It is hard to believe writes Colin Pearson that Islandsbc, the North Cyprus Online Bridge Club, is one year old. We celebrate this unlikely milestone by including contributions from some of our players and Directors on how they have coped with moving from “live” bridge club activities to online tournaments.
Peri Wing writes about her experiences of learning to play bridge and Lalitha Scott writes about getting to grips with the acronyms that are used in online Bridge. We also include the latest Hall of Fame Table as well as the end of year League Table. Our winners Paul and Barbara write about how they came to take up bridge. Also included is how to bid a challenging hand that occurred during one of our tournaments.
Online Bridge has been one of the few success stories of the COVID pandemic with numbers rising on all the main platforms worldwide. Islandsbc is able to use Bridge Base Online (BBO) thanks to the generosity of Ellen from Oregon who allows us to use her tournament Director status (fortunately while she is asleep). Organising three tournaments a week plus a partnership finding service for often up to 9 tables of four players is turning into a growth industry especially when it comes to email traffic. As well as the TRNC we have players from the UK, Spain, Norway and India. We also now have 11 trained Directors to help run the tournaments and this helps spread the load.
What of the future and the return of ‘live’ bridge?
Following Suzi Moir’s departure Lalitha Scott has taken over the reins of running the Friday Bridge at Karsiyaka. Along with Janice Harper the Chairman of the Monday club they report that they may be unlikely to restart until the swallows return – possibly June but more likely in September.
Tony Armstrong chair of the Wednesday Club strikes a more optimistic note as he reports that there are so many variables to take into account that will enable Wednesday bridge to re-start. A large percentage of our members are permanent residents and so it should, in theory, be easier to re-start quickly. If the other clubs are not going to re-start until later in the year, we might well see bumper participants for “live” bridge. Our playing day of the week does not clash with any on-line bridge so the major factors are Covid and a venue. As long as we are compliant with whatever rules are in place AND that Sammy’s Hotel is allowed to open, Tony states that he would be prepared to begin bridge as soon as he can get back to Cyprus; mid-May being his hoped-for arrival. So watch this space!
For the moment we carry on and anyone local who is interested in joining the online club please contact Colin on firstname.lastname@example.org
I left Cyprus for England at six years of age in 1960, along with my mother to join my father who had left a few months earlier. It was during a disrupted period when many Cypriots, Turkish and Greek, left a troubled homeland for pastures new with opportunities to work. The next time I went back to Cyprus was many years later as a woman in my forties, married to Geoff and with two young children. I returned with simple memories of my earlier life there as – a little girl running around wild and carefree, having fun with village friends.
It was exciting introducing my family to the life and culture of Northern Cyprus. I’d always told the children how different things would be if we were living there, and one particular event brought this home to them. At the time, my son (11) and daughter (15) along with Geoff & I visited relatives in a village near Ercan airport, where as usual all the women were in the kitchen preparing food for the evening and the men relaxed and played tavla (backgammon). When the food was ready my daughter sat at the table ready for her meal, but I had to whisper to her that it wasn’t our turn yet – first we had to serve the men, and the women ate afterwards. It was galling for her having to wait till afterwards, and to add insult to injury she had to serve her younger brother who was allowed to sit with the men!
Twenty-five years later we now look forward to the opportunity of introducing our grandchildren to their Cypriot relatives and the culture, which in the villages has changed little over the years.
In the seventies I worked for a publishing company in Trafalgar Square where at lunchtimes all work stopped and some played cards or darts. We saved our 15p daily luncheon vouchers and on Fridays “feasted” at the Charing Cross Lyons Corner House. A few of us started to play bridge, with the odd wink and touch of the ear lobe to indicate certain cards, all highly irregular play of course.
I married, started a family and life chugged along nicely, but with no serious bridge play other than an occasional kitchen session with wine. Years later with retirement looming – how to fill my time? I reviewed things I liked doing and bridge was a natural choice. I found there was a bridge school not too far from me and as I worked part time, I was able to attend classes for 3 years. By the time I did retire I was ready to play with the grown-ups, and that was around 15 years ago. Bridge has become a key part of my life, and the Cyprus group very good friends who I look forward to seeing when we are there.
During the lockdowns in the UK, bridge has been a godsend; I have been able to play online with friends both in Cyprus and the UK, which has been a lifeline when most activities are off-limits. After many months’ enjoyable play, time has now come to give a little back and I’m pleased to be able to help the continued smooth running of the brilliantly organised sessions by training to be Director online. I hope the old brain cells don’t let me down!
