I knew we were back in Brighton the first time one of the players asked me what time the Midnight Speedball started!
You can always tell a bridge player: they can't count! I thought this when I read Bulletin 2: 'It all began 44 years ago.' The first Brighton congress was held in August, 1967 - only 11 years out! [Quite close, really. And who said editors have to be bridge players! Eds.] I was also a little hurt to be called John by one of the editors: apparently he thinks I look like John Pain!
John Dakin is a friend, and he would be the first to admit that he is sometimes a little light for his bids - well, a lot light. In fact he likes to psyche, but he was a bit annoyed by this hand:
So, what do you open? How about a little psyche, 1, the suit you do not want led? OK, 1 from partner, you rebid 2NT, and partner bids 3. Are you man or mouse? If you are a man you rebid 3NT, eschewing the 4-4 spade fit. You are well rewarded by the 5-0 spade break, and the fact that your 1 bid has stopped the diamond lead which beats 3NT. Fine effort!
Why was my friend John annoyed? Easy: he did not open 1: he was the player who failed to find the killing diamond lead. A case of the biter bit!
In the Open Pairs last Sunday there was an arrow switch round. "The sea is North," said the Director. "What's the C?" someone asked. "The wet bit outside the front door," said the Director, helpfully.
It has been great to see old friends, like Eitan Levy, the European TD from Israel. He bought some whisky in the duty-free shop on his way here, but for some reason we cannot find it now! His wife is Doreen, a cousin of Ali Bacher, the South African cricket supremo, but her bridge worries Eitan. Still he knew she was not here to play, so he asked her if she would like to play in Thursday's Mixed Pairs, confident she would say no.
"Of course, dear," said Doreen. "But I shall only play if you promise not to shout at me." At this point Eitan made his big mistake - he promised not to!
Nissan Rand was here for the European Seniors, another friend from Israel whom I first met at Lille for the World Championships, where he won the Seniors teams.
Fearghal O'Boyle, an Irish TD, was playing during the first Brighton weekend to see how we ran a Swiss Pairs. I understand they are going to introduce Swiss Pairs into a major event in the Irish Republic.
The midnight speedballs have been great fun. No rulings, keep the game going, 24 to 27 boards within an hour and a half, John Collings moaning how slow it was. Watching John Probst packing up his computer at the end was interesting: he had broken so many rubber bands he ran out - so I was interestedly watching him tying the ends of broken ones to make new ones!
My abiding memory of Brighton this year comes from another sport entirely - cricket. After a very late night on Thursday, finishing at the euphemistic "just gone two o'clock" when Directors go to bed, I decided to have a little nap on Friday afternoon - and missed the West Indies' second innings!