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La Jolla Bridge (Unit 526)

Welcome to the website for ACBL Unit 526 (U526). We are the La Jolla and Beach Unit in District 22 (D22) of the American Contract Bridge League (ACBL). Our games are held at 1 PM on the second and fourth Sundays of each month at the Soledad Club at 5050 Soledad Road in Pacific Beach (See also the Interactive Google Map of major San Diego clubs). We tradeoff the occasional fifth Sunday with San Diego Unit 539. If you play bridge but are unfamiliar with duplicate (tournament) play, check out Karen Walker’s introduction. Completely new to the game? Check out the ACBL’s Learn to Play web page.

Upcoming Events

Four bridge players playing outside
Date Spacer Event
October 11  - Stratified Open Pairs
November 8  - Stratified Open Pairs
November 22  - Stratified Open Pairs
Full 2015 Schedule
District 22 and 23 tournaments

Note: There is no game unit game October 25th. Play in the Coronado-Chula Vista sectional (flyer).

Fantoni-Nunes busted—the rats are being flushed out

card shark showing the eight of diamonds

The once supposedly world class partnership of Fulvio Fantoni and Claudio Nunes has been busted for cheating. Boye Brogeland, assisted by fellow experts Ishmael Del’Monte, Brad Moss, Kit Woolsey, Jeff Meckstroth, Chris Willenken, Norman Beck, Tom Hanlon, Per-Ola Cullin, and Steve Weinstein, has presented compelling statistical evidence, backed by hand records and video footage, that the pair was cheating in numerous events by a prearranged signalling method involving the orientation of the opening lead. They confirmed a prearranged signalling theory first put forward by Maaijke Mevius from the Netherlands. Michael Clark has summarized the evidence in a video that shows many leads and the cards in the suit led. Other prearranged signals are alleged but to date only the most statistically compelling method has been presented.

The evidence is very damning. Hopefully the national bridge organizations (NBOs) and the ACBL will take appropriate disciplinary action. A lifetime ban from the game is certainly merited. A ten year ban, including a lifetime ban on Fantoni and Nunes playing as a partnership, would be an absolute minimum punishment.

The Fantoni-Nunes scandal has arrived less than two weeks after the unraveling of the Lotan Fisher and Ron Schwartz partnership, where video evidence was also key.

September 19th update: Germany withdraws from the Bermuda Bowl after Alex Smirnov admits there is some truth to the rumors circulating about his partnership with Josef Piekarek. Also see Roy Welland’s statement and apology to Boye Brogeland and also Sabine Auken’s statement, both former teammates of Smirnov-Piekarek.

September 23rd update: The cheating story has trickled down to Newsweek.

September 25th update: The Polish pair Cezary Balicki and Adam Zmudzinski falls under suspicion as the credentials committee of the World Bridge Federation withdraws the pair’s invitation to the Bermuda Bowl.

George Humphrey passed away

George Humphrey

George Humphrey passed away at home on September 28th. He was a regular at Adventures in Bridge where he had established partnerships with Ben Domurat and Linda Willingham. He also occasionally played with Gail Dunham and Jeffrey Holmes and in our unit games.

Club Table Counts

Every year the ACBL publishes the list of clubs with the highest table counts for the previous year in the Bridge Bulletin. Now you can find this information on the ACBL website: 2015 to date, 2014, 2015 to date (D22 only), 2014 (D22 only). The top District 22 clubs are Laguna Woods, Adventures in Bridge, and Dana Harbor. Last year total club table count was ~14,000 in the San Diego unit vs. ~2,000 in the La Jolla unit. This reflects both the 2.4x larger membership of the San Diego unit and the dominance of Adventures in Bridge. In the online world, Bridge Base Online (BBO) now outdraws OKbridge about 7 to 1 in ACBL sanctioned table count.

He failed to draw trump

Sculpture from Gilgal Gardens

Ivar Stakgold becomes an emerald life master

Charlotte Blum, the awards chairman, presented an emerald life master (7500 MP) award to Ivar Stakgold at the July 12th unit game.

