Norma continued

January 3, 2011 at 4:53 am 6 comments

I must say, I much preferred Norma as friend than foe. The first shot was taken at the Far East we won in 1990, referred to a couple of posts ago.

Norma with Cathy

Norma and Cathy at 1990 Far East

This next shot sees us competing. One of the things Norma did as a bridge player which went unnoticed was manage her main partner Jim. I think it would be fair to say that it wasn’t easy to get the best out of him and she managed it more successfully than anybody else. He can’t have been an easy person to play with, particularly as he had a result merchant aspect to him that was almost comical at times.

I will never forget playing against them at Surfers in the Pairs one year. Jim opened 1D, I overcalled a strong NT, Norma doubled and there I played it. Norma had the first six tricks in her hand, all in one suit and cashed them. I then took the rest. Jim slammed his cards down on the table and said angrily to her ‘Whose side do you think you are on.’ I’ve omitted the question mark as I really do think it was more a statement than a question. I found it quite a remarkable characteristic of Norma’s that when she played with others – at least when she played with me – she left the difficulties of that partnership behind.

I guess the short way of putting that is she was as tough as. And I do mean that to be a great compliment.

Norma and Cathy

Norma and Cathy at a GNOT at Lindfield

Thanks to Simon, who as many would know, is doing a yoeman’s job recording the pictorial history of Australian Bridge at the moment for the photos.


Entry filed under: thoughts on bridge.

A typical Seres story Thoughts on a bridge book

6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Andrew  |  January 4, 2011 at 9:53 am

    On the other hand, I went off 7 undoubled in 7NT against Jim & Norma once. Jim cashed an Ace on opening lead and Norma went absolutely ballistic at him for not doubling. “Didn’t think it would change our score”, Jim noted, since we were actually cold for a number of other grand slams.

    On managing Jim, the book has yet to be written…

    • 2. khokan  |  January 4, 2011 at 11:56 am

      Yes, my recollection of the two is that Norma could be just as prickly as Jim, especially towards opponents. A case in point is the 1979 Stokes Teams, where Geelong (Gary Ridgeway, Arthur Robbins, Ramen Bagchi and me) squared off against the ESU (Jim and Norma, Joan Fryda and Alison Dawson). Geelong won. After the match, Jim was very effusive in his congratulations and wrote a gracious article in The Observer about my father and me. Norma, on the other hand, just seemed affronted that she lost.

    • 3. cathyc  |  January 4, 2011 at 5:48 pm

      That is so funny, but it is exactly what partners do who are usually picked on and occasionally, to their relief, think they can turn the tables. It is generally a mistake on their part.

      But I don’t think it is typical. Khokan points out that Jim was a gracious loser and Norma not. I don’t disagree with that, but I was talking about Norma as partner rather than as opponent.

  • 4. khokan  |  January 4, 2011 at 7:45 am

    Yes, Pauline was a serious omission. I remember thinking at the time Oz One was happening that Pauline and Warren would be shoe-ins if they had applied.

  • 5. khokan  |  January 3, 2011 at 8:45 pm


    Denis Howard wrote a very interesting (and controversial) article in Australian Bridge around 1979, where he rated Jim Borin, Dick Cummings, Tim Seres and Roelof Smilde as clearly the best players in Australia. Furthermore, he went on to say that Jim’s bridge, and Australia’s cause, would be best served if he played with one of his “peers”, rather than Norma. As you say, though, Jim and Norma had excellent results (although it should be noted that Bermuda Bowls in those days only had six teams compared to around 20 these days), and much of this would be down to Norma’s ability to handle Jim’s temperament.

    Jim was a pretty awesome player in top form. In my experience of playing against them, Norma played the “straight bat”, while Jim frequently exercised his creativity. My personal view is that Jim’s ability was the main driver behind their success. Norma has an amazing record though – I think that she is one of only five women to have played open bridge for Australia (the others being Mary McMahon, Carole Rothfield, Barbara Travis and Liz Havas)?

    While at University in 1980-83, I used to play fairly regularly at the ESU, which was run by Jim and Norma. They always stayed behind to discuss hands afterwards.

    • 6. cathyc  |  January 3, 2011 at 9:16 pm

      Khokan, Pauline Gumby!!!


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