19:45 17 November 2013 by GS Jade Barrett, USA CSBNews correspondent
«I’m easy. Put me in an interesting location with good people and I am there» – Jane Curtin.
The Maryland Eastern Peninsula was both beautiful and interesting. One of the original colonies settled in the USA, there is a tremendous amount of Americana to be experienced. Our taste of this environment – both literal and spiritual – was our magnificent time at the Bartlett Pear Inn.
Superbly operated by Chef Jordan Lloyd, the restaurant is on the main floor of a beautiful Bed and Breakfast located in a 1790’s Georgian brick home.
Jordan Lloyd is a true Old World Chef, despite his 34 years. The driving force behind the Maryland Peninsula’s Farm to Market movement, he proudly proclaims that «what you are eating tonight was either in the ground or in the sea this morning». It is a sentiment and commitment that I heartily appreciate. I firmly believe that Chef Jordan is well on his way to stardom.
The nature of American Dining has shifted quietly, but dramatically over the last twenty years or so, away from the industrial era of mass production of many food stuffs in large chain restaurants of varied quality to the more locale specific specialized eatery. Over the last four years I have had the great pleasure of meeting a few of the great chefs of North America, Pierre Koffel of the Deep Cove Chalet, Saanich, British Columbia, Canada; Thierry Blouet of Cafe des Artiste in Puerto Vallarta, MX ; X; Curtis Lincoln of the Willow Creek Restaurant, Evergreen, Colorado; Tom Douglas of the Douglas family of restaurants, Seattle, Washington; Marc Jones of Monterey Bay Area, California; and now Jordan Lloyd of Easton, Maryland. They are all amazing, both as tremendously talented artists in the kitchen and as stewards of the world around them. Through their choices to use local, buy local, and promote local product from the farms and fisheries around them, they bring the best of each of their respective communities to the table.
Let me explain how a tournament bridge player found himself in this delightful, but waistline challenging position: a few years ago I found myself playing with my good friend, and one of the great financial advisors of the world, Sanjoy Dasgupta, at a bridge club in Denver, Colorado. As we sat down to play I heard a voice that I recognized, but had never met. For a while I thought about this fact and then the reality dawned on me.
On and off for fifteen years or so, I would listen to the radio as I drove from tournament to tournament, and on Sundays I would listen to America’s Dining and Travel Guide with Pierre Wolfe. I instantly recognized his distinct accent and laugh.
It is not often one gets to meet a hero of theirs, and I seized the opportunity to introduce myself to one of the culinary greats of the world. Arguably the first televised chef on Public Broadcasting, Chef Pierre Wolfe has been on the air for over fifty years, entertaining millions of people worldwide. Within minutes we agreed to a bridge game and a show where we would discuss the life of the traveling bridge athlete. Within a week, I became the co-host of the show, with the knowledge that when Pierre retired «soon», I would take over the lead role. With the strength of character and power of self Pierre owns, I am certain that «soon» is a long way off.
But until then, I will continue to conduct my research, loosening my belt as I gain both insight and weight. It is therefore time for me to reprint the tee-shirt I first designed and sold to the bridge players in my area over thirty years ago:
Exercise regularly. Sit East – West.
00:23 17 November 2013 by GS Jade Barrett, USA CSBNews correspondent
«Strive mightily, but eat and drink as friends» – William Shakespeare
One night each tournament the Great American Bridge Tour has team dinner, where we share a great time, great food and a few bottles of excellent wine. No bridge theory or hands are discussed, but tales of the history of the game abound. We speak of friends from the past, silly things that have happened, the forty-five years of living and working in the bridge community.
This week’s team is comprised of four players (Jim Looby, Karen Lee Barrett, Bruce Reeve, and myself) who all started playing in 1968; Bjorgvin Mar Kristinsson began his career in 1984, while Anne Dawson is a babe in the woods, with her bridge birth in 2003. We toast those friends who cannot join us, as well as raise a glass for those who have gone on to their reward.