Ivar is a mathematician who has done far more than accumulate masterpoints. He holds five national titles: the Silodor Open Pairs, Vanderbilt Knockout Teams, and Reisinger Board-a-Match Teams (all in 1958—what a year!), Spingold Master Knockout Teams (1962), and the Mixed BAM Teams (1969), and has three second place NABC finishes. And he has a 1959 second place finish in the Bermuda Bowl with teammates Harry Fishbein, Sam Fry Jr. Leonard Harmon, Lee Hazen, and Sidney Lazard. He even has a Wikipedia page.

The Platinum LM and Grand LM ranks both require 10,000 MP but the latter requires winning a national title. Holding not one, but rather five national titles and having earned many of his masterpoints before the great masterpoint inflation of the new millennium, Ivar is surely an honorary Grand LM whether or not he sits in a chair for another 2,500 MP.

Even if you have not met Ivar at the bridge table his name may be sound familiar because Ivar is a regular contributor to the It’s Your Call bidding forum of the Contract Bridge Forum newspaper.

Ivar’s mathematical work concentrated on boundary value problems, i.e. scenarios where a continuous (smooth) function is to be determined over a volume given a knowledge of its values or derivatives on a surface. These problems are highly relevant to both classical and quantum physics and have numerous practical engineering applications. One such practical application is the time evolution of the temperature within a solid when heat is applied to the surface of the solid.

Stanford is runner up in the Collegiate Bridge Bowl

Joshua Wang, Adam Kaplan, Erli Zhou, Ling-Ling Zhang, Edward Yang and Emily Kelly

Emily Kelly (far right), unit board member Ursula Kantor’s granddaughter, was part of the Stanford team which was the runner up at the Collegiate Bridge Bowl at the summer NABC in Chicago.

The final against Chicago was close until Chicago gained 38 IMPs on the first five boards of the last quarter and held on to them for the victory.

Evening Bridge Is Dying, Help!

Downward red arrow superimposed on a picture of the night sky

After the Soledad Thursday evening game dipped to just four tables (financial break even) for four consecutive weeks in May and June, I asked ACBL headquarters to provide national data on evening bridge table counts. The prognosis for evening bridge is grim. Though total club table count has remained nearly constant for the past 25 years, the percentage of those tables played in the evening has fallen from 44% to 16% over the same time period. Utter annihilation of the evening game looks certain within 15 years but collapse due to low table counts will probably occur within half this projected timeframe. See the data and plots.

Keep evening bridge alive in San Diego! Join us at the Soledad Club at 7 pm every Thursday. We are a fun group and we’ll sharpen your bridge skills.

Marvin French resurrected

Marvin French

He is baaaack! Or at least his website is. The webhosting contract for Marvin’s original website lapsed in 2015, a few months after his death. Shortly after Evan Bailey passed away I told Marvin that I had vacuumed up a copy of Evan’s website so that I could re-host it after the webhosting contract lapsed. Marvin was happy to hear that and hoped I would do the same for him after he “kicked the bucket.” So here you go, Marvin!

Marvin French’s many contributions to bridge literature include Squeeze Refresher, his Bidding Handbook (Four-Card Majors: Western Natural Updated), Defense Handbook, AmBIGuous Diamond Bidding System, Skeleton Bidding System, Party Bridge Guide, Beating the Experts, Fairness in Duplicate Pairs Games. Five vs. Four, and other bridge articles. He also wrote about blackjack, literature, and reasoned skepticism.

Field Protection, Diversity, and Shannon Entropy

Shannon entropy equation superimposed on black and white fractal like artwork

Is field protection a meaningful concept? Does a stronger field provide greater field protection? How many unique results are there on a typical board in a big field? How large does a pair game have to be to avoid undersampling? Take a mathematical journey and find out.

New Tournament Flight: Mid-Flight

The ACBL is experimenting with a new flight for pairs events, called the Mid-flight, that would fit between the Gold Rush (0-750) and the open flight. Recall that flighted events are separated whereas the players in a stratified event play each other but are ranked in their strat and all higher strats for the purpose of awarding masterpoints. A typical mid-flight event would have an upper limit of 3000 MP and strats of 1500 and 3000 MP. The second change is the addition of a third strat to open A/X events. Typical strats might be 1500, 3000, and unlimited.

I take a dim view of Mid-flight. At some point players need to grow up and face real opponents. This should be the Gold Rush Graduation. Adding a third strat to open events is a great idea so long as all the players in the lowest strat aren’t drawn away by Mid-flight events. This gives new graduates a chance to continue winning masterpoints, a necessary motivation for some, while being exposed to serious bridge.

