You are at the web site of Unit 203 of the American Contract Bridge League, the Southern Michigan Bridge Association (SOMBA). Welcome. SOMBA supervises and works to promote bridge in southeastern Michigan.  SOMBA hosts several tournaments each year, including the Valentine Sectional in February, the Wolverine Regional in May, the Apple Cider Sectional in November and the Spooktakular 0-199er Sectional in October.  The unit also produces The SOMBA Echo, a newsletter keeping its members informed of current events and milestones in the area along with articles on bridge bidding and play. SOMBA, in conjunction with The Michigan Bridge Association (Unit 137) also produces a Bridge Directory listing the members of each unit and the active bridge clubs in the area.


Four of the proud trophy winners at SOMBA's Springtacular
Learn Bridge in a Day
Sunday, June 9th
12:30 to 5:30 P.M.
The Bridge Connection

Click here for flyer
Wolverine Regional

Costick Center, 
Farmington Hills
Monday, May 13th thru
Sunday, May 19th

Click here for flyer
Bay City Regional
Doubletree Riverfront Hotel
and Conference Center
June 10th thru 15th

Click here for flyer
Summer NABC
Atlanta, GA
August 1st thru 11th 

Click here for website

Keeping You Informed
Saturday, May 11, 2013

Greetings from the SOMBA President
by Posh Gulati, MD

On behalf of myself and the SOMBA Board of Directors I want you to know how appreciative we are of your participation in club games throughout our unit’s area and in all of the tournaments our unit sponsors.  I look forward to personally greeting and schmoozing with each one of you at the upcoming Wolverine Regional.

While we celebrated our Golden Jubilee with gusto last year, the focus has suddenly switched to a very serious issue confronting some of the bridge organizations in our state as well as across the country, namely declining Unit/ACBL membership and declining tournament and club attendance (especially in the evenings in our area).  Advancing ages of ACBL and our unit members is clear evidence that our recruitment efforts of new and younger players are way behind schedule.

At our last tournament, I challenged each and every one of our members/attendees to enroll one new and, just perhaps, younger member every year for the next three years.  I renew that challenge.  I hope I am not asking for too much!

In my mind, the matter has reached such a critical mass that it demands our urgent attention.  Hence dozens of our motivated and dedicated volunteers/board members were recruited, a group comprising club owners, directors, teachers, promoters, business people, and others, who have pledged to promote the Learn Bridge In A Day (LBIAD) program.  Our first workshop attracted an attendance of more than 70 individuals, none of whom had any masterpoints and all of whom were interested in learning bridge.  This was very satisfying.  But we still need to hold their hands and walk them through the maze of our bridge playing world.  We need to reduce the number of obstacles out there.  We need to help them on their journey. Wish us good luck and please make sure you do your part.  I appeal to you. One of my partners, Ron Rogers, did exactly that.  (See Ron Roger’s communiqué to his buddies in this Update).

We all look forward to a great turnout for the Wolverine Regional, May 13th through May 19th.  When you arrive, make sure you sign in at the Registration Desk and pick up your 2013 pin and pencil.  Please note that although our rents and other costs are increasing significantly, we are holding entry fees very close to that of preceding years.

I offer special thanks to our SOMBA TEAM, the volunteers who donate generously of their time to make our tournaments work and run smoothly. You will see their names in this Update’s item on the Wolverine Regional. They will hopefully be wearing their badges and are at your service to make the 2013 Wolverine Regional a memorable event for you.  The entire SOMBA Team is there to greet each one of you personally and will gladly be receptive of your suggestions and constructive criticisms.  Please call upon us to see if we are up to the task!

A Message to Our SOMBA Community
from Nancy Stein, Communications Director

We would like to know when our SOMBA members are seriously ill or pass away.  Many of us see each other many times a week or month and would like to send cards of sympathy or encouragement or to call and let you know we are thinking of you.

When we know about this information, we send copies out to the SOMBA board and the directors of the games in the SOMBA area.  We ask them to let the people at their games know the information.  In order to do this bet-ter, we need everyone’s help.  When you learn of someone's illness or death, please notify Nancy Stein, 248-398-2463, or Bette Andersen.