The life of the bridge professional in the USA is different from those in other parts of the world, we spend hundreds of days each year living in hotels in thirty or more cities spread out over thousands of miles. Each locale has its own unique flavor, its own cuisine and character. The Bridge is different, too. What is standard practice on the East Coast is not the same in the West. Despite the best efforts of the ACBL to define «Standard American», there truly is no such beast – and we are probably so much the better for it. Pythagoras stated that «without contradiction, there is no progression» and I am certain that is as true in our era as it was in his. Each colloquial dialect has added to the overall understanding of the game and has kept it a living, breathing entity. Just when we think we understand it, we realize that there is so much more.
So we celebrate this ever changing environment, rejoicing in the challenge of a game that is nearly impossible to truly master, for to do so would be impossible. Playing perfectly just cannot be accomplished by mere mortals.
And despite the knowledge of that fact, we are not prevented from making the effort.
16:31 15 November 2013 by GS Jade Barrett, USA CSBNews correspondent
«Concentration is a fine antidote to anxiety» – Jack Nicklaus
Nearly countless times I have witnessed opponents suffer some level of performance anxiety. It typically passes very quickly, but the momentary discomfort is long enough to cause the best players to lose focus. I easily recognize the symptoms, for I share their pain from time to time.
Many great performers have had to leave the stage for a few moments to gather their wits or settle themselves down after a quick panic – Barbara Streisand is a well known example of such a person, Johnny Depp is another. Athletes suffer from them as well: Bubba Watson, Coach John Madden, Wilt Chamberlain and many others all faced some anxiety disorder that they needed to overcome during the stress filled moments of their respective endeavors. For some, the struggle is daily, for others, much more infrequently.
Bridge athletes as a whole do not experience the nearly paralyzing anxiety that the aforementioned suffer, but they still have moments that unsettle them. The less experienced of our competitors often allow themselves to feel intimidated by more seasoned opponents, responding fearfully to difficult situations, thereby preventing themselves from performing at their best. One remedy I suggest for these trying times, is to practice good breathing techniques, for this action alone will assist you to maintain focus during competition. There are many possible solutions, so try different personal behaviors – one or more will certainly be helpful throughout your career.
14 November 2013 Update: I am deeply saddened to report the Mike Cappelletti passed away several hours after the writing of today’s article. The entirety of our family, both personal and bridge mourns his passing. We keep his family in our thoughts and send our deepest sympathies.
GS Jade Barrett, Karen Lee Barrett, Tiger Li Li Williams and the rest of the Great American Bridge Tour and Tournament Bridge Services staff.
14:28 14 November 2013 by GS Jade Barrett, USA CSBNews correspondent
«Doing something you enjoy at times of your own choosing and making a living from it: now tell me, is that work?» – Tom Hodgkinson
With a special sadness I report on the failing health of a good friend of bridge and my family, Mike Cappelletti. Inventor of the famous NoTrump convention of the same name and one of the great poker authors of the world, he has spent a great many years as a fierce competitor. A great player, Mike spent many hours with cigar and drink in hand discussing theory with my group of friends in the early years of my bridge career. I attribute a fair amount of my understanding regarding the art of bluffing as it pertains to bridge to these sessions, lessons that have served me well for decades. A marvelous conversationalist, his ability to speak on a vast number of subjects always guarantees a fun debate; I miss his presence at the table and hope for his return.
I have had the benefit of playing with many of the early greats of the game, especially Charlie Coon and Dave Treadwell. Their different styles exposed me to both the technical and the psychological aspects of the game, Charlie when playing with me had a relaxed bidding style unrestricted by the artificial limitations of high card values while focusing on the general nature of the hand; David is responsible for the little discipline I do have, reminding me that no matter how good my hand is, Aces still beat Kings.
There have been many others that have contributed to my growth as a player, essentially forty-five thousand or so past and current tournament athletes, for everyone who has sat with or against me have had an impact on my game – just some more than others. I owe all of them a debt of gratitude.
Still in all, I wish all of them were here to play against again – I desire another chance to exact some measure of redemption for those fifty thousand or so losses I have suffered at their hands.
