October 2, 2022

Readers mail….
From Islandsbc …..

Islandsbc continues to function with three tournaments a week and doesn’t look like stopping anytime soon. Due to a new job in Georgia in October Colin Pearson handed over the reins of running the club to Phil Conkie supported by 9 Directors and Hussein Centkas who has taken over the administration of the results and League Tables.

The club also changed its approach from pre-determined tournament listings to anyone registered with the club can turn up on the day – provided they register 15 minutes before start time. Anyone wanting to join the club should contact Phil Conkie on islandsbridgeclub@gmail.com. The PCR test requirement in October for Hotels effectively removed the scope to be able to reopen the Face to Face clubs despite returning swallows apart from the Wednesday Chicago club run by Tony Armstrong which ran up to December. The situation is unlikely to change until March 2022 when some members may need to be prized away from their computers to return to normal bridge.

We continue our look at people who have contributed or currently play in our club. This quarter we asked one of the online club founders expert player Stephen Williamson based in the Philippines to tell us a bit about himself, followed by two of our tournament Directors Jenny and Tony Armstrong. Janet Slack tells us about how she came to North Cyprus and took up the game there.


Hello, My name is Stephen Williamson. I retired to the Philippines after a 9 year stint teaching English in South Korea culminating with 4 years as a Professor of English at Hanseo University in Seoul.

I spent most of my prior years in various jobs in the publishing industry. I hold a BA in economics & an MBA.

I started playing bridge in 1970.  I am  a certified director in the ACBL. I ran/owned the Friday Night bridge club in San Jose for many years in the 1980 (averaged 20+ live tables). I have played all over the US & Canada winning multiple events and accumulating 3500 Masterpoints. Moving to South Korea didn’t stop me, I continued to play while residing there.

Retiring in the Philippines I became acquainted with Colin Pearson. Colin was working on an EU project in Manila. Colin has bragging rights; in 2018 we won the LETTY DE PADUA  National Unmixed Pairs. It’s not the Olympics, but is a NATIONAL EVENT. Thank you Colin. After Colin left the Philippines we stayed in touch on Bridge Base Online (BBO).

At the start of the pandemic in March 2020 Colin wanted to start an online game for the players in North Cyprus. BBOwas not very co-operative about starting a new club. I connected Colin with Ellen McCumsey from Oregon USA . Ellen was already running games as a Tournament Director on BBO. Ellen gave Colin the boost he needed to get it started. They deserve the credit. The continued success was provided by people who came on board since including the nine Directors they have now.

How about now? You can find me on BBO under the screen name MONKEYBIZ. I am currently teaching a class for beginners/intermediates on conventions. Lessons will continue and they are free. They are 20:30 US time on Mondays (New York/EST).


How We Got Involved With Bridge

Both Jenny and I are from families that played cards. We are now in the “elderly” age bracket and when we were very young; TV was in its infancy and didn’t begin its daily broadcasts until 4 p.m., therefore if there was a family get-together we would invariably play cards.

Years later, after we were married and visiting Jenny’s parents in Liverpool, her mother began to explain the basics of playing bridge. Jenny’s mother was a “top notch” player and her father was also good.

At this time, 1997, we were both working and there was little time to take this introduction further. Then Jenny’s parents moved to Wales to live with their other daughter and unfortunately her mother passed away in December 1998.

Then in 1999 Jenny saw an advertisement in our local newspaper informing us about beginner’s bridge night-school lessons. So began our formal and addictive introduction. Our teacher was a former national and county player who was so patient and taught us very well. We still meet friends we made during these lessons and some of us play at the same bridge club.The two UK clubs are in Harpenden, Hertfordshire. 

The following year we enrolled for beginners plus lessons and continued our love for the game, learning more and more about tactics and playing tips. We were completely hooked, but when we were invited to play at a club in a nearby town; that showed us that we were nowhere near the experience or skill of the members playing at this club. This could easily have been disheartening but we persevered and gradually we were “rising up” the results ladder, which encouraged us even further.

Then some of our friends began a new bridge club at the local golf club and we were asked to play too. So now we belonged to two clubs; and do so to this day. In addition, we play socially with new and old friends, helped along with a nice glass of red wine!!

At about this time we visited Northern Cyprus on the recommendation of a non-bridge playing friend and decided to buy a villa, becoming “swallows”. A new neighbour also played bridge and the three of us went along to play at a long established club playing Chicago bridge, and this is still operating now, but we’re now playing at Ozzi’s Bar and Restaurant in Karsiyaka.

Meeting new people with a common interest led to joining the Polar Restaurant Bridge Club in Ozankoy where duplicate bridge was played and this club now plays at Sammy’s Hotel on a Monday. I don’t think it had been formed very long in those days and I vividly remember one man saying to us that “it wasn’t for beginners to play there because the standard of play was good”. He changed his mind when we were playing at his table!!

At some point people in Karsiyaka wanted to learn to play and one person agreed to give them lessons. They were taught the Schenken system which is quite complicated. Eventually enough people felt confident enough to start a new club; this continues today but not with the Schenken system.

As the years went by we gradually helped organise the various clubs, both UK and Cyprus. There is always something to learn and we always remember that.


I was 25 years old when I started learning to play bridge and I will be 75 in December. I played golf every Tuesday and, in the Winter, when the weather was poor, we played cards. A gentleman who we knew at the Golf Club asked us if we were interested in learning to play bridge and he would teach us. My father taught me to play solo when I was younger which is a bit like half of the game. About 40 people said they would like to learn so he started the class every Wednesday evening and it was very successful. We practiced at every opportunity. Monday night at our house, Tuesday after golf and Wednesday at the class.

In 2003 we had several holidays in Northern Cyprus and liked it very much . We saw some stone houses at Karaoglanoglu for sale but they were all taken . The builder said he was building 6 more at Alsancak so we said we would have one . We moved in 2005 and Tony and Jen Armstrong were our neighbours and they played bridge.

Janet playing with friends and with Barbara Illingworth in Cyprus

My husband only played social bridge he didn’t want to play competitively, I went to Sele Restaurant in Girne with Tony and Jen and played Chicago bridge, then we found out about a Duplicate bridge at Polar Restaurant at Ozankoy so we went there also. Barbara and Barry Illingworth moved to Karsiyaka and we were friends in Filey where we all lived.  I persuaded Barbara to play bridge so I taught her the basics and Barbara partnered me at social bridge. When Brian Ramsey started Bridge at Tolgas Restaurant, Barbara partnered me and we voted for her to be treasurer. She collected the subs every week and when we had enough money in the funds we had a meal and drinks at Tolgas.  We met Sue and David Walker and Mary and David Smith and we all played social bridge with Tony and Jen on a regular basis at each other’s houses and we are still friends with them. Playing bridge during lockdown was a Godsend ,  so pleased I took up the offer to learn all those years ago.


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