Please tell us the name of the person, including the proper spelling and an address that we can post for cards if people wish to send them.  If you have additional information, a hospital, nursing home, or funeral home, please give us this information.  Please keep in mind, that some of our members are very private people and do not want information about their health spread.  If you have any question, please let us know, and we'll attempt to call or email a person close to them to get their permission before sending out any information.

And SOMBA board members and club directors, when you hear about the death or serious illness from one of your games, please send this information to Posh, Bette or me, and we will send it out immediately.  If you have not heard about it in your email, we probably do not know.  Many of you have been very good about doing this, and it really helps.

We are a loosely connected social group, and we care about each other.

A Personal Approach to My Non-Bridge Playing Friends
by Ron Rogers

The essence of what I believe to be at the core of the approach for soliciting new players in general includes a personal experience/embrace followed by a scope/overview of duplicate bridge.  I would like to encourage the readers of this website to email their non-bridge playing friends encouraging them to register and attend the SOMBA Learn Bridge In A Day event at the Bridge Connection in June.  The following is a letter I use and is easily adaptable to your personal style:


“With but a bit of finesse, my purpose is to invite you to be introduced to a pastime of mine.  Specifically, I am referring to duplicate bridge, a pastime which many of you know to be a life long obsession, as evidenced by my estimated average playing time of 10 hrs/week for the last 48 years.

“Sunday afternoon June 9th, the Southern Michigan Bridge Association invites you to ‘learn bridge in a day.’  Well you might not learn it all in a day, but you will determine whether you might enjoy it and how to proceed in case you wish to find out.

“Feedback from the first session held earlier this year, attended by about 73 people, was very favorable and the program has been tweaked a bit in the meantime.  I am confident you will enjoy the accommodations at the Bridge Connection including the hosts/trainers. Please click on the following site for details regarding this event: http://www.district12bridge.org/unit203/Flyers/LBIAD1306.pdf.

“The following site, specifically the first two tabs --- our game and our 
history, provides an overview of duplicate bridge.  There are about 1 
million active players worldwide in 125 countries, 65,000 in USA and 
4,000 active players in MI:  http://www.acbl.org/about/ourGame.html.

“Needless to say I have found it to be a fascinating pastime; even better 
in retirement!!  And your enjoyment/options are not curtailed by weather 
or aging!”

Learn Bridge in a Day Premier a Success

Do you enjoy playing cards and meeting new people?  Do you want to find out about the game all of your friends are playing?  Did you take bridge lessons but never find the time to play?  Did you play bridge in college?  That was the pitch SOMBA made when it took its first major step in moving to the top of its agenda its mission to attract new players to our wonderful game.  Folks who answered "yes" to these questions were encouraged to register for its new program, Learn Bridge in a Day (LBIAD).  The premier of SOMBA’s LBIAD program took place on Sunday, March 3rd at The Bridge Connection.  73 registrants took part in the program, helped along by 20 SOMBA volunteers.  It was quite a day!  Over the next three years SOMBA’s focus will be to address the declining interest in bridge by spending time, effort, and money on projects such as LBIAD to recruit new players who will hopefully become regulars at our many bridge clubs and participants in our local tournaments.  The next presentation of LBIAD will take place at The Bridge Connection on June 9th. 

Participants in the program were treated to instruction led by Kathy Newman.  Each participant was given a manual to use during the program which they took home afterwards.  Each table of participants actually bid on hands and played the hands assisted by a SOMBA volunteer at each table. When the five-hour session ended each participant was given a CD and an application to join the ACBL and encouraged to continue their bridge progress by taking lessons at clubs and participating in club games.  A survey filled out by the participants rated the program a great success.

