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.

SOMBA Springtacular Sectional
April 8th to 9th
Birmingham Unitarian Church,
Bloomfield Hills, MI

Click here for flyer
Wolverine Regional
Bridge Championships

May 9th  to May 15th
Costick Center,
Farmington Hills, MI

Click here for flyer
MBA/SOMBA Joint Sectional
June 23rd to 26th
Bridge Connection,
Southfield, MI

Click here for flyer
Summer North American
Bridge Championships

July 21st  to July 21st
Washington DC

Click here for website

Keeping You Informed
Tuesday, September 29, 2015

We're Back!
February 29 Update by Bill Landrum
About two weeks ago the District 12 web changed their web master and changed their web design.  During redesign of the web, it was brought down by the web hosting company, and many files were lost.  In particular, virtually all of the SOMBA web was wiped out by this event.

For several years the SOMBA web has actually been a subset of the District 12 web, and was buried deep within their web structure.  After this last design, it was recommended that we move the SOMBA web to our own web site.  Accordingly, we have moved to a separate website, and I have been able to get most of the old SOMBA portion of the web restored from my personal backups.

We would like to thank the District 12 web for hosting us for the past several years.  Their former web master, Alan Bau, was very helpful, and accommodated us in every reasonable way during that time.

You should be able to access our "new" web just the same as before.  You can navigate down through the District 12 web to us, or use one of our separate URLs:


Since I had to restore our web from backups, and since many links had to be changed, then it is probable that I overlooked something.  If you find any errors of that type, I would appreciate you sending me an email that notes the problem.

Bill Landrum, SOMBA Web Master, LandrumWm@comcast.net

Naresh Kapila Joins SOMBA Board
November 19 Update

Naresh is a mechanical engineer by profession who migrated to the US from India in 1969.  He retired after spending over 40 years in automotive industry at Hindustan Motors, GM and Bosch.  Along with his second wife they have eight grandchildren.  He loves to visit grandchildren on both coasts of the country.  He likes to travel and makes custom plans to various destinations including Antarctica.  He recently moved into a condominium so he can travel without worries.

Naresh learned to play bridge in 1960, while in college, using Goren's paperback book.  Most of his college friends living in Michigan still play the same old system and do not want to change to the current conventions.  He joined the ACBL five years ago and started playing regularly in clubs and tournaments.  He has been to a few of the nationals to get humiliated by the competition!

He is looking forward to being a part of the SOMBA team and in helping sustain bridge for the future.

Lakshmi Vora Joins SOMBA Board
October 11 Update

SOMBA welcomes Lakshmi Vora to its board. Lakshmi has a master’s degree in Electrical Engineering and an MBA in finance.  She has spent her professional career with GM and Ford, a period spanning over 40 years.  She is an avid reader, enjoys walking and doing yoga, loves to cook and looks forward to spending time with her family and friends and especially her four grandchildren.  That is, when she is not playing bridge!

Lakshmi likes to call a spade a spade, has no love for diamonds or clubs, knowing how minor they are in life, and knows how hearts are helpful when you are vulnerable.  Taking life seriously is not in the cards for her!  The only thing she is serious about is learning to play BRIDGE!

As a member of the SOMBA team, she looks forward to building bridges with many and especially getting the younger generation interested in the game.

Joint SOMBA-MBA Membership Directory Now Online
by Bill Landrum

The Joint SOMBA-MBA Membership Directory is now available online. All members of the SOMBA and MBA units have their names in the directory. However, only the people who filled out and signed a form have the additional information posted of one or two phone numbers and/or email address.

You can access the directory from this website where you choose "Member Directory" from the main menu, or from the District 12 website, www.district12bridge.org, where you choose "Member Directories" from the main menu.

The directory can be accessed only by our membership—by computer, tablet, or smart phone. It is very fast and responds to queries within one second. 32% of our members have chosen to have their data in the directory now, and we expect that number to grow as members learn how safe and useful it is.

If you are a SOMBA or MBA member and want to have your name, telephone number(s), or email address added to this directory for others to be able to access, you need to fill out a form. You can click here for the form. Please sign it and date it, and then see that it gets delivered to Shelley Boschan or Posh Gulati—either in person or by mail or by emailing them a scanned version of the signed form. A phone call will not be enough. We must have a completed form in writing to protect your privacy and to meet ACBL regulations.

