Western Cape Bridge News - September 2023

Wednesday, 27 September 2023 by Brian Paxton

September 2023 newsletter highlights: Western Cape Teams, SAWBA and Fundraiser / Monthly Sunday Pairs and Lunch / Charity Bridge in aid of Hospices / MCC Bridge Challenge / Bridge Results / Expert Commentary / Statistics 

As always, there's a lot of bridge activities coming up. More information on many of the topics in this newsletter can be found in the attachments to this E-mail; by clicking on the links in the text below; or by visiting the Western Cape Bridge Union (WCBU) website.

Looking ahead, the Western Cape Teams competition, a blue master point event, is scheduled to take place on RealBridge on 30th September and 1st October 2023 - that's this next weekend and entries close at midnight tomorrow - and the rescheduled SAWBA, also online, takes place from 24th to 29th October; you can click here to enter either or both these events. A special fundraising bridge pairs tournament will be held at the Bowls clubhouse of the Western Province Cricket Club - that's where Keurboom Bridge Club plays - on Sunday 22nd October starting at 09h30 to provide financial assistance to players resident in the Western Cape who play regularly in WCBU sanctioned face to face and BBO events, including this tournament, and who are selected to represent South Africa at the 2024 World Championships. The entry fee is R 450 per pair.

 Please note that there will be NO Personal Trust bridge and lunch on 29th October because of SAWBA. Instead the next explosive Personal Trust Bridge and lunch will be held on Guy Fawkes day, 5th November, at 10h00. The WCBU and Personal Trust invite players in the Cape Town area, including visitors, to participate; the cost (inclusive of lunch and a glass of wine) is R100.00 per person; you can contact Shirley Phillips ([email protected]) to enter or to assist you in finding a partner. Our next monthly First Friday charity BBO tournament takes place at 10h00 on Friday 6th October in aid of Hospices  - to enter the tournament, just logon early to BBO, select Virtual Clubs - South Africa and you will see our WCBU sessions listed. Speaking of those monthly charity tournaments, the CEO of Souper Troopers, which we supported last month, wrote: It is thanks to the generosity and thoughtfulness of people like you and your members that we are able to continue to provide individualised services that help homeless people transform their lives.

Back in the world of friendly bridge competition, the bridge section of London's Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) would like to play a low key, non cut throat RealBridge teams competition against a WCBU team of eight players one Friday afternoon in October. If you are interested in being a member of the Western Cape Team, then please contact John Bryant ([email protected]).   

Congratulations to Jan and Terry East on winning Impala's 2023 Steve McGibbon Pairs competition. They led from the start and finished victorious with an overall Best 4 of 5 average 3.7% ahead of second-placed Andrew Cruise and Saul Burman.

Moving to ways of learning or improving your bridge, the next of leading bridge teacher Jeff Sapire's brief bridge tips: Try to bid and play in an even tempo. It’s the ethical thing to do, and it won’t give away information to the opponents (or to your partner). A fast lead against 1NT-3NT is bound to be from a long suit, whereas thinking for quite a while and then leading a lowish card shows doubt about your choice. By the way, those of you who perhaps feel intimidated when playing with the fiercely competitive at affiliated clubs, remember that on Wednesday mornings the Keurboom Club has a gentler tournament taking place in parallel with that of the more experienced players with their thicker skins.

One of the unsung heroes of Western Cape bridge is Jan Chrobok who, month after month and year after year, organises the Buccaneer interclub teams league competition. Jan is also very involved with organising the BBO tournaments of the Pinelands Bridge Club. Thank you Jan! This month our thanks are also due to two other highly experienced Western Cape Players for providing commentary that will be of interest to other bridge players. First Michael Alexander with his Senior Moments from Marrakesh:

"Bridge conditions and organisation were superb so there was no excuse for all of us not playing to our full capacity. Having said that, even if we had played well, we would only have climbed a further two places. The truth is, as a continent and country, we are just not good enough. I agree with those who say the SABF pays too much to so few. Rather they should encourage individuals to seek sponsors to pay their way.

"The main area where we were woefully inadequate was in the slam area in the face of fierce intervention. We missed slam after slam and overbid four times, very expensive in a sixteen board match.