Jim Reed and Kathy Newman instructing at LBIAD

Learn Bridge in a Day is a program developed by bridge teachers Patty Tucker and Melissa Burnhardt, of Atlanta, Georgia, which is designed to move new bridge players quickly along the initial learning curve.  Typical participants include true beginners, those returning to bridge after long absences, and those merely wanting to “test the waters” before committing to formal classes.  The five-hour seminar includes both class instruction and coached play.  LBIAD is licensed for use by local groups such as SOMBA.  SOMBA used some of its own funds to run the program along with some financial help from the ACBL.  Participants paid a registration fee of $10.00 each.

The SOMBA group responsible for this program was chaired by Jim Reed. Kathy Newman led the instruction.  Bill Landrum and Jane Hall were the contact people for those interested in attending.  Grant Peterson and Mike McDonald provided the facilities of The Bridge Connection for the hosting of the program.  Marilyn Lindow readied the materials for the participants.  The program’s advertising was handled by Scott MillerKathy Twomey did the goodie bags.  Patty and Allan Becker lent their office equipment for preparation of materials.  Bill Landrum was the computer person and also handled registration.  Many other volunteers sat at the tables and helped to ease each participant through the bidding and play.  Mary Smith and Grant Peterson taught seven-week follow-up bridge classes.

Students and helpers at LBIAD

New Session of Learn Bridge in a Day Scheduled

Following up on the success of its first presentation of Learn Bridge in a Day, SOMBA is sponsoring a second presentation of the program.  LBIAD is geared to individuals who are true beginners, folks who haven’t played bridge since way back, and others who just want to find out what the game is all about.  The presentation will take place at The Bridge Connection on Sunday, June 9th and will run from 12:30 P.M to 5:30 P.M.  There is a $20.00 charge which includes registration, instructional materials, supervised bidding and play of the cards, and snacks. 

If you know of family or friends who might be interested in this program please contact them.  See the item in this Update by Ron Rogers on how he encourages his friends to play.  You can also print the LBIAD flyer by clicking here. The SOMBA contact people for the program are Bill Landrum and Jane Hall. There phone numbers and email addresses are on the flyer.

SOMBA 2012 Trophy Race Winners to be Honored at Sunday Swiss

Each year SOMBA presents trophies to the SOMBA members earning the most masterpoints while competing in SOMBA sponsored tournaments during the calendar year.  During the year 2012 the following SOMBA members finished at the top of their masterpoint classifications:

0-5 Deepak Dighe 24.19
5-20 Thom Allen 34.14
20-50 Joan Wentz 18.23
50-100 Nancy Spence 20.76
100-200 Lakshmi Vora 44.30
200-500 Charles Schiff 39.71
500-1500 Robert Raf 64.34
1500-3000 Steven Jacob 40.95
3000+ Henry Shevitz 109.06

SOMBA congratulates the top finishers for their accomplishment and thanks them and all of the other competitors for attending SOMBA sponsored tournaments.  Please turn out for the Sunday Swiss at the Wolverine Regional to applaud the winners as they are presented with their well-earned trophies.

District 12 to Send Four Teams to Grand National Teams Event in Atlanta

One of the exciting events at the summer North American Bridge Championships each year is the Grand National Teams competition.  This year the Summer Nationals will take place in Atlanta.  The competition is divided into four parts:  the Unlimited Flight, Flight A, Flight B, and the NLM Flight.  The ACBL is divided into 25 districts with each district sending a contingent of four teams to the competition.  SOMBA is located in District 12.  District 12 held a trials event on April 13th and 14th to determine our district’s delegation to the Grand Nationals. 

