Show cover of The Setting Trick: Conversations with World Class Bridge Players

The Setting Trick: Conversations with World Class Bridge Players

Hi, my name is John McAllister. I have spent the past six years playing bridge all around the world. My goal is to win a world championship. Doing so requires getting into the minds of the world's best players. I can not think of a better, more fun way to do so, than to interview great bridge players and share their insights in podcast format.

Tracks

Ep. 77 - You Want Aaron “Silversetin” to Be Your Bridge Mentor
Today, my guest is in-demand tournament player, winner of one of Bridge’s crown jewels, the 2022 Vanderbilt, club owner, multiple club owner, and Junior Bridge mentor extraordinaire, Aaron Silverstein. Aaron played in the first ever Junior World Championships in 1987, and his daughter, Avery, playing on a team that he mentored, won a silver medal in the 2023 Junior World Championships. See just how much has changed when it comes to Junior Bridge.  Getting Aaron’s perspective as a club owner was really insightful for me, and I think you’ll be surprised at who Aaron wants to partner when he plays in one of his own club games.  Finally, Aaron is very candid about what it’s like to have his main tournament partner win a mixed world championship without him, and playing in tournaments at the highest level, and I think provides some great insight into how to think about your own partnership and teammates.  
93:00 6/17/24
Ep. 76: Simon de Wijs – Bridge's Vault Keeps all Secrets
My guest is Simon de Wijs from the Netherlands. Simon has a great bridge resume. He has won the Bermuda Bowl, the Olympiad, the mixed World Championship, and multiple European championships. He is a mainstay on the Dutch national team, always one of the favorites in open competition. At the recent Louisville NABC, Simon showed up with his twin 19-year-old daughters, who are budding experts. Find out how his relationship with them has changed since they got the bridge bug (by the way they made the Dutch mixed team for the upcoming European championships). Recently at the NABCs, Simon has been playing on the Goodman team. They are one of the hottest teams in the world, having made it to the semifinals of the last two Vanderbilts and the last Soloway.   
75:29 5/29/24
Ep. 75 - Brian Platnick - Can Tell You if You're a World Class Bridge Player
Today my guest is Brian Platnick. He’s a world champion (1991 World Junior Teams and 2010 Rosenblum Cup) with six NABC+ titles, including two Spingold wins (2010, 2017) and a victory in the Blue Ribbon Pairs (2012). Brian is a perfect example of what inspires this podcast: the opportunity to have longer-form conversations with fascinating bridge players. The genesis for this episode was getting eliminated from the United States Bridge Championships, by Brian’s team, for the second year in a row. I had too much fun talking with Brian and wasn’t focused enough on winning! If you've ever wondered if you're a world-class player, Brian has a formula for deciding (Hint, I’m not.) He also speaks candidly about where he sees himself amongst some of the best in the game.  We talk about EDGAR (Everyone Deserves a Game Above Reproach), the anti-cheating software that he and Franco Baseggio have created that is now in use, testing an incredible number of online deals. Anyone who likes hearing me laugh will greatly enjoy this episode. Brian kept cracking me up!
80:28 5/20/24
Ep 74: Event Review with Sophia Baldysz
Today, we're debuting a new format called Event Review, where my partner and I get together and discuss some of the most amusing incidents and some of the best and worst plays from a recent event. It's going to be shorter than my typical long-form interview and also, hopefully, just kind of fun.  I'm speaking with my partner for the District 6 Grand National Teams Qualifying sessions, Sophia Baldysz, a champion player from Poland with many medals in world events, and also my teammate from the 2023 NABC+ Mixed Swiss.
24:00 3/14/24
Ep 73 Rise and Fly! Lamont Jones and The Gist of Bid Whist