"Penalties were applied vigorously with 2 VP for phone in bag; 2 VP for late comers; and just 2 VP for cheating and lying. Let me explain. Against Chinese Taipan, at the start of the round the director warned them for looking at the face card of cards played. They denied it but the director said he had reviewed the video and they had. After 13 boards, I got permission to go to the toilet. On my return, I saw the Chinese player looking at the hands of the unplayed board 16. The director was called who told him he was not allowed to even touch the board and asked how many hands had he looked at. “One” said Mr Chinese. The director left to review the video and returned saying “You looked at three hands and lied to me.” So, for being 5 minutes late 2 VP penalty and for cheating and lying the same fine – ridiculous!"

Incidentally, in our last newsletter, I lauded The Western Cape Department of Culture, Arts and Sport (DCAS) for being an important source of funds for the WCBU. Now the Department of Sport is providing R 40,000 in response to our application for funds to defray the costs of Western Cape players representing South Africa at Marrakech. Thank you!

Glen Holman, in very different vein, wrote about Why I hate Teams:

"In the recent PE Mini Congress the great shuffler came through with the following hand with North the dealer:

            S AK542
            H A542
            D 2
            C K76
S T8                        S 9763
H T6                        H QJ9743
D JT97543                    D –
C 85                        C 943
            S QJ
            H K
            D AKQ86
            C AQJT2

"Only 1 pair, Jeff Sapire and Val Bloom reached the best contract of 7NT on 7 rounds of bidding. Both Jan and Terry East and Sue Botha and I reached 7C. The rest of the field languished in a small slam. I would have expected some pairs to reach 7NT via the quick and dirty auction of:

"1S 4NT (keycard in spades) 5D (showing 3) 5NT (asking for kings or specific kings), 6C (showing the king of clubs), 7NT

"In any event the play is the thing. Jan and Terry East got the jack of diamonds lead and were down 1 off the top. I was more fortunate and got the 5 of clubs lead. This is what went through my alleged mind. I counted my tricks and got to 13 (we never usually have to count to 14) and was about to claim. Then I realized that in playing in clubs I had to draw trumps first and then after cashing the QJ of spades, I needed to overtake the king of hearts with the ace. This compressed a trick. I should have then relooked at the hand and recounted and determined that the hand was a PTC (Pull Trumps, Claim). Instead I decided why was I mucking about when I could just play ace of diamonds and then ruff a diamond high for my extra trick. After all what are the odds of a 7-0 diamond split. When Mark Oliff proceeded to ruff I assumed he was trying to fool me and show me that the odds were not astronomical after all. Instead I suddenly realized that we were on Realbridge and revokes can’t take place. Only goes to show you that we can all be stupid. By the way, the reason for the title, I hate having to profusely apologize to three players instead of one."

In previous newsletters I have mentioned some of the trends afflicting modern bridge. If you examine Impala's latest results list above and that last paragraph from Glen, you will see that the players listed as playing in these online tournaments live around South Africa and even abroad; at the Bedford Bridge tournament last weekend, players from small communities like Cradock and Patensie remarked how BBO enabled them to continue playing when village bridge clubs dwindled - online bridge has completely eliminated regional boundaries within the country. In fact, we can perhaps count ourselves as lucky that more South African players are not playing in non-South African online tournaments thereby depriving South African bridge of an important source of income.

Finally, turning to those fascinating statistics you all love, players frequently comment to me on items in a recent newsletter, yet at the same time I often hear bridge administrators comment that "players don't read newsletters" so I decided to investigate. Of those to whom our August newsletter was sent 46% of those with valid E-mail addresses read the E-mail with 60 recipients also clicking on links in the newsletter. Sadly 666 newsletters could not be delivered at all, mostly because the E-mail addresses did not seem to still be active. In the past two months the results from 402 (down from 498) tables of face to face and online bridge have been recorded in the Pianola database on the WCBU website where players can compare and analyse their performance while, as I described above, also giving them the opportunity to compare their results in the two formats. Since the beginning of January 2023, the WCBU website has been used by 4,217 visitors who read 27,027 pages of information during 12,964 visits. Of the visitors, who live in 62 different countries, 84% reside in South Africa, 5% in the United Kingdom, 2.2% in America, and 1.4% in Australia; 36% live in Cape Town, 30% in Gauteng and 2% in Hermanus. As you would expect, the home page was the most popular page in September, followed by the results, Bridge Clubs, Bridge Lessons and Upcoming pages. Some 44% of visitors use a computer; 44% use a cell-phone; and 11% a tablet. And that's enough statistics for this month!