Who Runs Our Fun, Friendly Bridge Games?
Chuck Abramo (from left), Jo Murray, Jim Churchill, Susan Larson & Gary Kuckcinski. Photos by Becky Smith
January, 2020
"The director is a luxury to keep you from having to argue with your friends."

That was the message when we took a three-day seminar on becoming bridge directors in San Diego back in 2009. It's important to realize that calling a director when there's an irregularity at the table is in no way punitive; it's a much nicer alternative than debating the next steps with your friends. In this newsletter, we thought you'd like to learn a bit more about our directors.
-- Chuck Abramo and Jo Murray
When to Double 1 NT for Penalty
You have a lovely balanced hand with 16-17 HCP, and you're all set to open 1 NT. Then your right-hand opponents bids 1 NT. Double for penalty. Even if declarer can reach the board, he is likely to lose every finesse to you, Your side is unlikely to have enough points for game. You'll do much better with a penalty double than trying for partscure. (Note: In some conventions, a double of a 1 NT opening has a special meaning. They must be alerted.)
How Would You Bid This Hand?
* * *
This is from the recent regional tournament at Rancho Mirage, California. Surprisingly, only 3 of 9 tables in our section reached the right contact.
See the answer here.
Polish Your Bidding at Online Lessons
Chuck Abramo will share hands that are challenging to bid and play, as requested by our students, in January. (Jo Murray will be away on a bridge cruise, picking up tips to bring back and share.) All lessons are from 9-10:30 a.m. Mountain.

  • Jan. 13 - Chuck's Challenging Hands, Part 2
  • Jan. 20 - Chuck's Challenging Hands, Part 3
  • Jan. 27 - Chuck's Challenging Hands, Part 4

Example of What You'll Learn : When to Open Marginal Hands and How to Play Them.

Let us know if you would like to join the lessons.

Private lessons, online and in person, are always available.
Chuck's Corner
Test your skills. Here's the best bidding and a video on how to play the hand.
Congratulations to Jeanne Wright, who celebrated her first masterpoint with a carrot cake.
"Lefty, Hefty"
Looking for a lead in the middle of the hand? Try this ditty: "When the dummy's on the left, lead through heft. When the dummy's on the right, lead the weakest thing in sight." Or it may be easier to remember the shorter version: "Lefty, hefty. Righty, lighty."
What It Takes to Become a Director
 Here's to the people who help keep Sun Valley Bridge running smoothly! Jim Churchill and Gary Kuchcinski as well as Chuck and Jo , are certified as directors by the American Contract Bridge League. Susan Larson is a welcoming presence at the registration desk, and on her way to becoming a director.

Having a certified director is a requirement for awarding masterpoints. Our directors estimate that they studied for 40 to 60 hours, pouring over the 93 sections of The Laws of Duplicate Bridge, before taking the written test. The test is not timed; ACBL estimates that the average time for completion is three hours.
Chuck Abramo
When did you start playing bridge and why? 2004. I met Jo Murray, now my partner in life and bridge, and we needed an activity her mother would enjoy. Fran Meyers agreed to be the fourth. I got hooked.
When did you become a director? 2009
What was your profession in a past life? Computer engineer and consultant for 40 years, going back to the days of water-cooled mainframes.
When did you move here? 2005. Previously lived in New York City, Las Vegas and Boise.
What are you doing when you aren't playing bridge? Inventing gadgets and spending time with my 100-pound Anatolian shepherd.
Chuck also is club manager, an ACBL-certified teacher and a life master.
Jim Churchill
When did you start playing bridge and why? In college. I played party bridge sporadically with my dad and sometimes with other friends. It wasn’t till I moved here 9 years ago and took Jo Murray's beginning class that I got serious about it. I needed something to do in retirement and liked the competitive aspect of duplicate bridge games. 
When did you become a director? 2013
What was your profession in a past life? I was a teacher in the Seattle area. I taught everything from 4th grade to high school math. 
When did you move here? I moved to Central Oregon in 2001 and then to Sun Valley in 2010. My first visit to Sun Valley was in 1952.
What are you doing when you aren't playing bridge? Skiing and pickleball.
Gary Kuchcinski
When did you start playing bridge and why? 1972. It was competitive and challenging. Then I took a 40-year hiatus until 2015 when my wife, Susan Larson, started taking bridge lessons.
When did you become a director? 2019
What was your profession in a past life? Chemical engineer. I still take special assignments, most recently at a coal gasification power plant in Japan. I've also been a tour bus driver in Glacier National Park and scuba diving instructor in Aruba.
When did you move here? 2014 from Mountain View, California.
What are you doing when you aren't playing bridge? Skiing, pickleball, fly fishing or tennis.
Jo Murray
When did you start playing bridge and why? In the 7th grade when there was an after-school class in Hickory, N.C. I've played off and on - with some gaps of more than 10 years - since.
When did you become a director? 2009
What was your profession in a past life? Newspaper reporter, editorial page editor and media relations consultant,
When did you move here? Full-time in 2002; part-time since 1996. Previously in San Francisco.
What are you doing when you aren't playing bridge? I still work in media relations.
Jo also is an ACBL-certified teacher and a silver life master.
Susan Larson
When did you start playing bridge and why? 2015. My husband, Gary Kuchcinksi, had played in college and I thought it would be fun to play together.
When did you become a director? I've put in about 40 hours studying, and I'm still not ready to take the test..
What was your profession in a past life? Elementary school teacher, computer teacher, Internet software executive.
When did you move here? I first moved here in 1978, coming from California to be an elementary school teacher. I went back to California to work in Internet software for 15 years, and returned here to retire in 2014.
What are you doing when you aren't playing bridge? Pickleball, skiing and golf.
Learn more about our directors in Eye on Sun Valley.
Our annual party and fundraiser for the Y will be Wednesday, Feb. 26.

Bring an appetizer to share and donate whatever you can to help the YMCA's community programs.
Thank you to our bridge players and wine donors, Ned Lumpkin of  Lazy River Vineyard   and Frank Ward of  Utopia Vineyard .
Higher Masterpoint Limits Go Into Effect
Players with up to 750 masterpoints are now eligible to earn masterpoints at Sun Valley Bridge. This is in keeping with recent changes in stratification at ACBL tournaments. We will have three categories:
* Flight C - 0-49 masterpoints
* Flight B - 50 - 200 masterpoints
* Flight C - 201 to 749 masterpoints
Game Schedule
Wednesdays, 2:45-5:30 p.m.
Fridays, 2:45-5:30 p.m.
Reservations required: Signup@weeklybridge.com
North American Bridge Championships, San Francisco
Judy Baer
Jim Churchill
Dianne Giancarlo
Pam Mann
Linda Parsons
Christiane Turner
Click here for details and December winners at other tournaments and at Sun Valley Bridge Club games.
Sun Valley Bridge