Western Cape Bridge News - June 2021

Sunday, 27 June 2021 by Brian Paxton

This is the fourth - and possibly the last - monthly bridge update from the Western Cape Bridge Union (WCBU). Further information on all the topics covered can be found on the WCBU website. Please feel free to forward this to fellow bridge players, including beginners, who might be interested. As you read on, you will not only see how we are responding to your feedback in our recent survey, but also updating you on some of the people you have not seen face to face in a long while.


But first, some big news from the African Bridge Federation (ABF). In the Zone 8 Finals, the South African Team, led by the Western Cape's Andrew Cruise, qualified to represent Africa at the next Bermuda Bowl competition. Sadly, teams from Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia eclipsed all our other teams. Well done to all the winners who will be representing our continent in the year ahead! The winners of the 2021 All Africa Bridge Congress pairs competition were part Capetonian Chris Bosenberg, whose bridge articles we publish, and Neville Eber, while the Western Cape's Maureen Narunsky & Robert Sulcas won the Congress Pairs and our Adrian Mauerberger & Lara Woznica the President's Pairs. In an almost all-Western Cape final, the Narunsky Team defeated the Holman Team to win this weekend's 2021 Western Cape Teams competition. Congratulations to all of you!


Speaking of winners, as from the beginning of July 2021, Warwick Wealth will be sponsoring monthly prizes for the players achieving the best average score in our Wednesday WCBU tournaments. All players can enter in the usual way but you need to register on the WCBU website before the first Wednesday of the month to be eligible for the next month's prize. Of course, for there to be winners - and losers, too, alas - we need to have tournament directors. Steve Bunker and Andre Truter are doing an excellent job, but we need back up. We encourage experienced players from around the country to contact Mark Kenyon [email protected] for details of an online tournament director course we are planning.


On the ABF website, the SABF is shown as having 2,595 members; this is nearly double the combined membership of all the other African national bridge federations, where Botswana, with 860, comes a distant second. That is a legacy of the work of our Diniar and Nancy Minwalla and of Carol Stanton's Grisdale grandfather; they taught Botswanan university students to play and they, in turn, went into the schools and taught the kids there to play. Carol recalls playing in a schools tournament with more than 100 pairs - that's more than the number that played in last week's Congress pairs. Lucky Botawana!


Meanwhile, bridge in South Africa is in a fairly dire state. In our player survey we didn't need to ask the age of our players - we know the average must be trending toward 75 with only a handful of under 50's playing in our tournaments. The Zoom / RealBridge lessons of Arie Ridderhof and his team in idyllic Port Alfred are going great guns and Carol Stanton is poised to follow suit. Arie will also be starting a second online course entitled All About Notrumps starting on 2nd August; contact [email protected] to register. The trouble is their approach can only teach small numbers and we really need hundreds of young players flooding into the game. I tried searching for the local university bridge clubs and found none - have they become an extinct species?

So now it is over to all of us, the oldies. With the winter school holidays coming up, this is the ideal time for each of us to find four or more interested kids and get them going, maybe by sensibly selling it as a computer rather than a card game at this time of a Covid third wave. Our Learn Bridge page provides some pointers. And, maybe you could E-mail me the contact details of the parents of kids who do already play bridge so we can start running junior tournaments on BBO or RealBridge - it would be nice to top Botswana's century record.

Of course, our biggest challenge is to bring bridge to the kids in the more deprived communities where laptops, data bundles and even smartphones are in short supply. Those kids do enjoy one bridge advantage over children in the more prosperous communities, however - the lack of lush green playing fields at their schools means that bridge has far fewer other after school activities to compete with. We welcome your ideas on how we can tap this bridge teaching opportunity, especially while we are all locked down.


However, it's not all bridge doom and gloom. At the beginning of May we started limiting entrants to our Friday games to players with a BBO ranking of 2+ or less. We were surprised at the extent of the enthusiastic participation, with many of the players living outside the major cities. Some of them are also starting to play in our Tuesday WCBU pairs, which we are now restricting to beginner and intermediate players with a BBO ranking of 3+ or less. We encourage more novice and intermediate duplicate players from around the country to join the fun!


