Archive for March, 2011

Suit combinations

Let’s keep the other stuff going, but something about actual bridge too.

Some of you asked for a copy of Ian Frank’s book on Searching and Planning as it related to bridge. Here is the original post: Searching and Planning

Ian has now come close to finishing a book on suit combinations:

Card Combinations Complete
A Computer-Generated Compendium

The introduction starts off:

This book is the definitive reference on Bridge card combinations. It contains
more problems and more solutions than any other book, and it contains no
errors. It also differs from other books about card combinations in another
major way: with the exception of the introduction you are now reading, it is
entirely written by a computer.

I’ve been looking at it today and we’ve been discussing some of the issues regarding which the authors would like some feedback. One is how deep and how shallow this book should go?

I confess I often go to the card combination section of the Encyclopedia and find what I’m looking for is missing. Unfortunately I’ve never keep track of these combinations so I can’t give an example.

Does anybody have any thoughts? Has anybody got specific examples: why hasn’t the Encyclopedia got….???

It’s my bedtime now…look forward to getting up in the morning and getting your ideas.

March 30, 2011 at 6:10 am 2 comments

Making bridge in Australia better. Collecting some thoughts.

I’m just trying to get my head around things here.

As far as I can see, Bruce withstanding, there is general agreement that it is either good or irrelevant that bridge is amateur, that there is no prize money and that the public at large has no respect for it. It is evidently considered to be the case that in sports like tennis, the introduction of professionalism has not created fantastic depth in the game where one can observe a player ranked, say, 200, and see a scintillating display of tennis. Apparently people who teach bridge are professional bridge players. I don’t quite get that myself. But, let me see….George Quittner, to take a Sydney example, is a professional bridge PLAYER. I use him as an example because I haven’t noticed him playing much bridge, but I’m a long way away. Somebody can set me right on that.

I wonder if I might make the straightforward point that teaching or writing or directing or…these things do not make one a professional player. They make one teachers or writers or directors or…

Bruce, prize money of the type you suggest is trivial and meaningless. There is the tournament being sponsored yearly in Sydney at the moment (sorry, I’ve forgotten the name) which has prize money of that type, ie not enough for o/s teams to think in a pink fit of playing.

Further, it is perfectly acceptable that the only way of achieving a world ranking in bridge is to play in one’s national team, extremely unlikely for most strong players because (a) selection methods prevent that, eg teams are selected in some places and that means many deserving players will never get the chance (b) too much depth (c) financial constraints.

Andrew Webb commented yesterday that millions of people watch chess online, while thousands of bridge players watch bridge online. The difference is staggering and absolutely has an impact on standard, on professionalism, on prize-money. The 2010 world chess championship between Anand and Topalov had a prize-fund of $2M Euro. As Ben pointed out, without the audience there won’t be the money. The reason chess has that sort of prize money for its world championship and a professional circuit is that people in society at large want to watch chess. That isn’t luck or coincidence. It does have something to do with how chess is run and promoted by its own.

Having said that, one might ask if it is true that although chess is a spectator sport, bridge isn’t. Still, if we lived in the 1930s where ‘everybody’ played bridge, as opposed to now when almost nobody does, we’d think bridge was a spectator sport too. It used, for example, to be on the radio. Presumably one could expect that if TV had existed back then it would be on TV too. Now, of course, the internet has really taken the role of hosting these sorts of sports and the bottom line is nobody has the least interest in watching bridge.

It may be true that, as Andrew went on to say: ‘Actually, I’d be prepared to speculate that a smaller %-age of chess players make a living out of the chess than bridge players do from bridge, simply because the number of chess players in the denominator is so big. Maybe that won’t fly; but I think it might flap its wings hopefully.’ But making a living from something is very different from being a professional player. And although within the bridge world we may consider any chancer who gets paid maybe $30 an hour or so to play with a weak player a ‘professional’, we all know, don’t we, that this is not what we relevantly mean by a professional player.

I made the point a while ago that the one thing Australians can do to meaningfully improve is to go overseas a lot. Play a lot overseas against strong company in strong tournaments. I didn’t note any objections at the time. But if you are all in agreement that this is the case, then what’s the problem and why are we having this discussion. Go forth you bridge players into the world and play lots and lots against strong players in important competitions. THAT isn’t rocket science! In point of fact I don’t think any Australian has ever done this. So, what I would like to ask now is WHY NOT? Why aren’t you all out there playing a strong o/s bridge circuit? I would like to know the answer to this.

‘Til tomorrow.

March 15, 2011 at 5:59 am 19 comments

Ted Chadwick

It is maybe harder for me to believe Ted has died since I’ve been so far away during the last part of his life. I have no doubt the thoughts of everybody are with Marilyn. I know from talks I’ve had in the past with Ted how much he loved Marilyn and it reminds me of my father’s death last year. He said to my mother ‘I don’t mind dying, but I do mind that it means being separated from you’. I can imagine that is how Ted would have thought of things, though he may have been way too sardonic to say it.

The bridge scene in Australia is a poorer place now.

More tomorrow.

March 14, 2011 at 12:22 am 5 comments


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