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.


Some of the winners at Spooktacular 2013
Valentine Sectional
February 13-16
Wm. Costick Center
Farmington Hills

Wolverine Regional

May 12-18
Wm. Costick Center
Farmington Hills

Fall 2013 North American
Bridge Championshipsl

November 28 -
December 8
Phoenix, AZ

Click here for website
Spring STAC Games
March 31 to April 6

Earn silver points at
your favorite club

Two New Computer Tools Being Tried in SOMBA!

SOMBA is experimenting with two new computer tools.  Try them and see what you think.  We want your feedback as to whether these tools are helpful for you to enjoy bridge in this area.

1.  Fast Results–Your Pair Results at SOMBA tournaments is delivered to your email and/or mobile device immediately following a game!  Signing up is easy!  Just email your ACBL # (typed in the subject line) to:  FastResultsHelpDesk@gmail.com or text your Last Name and ACBL # to (313) 800-1790.  There is also a web interface:  http://www.BridgeFinesse.com/FastResults/D12

2.  The District 12 Partnership Desk–This facility allows you to register your name, and indicate that you are looking for a partner or partners for a specific event.  It has safeguards built-in to protect your privacy.  You must indicate the system that you prefer.  The system verifies your number of masterpoints so that no one inflates their masterpoints to secure a partnership.  If someone else is looking for a partnership, and they want to take a chance on you, then the system helps them contact you.  You can try the system by going to the following website:  http://www.bridgefinesse.com/D12PDeskIndex  Once you choose a specific tournament, then it allows you to look at a tutorial that fully explains the system so that you will be able to use it effectively.

Keeping You Informed
Monday, November 25, 2013

Go Get ‘Em, Deepak Dighe

Perhaps the most stand-out new player on the SOMBA scene is Deepak Dighe. He is a “beginner” only because he is relatively new to duplicate bridge. He is definitely not a beginner in skill and he tends to make very few mistakes at the table. He has an aggressive style that serves him well. 

In the 2012 Mini-McKenney Masterpoint Race, he came in 14th in the nation in the 0 to 5 masterpoint category, where he earned 103.59 points that year. That was first in SOMBA in that category.

In the 2013 Mini-McKenney Masterpoint Race, he is currently 49th in the nation in the 100 to 200 masterpoint category, where he has earned 149.48 points so far this year  That is first in SOMBA in that category.. (He actually has over 300 masterpoints this year when you add in his on-line points.)

At the recent 2013 Motor City Regional, Deepak and his team played in the Gold Rush Swiss, where they came in first with 84% of the available victory points. In the recent 2013 Apple Cider Sectional, Deepak was the overall masterpoint winner for the tournament with 22.94--beating out many well-known Class A players

Deepak is a 69 year old engineer. He started out in Mumbai. He received further education at the University of Michigan. He is retired from General Motors where he was a chief supplier contractor.

Deepak became an ACBL member in April, 2012. He has been playing like crazy ever since. Prior to joining the ACBL he played bridge off and on in a local 3rd Friday social bridge group from Mumbai called Maharashtra Mandal. He also played at the War Memorial in Grosse Pointe occasionally over the years.

SOMBA president Posh Gulati describes Deepak as very bright, loving, caring, soft spoken and compassionate, transforming into an aggressor and bidding monster as soon as he picks up the cards! He has a highly analytical mind and is always very motivated to do well. He wants to learn and then learn some more again--quickly. 

As a SOMBA member he is always looking to find some job as a volunteer. He wishes to give back to bridge what he feels he has gotten out of bridge. He was busy helping the tear down and removal committee (removing chairs, tables and hauling them to the van) immediately after the Swiss on Sunday at the conclusion of the Apple Cider. SOMBA is very fortunate to have Deepak as a member.

George Stankovich, 1929 – 2013

Our esteemed and long standing director, George Stankovich, passed away Friday evening, November 15, 2013 at St. John-Macomb Hospital. He was 84 years old.  George proudly served in the United States Army. He was a retired Captain from the Royal Oak Fire Department. 

