December 7th, 2016 ~ masterpointpress ~ No Comments
An article by Linda Lee on the 12th World Bridge Team Olympiad that took place in Istanbul, Turkey from October 23rd to November 6th, 2004.
By Linda Lee (Canada)
If bridge is really a sport, then it’s logical that bridge players can learn from other athletes how to prepare for an event such as the World Bridge Olympiad.
Some people no doubt believe that sports psychologists are only a small step above witchdoctors, but many elite athletes are now using them to improve their performances.
Before this Olympiad I decided to work with one. I will find out during this event how much it has helped.
What is the goal of this type of preparation? There are several: to manage performance anxiety, to achieve peak performance, to manage all the problems that can occur when you are playing.
The techniques that we worked on included relaxation techniques, clearing the decks, visualization, goal setting, pre-game preparation and developing specific plans to handle in-game “situations.” Are you having trouble sleeping during the tournament?
Are you over-anxious before your play? Relaxation can help. I was rather surprised when the psychologist (who generally worked with track and field athletes and tennis players) was able to describe exactly the physical symptoms I experience before a session.
The symptoms are universal and cross all sports. They are caused by the release of four different hormones and are part of your body’s “fight or flight” mechanism. They signal that your body is ready for what is to come. In order to perform at your best, you have to control these feelings, but not eliminate them completely – it’s important to be keyed up and ready, just not too much.
Here is a brief summary of a few of the techniques I learned that you may be able to put to immediate use.
1.Are there any extraneous problems that are affecting your game? These may be difficulties with relationships, job problems, family problems or even team problems.You definitely don’t want to let these issues affect you while you play.
Try to imagine some kind of locked box.This might be a chest, a safe — whatever works for you. It should have a lock and you should be able to open it later.Take all your problems one by one and mentally put them into the box. When this is all done, lock the box. Promise yourself that later you will go and open the box and remove the problems again.You are not abandoning them, just putting them aside for now.
2. If you need to relax, start with focusing on your breathing. You breathe from your diaphragm, in through your nose and out through your mouth. Anyone who has studied yoga will be familiar with a variety of breathing techniques. While this is going on you visualize something calming: a color, a scene. Then you walk through a relaxation script. It seems to work best if someone else runs through the script for you, although you can do it for yourself.
The one we worked on involves progressively relaxing parts of your body starting from your head and working down to your toes. You can buy tapes of relaxation scripts at major bookstores. With a lot of practice, you learn what it feels like to relax and you can reach this state quickly when you need to. In general, relaxation is something that does require practice.
3. Goal setting is also helpful.Why are you here? Why are you playing in this event? When you set goals, don’t just set team goals.You don’t have control over achieving these goals and this can be frustrating, so set some individual goals too. Is having fun one of your goals? Surprisingly perhaps, it wasn’t one of mine.When things are most frustrating, remembering your goals may help.When you have to make choices, think about your goals: they may help you to make decisions.
4. Visualization is used in preparation for all sports Familiarity makes situations easier to handle.You can prepare yourself for what is to come by visualizing it in advance.
Visualizing yourself doing well may help you to believe in yourself. Believing you can do something is a good part of actually doing it – posse quam possunt, as Virgil put it (“They can because they think they can.”). Worried about fighting back when you are down in a match? Visualize yourself in that situation, and you will be more ready to deal with it when it happens.
5. Have some plans to deal with problem situations. What will you do when you have had a bad result? Let’s say that you are angry at partner or yourself for making a serious error. Coaches in all sports teach the same basic approach: a) allow yourself to express anger; b) move to a neutral state; c) set up for the next hand. At the bridge table you need a way to express anger: this might be writing something down on your scorecard, or talking to yourself, or getting up and getting some water. Now blow the mental whistle or take a deep breath — use whatever ‘Stop’ signal works for you.Time to let go. Put it out of your mind. Then start to prepare for the next hand.
It is a good idea to have a similar plan for dealing with other problems that may occur – for example, your feelings when you have a series of bad results.Your plan might include dealing with the anger, remembering your goals, relaxation and then resetting.
My experience so far with sports psychology is limited, but I believe that it will help me perform better in bridge competition, and I intend to work more on it in the future.
October 24th, 2016 ~ masterpointpress ~ No Comments
The below is an excerpt from the article ‘Sharpen Your Bridge Technique’ by Mark Horton from BRIDGE Magazine’s September 2016 Issue.
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In a major championship thousands of boards are played – in Wrocław the total was 95,001. It is inevitable that many of them will contain and instructive point.
God moves in a Mestiri(ous) way
In a situation where you are a trick short of the required number it can be a sound strategy to play off your long suit before committing yourself. Take a look at this deal from the match between Poland and Tunisia from Round 1 of the Open Teams.
Board 6. Dealer East. E/W Vul.
In the other room Jassem & Mazurkiewicz had stopped in 4♠, so there was plenty riding on the result.
