Meet Your Virtual Friends
August 2020
When we started giving online bridge lessons, we never suspected that improving our geography would be an extra benefit.

Among the facts we’ve learned from our online players:
  • Chumico is a beach resort in Panama. It’s also the BBO name of Mitzi Miller, who lives in Panama City, Panama.
  • The Siwalik Hills stretch about 2,400 miles across northern India and were the childhood home of Sanjiv Kapur, now in Washington, DC. Siwalik75 is his BBO name.
  • Criccieth is a seaside resort in Wale, where Allen Jones’ grandparents lived. It’s also Allen’s BBO name.
  •  PTYgal is the airport code for Panama City, Panama. PTYGal is the BBO name of Betty Brannan Berger, who lives in Panama City. Many of us initially wondered whether her screen name stood for Pretty Gal or Party Gal. She admits to being a party gal; she says she’ll leave it up to others to decide if she’s a pretty gal. We think she is.

One of the key goals of our virtual games is to foster a sense of community. We think you’ll enjoy learning more about some of our far-flung members in the stories below.
Do You Know These
Guidelines on Preempts?
  • Never preempt if you have a 4-card major. You don't want to miss a major suit fit.
  • Never preempt if you have a void. Your hand is too powerful.
  • Never preempt if you can't describe your hand in one bid. Don't bid again after you preempt unless partner makes a forcing bid.
You can learn more about preempts - yours and your opponents' -- in our upcoming lessons.
Learn More About Preempts, Really Big Hands
"Taking bridge lessons online with you is the only good thing to come out of the COVID-19 disaster."
--Online student Janine Florence

Here are upcoming topics:
  • Responding to Partner's Preempt
  • Coping with Opponent's Preempts
  • Minor Suit Transfers - Is Your Minor Strong or Weak?
  • Bidding Really Big Hands

Our defense series will resume on Fridays on Aug. 28.

Please join us. You'll find complete details at
Is Your Bid Forcing?
Try Marty Bergen's Test
Marty Bergen, 10 times national champion, ACBL Bridge Bulletin columnist, and author of Points Schmoints! and many other books, has a self-graded test for Sun Valley Bridge players. Click here to find out how your knowledge stacks up.

"Pandemic" Special Continues
Marty also is continuing his "pandemic special" for Sun Valley Bridge Club players. Marty thinks of himself first and foremost as a teacher, and our students know how often we quote him. You'll receive a significant discount when you buy 5 or more lessons. Click here for more details; click here to order. We have three players who have purchased all 50 lessons!

Even better offer: Two people may pool their orders to get the discounted pricing. Call Marty at (800) 386-7432; the website is not set up for pooled orders.
Chumico from Panama
You may have met Mitzi Miller during past years at a Sun Valley Bridge game or on the golf course. She and her husband have been summer visitors for almost 30 years.

Why Sun Valley ?“We stopped in Sun Valley on our way to Montana, and fell in love with it.”

Mitzi started playing bridge in Panama about six years with a group she helped organize. She was born and raised in Panama. Her father had immigrated from New York to Panama, where he met her mother. She went to school in Switzerland and UCLA, and has also lived and worked in Mexico, Brazil and the United States. Her career has been in banking and real estate. Her husband, Ted, an ex-banker, runs the family office for one of the largest groups in Latin America.

The pandemic has kept Mitzi in Panama this summer, but we feel like we’ve gotten to know her even better. Her BBO name is Chumico, the name of a beach resort in Panama.

Photos: Top of newsletter: Mitzi in her home in Panama. Top left of this article: Mitzi and her husband, Ted, in Wild Horse Canyon near Sun Valley.
PTYGal from Panama
Betty Brannan Berger is the second Panamanian to join the Sun Valley Bridge Club. Like Mitzi, she has a Panamanian mother and an American father. Betty’s mother went to school in New York City where she met Betty’s father. The family lived in Boston until Betty was 8, and then moved to Panama. Betty returned to the U.S. for college and law school, and also married an American.

Betty was a public defender in New Jersey before moving to Paris where her husband’s engineering company had an assignment. They moved to Washington, D.C., in 1985 and Betty went into journalism, covering Washington for the largest newspaper in Panama. She returned to Panama in 2015 after her husband’s death.

