June 26, 2022

Readers mail….
From Islandsbc Bridge Club….

Face to Face Bridge resumes on Mondays after 2 years at the Korineum Golf Club and the Online Bridge is two years old.

After almost two years of absence and following Janice Harper’s great efforts the Monday Bridge Club restarted at the Korineum Golf Club on Monday 7 March and now has a regular 3-4 Tables writes Colin Pearson. This is not however the end of Islandsbc Online Bridge Club as it will continue into its third year running on Fridays and Saturdays. Although numbers had been expected to dwindle as the COVID pandemic receded, in fact there is a hard core of members from across the globe who are happy to continue playing on these days under Phil Conkie’s overall direction. Sadly the Monday online tournaments have had to finish in March as all the Directors are playing at the Korineum or are not available. In addition the Wednesday Face to Face Chicago club reopened from 9th March at Ozzie’s Bar under the direction of Tony Armstrong.

This quarter we feature more of our players including our long suffering Tournament Director Phil plus Susan Cahit one of our longest serving bridge players in the TRNC  and our relatively newcomers Americans Beth and Steve who have chosen the TRNC to settle in – yes its true married members can successfully play together.

We also include our 2021/22 Hall of Fame and the top twenty players over the last year. We also attach a summary of where you can play bridge in North Cyprus.

PHIL CONKIE

As a youngster, I was heavily into logic puzzles and brain games. Regular visits with grandparents would inevitably involve a board game or a card game or two. In my senior school years, I briefly joined the sixth form bridge club and even, on a few occasions, played bridge at home with my father and grandparents. Then work took over…

I was ideally placed to take advantage of the digital revolution; computer studies were an option at senior school and Sir Clive Sinclair was making home computing available to all. I started my career as a computer operator, loading tapes, paper and punched cards on IBM mainframe machines the size of a football pitch. Within a few short years, my logic and analytical skills would put me at the forefront of developing flagship computer systems for the insurance industry.

Fast forward 30+ years and I find myself in North Cyprus with an abundance of leisure time. My days are filled with scuba diving, swimming, snorkelling, rambling, mountain walks, bird watching, golfing and exploring ancient sites; my nights are filled with stargazing and enough social life to fill several lifetimes. Janice Harper suggests I may want to take up Bridge. Under Janice’s expert tuition, my problem solving and analytical skills come to the fore again and we begin to feature regularly in the top partnership rankings.

After a while, I join a more serious bridge club based in Girne. I’m fortunate to form and develop a successful partnership with Colin Pearson. I learn new skills and new bidding conventions. 6 – 7 years later, I’m still learning! Bridge is a game of rules; knowing when to break those rules (or when your partner is lying), can often make the difference between winning and losing.

As well as still playing regularly, I currently manage the Islands Bridge Club and direct online tournaments. Please feel free to contact me at islandsbridgeclub@gmail.com if you would like to join the online games or would like more information about the face-to-face bridge groups. I have been made to feel very welcome by all members of the bridge clubs and have formed friendships and enjoyed social gatherings with many.

SUSAN CAHIT

I first came to Cyprus with a group of colleagues recruited from Grand Met to open the first Casino, which was the Dome in Kyrenia, in 1978.    We had a wonderful few years working with and training locals who eventually would run the clubs.

Lynn Al Wagga, Shona Berrisford, Susan Cahit and Janice Harper

I returned to my work in London about 1981 , then began returning to Cyprus for holidays.I was always a great Tennis fan and played regularly.  At my club in London a group of friends were trying to organise a class to learn Bridge, at first I was reluctant to join but gladly they persuaded me to make up the numbers. That was around 1995 and I have enjoyed playing Bridge ever since.

Over time I was spending more time in Cyprus and found a local club run by Michael Raine  Kyrenia Bridge club, it was held every Wednesday at Seles Restaurant in the old Turkish Quarter, they played Chicago and it was a jolly get together.

One of our regular players, Cliff Dawes, branched out and organised another club , that was the beginning of Monday bridge at Polar, we eventually began to play Duplicate, when Malcolm Davies was organising and directing , I was recruited to assist.

We had to move venue after a while and ended up at Watermill Hotel in Girne where we played regularly and the club thrived there for maybe 15 years. Sadly Watermill closed and the Monday Club drifted for a while going to Sammy’s then temporarily closed due to COVID.

Thankfully we have now restarted Monday bridge at Korenium Golf Club, thanks to our new Chairman’s effort  Janice Harper we are all looking forward to regular real bridge every Monday.  Hope to see everyone there.

Stephen Spain and Beth Cameron

Stephen has been playing bridge for over 50 years since his US Foreign Service parents taught him and his siblings as a way to pass time on long trips and when resettling in a new country. Given that long history, it is remarkable that he has managed to so far avoid developing any real skill at the game! He takes after his father, whose bidding his mother – a formidable player – used to describe as “the triumph of enthusiasm over caution.”

Setting foot in Topkapi Palace in Istanbul on a family trip in 2005.

Beth learned to play when she and Stephen began dating 30+ years ago. It was difficult finding other bridge players over the next couple of decades, as we moved from Boston in the US to Pakistan/Afghanistan, and then back to Boston. When we moved to North Carolina in 2005, we finally found some regular opportunities to play. Duplicate is a new experience for us, as prior to arriving in Cyprus we had only played rubber bridge.

Our road to North Cyprus is a long one that began in 1970 when Stephen moved to Istanbul as a teenager. The four years spent in Turkey at that time led to a lifelong connection with the country. He was living in Ankara, where his father was the Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy at the time of the Cyprus rescue operation in 1974. Over the years, he would return to Turkey frequently with family and friends. We honeymooned in Istanbul and returned multiple times with our children as they grew into adults.

Stephen’s work with Save the Children (US) and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees in the 1990s took us to Pakistan for five years, during which time our daughter and son were born. Stephen worked with Afghan refugees in Pakistan and Iran as well as returnees to Afghanistan, while Beth worked with the United Nations Development Program in Pakistan. We got a taste for “expat life” at that time that stayed with us, even as our careers took us back to the US for the next two decades.

Stephen’s only time behind the wheel of a Rolls Royce, part of Afghanistan King Zahir Shah’s collection at the Kabul Museum, after the Mujahideen had a go at it, circa 1993. 2

It had always been our plan to retire to Turkey, but in recent years the political and social situation there had become less appealing to us. When the time came to get serious about retirement plans, we travelled to various places, including Panama and Spain, but none really spoke to us. At one point, we were bemoaning to an old UN colleague and friend the changes in Turkey that had made us decide not to retire there, and he asked us if we had ever been to North Cyprus. He had served with the UN in Nicosia and described the TRNC as very similar to how Turkey used to be.

We came to visit in 2019 and found it delightful. While we should have had reservations about moving to an unrecognized country where our local attorney used the word “informal” way too many times in describing the property purchase and residency processes, we found it such a friendly and beautiful place with a remarkably rich culture and history that we took the plunge and bought a house in Bahceli. We moved here permanently in May/June of 2021, along with our cats, Dorian and Zane.

One of our first missions upon relocating was to find people who play bridge. We learned that all play had gone online due to Covid and were put in touch with Colin, who quickly got us squared away. Adjusting to playing duplicate bridge has been a little bit of a challenge for us, as we had always played very informal rubber bridge, with a lot of table talk! Playing online was a great way for us to make the transition, but we’re also very happy to be playing live again – and to put faces and names to some of our online opponents.

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