March 21, 2023

Readers mail….
Colin Pearson – North Cyprus Online Bridge Club ….

Colin Pearson

Women of a certain age will remember the old adage that their own mothers taught them in how to cope with over amorous men. It also happens to be a useful strategy in bridge when bidding with one’s partner which we illustrate with an example at the end of this article.

The Islandsbc Online Bridge Club is now 15 months old writes Colin Pearson and continues to meet three times a week and still attracts at least 6 Tables a tournament. Although Karsiyaka Friday club has restarted with a small number of face to face bridge regulars no other live bridge had been possible due to swallows being unable to return to the TRNC.

Janice Harper

Janice Harper Chairman of the Monday Club has decided that regular Monday bridge at Sammy’s can commence at the usual time of 13:30 and will start from Monday 5th July for those who feel comfortable about playing in an air-conditioned environment over the summer. As not everyone has been able to get both vaccination jabs and for also those who are not quite ready to go back to face to face bridge it has been agreed that the Monday online bridge will continue for the next few months. This may involve some partnership changes but will allow all those both inside and outside the TRNC to continue to enjoy online bridge.

The rest of the online tournaments on Friday and Saturday will be continuing until early September when it is to be hoped the many swallows will seek to come back to the island if not for the live bridge but to check on their properties.

As part of each article we like to give readers a chance to reflect on why people have chosen to play bridge and a little about their background. This quarter we focus on one Turkish Cypriot family (the Cenktaş) who are members of both the online and live bridge clubs in the TRNC and why it might be the case that Turkish Cypriots haven’t taken to bridge in much the same way as other countries with colonial histories linked to the UK. We also focus on a UK member (Tracy Coleman) who joined at the start of the online club and has since become a Director for our tournaments.


Anybody who has seen me walk into the Karşıyaka Bridge Club (KBC) on a Friday afternoon probably thought I was going in to ask the way. I did stick out like a sore thumb because although KBC is in North Cyprus there were no Turkish Cypriots there on a Friday afternoon. Plenty of English, Scottish and other Europeans but no Turkish Cypriots. Most people assume that Turkish Cypriots play backgammon and rummy-like card games but not Bridge. Then they ask me how I learnt to play Bridge.

There is so much material on the internet, it is probably not too difficult to learn Bridge on your own nowadays. But when I learnt (35 years ago) this was not possible. My brother Mehmet, our friends Süleyman and Kemal (Gürsoy) and I knew each other from Episkopi. Kemal was in my class and his brother Süleyman was in my brother’s class in primary school. We lost contact in 1972 when my family moved to London and met each other again at a wedding in London in mid 80’s. We exchanged phone numbers and when our wives got along as well, we started meeting in each other’s homes on a regular basis. At first we started playing card games we knew from childhood but the four University graduates got bored and decided to take up Bridge for being something more challenging. We all bought books, read them and played.

In the late 80’s I found out about a Bridge tournament (teams event) in Harlow and we entered it. I thought it was remarkable that we came eleventh out of 64 teams, given that we had never played anybody else before and most of the entrants had been playing longer than our lives.

The four of us continued to play together for so long as we were all in the same country. When I  moved to North Cyprus in December 1991, a fourth player could not be found and the Bridge playing stopped for all of us. We re-commenced meeting up and playing regularly when I moved back to London in 1998, but stopped again when my brother moved to North Cyprus in 2007. I started playing at KBC when I moved back to North Cyprus in 2014.  But with no partner, I turned up every Friday at KBC and partnered with whoever was available. Great fun.

As you can imagine Covid-19 has had a big effect on KBC. While some seasonal players have stopped coming to North Cyprus, technology (and Colin Pearson’s efforts) have made it possible to have the tournaments online. This has been greatly appreciated and enjoyed by many. The online tournaments have not only enabled those in lockdown in North Cyprus to continue to play, but it has also allowed people who previously only played at KBC on occasion when they were in North Cyprus to also play on a regular basis from anywhere they may be located. My brother plays from Scotland while my daughter plays from London.

In some ways, the pandemic and online tournaments have brought players together. To our original gang of four, we managed to add my youngest daughter Meltem who learnt how to play Bridge at University and joins the tournaments on Saturdays and occasional bank holidays. My brother-in-law Yüksel has also taken up Bridge recently during lockdown. He is a reasonably good card player but fairly new to Bridge and has also been joining the KBC tournaments.

So that’s the story on how I learnt and found myself playing at the KBC. But now to the crucial question of, how can we get more Turkish Cypriots to join ? I have tried. I have cousins who play cards regularly. Serious card players.  I have offered to teach them Bridge to play with me at KBC before it went online. But I failed to interest them. There are reasons why Turkish Cypriots do not play Bridge. Here is what I have concluded but there could be more.