00:31 13 November 2013 by GS Jade Barrett, USA CSBNews correspondent
«Only a man who knows what it is like to be defeated can reach down to the bottom of his soul and come up with the extra ounce of power it takes to win when the match is even» – Muhammad Ali
Extra time is a rarity in bridge, but there are weeks where it seems to happen more often. Over the last two months our team has been tied at the end of regulation more than once. I believe that it is harder on the team that lost the halftime lead to sit down for another set of hands. If the other side has had a pair who had a spectacular set only to gain a tie, they also have to overcome the disappointing comparison in order to perform their best during overtime. In the ACBL Regional tournaments, four boards are played to generate a result and intense focus is required to acquire every IMP available.
The importance of having the right mindset for the circumstance cannot be overstated. Every competitive endeavor has different conditions to be faced – beyond just the form of scoring. Rooms too dark, hot, cold, loud and every climate in between provide opportunities for distraction that the bridge athlete must be wary of. The true competitors do not allow their focus to waver, and their ability to concentrate is often the tipping point between success and failure.
Look up [ilink url=»http://csbnews.org/terence-reese-and-the-nude/?lang=en»]Terence Reese and the nude[/ilink] . That was the measure of a true man of the game!
13:51 12 November 2013 by GS Jade Barrett, USA CSBNews correspondent
«It’s a beautiful night for a concert – there’s not a cloud in the ceiling!» – PDQ Bach (Peter Schickele)
The players arrived on Monday 11 November in Cambridge,
Maryland facing cool, but pleasant weather.
It was a trap.
Even our native Icelandic teammate, Bjorgvin Mar Kristinsson, was suffering Tuesday morning as we awoke to nearly freezing temperatures and terrific winds – another fine reason for competing in an indoor sport.
Some tournaments start exceptionally, winning the warm-up event and raising your expectations for the week, but it never pays to fail to maintain vigilance as defeat will sneak up behind and lay you low. The most trivial of errors can create havoc as the one seemingly meaningless card initiates an avalanche of catastrophe.
Interestingly enough, the stronger the partnership, the greater the likelihood that the rare carding misstep will lead to disaster, as each player is always watching, in order to derive the information required to maximize the defense.
While having a horrible result due to this almost insignificant mistake is never good, it indicates that the partnership is in tune with each other, trusting the other to have played the correct pip or made the correct lead or switch all the time. Those partnerships will last, as they are far more successful in the long run.
15:33 10 November 2013 by GS Jade Barrett, USA CSBNews correspondent
Fatti maschii, parole femine – Maryland State Motto
While the official translation is «Strong deeds, gentle words», I note the literal version of this Italian slogan- «Manly deeds, womanly words»
It has been a few years since the Great American Bridge Tour has competed in Maryland, and we are certainly looking forward to some of the best bridge (and seafood!) on Earth. A late, but welcome addition to our 2013 calendar of events, we enjoy the major events that the Mid-Atlantic Bridge Conferenceoperates annually – in 2012 over 34,000 tables competed in eleven different week-long Regional tournaments!
This year we will be playing at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Resort in Cambridge, Maryland where we expect many of the best players in the USA, Poland and Canada to show up; last year’s tournament was won by Curtis Cheek and Geoff Hampson, placing ahead of notables Cezary Balicki, Adam Zmudzinski, Jacek Pszczola, Daniel Korbel, Steve Robinson, Peter Boyd, George Mittelman, and so many others. With the North American Bridge Championships only two weeks away, there will be many excellent teams here warming up.
Our own team travels from all over: Bjorgvin Mar Kristinsson played in Daytona, Florida last week, Jim Looby flies in from Las Vegas, Bruce Reeve drives the six hours from Raleigh, North Carolina, Anne Dawson from Louisiana and Karen Lee Barrett and I travel from our home in South Dakota.
We are eager to play, but of course we need to eat first! Ocean Odyssey Seafood Restaurant and Beer Garden, you are first on the list!
Our columnist also has a weekly radio show: America’s Dining and Travel Guide with Pierre Wolfe and GS Jade Barrett.