South led the eight of diamonds (would you have found a heart lead?) and declarer won in hand with the ace and drew trumps. With time in hand he continued with four more rounds of spades, South pitching the ♦5, ♦2, ♦6 & ♦9 while North parted with the ♦7, ♦3, ♣3 & ♦J.
When declarer cashed the ♦K everyone threw a heart to leave this position:
When declarer cashed the last spade South had to part with a heart – pitching a club would allow declarer to play ace and another club. Reading the position perfectly declarer discarded dummy’s queen of hearts, played a heart to the ace and a club, covering North’s six with the eight to force South to lead into the ♣AQ.
What a wonderful feeling it must have been for Anas Mestiri – and against the reigning Bermuda Bowl champions.
Listen to Gabriel
In Round 4 of the Open & Women’s Teams this deal was the most exciting of the set:
Board 22. Dealer East. E/W Vul.
Many E/W pairs reached 6♣ or 6♥ and that quite often persuaded N/S to sacrifice in 6♠.
The problem is that the slam usually failed, as declarer tackled hearts by cashing the ace and leading low to the queen.
In the Australia v. Russia match, this was the bidding in the Open Room:
South led a spade to dummy’s ace, declarer shedding his diamond loser. Kholomeev tnen drew trumps in three rounds ending in dummy and continued the ♥5, inserting the eight from his hand. South won his ten and returned a diamond to declarer’s ace. Kholomeev’s next move was to advance the ♥Q which held the trick. When the jack appeared in North, he thus had managed to
bring off a genuine intra finesse for an overtrick. Not that it mattered at all as the Aussies were in 6♣ at the other table and went one off.
The all-important question on this deal thus had become: did anyone play for this intra finesse in a situation in which it really mattered? The answer is YES.
For Denmark, Clemmensen-Graversen were E/W against Canada and they too ended up in 6♣.
The play went exactly as described above but the big diff erence was that in 6♣, the intra finesse did really matter. So full credit to H.C. Graversen, the only declarer in the Hala Stulecia to record +1370.
More often than not, and if time etc. allows, it’s a good idea to try to speak to the players involved. This time, it was the way to find out that the E/W names had been interchanged. As Poul Clemmensen smilingly said: ‘It has happened to us before. Usually, the wrong player (my partner!?) then gets credited with the -800’s’.
For the rest of the article, and 100+ more pages of bridge reading, subscribe at bridgemagazine.co.uk
September 8th, 2016 ~ masterpointpress ~ 11 Comments
On Saturday September 3rd 2016 Laura Blumenthal reached out to BridgeBlogging.com and expressed an interest to hear from the community about her father after his passing on September 2nd 2016.
I just wanted to let people in the bridge community know that my father, Mark Blumenthal, passed away yesterday morning at the age of 74. Because of a stroke following a heart operation in 1977, he hadn’t seriously played bridge in many years, but I grew up hearing stories about bridge and the people who played it. I believe that he used to blog on this site and am sure that there are many people in the bridge community that know him, so I thought this might be the best way to inform people of his passing. His health got much worse in 2009 and he wasn’t able to get on the internet anymore, but I know that he very much enjoyed blogging here and being back in touch with old friends via the Internet. If anyone has any memories of him that they would like to share, I would be happy to hear from people. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
If you would like to contact her directly, please feel free at her email email@example.com. You can also read his previous blog posts here at: markblumenthal.bridgeblogging.com
Our sympathies go out to the family and friends of Mark Blumenthal.
July 17th, 2015 ~ masterpointpress ~ 1 Comment
Omar Sharif 1932-2015
by Mark Horton
Omar Sharif, actor and bridge player died on July 10, 2015 of a heart attack in a Cairo hospital.
Image credit www.shaaciye.com
Omar Sharif, the Franco-Arabic actor best known for playing Sherif Ali in Lawrence of Arabia (1962) and the title role in Doctor Zhivago (1965), was born Michel Demitri Shalhoub on April 10, 1932 in Alexandria, Egypt. Of Lebanese and Syrian extraction, the young Michel was raised a Roman Catholic. He was educated at Victoria College in Alexandria and took a degree in mathematics and physics from Cairo University with a major. Afterward graduating from university, he entered the family lumber business.
He developed an interest in acting and studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London.
Before making his English-language film debut with Lawrence of Arabia, for which he earned a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award nomination and international fame, along with two Golden Globe awards, Sharif became a star in Egyptian cinema. His first movie was the Egyptian film Siraa Fil-Wadi (1954) (The Blazing Sun) in 1953, opposite the renowned Egyptian actress Faten Hamama whom he married in 1955. He converted to Islam to marry Hamama and took the name Omar al-Sharif. The couple had one child (Tarek Sharif, who was born in 1957 and portrayed the young Zhivago in the eponymous picture) and divorced in 1974. Sharif never remarried.
He was a fine sportsman, representing Egypt at football, but his passion was bridge.