She and her husband had played bridge for years. When she started taking classes in Panama with Mitzi, a childhood friend, the instructor told Betty she was “old-school.” “I didn’t even know there was a new school,” Betty recalled. Aside from playing bridge, she has been involved in the founding of a human rights museum in Panama.

Betty left this weekend for New York, where she will stay through the holidays with her oldest daughter and grandchildren.
We asked Betty, Mitzi, Suzy and Nancy for scenes of their surroundings -- all quite different from Sun Valley
Photos: Above, Betty Brannan Berger. Left: Betty's beach home on an island outside of Panama City, Panama.
Vermont Maple Sugar Farm: VTSCAT and SHDVT
While our Panama players were enjoying the warm spring sun, Suzy Donavan and her sister-in-law Nancy Donavan were tapping maple trees.

Suzy, a retired reading teacher, grew up in Honolulu, where her grandfather, a Canadian doctor, had moved in the 1890s.

“When I was ready to go to college, my father said I had to go east of the Rockies or I might as well stay home. I knew two brothers at the University of Vermont and applied on a whim. I was so cold the first fall. Everyone laughed at me and said, ‘just wait.’ By the time winter rolled around, I was fine. I met my husband, Mark, during my senior year, and the rest is history.”

She learned to play bridge in college, and remembers “epic games” during exams.

Suzy and Mark first came to Sun Valley to visit Mark’s roommate, who has had a condo here sine the 80s. Suzy and Mark have been regular winter visitors since 2014.

Nancy Donavan is a retired physician, who moved to Bennington in 1982 to join a family practice group. She met her husband, Peter, who was with his father’s insurance agency there.

“I grew up on a South Jersey farm and playing cards, including bridge, was something the family did on rainy days. I didn’t play bridge in school or the
...continued below photos
Photos: Top of newsletter; Suzy and Mark Donavan at the sugar house boiler. Top of this article: Nancy Donavan. Immediately above: Scenes of the property.
Donavans ... continued
early years of my practice. Then Suzy and I took a class about 15 years ago. When we both retired, we started playing in club events and now we’re hooked.”

“Sugaring started long ago as a way to get out of the house and into the woods after the winter. The trees are on our property, but Mark & Suzy have been critical for the program. After gathering the sap we sit around the boiler, drink wine/beer/soda, and eat hot dogs boiled in the sap. I have wonderful memories of evenings spent in the sugar house. The sugaring has been taken over by our nephew, using our trees, and we help when we’re in town, but we’re no longer part of the driving force."

She and her husband now winter on the South Carolina coast, although Vermont is their home. You may have “seen” Nancy in our online lessons or games, but she has only been to Sun Valley once when she attended a medical conference here about 30 years ago.
Criccieth, Wales
Allen Jones uses the BBO name of Criccieth, a small town on the coast of North Wales where his grandparents lived. "It even has its own castle!" Allen said.

"By the way, in Wales it seems as if almost everyone is named Jones. My grandfather Morris Jones married Myfanwy Jones and she didn't even have to change her last name."
Thank You, Kathleen,
SV Bridge player Kathleen Phelan Britt donated $10,000 to the City of Ketchum for the purchase of 3,000 face masks, distributed for free at City Hall and the Community Library.
Siwalik Hills & Rudyard Kipling Stories
Sanjiv Kapur, BBO: Siwalik75 and an online student, grew up in the Siwalik Hills of India, the stretch of mountains that borders the Himalayas and Mt. Everest.

His father traveled constantly as a doctor in the Indian Army, so Ranjiv started boarding school at the age of 6. He was enrolled at Sanawar, founded in 1847 and believed to be the oldest co-educational boarding school in the world.

Rudyard Kipling fans will remember the line from his novel Kim: "It's miraculous beyond all whooping. ... We'll make a man of you at Sanawar."

Martina Bradford introduced Sanjiv to our online classes, and we hope you'll get to meet him in an online game soon.

Photo above: Sanawar coat of arms
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Fridays, 3 p.m.
Please register by 2:30 p.m.
Masterpoint Winners
Check here to see who placed in our July and August games
to date.