Finishing first in the Unlimited Flight was the team of Chuck Burger, West Bloomfield; Howard Perlman, Franklin; Perry Johnson, Bloomfield Hills; and Michael Zerbini, Clarkston.  Finishing second in that Flight was the team of Michael Crane, Macomb Twp; Henry Shevitz, Bloomfield Hills; Joe Chiesa, Oak Park; and Bob Webber, Waterford.  Finishing first in Flight A was the team of Dennis Carman, Plainwell; Joanne Molt, Grand Rapids; Robert Houtrow, Delton; and Lowell Seyburn, Portage.  Finishing first in Flight B was the team of Michael McDonald and Neal Strand, Rochester Hills; Grant Petersen, Taylor; and Richard Menczer, Bloomfield Hills.  Finishing second in Flight B was the team of Satish Shah, Sterling Height; Charles Schiff, Birmingham; Thomas Hunt, Rochester Hills; and Ross Weinstein, Oakland Twp.  Finishing first in the NLM Flight was the team of Corey Powell, Justin Canniff, Michael Bastedo and Klaus Brondum, Ann Arbor; Stephen Rosenquist, Homer; and Jordan Kaye, West Bloomfield.  Finishing second in the NLM Flight was the team of Martha Toon, Renata Wasserman, Martha Bhatia, and Inderpal Bhatia, Ann Arbor.

The winners will all be going to Atlanta.  If a winning team cannot attend the Grand National Teams competition, the second place finisher will go in its place.  SOMBA wishes the best of luck and skill to all of our District 12 teams.


Jakob Kristinsson Among Top Winners at Gatlinburg Regional

Playing in the top bracket knockouts in Gatlinburg is not for the faint of heart or for those who tend to let a short spell of bad luck affect their play in their next matches.  SOMBA’s own Jakob Kristinsson had no problem with this while playing on a team captained by Mike Levine in the annual Gatlinburg Regional tournament which took place this past April.  Playing with Jakob was Bjorgvin Kristinsson.  Their teammates, in addition to Mike Levine, were Dennis McGarry, Jerry Clerkin and Dennis Clerkin.  For those who are familiar with the annual Gatlinburg Regional, the Knockout Team events draw hundreds of teams into each event resulting in numerous brackets of sixteen teams each.  It would be fair to say that when you are playing in the top bracket the competition is as tough as it will ever get. 

The Levine team entered the Monday/Tuesday Knockouts and were knocked out fairly quickly.  The same result befell them when they entered the Tuesday/Wednesday Knockouts.  Their luck did not change when they entered the Knockouts beginning Wednesday morning.  The tide turned when the team started play Wednesday afternoon in the  Wednesday/Thursday Knockouts.  At this point they could do no wrong (well, not much) and went on to win all of their next fifteen matches, including winning the Wednesday/Thursday Knockouts and the Friday/Saturday Knock-outs, and taking second place in the Sunday Swiss.  On his way home from Gatlinburg, Jakob was looking at 140.33 brand new masterpoints, having personally finished in 6th place overall out of the 3635 players who earned masterpoints while playing in Gatlinburg.

In the Wednesday/Thursday Bracket 1 Knockout the Levine team played early rounds against the Mike Cappelletti, Sr. team and the Carolyn Lynch team before reaching the final match against the Daniel Hoekstra team.  The Lynch team consisted of Carolyn Lynch, Mike Passell, Geoff Hampson, Marc Jacobus, Jeff Meckstroth; and Eric Rodwell. The Hoekstra team consisted of Daniel Hoekstra, Huub Bertens, Billy Miller, Roger McNay, Jeff Roman, and Karin Kelsey.  When the dust settled, Jakob and his teammates took first place.

After polishing off the competition in the first three rounds of the Friday/Saturday Bracket 1 Knockout, the Levine team reached the final round playing against the Samuel Marks team.  The Marks team consisted of Samuel Marks, Thomas Carmichael, Jerry Helms, and Robert Bitterman.  After a come from behind effort, Jakob and his teammates once again chalked up first place.

Jakob has written for the SOMBA website a wonderful article, “Adventures in Gatlinburg.”  The article describes several great hands played against Jeff Meckstroth and Eric Rodwell at their table, in addition to two other hands played in the Knockout finals. Jakob’s article can be reached by clicking here or by clicking on the [Bridge Hands and Articles] menu item at the top of this page.

Jakob and Bjorgvin have regularly played together since Bjorgvin came to the U.S. roughly three years ago.  Although they share the same last name they are not related.  They are both from Iceland where bridge is considered a major sport and where bridge is taught to students at a young age.  Jakob learned bridge in Iceland and was already a good player when he settled in the U.S. in 1999.