Although I took care of the technical aspects of building the database and writing the web programs, Shelley Boschan and Marilyn Nathanson labored many hours collecting information and entering the data. Several other people made significant contributions along the way. The Michigan Bridge Connection provided significant help in collecting and storing forms for us at various points.

Two New Members on SOMBA Board

The SOMBA board has recently lost two long-time hard working volunteers.  Both Marilyn Lindow and Betty Anderson have recently left the board. Marilyn has relocated to Naples, Florida and Betty has asked to be replaced.  Our thanks go to both of them for their many contributions to our board and the bridge community.

Two individuals have been named to replace Marilyn and Betty.  The individuals are Janis James-Rubin and Lori Briscoe who were runners-up in the last SOMBA board election.

Janis James-Rubin was a registered nurse before returning to school to get an undergraduate degree in business, then an MBA.  Most recently she was a hospital administrator for University Hospitals in Cleveland, Ohio.  When she and her family moved to Birmingham she was able to fill her days with great competitive bridge.  She feels that she has learned so much from so many in the past several years that she would like to do what she can to "pay it forward."  In addition to bridge, she enjoys golf, travel, and gardening.

Lori Briscoe’s background was in special education.  For several years now she has volunteered her home for bridge lessons and study groups.  She has also contributed to our sectional and regional tournaments.  Lori is very interested in encouraging people to learn and enjoy bridge.  She prides herself on thinking outside the box, organizing events, and getting along with others in a group setting.  She took her first bridge class in 2006 and achieved the rank of Life Masters in 2013.

Vickie Vallone—Recent BBOer Story

Our own Vickie Vallone was recently the subject of a wonderful story which appeared on Bridge Base Online.  Every so often BBO does a feature story on a regular BBO player.  This story is in the form of an interview and contains nice vignettes regarding bridge, family, and her bridge club.  The article also contains some great pictures.  You can find Vickie playing on BBO by looking for her handle, VickieAnn.  You can access the story by clicking on this link.

Bridge and Bill Melander Featured in AARP Bulletin

The March issue of the AARP Bulletin contained a very nice article on Bridge. A nd who should be featured in the article?  None other than local bridge Grand Life Master Leonard (a/k/a Bill, a/k/a Doc) Melander.  Bill is a regular player at the Michigan Bridge Connection, local tournaments and at least one or two national tournaments each year.  In addition to accumulating more than 10,000 masterpoints, Bill has won two national championships.  In 2007, at age 82, Melander became the oldest player to win a U.S. national duplicate bridge championship.  He accomplished this in San Francisco.  Now deceased local player Rick Kaye was one of his teammates.  He won another championship, in the senior division, four years later.

The article contains some nice material on the history of the game, the ACBL, the social aspects of the game, and the mental and physical health benefits of the mental gymnastics involved in playing the game of bridge. Here is the link to the article as it appeared on the ACBL website.


Table Manners
by Dave Fletcher

My parents taught me that manners are an important part of who we are and how we are perceived.  Thank you and you are welcome were early lessons as were proper use of napkins and utensils.  Although somewhat unrelated I believe that etiquette and manners are just as important at the bridge table. 

Some of my suggestions include:

1) Be FriendlyWhen meeting your opponents at the table, smile and welcome them.  Don’t be too busy discussing that last misplayed hand to say hello.

2) Introduce YourselvesIf you are new to the club or you don’t recognize your opponents, introduce yourself and share a brief chit-chat about  weather, home town, etc

3) Don't Woulda-Coulda-ShouldaMany times no one knows better than the person who erred that they made a mistake and if they don’tignorance is probably bliss.  They most likely do not appreciate you pointing out their errors.

4) Don't TeachGood bridge lessons cost money so don’t be giving free lessons at the table.  Most players have a set of conventions they are comfortable with.  You do not need to point out the multitude of other ways they could have bid or played the hand.

5) Remember the Standard StuffGet used to saying hello, good luck, nice play, and of course Please and Thank You.  Bridge is a game and a social event.  Enjoy yourself and have a good time, but at the same moment make it a positive experience for those around you.

Presidential Ponderings
by Dave Fletcher

I just can’t believe the summer is over as are our Tigers.  But football is upon us and all our teams are starting out fresh. GO LIONS!