  • The games Turkish Cypriots tend to play are ones they can teach a beginner relatively quickly and they are ready to play straight away. Bridge is not a game you can learn in 10 minutes.
  • They like to chat and socialise while they play. Crack jokes, wind losers up if they are winning. These do not fit with Bridge etiquette.
  • The games that tend to be played have unofficial signals between partners, which also does not fit with Bridge.

Can some of these be overcome? Of course they can. For the older generation, the efforts may well be wasted. But if the keen young Chess players or University students could be targeted perhaps Bridge could be taken up by more Turkish Cypriots.

Our second contribution is from


I was born in the beautiful riverside town of Marlow in Buckinghamshire and lived there until 2016 when my husband and I moved to Wallingford.

I played cards a lot as a child with my parents and grandparents.  Games of cribbage and whist were a firm Sunday staple, and the playing cards were never missed out of the family holiday packing!

I was working as a full-time Company Accountant and my daughter Olivia had just turned 2.  My mum had started learning bridge and loved it, so she encouraged me to give it a go, so I joined a local evening class.  I took to it like a duck to water I love playing and have met some wonderful people.

I’m an active member of three Clubs in the UK.  We also have a house in the village of Alcaucin in Spain so I am a member of a bridge Club in the nearby village of Puente Don Manuel.   I sit on the Berks and Bucks County Bridge Association Committee and act as their Webmaster.

When I’m not playing Bridge or doing grandma duties, I volunteer at my local library as a Computer Buddy to help people with their IT problems. When Covid forced face to face bridge to close, I was keen that the members of my Clubs should still be able to continue to play and more importantly be able to chat to each other on-line.  I made it my goal to encourage and show people how to play on-line.

When Peri Wing asked me if I would like to join her Cyprus group I was delighted and really look forward to the weekly sessions, a fabulous group of people.

My son-in-law’s family are from Cyprus and his great grandma and grandma live about an hour from the Club so we are planning a family trip within the next couple of years so I will drop in for a game of bridge and really looking forward to meeting my latest bridge friends face to face!



The hand below illustrates the benefits of using slow promises to arrive at a grand slam.

You are West you hold the cards below and you hear your partner open with 1H.

Counting your points you find that you have quite an exciting 19 points opposite at least 12 so you should be at least in the realms of a small slam. If you can agree a suit it might extend to a grand slam.

What are your options for bidding?

Some partnerships like to show such a strong hand through a jump bid but the advantage of slow promises is that you can keep the bidding at a low level in order to work out which suit you plan to end up in.

The first thought is to perhaps bid 2D especially as you have 6 but on reflection do you really want to end up in a minor slam and using slow promises you will have time to test if you have any other fit. The other disadvantage of bidding 2D is that you are effectively denying any 4 card Spade suit.

So the correct bid is 1S showing 4 cards and knowing that your partner has to respond.

Your partner then bids 3S – what does this tell you? – firstly he has 4 spades and 5 hearts so it is doubtful you can make any other contract than a spade one. He is also showing 15+ points which with your own points means that a grand slam may now be possible.

As you have agreed that the suit is Spades there is now no point showing your diamonds so it is time to find out about the Aces and Kings he holds

You then bid 4NT (Roman Blackwood CRO)

He replies 5NT showing 2 Aces of Other (i.e. not same Colour and not the same Rank) which means he holds the Ace of Hearts and Ace of Clubs.

You then have to bid the next suit up (6C) to ask for Kings (again Roman Blackwood CRO for Kings)

He replies 6H showing just one King. This is most likely to mean the KH. This leaves you with 2 options. Lacking the KC you can probably make 6NT but not 7NT. Your partner having both the AK of Hearts means you can throw 2 losing club tricks away on them and you might reasonably expect to be able to ruff at least 1D in partners hand in 7S. On this basis it is reasonable to bid a grand slam in Spades – your only major risk is a very bad split in Spades. If there is, you can console yourself that everyone else may well go down in 6NT.

The full Deal is

North leads JC against 7S which is taken by AC in East (dummy). Three rounds of spades ending in East allows declarer to play AKQ heart discarding 2 losing clubs plus 6D. This is followed by AKQJ of Diamonds and the ruff of 8D with the final spade in East. A total of 3S,3H,4D,1C and two spade ruffs (one in each hand) = 13 tricks.

Postscript – most other partnerships bid the Diamonds first and never found the spade fit and so ended up in 6NT which can make but with great difficulty and a little help from the opponents!

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