misunderstanding with a Baron 2NT which Des liked ..

1 heart from me and 2NT from Des and I decided 6NT but Des had 4 card heart support so he put me into 7H.

Well the trumps broke 4-1 but the finesse against the King worked.. The diamond QJx lay nicely under the diamond AKT .. The spade King was offside sitting with the aforementioned diamond QJx

Some how I gathered in 13 tricks as the hand got squeezed as I drew the last trump ...QJx and Kx
and could only hold 4 cards so dumped the spade King and my AQ spades became tricks.

7H made ...and downstairs a 75 year old Ruth Giddings materialized at my side and said ...
"You had the coup of the night .... bid and made 7H ...when others played 4H+2 and 6H="
Nobody else needed to find what I think was a treble squeeze...

Of course I have no memory of all the bad scores I presumably got against Ruth Giddings. I remember her playing with Sean Stack when I first went to the Regent Bridge Club in the late 1980s.
There must have been loads of them as I was an Intermediate B player in the late 1980s.

Anyway much later possibly in 2006 the annual Regent Bridge Club Presidents Prize was played.
Back then you played 5 weeks with different partners and on the last 2 weeks the leading contenders all sat North upstairs. Now the Regent on a Wednesday night was the toughest game in Ireland and upstairs on Week 4 and 5 of Presidents Prize with 13 contenders and their chosen partner it was the toughest. That year Ruth Giddings at the age of approximately 96 years won the Regent Bridge Club Presidents Prize and trust me nobody gave her a trick.
I know because against me ..Ruth opened 2S and it did not dawn on me until after I had doubled in the balance seat that it might be an strong Acol 2 ... me being used to weak 2s.
Anyway "The Great Mullall" was able to bid 3H as he knew all doubles were takeout. Ruths partner who shall remain nameless failed to double and 3H drifted 2 non vulnerable tricks off and not much score for Ruth. Of course 3H doubled might have attracted a better defence and gone 3-4 down.
I mean I was only trying to push them up a level ... did not really matter to me whether strong 2 or weak 2.

Anyway that was some of my interactions with Ruth Giddings ... Maybe tomorrow I will have a look at the book upstairs about Great Irish Bridge plays ... I think Seamus Dowling wrote it ...
and find some Ruth Giddings plays ..
I recall playing trials in 1990 the year Derek Stokes found he was no longer directing the trials.
He asked me to play and I only had a few B points and would not qualify to play ..
However he said " I have enough B points for both of us " So I played ..
and I recall Ruth Giddings sitting kibitzing a younger Thomas Hanlon and Hugh McGann  and her knitting away behind him. Of course Derek and Eamon finished near last back then.

So that was Ruth ... I think she played on the Irish Open Team as far back as 1951 or 1953...
She sort of quit playing bridge at the age of 98 as she could not get to the club as easy as before.



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