Table Talk 2014

woman whispers into a man's ear

Remember the blue publication that arrived in your mailbox more than ten years ago? With the advent of our web site, we no longer publish Table Talk. More information about the La Jolla & Beach Unit 526 can be found on the website than we could ever include in a one page newsletter, like Table Talk.


Despite decades of study, including work by Steve’s esteemed colleagues, science has not found a solution to Bridgeauszeichnungangst, the fear of receiving a bridge award. The pharmaceutical industry estimates a successful drug would increase industry profit by 0.000001%.

Nonetheless, Steve Seagren is now a silver life master. Charlotte Blum presented his award at the December 28, 2014 unit game.

Bridge Solver for Android smartphones

John Goacher has written the smartphone app that I wanted to develop in a world of infinite time. I’m glad someone did it and made it free too!

Bridge Solver is a double dummy solver that runs on Android smart phones. Within it you can navigate a web browser to a results page, for example one of the ACBLmerge unit game results, and click on the PBN link (near the top of the page) to save all the hands to the app. Then you can open any hand and explore the double dummy lines of play, much as you have long been able to do at a Windows desktop using the Bridgify software. For example, in the partial screenshot at the right, the subscripts on each card indicate the number of tricks that can be taken when the card is led. Green cards are optimal plays.

Like ACBLmerge and so many other programs, Bridge Solver relies on Bo Haglund’s double dummy solver (DDS) which in turn saw significant performance gains in 2014 as a result of improvements by Soren Hein. Good work, guys!

2014 Holiday Party

ribbon and holly

The 2014 La Jolla unit holiday party (flyer) was held at the La Jolla Country Club. Board members received a lot of positive feedback from attendees.

Card fees increasing to $9

dollar sign

The board voted in November to raise the card fees to $9 effective November 23, 2014. This fee increase is primarily the result of declining table counts. As recently as FY 2010-2011, the average table count was almost exactly 20. There was a notable drop in FY 2011-2012 to 17.6 and another significant drop in FY 2013-2014 to 15.7. Although some of the game expenses scale with the number of players, others such as rent, the caddy, janitorial service mandated by our lease, and insurance, do not.

Suzi Subeck (D13) will be the 2015 ACBL President

Suzi Subeck of District 13 will be the 2015 ACBL President. Our D22 national representative, Ken Monzingo, had also sought this position, edged out 11-13 with one board member abstaining.

Bob Heller, the District 7 (Mid-Atlantic region) representative wrote

She [Suzi Subeck] is the third president from the past five contested races who won with the bare minimum. Another got 14 votes. An excellent man lost, a former ACBL Volunteer of the Year and a real “players’ board member” who is not reluctant to speak up for the masses even if it might be against the elite or those in power too long. That probably cost him the election.

Healthy news: Suzi is a very hard worker who devotes count less hours every week to bridge. She has shared some fine ideas about committee structure, and we should expect a lot to get done.

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 of Bo Haglund’s double dummy solver (DDS) for a 20% speed improvement over the original Lead Solver.

You can be a fast player

Speedy Gonzales

Matthew Kidd explains his principles of Avoidance and Anticipation in the article How to be a Fast Player.

Soledad Thursday evening game will continue

The Soledad Thursday evening game will continue. Larry Sherman will direct the game after Marc Matz directs his last Thursday evening game on October 23, 2014.

Treasury trove of awards

Both outgoing treasurer Chuck Wilson and incoming treasurer Barbara Blake recently became Bronze Life Masters. Unit President Matthew Kidd presented their awards at the August 24, 2014 unit game.

Learn to Play Bridge in a Day

Learn Bridge in a Day

La Jolla unit’s own Roy Green taught the Learn to Play Bridge in Day program at Adventures in Bridge on Saturday August 23, 2014.

Development of ACBLscore+ discontinued

Development of ACBLscore+ which was to replace the current ACBLscore program has been discontinued. Cessation of work was announced at the National Board of Directors open Q&A meeting at the summer NABC in Las Vegas. Read more.

New ACBL website

New ACBL homepage

The ACBL completely overhauled their website in July 2014, the culmination of many months of effort. The new website is mobile device (i.e. phone and tablet) friendly, has significantly improved search functionality, better navigation features, and enhanced accessibility.

The new design uses a liquid layout which repositions text, images, buttons, and other page elements sensibly as the screen size change. This means the site should work well with nearly all mobile devices without the need to manually customize the website for each new iDevice or Android product.

Accessibility is geek-speak for readable fonts, suitable contrast ratio and similar features that are particularly important to a membership as old as ours.

