Featured Player: Geoff Hampson - By Rod Southworth
What is it like to play against an opponent who is a lot better player than you? Some really good players may be intimidating, or they may be somewhat disparaging, but not Geoff. When I played against him at the last Denver Regional, he made it enjoyable for everyone at the table. To me, that is what the duplicate bridge is about: having fun playing good competitive bridge!
Geoff was taught bridge while in HS by a teacher who wanted to divert some of the smarter kids from destructive behavior. Geoff’s comment: “Who could have imagined that I would take it this far?” He says that duplicate bridge never stops entertaining and challenging him!
Last year he and his family travelled to Africa and went on a fantastic safari. He likes to ski when time permits, but most of his vacations are spent playing golf. I’ll bet he is a good golfer!
To help promote duplicate bridge, Geoff was willing to answer a variety of bridge-related questions. I think you will find his responses (that follow in no particular order) very illuminating. Thank you, Geoff, for your enthusiasm in supporting this online feature. If anyone viewing this would like to be featured, please let me know.
Rod Southworth (D17 Webmaster) at email@example.com
Other than playing with better players, what is the best way to improve one’s game?
Just play, play with anyone! That was my plan. Better is better, but playing is the best.
What suggestion or helpful comments would you like to give to relatively new players?
Try to count everything that you can think of and do it on every hand. This is a good exercise that will pay off when you need it.
How do you feel about on-line bridge games?
I use BBO as a method to prepare for live bridge tournaments and I think that the high standard of play around the world these days is mostly due to that creation. That said, I think bridge for me is a game played at a table with 4 humans.
What are your thoughts on team games vs. pair games?
I like them all but my most satisfying successes are all at teams. The strategy is similar for me, but there is a greater social victory to do well at teams.
What do you like most and least, about playing in many regional and national tournaments?
I most like the game itself, the friends that I get to see around the country and the world. I least like to see people with poor behavior since I would like bridge to retain every one of its players and start adding more. When newer players are mistreated they are less likely to return.
What do you remember as your worst mistake?
I was in 2NT doubled with a trick one guess for either down 1 or making six... I made a highly anti-percentage play, possibly based on instinct, and was disastrously wrong. The swing against our team created momentum for our opponents who drove on to victory in the US Team Trials last year. Who knows how things would have gone had I played differently. This might not be my worst mistake, it is just the most recent and memorable of my many disasters.
Do you ever play in Sectionals?
I have played in many sectionals over the years and have very fond memories of them, but I haven't played any in the last few years.
What persona do you strive to maintain while playing duplicate?
I try and have a good time at the table, joking and kidding when things aren't too serious. At the top level I would like to be feared and respected.
What are the secrets to good defense when you and your partner have not bid?
Listen to the bidding, lead off-suits singletons vs Suits to get ruffs, lead unbid suits vs Suits and NT.
How do you to teach yourself to count all 4 suits?
Start by counting trump on every hand. When you have mastered that add a suit...and so on.
How much is extra length in a suit really worth? Beyond 5, 6, 7 cards?
Each extra card in your longest suit is usually a trick if you can make that suit trump. If you are in another suit it is not much use at all.
What are the keys to developing a delightful and effective partnership?
Find someone who thinks the way that you think and try to be tolerant (that has been a big lesson for me)
How do you do so well playing with many different partners?
I really don't play with that many different partners, but one reason we do well is that they all play well and are supportive of me.
How do you keep in practice with Eric Greco, since you rarely get to play with him?
We work on BBO to prepare for each big event and usually we warm up at the beginning of each NABC in the pair game that begins the tourney.
What are your thoughts on zero tolerance, bridge ethics, and/or the recent cheating by high level players?
I think that the recent scandals in the top ranks make it easy to forget that this is a game of intellect and honor. Courtesy and ethics are still priorities among the majority of bridge players and if we want bridge to stand the test of time we need to continue to clean up the game, both in regards to ethics, and behavior.
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