Jakob met Gail Hanson shortly after arriving in the U.S.  They live in Lake Orion.  They are both active bridge players and teachers in our area. The Gatlinburg Regional is a favorite event for Jakob and Gail and they have been there 14 times now.  They frequently play in Gatlinburg with students.  Jakob’s full time regular job is with the Kroger food chain where he is a general manager in the Michigan division and is active with store remodels and new sites.  Jakob and Gail will be playing in the Nationals in Atlanta in August. 

SOMBA takes great pride in the Gatlinburg accomplishment of one of its own, Jakob Kristinsson.

Two New Articles by Henry Shevitz

Dr. Henry Shevitz is a long-time contributor of bridge articles to SOMBA’s Echo and website.  With this Update he has contributed two new articles.  Make sure you read his article “Miss Cleo” which you can access by clicking on the title.  Also make sure you catch his new article “Over My Shoulder 8 --- Important Tempo” which you can access by clicking on the title.  As always, all SOMBA articles can be accessed through the sub-menu you will find by clicking on the menu item [Bridge Hands & Articles] at the top of this page.

Wolverine Regional May 13th thru May 19th

SOMBA’s foremost tournament event is its annual Wolverine Regional. This year the seven-day event will run from Monday, May 13th through Sunday, May 19th.  And this year all of our participants will be able to enjoy Mother’s Day the day before the tournament begins.  The flyer for the tournament can be accessed by clicking here

Participants may want to print it and keep it handy because this year’s schedule is filled with events for everyone, morning, afternoon and evening. The 9:00 A.M. sessions running Tuesday through Saturday include Pairs games and Compact Knockouts.  Afternoon games at 1:00 and evening games at 7:00 include Pairs events and Handicapped Knockout events. There are also Gold Rush Pairs events on Thursday and Friday.  And the opening day events include Educational Foundation Pairs and Swiss Teams.  The Sunday Swiss starts at 10:00 A.M. giving everyone time to get home for dinner with the family.  There is an event and a time to fit everyone’s preference and personal schedule.  Start lining up your partners and teammates now.  For those who are looking for partners and teammates you can call or email the partnership people, Mary Bennett, Bill Goodman, and Dave Fletcher, whose phone numbers and email addresses are listed on the flyer.  Participants will want to check the flyer for stratification ranges and averaging policies.

At the Sunday Swiss the 2012 Trophy Category Winners will receive their awards.  The Goodwill Winner Award and the Special and Unique Member Award will also be presented.

Prior to each session, the tournament will feature speakers offering their advice, experience and expertise to participants.  You will want to get to the tournament early for each session to take advantage of this great opportunity.  The tentative schedule is:

Tue12:15 Jerry Grossman Figuring Out Bridge Probabilities
Tue 6:15 Brenda Bryant Balancing
Wed 12:15 Mary Smith My Opening Bids
Wed 6:15 TBA  
Thur 12:15 Jakob Kristinsson Bidding in Front of Partner
Thur 6:15 Mike Huston Finessing
Fri 12:15 Mike Crane Card Combinations
Fri 6:15 Marjorie Michelin Setting Trick
Sat 12:15 TBA  
Sat 6:15 Marty Hirschman Hands of the Day

 There will be an Update of the SOMBA website after the tournament announcing all of the big winners and thanking all of the volunteer members of our great SOMBA Team.  Watch for it.

First Ever Springtacular

SOMBA’s first ever Springtacular, a Sectional tournament limited to players with no more than 300 masterpoints was a resounding success. The event took place on Friday and Saturday, April 26th – 27th at the Cross of Christ Lutheran Church in Bloomfield Hills.  Organized along the lines of the annual October Spooktacular, this new event looks to be another regular in SOMBA’s lineup of annual tournaments.  In addition to the silver masterpoints awarded, there were many prizes and trophies. Prior to the Saturday Swiss Team event, Posh Gulati gave a talk on Swiss Team strategy.  Many thanks are due to all of the Springtacular volunteers, including managers Scott Miller and Satish Shaw; co-chairs Marilyn Lindow and Kathy Twomey; and partnership chairs Mary Bennett and Marianne Varion. Director Ed Anthony was assisted by Jane Hall and Bill Landrum.