It has been a busy bridge summer with the June Joint SOMBA/MBA Sectional and the MBA Russell Roosen Sectional in August.  This fall I am looking forward to the SOMBA Spooktacular Sectional and the MBA Motor City Regional in October as well as the November SOMBA Apple Cider Sectional.

I am really excited to tell you about the many new ideas that our membership committee headed by Jim Phillips will be implementing soon.  We will be adding novice games/mentorship programs and educational programs with an all-out push to bring in new players and to bring existing but dormant members to our tables.  You soon will be given an opportunity to help, from being as involved as a mentor to just bringing one of your Saturday night bridge friends to a duplicate game.  Please step up and help encourage others to play this great game of ours.

Your ideas and suggestions are always welcome.  Please speak to any of our board members and share your thoughts.

May your days be blessed with a plethora of nine-card trump suits.

Top Apple Cider Sectional Masterpoint Winners
December 1 Update
SOMBA congratulates the top 20 masterpoint winners in the recently held Apple Cider Sectional:
1 40.00 Sheldon Kirsch
2 32.61 Michael D Alioto
3 27.56 Bert Newman
4 27.47 Jonathan Fleischmann
5 25.09 Michael Crane
6 22.11 Jack Shartsis
7 20.97 Morrie Kleinplatz
8 20.67 Bob Webber
9 20.18 James Smyth
10 19.65 Margaret Moore
11 18.22 Georgene Cronin
12 18.19 Dennis Carman
13 18.19 John Koschik
14 17.54 Brenda Bryant
15 17.40 Kurt Dasher
16 16.15 Alan Cohn
17 15.59 Steven Shumer
18 15.32 Grant Petersen
19 15.10 William Winokur
20 14.58 Bob Ondo

SOMBA Director Emeritus - Dave Buskirk
by Tai Chan
As a plant engineer in General Motors and later as director of GM’s Environmental Activity Staff in the regulatory-intense decades of 1970-80s, Dave Buskirk had to deal with demands from the newly-formed EPA and OSHA, pushy plant managers, and unreasonable union reps on a daily basis. After 35 years with GM, his second career as ACBL director was simply more stimulating, satisfying, and silky smooth. For more than three decades, Dave and Judy have directed weekly games in Oakland County, and as bridge directors on many cruise ships. They played a formidable yet friendly game, and are truly LIFE masters in more ways than one. Dave has been a selfless mentor to many of his colleagues, the SOMBA Board and friends in life and in bridge. Last year, Dave celebrated his 83rd birthday and he and Judy’s 50th wedding anniversary.

Dave and Judy taught their 8-yr old grandson Zachary the game. Today, Zach Wasserman has matured to be a silver life master at 26. Good genes and great grandparents is always a winning combination! If there is ever a grandpa/grandson pair event, they would be the seeded pair to beat. Zach wrote, “Grandpa Dave has been an inspiration and exceptional role model in virtually every aspect of life, and bridge is no exception. He taught me the game as much as humanly possible from the time I was old enough to hold a deck of cards with nothing but patience and love. Bridge for me today has become a passion of mine and has created so many opportunities to challenge my mind, compete at the national level, travel all over the country, and make wonderful friends. He has truly given me a gift that will last a lifetime."

Another disciple of Dave, Vicki Vallone wrote, “Dave is my mentor. He is my friend. Many years ago I asked Dave to help prepare me for the ACBL director’s test. He did that and so much more. He helped me understand that my players are the key to success. You need to learn the laws but your players will keep coming back if they are treated as you would your friends. Make them comfortable, treat them with respect and kindness, and let them know they are missed when not there. This is Dave Buskirk, the kind and gentle director.”

Dave is known to bring gifts to his annual holiday party as rewards during the game for taking a trick with the deuce of clubs, one-eyed jacks, making a redoubled contract and other unique plays. He would also share one or two of his humorous bridge stories to celebrate the holidays before heading down to Florida for the winter.

In recognition of Dave Buskirk’s distinguished service to ACBL Unit 203 and unswerving dedication to the game, SOMBA has honored Dave with the title “Director Emeritus” In honor of Dave and Judy, SOMBA hosted a dinner party at the Bridge Connection prior to the Apple Cider Sectional this past November.

Dave, congratulations on your lifetime achievements!

Al Tushman (MichiganAl@Yahoo.com)

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