Beginning in the 1960s, he earned a reputation as one of the world’s best-known players. In the 1970s and ’80s, with Charles Goren, he co-wrote a syndicated newspaper bridge column for the Chicago Tribune. He wrote several books on bridge and licensed his name to Omar Sharif Bridge, which was first marketed in 1992.
Omar Sharif on a bridge demonstration in the Netherlands in 1967. Image Credit: Wikipedia
In 1967 he founded the Omar Sharif Bridge Circus, which included energetic and quick-witted Egyptian Leon Yallouze as the coordinator, young Mike Ledeen (later to become a world renown terrorism expert) who served as the American Manager of the Circus, Benito Garozzo,(considered by many as the greatest bridge player of all time) plus his Italian compatriots Pietro Forquet and Giorgio Belladonna and handsome Parisian internationalist, Claude Delmouly.
In the early 70’s Omar set up a Rubber Bridge match in London against Jeremy Flint and Jonathan Cansino at the then unheard of stakes of £1 a point. He won £7,000 but lost £100,000 on a film of the match,which was never shown to the public.
In 1991, Omar was a special guest at the World Bridge Championships in Yokohama. A boat trip was organised around the harbour and the TV cameras were out in force. Omar was a bad sailor but when the time came for him to be interviewed he gave a bravura performance.
He had two separate bridge careers: in 1964 and 1968 he captained (and played on) the Egyptian team in the Olympiad, finishing 21st on both occasions.
Then, in 1997, he was a member of the Committee of Honour for the Bermuda Bowl on the first occasion that this was organized in an Arab Country, Tunisia. He competed in a truly transnational team (with French, German and Lebanese players) and finished 11th. Two years later, Omar was asked to join a French entry for the senior teams at the European Championships in Malta. Omar’s team finished second. Another year later, at Maastricht, Omar Sharif joined Egypt’s senior team, finishing in a creditable ninth place.
The three French Senior teams in Malta finished in the first three positions and, as was customary at the time, this would mean the public would get to hear the ‘Marseillaise’ performed three times. The Organisers decided to play the theme to Doctor Zhivago instead, which was greeted with great cheers.
Following this breakthrough role in films, Sharif played a variety of characters, including a Spanish priest in Behold a Pale Horse (1964), a Yugoslav wartime patriot in The Yellow Rolls-Royce (1964) and the Mongolian conqueror in Genghis Khan (1965). In the same year, Sharif reunited with Lean to play the title role in Doctor Zhivago, an adaptation of Boris Pasternak‘s novel and won another Golden Globe.
Over the next few years, Sharif starred as a German military officer in The Night of the Generals, as Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria in Mayerling and as Che Guevara in Che!. Sharif was also acclaimed for his portrayal of Nicky Arnstein, husband to Fanny Brice in Funny Girl, though some thought he was miscast as a New York Jewish gambler. His decision to work with co-star Barbra Streisand angered Egypt’s government at the time due to Streisand’s support for the state of Israel. Streisand herself responded with ‘You think Cairo was upset? You should’ve seen the letter I got from my Aunt Rose!’ Sharif reprised the role in the film’s sequel, Funny Lady in 1975.
Among his other films were the western Mackenna’s Gold, as an outlaw opposite Gregory Peck; the thriller Juggernaut, which co-starred Richard Harris, and the romantic drama The Tamarind Seed, co-starring Julie Andrews, directed by Blake Edwards. Sharif also contributed comic cameo performances in Edwards’The Pink Panther Strikes Again and in the 1980 spy-film spoof Top Secret!
In 2003, he received acclaim for his role in the French-language film adaptation of the novel Monsieur Ibrahim et les fleurs du Coran, as a Muslim Turkish merchant who becomes a father figure for a Jewish boy. For his performance, he won the Best Actor Award at the Venice Film Festival and the Best Actor César, France’s equivalent of the Oscar, from the Académie des Arts et Techniques du Cinéma.
In November 2005, Sharif was awarded the inaugural Sergei Eisenstein Medal by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in recognition of his significant contributions to world film and cultural diversity. The medal, which is handed out very infrequently, is named after Russian director Sergei Eisenstein. Only 25 have been struck, as determined by the agreement between UNESCO, Russia‘s Mosfilm and the Vivat Foundation.
He told the press in 2006 that he no longer played bridge, explaining, I decided I didn’t want to be a slave to any passion any more except for my work. I had too many passions, bridge, horses, gambling. I want to live a different kind of life, be with my family more because I didn’t give them enough time.’
Sharif became friends with Peter O’Toole during the making of Lawrence of Arabia. They appeared in several other films together and remained close friends. He was also good friends with Egyptologist Zahi Hawass. Actor and friend Tom Courtenay revealed in an interview for the July 19, 2008, edition of BBC Radio’s Test Match Special that Sharif supported Hull City Association Football Club and in the 1970s would telephone their automated scoreline from his home in Paris for score updates. Sharif was given an honorary degree by the University of Hull in 2010 and used the occasion to meet up with Hull City football player Ken Wagstaff.