The top scoring pair in the Friday morning Pairs event was Joan Capuano and Jill Rastelli.  The top scoring pair in the Friday afternoon Pairs event was Linda Lutze and Mary Beebe.  And the top team in the Saturday Swiss event consisted of Constance Jones, Joan Wentz, Anne Parker, and Josette Goralski.  Congratulations to the top scorers and to all of the section winners.

Valentine Sectional Results

Each year SOMBA sponsors two open Sectional tournaments and one Regional tournament.  SOMBA also sponsors the 299er Spooktacular Sectional and this year has added a 299er Springtacular Sectional.  The first of these five events, the Valentine Sectional, took place February 14th through 17th.  Players enjoyed four Swiss Team events in addition to three days of Pairs events.  SOMBA was especially delighted that expert Michael Crane gave a wonderful lecture Sunday morning on the subject of  "Card Combinations and How to Play Them Correctly."

The top ten overall winners were ---

Mary Smith 23.84
Robert Crafton 22.23
William Arlinghaus 20.92
Norman Bolton 20.86
Debra Eaves 20.86
Robert Katz 20.69
Martin Hirschman 20.61
Suzy Burger 19.45
Sheldon Kirsch 18.99
John Buchheister 17.63

The top ten SOMBA winners were ---

Debra Eaves 20.86
John Buchheister 17.63
Henry Shevitz 16.66
Neal Strand 14.82
Sandy Birnholtz 10.96
Robert Raf 10.95
Jakob Kristinsson 9.58
Jane Hall 9.54
Jonathan Fleischmann 9.22
Subhash Gulati 8.33

Congratulations to all of our top winners.  All in all, a total of 1,075 masterpoints were awarded to 315 players.

Summer Nationals in Atlanta and Bay City Regional Coming Up

Avid bridge players will want to add two additional tournaments to their playing schedules.  For those willing to play at the very highest levels (in addition to the much less exalted heights) and willing to travel a bit of a distance there is the Summer North American Bridge Championships (the Summer Nationals) taking place in Atlanta, Georgia from August 1st through August 11th.  More locally but also highly competitive is the Bay City Regional taking place in Bay City from June 10th through June 15th.  

The Atlanta games offer an opportunity to mingle with and play against some of the strongest players in the world.  The most heavyweight competition of the games will be the annual Spingold Knockout Teams.  Other major events will be the Wagar Women’s Knockout Teams, the Grand National Teams, the Truscott Senior Swiss Teams, the Von Zedtwitz Life Master Pairs, the Wernher Open Pairs, the Freeman Mixed BAM Teams, and the Roth Open Swiss Teams.  For those relatively new to the game there is a full schedule of novice games.  And for most of us there are round the clock Pairs, Knockouts and Swiss Teams.  There is something for everyone.  There is no bridge excitement like attending a Nationals event.  Every bridge player, at least once, has to attend a Nationals.  And for the ordinary mortal bridge players among us, you should know that any player, no matter at what level of play, can enter almost any of the top level events, including the Spingold.  You may take plenty of blows playing in the top level competition but there is no more enjoyable experience than playing against world class and expert players.  Pay your entry fee and you’re in.  You will have lots of memories to take home with you.  For the link to the Summer Nationals website you can click here.  

Much more locally you can make the short drive to Bay City and play in their Regional for as many of the six days of play as you care to.  The playing facility and the room accommodations at the Double Tree Riverfront Hotel and Conference Center are first class and the daily room rates, if you don’t care to commute daily, are very reasonable and include breakfast.  The play schedule includes two sets of bracketed Knockouts, numerous Pairs games, Gold Rush Pairs and Gold Rush Swiss Teams, in addition to the final day Swiss Team event.  To access the Bay City Regional brochure you can click here.

Al Tushman (MichiganAl@Yahoo.com)

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