The overhaul should make the website much easier to maintain and expand because it now built on top of a lot of open source software which is continuously improved by the software community thus allowing the ACBL website developers to focus more on bridge specific issues than reinventing the wheel to scroll a series of pictures, create tabular reports, and similar common tasks. I think this will unleash a wave of creativity. For example, one change already implemented is the ability to view your entire masterpoint history. Check it out and take a trip down memory lane.

Experimental no more

Reading on an iPad

It’s Alive! The experimental Bridge Bulletin viewer is no longer experimental. The ACBL adopted it as part of their major website overhaul, released in June 2014. I worked with the ACBL to make this happen, sharing code and the database. The official version is here and can also be reached via the “Bridge Bulletin Online” link under the “MY ACBL” section at the bottom of the ACBL homepage.

Ralph Baty passed away

Ralph Baty

Ralph Baty passed away on June 25, 2014. He served on the San Diego Unit board for many years and was tournament manager for many of their sectionals. His passing is a big loss for the San Diego bridge community. Ralph frequently played with Sally Ishihara in the La Jolla unit game and on Thursday nights at the Soledad Club.

There was a Celebration of Life ceremony for Ralph at Adventures in Bridge on Saturday July 19th from 5–7 pm. Biography and memories.

Michael Levine becomes a silver life master

Charlotte Blum presents a silver life master award to Michael Levine

Charlotte Blum, the awards chairman, presented a silver life master award to Michael Levine at the June 22, 2014 unit game.

Michael regularly plays with his wife Gerri at the Soledad Club and at Adventures in Bridge. They used to play on OKbridge where they went by drapeman and lcutie respectively. Michael received the [Caitlin] Angelfish OKbridge award for his friendliness in the online tournaments and when he served a table.

Congratulations, Michael!

Hello from Alice Leicht

Alice Leicht in Honolulu (2014)

Alice Leicht’s daughter, Elaine Nishime, contacted the unit in June 2014 with memories and minor corrections for the Marvin French memorial. She reports that Alice is now enjoying the next 15 months or more in Miami with her younger daughter, Karen. Life in assisted living in Florida is amazingly luxurious! Alice is enjoying her golden years in Hazel Cypen Center. Feel free to contact Alice thru Elaine at or directly at (cut-and-paste of the e-mail addresses may not work due to spam prevention measures).

Elaine says, “My mom really misses bridge and everyone! This was the passion of her life…teaching, reading, history, traveling, food and BRIDGE—not necessarily in that order!

Letha Couch passed away

Letha Couch passed away on June 4, 2014. Biography and memories.

The summer solstice also marks the one year anniversary of the burial of my friend Olly who vanished on Blà Bheinn in the Isle of Skye early in April of last year, a fantastical event seemingly more from a Gabriel García Márquez novel than reality. He was 33 and had a daughter just eighteen months old. Olly was not a bridge player but he was a superb Scrabble player. You may feel some kinship with him in these memories that I wrote for his daughter Thea.

2014 Election Results


Five unit board terms expired in June. At our Annual Meeting and Election game on June 8th, Cass Donovan, Bill Grant, and Matthew Kidd were reelected to a 2014-2016 term. Barbara Blake and Ursula Kantor, the latter having served for several month prior as an appointment to fill out a vacancy, were also elected. Chuck Wilson decided to step down at the end of his term.

The unit board elected its officers for the 2014-2015 term at the July 13th board meeting. Matthew Kidd will remain president. Ursula Kantor is our new vice president, Barbara Blake is our new treasurer, and Lynne Anderson is our new secretary.

Esplanade Club closes

Donna Wood receives a singing telegram
Well, good bye Donna
This is us, Donna

It’s so sad to lose you now that you belong.

Sadly, the Esplanade Club closed on May 18, 2014, a victim of high rent in north county. But a group of club regulars made sure it ended on the right note for club manager and former owner Donna Wood. Read more.

Essential bridge books

bookshelf with books on it

We live in a golden age of bridge literature. Even a starving graduate student could pick up an excellent library of used bridge books for under $200. What are your essential bridge books? I’ve searched though my extensive bridge library and made up my list.

Soledad Club bans smoking at the facility

No smoking

Smokers, please extinguish all smoking materials. The Soledad Club board passed a motion at their April 2014 board meeting establishing the Soledad Club as non smoking facility. The ban applies to the entire exterior area as well as the interior.

Flat as a pancake

Board 10 from the April 13, 2014 unit game was that rarest of creatures, the perfectly flat board in a big field. All 12 East-West pairs bid a heart game and collected +680.