Islandsbc is reaching its first birthday soon writes Lalitha Scott
This time last year most of us had never played bridge online before. So, so different to playing face to face in a club, the change in etiquette being striking. That quintessential first question in face to face play – ‘Any questions partner?, – now seems a distant memory and I marvel how comparatively easily I have adapted to the faceless electronic play.
Initially however, online play appeared somewhat surreal including the greetings of Hi ops, Wc ops, etc, every time there was a change over, when the cards had already been dealt, and were staring me in the face. For months, I was fearful of miscalculating my cards, if I engaged in the trivia of greeting, and must have seemed rude. But, over time I have come to understand the importance of welcoming the opponents, and now immediately greet or acknowledge, and accepting it as the new etiquette.
English not being my mother tongue, I have always had some difficulty in understanding non-standard expressions, and I certainly never anticipated the use of acronyms in the Chat would be so challenging, more even than the game itself! Initially I was baffled by ‘TY’,’SY’,’NP’, ‘WP’, and also ’LOL’ frequently used by one of the players when anything seemed remotely funny to him.
Some acronyms took me a good while to get used to, such as ‘GLP’ by an opponent. I remember when first coming across it, I had nervously doubled the opponent’s bid, and was about to make my opening lead. The message was to the Table, but I took it personally to mean ‘Gallop’ or ‘Gulp’ and saw it as an insult, as if I am a horse! Then, one day the penny dropped, this remark was directed at the sender’s partner, wishing her luck! I was similarly perplexed, when one player typed ‘TFG’ at the end of a round. Eventually I picked up courage to ask him the meaning, and received the answer, ‘Thank you For the Games’. Very gentlemanly, indeed!
I like to think I’ve got the hang of it now. But, recently I was still flummoxed when someone typed ‘GTG’ on the last board. Can anyone please explain? (Editor – Got to Go?)
In the meantime, ‘TDO’ ( Thanks Directors & Organisers)! ‘ILYA’ ( I Love You All)
Paul and Barbara Evans
Our winners of the annual league competition hail from Spain where they moved to from the UK in 2014.
Paul was born in Scunthorpe, Barbara in Westerham in Kent, coming to Scunthorpe in 1986, following her Mum & Dad who spent their retirement in Scunthorpe. Paul started bridge lessons in 1993 at Scunthorpe Bridge Club, Barbara in 1996. After learning how to play the basics of bridge, they used to play odd times at the club, but mutual friends of theirs really pushed them together by inviting them both around to their house to make up a table of 4, it was during these visits they found out that they were both divorced, so they started seeing each other socially as well as playing at the bridge club, this in turn led them to getting married in 2001, and they celebrate 20 years of marriage in July, so people be warned playing bridge can sometimes lead to more than you expected. They are not sure when they will be able to come to Cyprus to see all their new friends from Islands Bridge Club, but they are looking forward to coming when everyone is allowed to travel freely.
A Bidding Challenge
You are sitting North and as Dealer have a number of choices to open the bidding. There are four main options:
1 Heart – a big risk exists that your partner may pass and you miss a game or better.
4 Hearts – You certainly should make 10 tricks on your hand alone but do you risk missing a slam as your partner will almost certainly pass?
2 Clubs – A bid such as this requires 23+ points when on the face of it you only have 15. However close examination of the hand shows that you can add the points for ruffing the Ace + King of Spades plus also the King of Clubs adding an extra 10 points making 25.
4 No Trumps – Route one using Blackwood asking for Aces – is risky (especially if it has never come up before with your partner)
- The correct bid is 2 Clubs
- To which your partner replies 2 Spades showing 8+ points and a five card spade suit.
- Your next bid is 3 Hearts showing a suit with at least 5 cards.
- Your partner is not allowed to pass and their next bid should be 4 Diamonds.
- This bid makes your hand very much stronger as they will have at least 4 cards and an honour in Diamonds. At this point you can use Blackwood (4 No Trumps) to ask for Aces.
- Your partner bids 5 Diamonds showing just one Ace.
- Now you have a dilemma. If it is the Ace of Spades then you could lose 2 tricks (Ace of Diamonds and Ace of Clubs). If however it is either the Ace of Diamonds or Ace of Clubs (unlikely on bidding) then you can safely bid 6 Hearts. If you are feeling lucky (or need to make up some ground in the tournament) you will risk 6 Hearts.
VULN: Both DEALER: North CONTRACT: 6H by N, LEAD: AC
The full hand is set out below and the play is straightforward – the opponents win the first trick and you make the remaining 12. Any other lead than AC gives you an extra trick.