Partial, Game, Slam, and Grand Slam Breakdown

Pie chart of part score, game, slam, and grand slam double dummy breakdown

What is the double dummy breakdown of part score, game, slam, and grand slam contracts? What do real bridge players bid? How does their bidding change as they become stronger players? Do players at regionals behave differently from clubs players? See the results.

Find a unit game partner online

ACBL Partnership Desk

The ACBL has a new online partnership desk. It works for all ACBL sanctioned events, including tournaments, clubs games, and even unit games. Try the U526 unit game link (ACBL login required). The Partnership Desk functionality is new but please give it a try. I had Bruce Knoll at ACBL headquarters run some database queries for me. 60,000 of you have logged into the ACBL at least once since the ACBL website was overhauled last summer, which works out to almost exactly half the players who have attended at least one tournament since that time. You probably logged in to check your masterpoints. Get ready to do more on the ACBL website.

ACBLmerge 1.3.5 is now available

ACBLmerge 1.3.5 fully supports Mac OS X out of the box just like Windows.

After more than two years, a new release of ACBLmerge (1.3.4) is now available. Important changes include: (1) numerous bugs fixes in the par calculation (thanks in part to the careful eye of local Randy Dougherty), (2) 30% faster double dummy calculations, (3) replacement of revoked LHA-Archive package with 7-zip, (4) faces will no longer jump around anymore when different sized images are used for the Face View feature, and (5) clicking on a board number on a popup recap will move the main report to that board as if you had clicked on a board number link at the top of the main report.

Programmers may be interested in the new ACBLgamedump utility for directly reading ACBLscore game files. This utility is tied to the future of ACBLmerge.

Lead Solver is also now bundled with the latest version (2.8.0) of Bo Haglund’s double dummy solver (DDS) for a 40% speed improvement over the original Lead Solver and it now runs on Mac OS X and Unix/Linux as well as Windows.

Maritha Pottenger’s handouts online


Maritha Pottenger has created many one or two page bridge handouts in the course of teaching bridge in the San Diego area for several years. 42 of them are now available online in PDF form (13 added February 27th). Check back regularly for more.

Marvin French Movement

For the August 9th game, director Marc Matz ran what he is coining as the Marvin French movement. 17 tables is awkward. With 18 tables, the field is normally split into two 9 tables section with 3 board / round so that each pair meets all the other pairs in opposite direction within their section. With 16 tables, 13 rounds of 2 boards each allows each pair to encounter 81% of the opponents in the opposite direction. If 17 tables is split into two sections, one section will play only 24 boards at 3 boards / round or there will be a different number of boards per round in each section which is awkward to direct. If 17 tables is run as a single section, only 76% of the pairs in opposite direction will be encountered, reducing fairness. One solution is run 14 rounds for a total of 28 boards. This requires fast players… but the unit game players proved up to task. For more read Fairness in Duplicate Pairs Games.

Flat as a Pancake

Board 14 from the August 9th unit game was that rarest of results, a completely flat board in a large field. 14 identical results, presumably 4♠ making 5 though curiously N-S can also make 5 on their 4-2 fit! Many of the standard conditions for a very flat board are present: clear major suit game (9 card fit) with notrump seemingly inferior (though +660 is available here), and no two way finesses (it’s possible to run the ♣J here and then later finesse the ♣9 if West covers the ♣J but that is a much worse line than simply finessing the ♣J unless you are very sure West has the ♣Q).

Recent Results

Full results for the 2015 San Diego regional.

September 27th winners: Kent Hartman and Timothy Flaherty (Flt A), Jan Gallagher and Janice Joerger (Flt B), Carolyn Casey and Marilyn Peters-Dunn (Flt C).

September 13th winners: Janet Ansfield and Joseph Pennario (Flt A + B), Paul Alesu and Robert Brobst (Flt C).

August 30th winners: Paul Alesu and Bob Brobst (Flt A+ B), John Lagodimos and Kathie Angione (Flt C).