This hand is fairly typical of the few completely flat hands that I have seen: (1) decent field; (2) clear major suit game with the other major and no-trump being obviously inferior contracts; (3) clear line of play, e.g. no two-way finesses, a situation often enhanced by a nine card trump fit; (4) 27-29 total HCP; (5) flattish shape. The fifth criterion is not met on this hand. Indeed I tried with a 4 splinter after 1♣ 1; 2 but this didn’t coax partner into a 4♠ cue-bid. Still, a heart slam is a better than 50% chance. An onside ♣A makes it trivial as does a low spade lead. But 3-3 spades or the ♠J dropping doubleton or singleton does the job too by allowing the third club in dummy to be pitched on the long spade. Spades work out 35.5% + (1/3) × 24.2% + (1/6) × 7.3% of the time = 44.8% of the time. Combined with the ♣A onside chance, declarer only fails ½ × (100 - 44.8%) = 27.6% of the time, i.e. succeeds 72.4% of the time, fine odds at either matchpoints or IMPs.

Two new silver life masters

Charlotte Blum, the awards chairman, presented silver life master awards to Marcia Shulman and Joe Pennario at the April 13, 2014 unit game. President Matthew Kidd presented a diamond life master award to Bette Cornelius at the April 27th unit game.

Notes from Kantar’s Modern Bridge Defense books

Now and then, it’s good to review things you may have forgotten, never really learned, or which slowly evolve. I wrote up some notes after quickly reading Kantar’s two volume set Eddie Kantar Teaches Modern Bridge Defense and Eddie Kantar Teaches Advanced Bridge Defense, both published in 1999.

Gillian Cook and Manzoor Khan Indian buffet returns

Anne Terry and Manzoor Kahn

Manzoor Kahn and Gillian Cook’s Indian buffet was a huge success! View the pictures. This is the second time they have prepared a buffet for the unit; the last time was in 2012.

Susan brought her mom Anne Terry to visit. It was really wonderful to see Anne again.

Also the board appointed Ursula Kantor to fill out a vacant 2012-2014 term at the March board meeting that same morning.

Sunday March 9th at Noon


Back by Popular Demand!!

Prepared by Gillian Cook and Manzoor Khan

Chicken Curry Pasanda style (both mild and medium hot),
Tandoori Chicken Drumsticks, Nan, Rice Pudding, and
a Vegetable Medley of cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, potatoes,
spinach, mushrooms, and tomatoes.

2014 Unit Board Changes


Joyce Bailey resigned in February because she is moving to Oregon unexpectedly soon. Chuck Wilson is once again our treasurer. Jill Seagren also resigned, citing extended travels beyond her usual winter travels. Charlotte Blum is our new secretary. The board appointed Ursula Kantor at the March meeting to finish out a 2012-2014 term. If you are interested in serving on the board please contact unit president Matthew Kidd or any other board member.

2013 Mini-McKenney and Ace of Clubs results

Peter Clark Lamya Agelidis

The 2013 La Jolla Unit Masterpoint Race Winners are final. Paul Darin also won his Mini-McKenney bracket (2500-5000 MP) at the district level and ranked fourth nationally. Peter Clark was second in his bracket (100-200 MP) at the district level in both contests. Lamya Agelidis, current president of the San Diego unit, won her 500-1000 Mini-McKenney bracket at the national level with 597.40 MP.

Russ Novak, John Adams, Marvin French, and John Devine

John Adams
John Adams
Marvin French
Marvin French
John Devine
John Devine

Russ Novak passed away in January. He served on our unit board for many years and was a regular in our unit games until the summer of 2011.

John Adams passed away on January 17th. He was a Silver Life Master and a regular at all the San Diego tournaments. Biography and memories.

Marvin French passed away on February 16th. He was a very early Life Master (number 1023), achieving the title “when it was hard” as he liked to say—a true statement. Biography and memories.

John Devine passed away on February 17th. He helped the La Jolla unit with the high school bridge teaching at La Jolla High. One year his daughter was a student! Biography and memories

2013 President’s Awards

Stating that he was more interested in partnerships and statistics than individuals and what the late great Victor Mollo called monster points, unit president Matthew Kidd presented a unique set of awards at the January 26, 2014 unit game based on the unit game results for 2013.

Read the Bridge Bulletin online

Reading on an iPad

For several years it has been possible to read the Bridge Bulletin online from the MyACBL portal. But you are out of luck if you have a device like the Apple iPad that doesn’t run Adobe Flash. And quickly flipping through months of a single feature, e.g. The Real Deal, is very tedious. The new experimental Bridge Bulletin viewer addresses these issues. Give it a try.

Feb 25, 2014 update: The Bridge Bulletin viewer is back! I’ve added ACBL member based authentication to satisfy the legal requirements that the ACBL has with the Bridge Bulletin contributors.