There are a lot of bridge-playing couples that will be featured here in the future.  One such couple, Bob and Peggy Craig, can be seen at many tournaments in D17.  Bob is a Tournament Director, and enjoys playing with Peggy when not working.

Before they met, Bob had played bridge all his life with his family.  When Bob’s best friend, Dave, decided to play matchmaker, he told Peggy she would have to learn how to play bridge.  That was fine with her as she played many card games.  During the eight months of dating, they went to Dave and Sue’s house every day so the three of them could teach Peggy.  She was a fast learner and has become an excellent player.

The only time this couple has ever fought was over bridge.  They have now learned to disagree, but never fight!  Their advice to other couples is this: bridge is a game.  It’s not personal.  Work together to do the best you can.  Bidding and playing the hands are important, but good defense is the name of the game, because you defend half the time.  Take time away from the bridge table to discuss every aspect of your game.

When not playing bridge, they are very involved in their church.  They have a wonderful family, including their son and daughter, eight grandchildren and one great-grandchild.  They have taken many cruises and do road trips to visit their relatives who all live east of the Mississippi.

Peggy loves playing bridge at all levels.  Every hand is truly an adventure.  Bob has been directing more than playing, but when possible, also enjoys playing at all levels.  They both enjoy people, spending time with people, and making new friends.  They both want to be respected as bridge players, but it doesn’t hurt to have fun at the table as well.

We all have made a disastrous lead, including Bob!   Back in the seventies, they were playing in the Nationals in Pittsburgh and the bidding began with Peggy’s LHO opening 1S, P, 2D.  Peggy made a two-suited take-out (probably) 2NT.  The opponents bid all the way to 7S and Peggy doubled.  Bob led a heart or a club and Peggy (who had a diamond void) literally cried for the next five rounds.  People were very generous with their Kleenex.


Bridge Strategies - their answers to various questions:

What suggestion or helpful comments would you like to give to relatively new players?

While playing bridge it is very important to pay attention to everything your partner is saying in the bidding and saying with the cards that are played.  Being aware is vital.  In addition, be sure to count the hands and give count on defense.  Listen to what everyone is bidding and especially what they are not bidding.  From Bob as a director, playing the round in the allotted time is very important.  Discuss whatever conventions you want to play before the game to make sure you are on the same page.  After the game, review your poor results and discuss what you could have done better.  With all the availability of results with hand records, it is so much easier to review your game.  Talking to more experienced players can also be helpful.


What are some common bidding problems players should avoid?

Don’t tell your partner you have more than you have.  Once you have told your whole story, don’t tell it again.  For example, once you have made a preemptive bid, you never bid again unless partner asks you to do so.


What are your thoughts on team games vs. pair games?

There are truly two different types of strategies between the two which makes both challenging.  Sometimes teams are less stressful.  We really like both.


In general, what are good strategies for defense?

All areas take years of study and playing, playing, playing.  One simple defensive play we like to instill in beginning players is to play the lower of touching honors when a lead is coming through you.  We like 3rd and 5th best leads against suit contracts and strong advocates of giving count during defense.


What are good pre-empting strategies?

In first and second seat, we like sound preempts with the majority of our points in our suit.  When overcalling preemptively, we do not have outside defensive cards. 


How much is extra length in a suit really worth?

Extra trump length is worth more tricks and like having extra aces.  Extra length in side suits is a good potential for discarding losers.  Entries to that side suit are vital.


Which are the very most essential basic conventions?

It is vital that novices and intermediates get a solid foundation in the BASICS before they start adding lots of conventions to muddle their minds.  Once we became Life Masters, we started to learn Precision.  We learned it one step at a time.  Once we mastered a step, we worked on the next.  We also had excellent mentors who happened to be our favorite team mates.  Simple conventions like Stayman and Negative Doubles are essential.


What are the keys to developing a delightful and effective partnership?

Keep any constructive criticism until after the session is completed.  Peggy has a hard time doing that. LOL


How can one do well playing with many different partners?

Playing with many different partners helps keep one aware because everyone plays different conventions and you have to remember which is which with each partner.


Any final bridge strategies for duplicate players?

Be consistent and stay within the limits of your bidding and defensive agreements.  Trust your partner.


What are your thoughts on zero tolerance, bridge ethics, and/or the recent cheating by high level players?

Bob as a director needs to enforce ZT and feels it is becoming less of a problem.  One egregious unethical act is hesitating with a singleton.  Cheating is totally unacceptable.  Ban them for life.


How do you feel about on-line bridge games for practice and/or tournament play?

We are not on-line players.  Our reason is because if we started, we would never get off the computer.   It can be too addictive.


What can local units do about gaining new players, with so many older players leaving the game?

We are very fortunate in El Paso to have Rex Glimp and Jay Woods who have different levels of bridge lessons three times a week.  We added quite a few new players to our local games.


How can ACBL get the newer players interested in playing in tournaments?

Have I/N games as a one or two day tournament and included in the sectional tournaments.  Club managers need to keep the newer players informed and encourage them to play in the nearby tournaments.  We post the upcoming tournaments on our local website.


What are your thoughts on the future of bridge cruises?

We are big fans of cruising and plan on doing tournaments at sea.


What other questions would you like to answer and/or comments would you like to make regarding the promotion of bridge?

Bridge is the ultimate card game which keeps these old brains soft pushing dementia and Alzheimer’s away, hopefully.  We have many people in their 90s playing in our local club games and they are all sharp.  One day in an eight-table game there were SIX nonagenarians.


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