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Meet ...

Mike Amos

... Mike Amos, our resident Tournament Director

I've been playing bridge since I was about fifteen years old - over 35 years. Wow that's longer than I've been doing almost anything else I still manage regularly!, before I started drinking beer, before I drove a car and I'd only fallen in love three times.

We used to play Solo Whist in a school classroom on wet lunchtimes until one day a senior master (I even remember his nickname - "Tango" Fensum ) asked us what we were playing - on hearing that it was Solo he told us that bridge was a much better game.

We taught ourselves how to play from a book of card games by Hubert Phillips, I think it was, and so a lifelong obsession began. We didn't even know that there were such things as systems or signals and had only a foggy idea of the Laws. I vaguely remember a heated discussion in those early days about whether it was East or North that was dummy after a sequence that went something like:

West
North
East
South
1 NT
2
Pass
3NT
(At least we played clockwise unlike some other beginners I've heard of. That's one of those trick questions for trainee directors - where in the Law Book does it say that play should be clockwise?)

We played in a Schools Cup heat and would have qualified for the final if I'd remembered to draw the last trump in a 4 contract. (So began one of my lifelong claims to fame as the player who has gone off in more "cold" vulnerable games than any other - I think Victor Mollo was right when he advocated Monster Points rather than Master points. I'd be a Grand Monster 3 times over by now.)

And so to University and more bridge - not very serious bridge at that, lots of time that should have been spent studying, playing cards in the Common Room and around the university. Wasted opportunities in more ways than one I guess, because if I'd found my way into the London Bridge Clubs of the early seventies I might have improved my game. I remember a hand from this era, or at least the score; -1660.

Those of you who know these things will recognise 6x tick. My partner doubled and I knew this meant I had to make some sort of funny lead and so I did - on lead again after winning with the Ace I tried another funny and equally unsuccesful lead.
"Why did you double?" I asked.
"Why did you defend like a moron? A sensible action defeats it by 4 or 5 tricks"
And so it proved to be, team-mates had been doubled in 4 and been 3 light for -800 and 20 imps away when it could have been 12 imps in. This was the stuff of university bridge.

Blackwood is a convention I've always had trouble with. This modern RKCB where you've got to count up to 5 is way to hard for me. I recall that in those days we played an earlier version of Roman Blackwood probably advocated by Garozzo where 5 showed two Aces of the same rank, 5 two mixed Aces and 5NT two of the same colour.

I found this very hard to remember until one day walking along Earl's Court Road to the Young Chelsea (It was young then - I always want to call it the Middle-aged Chelsea these days and soon it will be Senior Citizen Chelsea) - a very large bright orange cement mixer passed as with RMC in huge letters on the side. I never again had difficulty with remembering the complex Italian system - Rank Mixed Colour. Ready Mixed Concrete Blackwood may not ever have been on many convention cards but it was on mine for a long time.

I retired from full-time teaching in 1998 and now concentrate on organising and running bridge events and teaching the game.

I run events for the English Bridge Union and, until its devolution, the British Bridge League. I now work for the new organisation, Bridge Great Britain, and, of course, for the World Bridge Federation checking the frequencies for the Simultaneous Pairs.

There are a number of ways that I can offer help to local bridge clubs. I could design and/or deliver a course of Improvers' lessons with practice sessions using predealt boards. I can prepare hands with hand records, curtain cards or commentary for competitions and provide ideas for special occasions such as club parties. I can provide help with training Club Tournament Directors and scorers.

If you'd like further information please contact me.