He was an accomplished bridge player and directed bridge games in many locations throughout Michigan.  George traveled the world and directed duplicate bridge games aboard cruise ships.  He was an avid baseball fan and coached his son’s American Legion Royal Oak baseball team in the 1980’s.  George was a superb ballroom dancer. Recently, he wrote and published his book, Owinga.

His unique and intense style of providing services as a bridge director will be remembered for a very long time.  He was our friend and our entire SOMBA board and bridge community mourn his loss.  To Shirley and his family, we extend our heartfelt condolences.  George, you will be missed. No one can ever replace you.  May you rest in peace.

Michael Graham, 1948 – 2013

Mike Graham, a Diamond Life Master and a highly competitive bridge player from the Ann Arbor area, passed away Monday, October 21, 2013. He was a computer programmer for the University of Michigan.  Mike loved computers and mathematics.  He was a voracious reader and enjoyed old movies and spending time with his family.  No other person in our bridge community was more kind or gentle than Mike.  His friends were privileged to know him.  He will be missed by all in our bridge playing community.

Dennis Carman New National ACBL Director

Dennis Carman, our District 12 president, won the runoff election for the national office of ACBL Director, defeating Bill Arlinghaus (incumbent). We send our sincere congratulations to Dennis and wish him well in his future endeavors. 

Dennis has been an ACBL member since 1973.  Although starting out as a member of MBA he has been a part of the Western Michigan Unit since 1978.  He has served as the WMU president since 1986.  Dennis has served on the District 12 board since 1986 and has been the district president since 2010, having served two prior terms as district president.  He has been serving on the ACBL national Goodwill and Charity committees.  Dennis has been active as a bridge teacher in private group sessions and is a Gold Life Master.  He is retired after 25 years with Hascall Steel Company.

Teacher of the Year Award Nominations

Calling all bridge students! Is your bridge teacher the best? Do you wish you could thank your teacher in some way? How about an award? Those are always nice!

Go to the American Bridge Teachers' Association website for more information about the ABTA Teacher of the Year award, which is sponsored by Master Point Press, the Bridge Publisher.

This award is given to teachers who make a difference in their bridge community and in the lives of their students. Make sure that your teacher is eligible and show your teacher how much you appreciate the work put in to teaching you!

All instructors up for the award are nominated by students just like you.

The deadline to nominate is set in early 2014 and the ceremony to present the award will be at the ABTA's annual convention, held in Las Vegas. Let’s try to get some of our wonderful local SOMBA teachers nominated for the award.

SOMBA Goodwill Award Nominations Requested

Each year SOMBA presents its Goodwill Award to a SOMBA member who exemplifies the highest standards in his or her ability to make the game of bridge an enjoyable experience for all.  The individual has the highest standards of ethical conduct at the bridge table.  The individual volunteers to help at SOMBA sponsored tournaments and at local bridge clubs. The individual helps to attract new players to our wonderful game.  The individual works to make SOMBA a successful organization.  The individual is someone players enjoy having at their table either as a partner or an opponent.

Nominations are now open for the 2014 Goodwill Award honoree.  If you would like to make a nomination it is as easy as letting president Posh Gulati know.  Either tell him in person or send him an email.

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.

SOMBA Wants to Hear from You

SOMBA wants to get better and better.  We need your help.  In addition to playing at our clubs and frequenting our tournaments we need to hear from you.  We care and we listen.  Let us know what we are doing right, what we can do better, and what we aren’t doing that we should be doing.  At the top of this site you will see the menu button “[Board].”  By clicking on that button you will access a complete list of SOMBA board members and officers with their phone numbers and email addresses.  Please let at least one of these individuals know what SOMBA can do to improve.  We look forward to hearing from you.


