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Teacher Treats

by Peggy Kaplan

Bridge teachers. They take those who think “bridge” is something you use to get from here to there – and teach them the mysteries of bidding and playing. They take neophytes and turn them into strong competitors. Without them - we wouldn’t be here!

Friday morning, however, the wonderful teachers of the ABTA (American Bridge Teachers Association) were the ones on the receiving end of treats. First, our teachers had the opportunity to hear the one and only Eric Rodwell lecture. Afterwards, Eric was on hand to sign his highly feted new book, “The Rodwell Files: Secrets of a Bridge Champion.” Next, Barbara Seagram introduced one of the bridge world’s most entertaining and amusing speakers – and elite players: George Jacobs. George served as moderator for a fabulous line up of teachers and players: John Rayner, Haig Tchamitch, Jerry Helms, Ellen Kent and David Lindop. First, the panel addressed an always popular issue: what are the most important and critical conventions to use? Then, George had the panel contemplate a question that George says rises to new heights (or, should we say, “new lows”?) every year: what was your worst bridge disaster ever.

As you can well imagine, the panel shared horror after horror. Perhaps, however, Jerry Helms produced the funniest. After his partner opened 1NT, Jerry had a 3-4-3-3 six count. So, without much thought, he passed. Jerry put down the dummy, and the snickering began. He couldn’t quite figure out what was happening, until someone mentioned that he had not properly placed the dummy.

All of his red cards were hearts!

Yes, with xxx, KQJxxxx, none, xxx, Jerry’s partner was declaring 1NT!

Somehow, despite being cold for a heart game, Jerry’s partner managed to garner 180 when the smoke cleared. They only received 2 matchpoints on some large top. Yet, the story did have a happy ending: they had needed one matchpoint to qualify for the next day, and that 180 did the trick!

As ABTA members enjoyed muffins, coffee and fruit, I had the opportunity to visit with ABTA President Brenda Simpson. Brenda shared with me how the ABTA went “all in” to celebrate the ACBL’s 75th Anniversary. “We always meet during the Summer NABC,” Brenda explained. “But, we really wanted to be here for his exciting event.”

Another highlight was the crowning of ABTA’s “Teacher of the Year.” Mary Jane Orock won this prestigious award for 2012. The Fort Worth teacher’s story is featured on the front page of Sunday’s Daily Bulletin.

The ABTA convention was a rousing success. From a tour of ACBL headquarters and Graceland, to presentations from many other great teachers and players of the bridge world, it was a most special week.

Thanks to all those who provided so much and to all the teachers who attended! Without you – there truly would be no bridge world!