Date Spacer Event
September 27  - Stratified Open Pairs*
September 13  - Stratified Open Pairs
August 30  - Stratified Open Pairs**
Full 2015 Results 2014 2013 2012
2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006
  Looking for Soledad Club results instead?
Mon Aft Thu Eve

*Revised September 28th at 10 am. Board 21 had a +140 on the wrong side for Kantor-Radsan vs. Gu-Sherman. This correction barely changes the masterpoint awards: Carolyn Casey and Marilyn Peters-Dunn improve slightly.

**Revised August 30th at 6:30 pm after four corrections. Scores for Kidd-Lane were on the wrong side for boards 12, 19, and 20 (would someone please teach my partner how to score…) and -650 is corrected to -630 on board 4. These corrections have a minor impact on the rankings. Revised again at 9:30 pm: board 14 had a 480 that had to have been on the wrong side. This change shuffles the top rankings.

What is the worth of AKQxxx? — a geeky tale of probability and simulation.

Rodwell Files book cover

More hands: The Bridge Goddess Thumbs Her Nose, “Down Ten” John, Necessary Shape, The Self-Forced Declarer, and Shifting Forces, The Two-Six Dream, The Submarine Ruff, and Suicide King. Hand Index.

Days of Thunder, a review and discussion of Eric Rodwell’s The Rodwell Files: Secrets of a Bridge Champion and a close look at one of the many fascinating hands presented therein.

ACBLmerge and Bridge Results

ACBLmerge Logo
Bridge Results Logo

ACBLmerge 1.3.5 was released on November 19, 2014. It adds full support for Mac OS X. ACBLmerge 1.3.4 was released on November 7, 2014. This is primarily a bug fix release, including the fix of several bugs in the par calculation. Double dummy calculation is now faster and clicking on a board number in the recap sheet navigates to that hand in the main report. Read more.

Since December 2011, Philippe Lamoise, a bridge player in the North County unit, has been developing the Bridge Results website and I have been making many improvements to ACBLmerge to integrate with the functionality provided by his website. Now it is easy for club directors, club managers, and tournament officials to upload game results using a web interface without knowing anything about running ACBLmerge. Read more about Bridge Results.

What’s New

Cass Donovan memorial. Field Protection, Diversity, and Shannon Entropy. Marvin French’s Bidding Handbook, Defense Handbook, AmBIGuous Diamond Bidding System, Skeleton Bidding System, Party Bridge Guide, Five vs. Four, other bridge articles, and blackjack articles resurrected. Evening Club Bridge Is Dying. Innovative Slam Bidding book review. Ocean Air Teaching Report + Worksheets. Partial, Game, Slam, Grand Breakdown. ACBLgamedump utility. ACBLscore game file format (reverse engineered) documentation substantially updated.

Contacts and Board Information

E-mail the Webmaster, E-mail the La Jolla Board, Contact a board member camera icon

Board Members, Governance, Minutes, Financials

2015 Annual Masterpoint Races

U526 Mini-McKenney, D22 Mini-McKenney, National Mini-McKenney
U526 Ace of Clubs, D22 Ace of Clubs, National Ace of Clubs

The Mini-McKenney counts total masterpoints earned for the year and the Ace of Clubs counts only masterpoints earned at clubs as opposed to sectionals, regionals, and nationals. There are multiple brackets for each race based on the number of masterpoints a player has at the start of the year.

Other Resources

Find news that has migrated off the homepage on the Table Talk page or the Youth Teaching and Masterpoint Notes blogs. Unit News published in the Contract Bridge Forum is also available on our website. The Education & Resources page contains many links to rules and regulations, San Diego players, bidding and card play, online play, and even a bit of humor. The Free Bridge Software page has descriptions and links to some great free programs. The Analysis Projects page links to some in-depth analyses of bridge data, including the The Payoff Matrix.

The Conventional Wisdom series (PDF icon, 1.6 MB) from the ACBL Bulletin explains how to fill out a Convention Card accurately. Unlike the version on the ACBL website, our version has the entire series in a single document, complete with an index.

If you encounter a Zero Tolerance incident at our unit game or any of the clubs within our unit, please fill out our U526 Zero Tolerance form and return it to Bill Grant, our unit recorder.

Various articles: How to be a Fast Player, Essential Bridge Books, Notes from Kantar’s Modern Bridge Defense books, Esplanade Club Closes.