Connie Dugger and Ginny Poulter Top SOMBA Finishers in District 12 STaC

The fall District 12 STaC event took place at clubs in the District 12 area from November 11th to 17th.  The top two SOMBA finishers were Connie Dugger with 12.86 masterpoints and Ginny Poulter with 11.40 masterpoints.  Connie finished 20th overall and Ginny finished 26th overall. Congratulations to Connie and Ginny for a great STaC week.  For those interested in the complete District 12 STaC results you can click here.  Be ready to compete in the spring STaC event which will take place at our local clubs from March 31st to April 6th.

Apple Cider Sectional Report

From November 7th through 10th SOMBA held another successful Apple Cider Sectional Tournament at the William Costick Activity Center.  The top ten masterpoint performers were:  1. Deepak Dighe with 22.94; 2-3. Norm Bolton and Debra Eaves with 21.04; 4. Marty Hirschman with 19.94; 5. Bill Melander with 19.44; 6. Lakshmi Vora with 18.28; 7. Bob Crafton with 17.28; 8. Michael Alioto with 16.62; 9. Lynne Schaeffer with 16.61; and 10. Bob Katz with 15.83.  Congratulations to all of the top winners.

Many thanks to the entire SOMBA crew for making this event a success. Posh Gulati was the tournament chair; Dave Fletcher was the assistant tournament chair; Marilyn Lindow, Kathy Twomey and Betty Anderson were the 0-299ers chairs; Mary Bennett, James Phillips, and Bill Goodman were the partnership chairs; Carol Diebold looked after hospitality; Marilyn Merdler was head caddy; and Satish Shah and Scott Miller were tournament managers. 

Participants in the tournament generally liked the morning start times and the new schedule.  The SOMBA team will continue to tweak the tournament programs to make everything as enjoyable as possible for our participants.

Fifth Annual Spooktacular Report

The Fifth Annual Spooktacular Sectional for intermediate and newcomer players took place at the Birmingham Unitarian Church on October 25th and 26th.  The playing area was colorfully decorated, costumes were abundant, and brightly colored leaves were visible through the windows.  Even a deer made an appearance in the parking lot.  Many thanks are due the organizers including co-chairs Marilyn Lindow and Kathy Twomey; partnership chairs Mary Bennett, Marianne Varion, and Dave Fletcher; and lecturer Posh Gulati. Mike McGraw did an excellent job directing. 

The top 10 masterpoint winners were:  1. Carol Burkett with 5.57;  2-3. Larry Cohen and John Vollmayer with 3.79; 4. Nancy Spence with 3.67; 5 and 6. Warren Block and John Borden with 3.19; 7. Sandi Pink with 2.84; 8. Arnold Brandt with 2.73; 9. Gay Garcia with 2.67; and 10. Lori Strager with 2.46.  A well-earned round of applause for the top finishers!

SOMBA Zero Tolerance Policy

Zero Tolerance is taken seriously by SOMBA.  At tournaments you will see prominently displayed the banner “SOMBA will enforce ZTP.”  This is now an active project of SOMBA.  President Posh Gulati has written to our new District 12 director, Dennis Carman, and has asked that District 12 actively enforce ZTP.  Directors are being asked to enforce penalties even with first occurrences since we have publicly announced the policy, copies of the ACBL Policy for Tournaments are posted, and the banner is being prominently displayed.  We mean business.  Many thanks to Jim Phillips who has been helping with this program and had the banner prepared.

Valentine Sectional and Learn Bridge in a Day

Two of SOMBA’s early 2014 events are in the planning stages.  The opening SOMBA tournament of the year, the Valentine Sectional, will take place from February 13th through 16th.  SOMBA’s highly successful program, Learn Bridge in a Day, oriented to welcoming brand new bridge players into the world of duplicate bridge, will be presented again sometime in either March or April.  Details and planning for these two events will soon be completed.  Keep your eyes open for the flyers announcing these events.

Two Articles by Henry Shevitz

Dr. Henry Shevitz is a long-time contributor of bridge articles to SOMBA’s Echo and website.  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.

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!”

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.

Al Tushman (MichiganAl@Yahoo.com)

Click here for archived news columns:


eXTReMe Tracker