Details of all our other competitions can be found on our Upcoming and Calendar pages. Major events scheduled for July and August include the 2021 All Africa Bridge Congress teams, which takes place from 9th to 11th July; and the Southern and Eastern Cape's new events named in honour of the ever bustling Heidi Atkinson (pairs: 14th and 15th August) and Naomi Solomon (teams: 28th and 29th August) respectively, who, sadly, both died last year. Brochures and links to enter can be found in the Major Events block below the menu on all the website pages. Entries for the July JM Bridge Sunday teams competition are open; contact [email protected] to enter. The Hermanus Duplicate Bridge Club also runs regular online sessions.

For more than a year now, big John Bryant - former French Open tennis player and the J in the JM Bridge Club name - has been organising daily teams events to keep players sane during lockdown. Now he is stepping down. I am a member of the Whatsapp group John and Mark (the M) Kenyon use to organise these games; it's like being in a tropical jungle with birds chirping gleefully on all sides. Now members of the group have come forward to organise the games themselves. A big thank you to you, John!


Continuing on a note that is both educational and amusing. I recently came upon the Canadian website of Master Point Press which specialises in bridge books, ancient and modern. First I went to read about the electronic versions of the classic books of Terence Reese and Roger Trezel and found I could download the whole first chapter of both Accurate Cardplay and Imaginative Cardplay (incidentally I recommend all you intermediate players download and read the elimination play first chapter of Accurate Cardplay - it is excellent). Then I went to the page for an old favourite, Card Play Technique or the Art of Being Lucky, by Victor Mollo and Nico Gardener. When I downloaded that, instead of getting a lesson on finesses, I found myself reading the fascinating potted biographies of the two authors, both real bridge characters of the old school. When you have five minutes to spare, download them and lament the fact that such larger than life characters are no longer in our bridge midst.


In our survey, many players recorded the need for more bridge education for intermediate players. So, while we are on the subject of Victor, I am in discussions with his UK publishers to get permission to publish extracts from his Bridge Quiz book. In the meantime, and to ensure we don't breach copyright, each Sunday, starting today, I will make 5 more of his problems available in the New Items section of our Learn Bridge page and replace them the next Sunday. If you download and do them religiously, I guarantee your declarer play will improve.


In July, one or more of our local experts will be running the first of our Zoom bridge workshops, sponsored by Personal Trust, for more advanced players; details will be posted on the website shortly. Then, this week, you can also tune in to the free BAMSA international conference for academics, bridge players, teachers, administrators and policy makers taking place virtually from bonnie Scotland.

A bridge tip for those of you that are members of more than one bridge club using Pianola: if you login to Pianola on the WCBU website and look at the small drop down menu below your name, you should see the names of the other clubs of which you are a registered member. If your other clubs are not listed, you will need to contact Pianola. You need to have a different logon id and password for each of your clubs even though Pianola knows you are the same person.


The WCBU website continues to throw up interesting statistics. There were 378 WCBU tables of bridge played in the past 30 days, more than the previous 30 despite many players playing in Congress. Over the past month the website has been used by some 776 people who have viewed just under 5,413 pages of information, slightly down on May. The most popular pages, other than the home page, were the results, JM bridge club, Bridge Unions and Watch Zonals pages. While 80% of the website visitors are from South Africa, the website has also attracted visitors in America (8%), the United Kingdom (4%), China (2%), Germany, Australia, China and further afield. We even had one visitor from Montenegro which brought up visions of a South African covid lockdowned in the Eastern European snows desperate to know how his old buddies were faring at the table.


I hope your bridge suppers and weekends are going well! One of my opponents totally distracted her partner by raving to me on BBO Chat about her version of my trump chops as we started to bid....


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Finally, we look forward to encountering you at the WCBU virtual bridge tables in the days ahead - and to hearing your comments and suggestions - please keep them rolling in!


Stay safe and enjoy your bridge