Episode 73: Rise and Fly! Lamont Jones and The Gist of Bid Whist   Normally, this is a Bridge podcast, but today my guest is Bid Whist evangelist Lamont Jones. Lamont recently published the book called The Gist of Bid Whist culminating a project he began in earnest in 2012. He's on a mission to share his love for Bid Whist with a wider audience. If you've ever been curious about Bid Whist, as I have been recently, Lamont and I go through a lot of the differences as well as the similarities between Bid Whist and Bridge. One of the things we don't have in Bridge is trash talk, and that seems to be a huge part of the Bid Whist culture. Whether it's trash-talking about taking your opponents to Boston or telling them to rise and fly, I definitely think Bid Whist has Bridge beat when it comes to talking smack. I could not believe when I read in The Gist of Bid Whist that none other than Bob Hamman said, "Bid Whist is more complex than Bridge." My question to you as a listener, is that a good thing? Overall I've just found Lamont to be a super positive, delightful person, and I'll hope you enjoy engaging with him as I did.  
60:11 3/9/24
Ep 72: John Got Hired!
John shares his experience of being hired to play bridge professionally for the first time. He talks about meeting and playing with a new partner and the challenges they faced. He also discusses the pressure and self-consciousness he felt as a bridge pro and how he overcame it to improve his performance and gain confidence.
11:15 3/6/24
Ep 71 Morten Bilde: Introducing the Card Game Bridge to Young People
Today’s guest is Denmark's Morten Bilde. In addition to being a world-class bridge player with a win and a second in the U.S. Vanderbilt, Morten left his day job in 2015 to focus on getting bridge in the schools in Denmark. Stay tuned to find out why Morten says that's the best job he's ever had, as well as what the challenges are in that undertaking. Morten and his wife, Dorte met through bridge and their son, Dennis, is a real bridge superstar. The three of them teamed up at the recent Icelandic Bridge Festival and won the team event for both the festival and the World Bridge Tour event, which preceded it. Those of you with children might be interested to learn how Morten approached teaching Dennis the game. If you've got a passion for introducing youth to bridge like I do, then Morten is your guy. He's happy to answer any of your questions, and he gives his email address towards the end of our conversation. Please enjoy my conversation with Morten Bilde.   
71:50 2/29/24
Ep 70 Matthew Brown: High Compatibility in the Card Game Bridge
My guest today is Matthew Brown. Matt has been my partner for the last two North American Bridge Championships and for the upcoming March NABC in Louisville. Matt’s partnership with Michael Whibley on team New Zealand has pulled off some big time wins and upsets. Stay tuned to hear how they went from zero to being one of the best pairs in the world. As his partner, I’m happy to put down the dummy for Matt to play. As his teammate, I’m delighted for him to be playing a difficult contract. See if you can see why I think our temperaments are quite different.  
77:54 2/14/24
69 John Solo - This is the Song About Bridge
Ever wonder about the theme music that accompanies The Setting Trick and Double Dummy? Listen to this bonus episode, the first of John telling stories about the genesis of his bridge media. 
09:11 1/18/24
68 Game On – The Card Game Bridge Needs More People Like Steve Raine
The Setting Trick Episode 68 Game On – The Card Game Bridge Needs More People Like Steve Raine John McAllister talks with Steve Raine, a bridge player, vlogger and gaming café owner who lives in Nottingham, England. His video blogs about attending bridge tournaments and subsequent board review have earned him fans across the globe. You’re going to want to stick around to hear the new end-of-show question as suggested by Steve’s partner at the Atlanta NABC, Adam Hickman, aka Gizzy. We’re planning on making it a staple of the show going forward. Listen to Steve’s surprising and inspiring answer. Hint: it wasn’t about himself!
92:18 1/6/24
67 Bonnie Gellas - The Beginners Bridge Teacher
The North American Bridge Championships are truly an experience that brings people together. Walt Shafer, who runs an eponymous, invitation-only game online, hosted a party for the participants at the Atlanta NABC. John, who plays in the game, attended and met Bonnie Gellas, who was there because her partner, Erez Hendelman, plays in the game. The two hit it off and now Bonnie, who is a bridge teacher, is a guest on the show.  Bonnie lives in NYC and is responsible for teaching bridge to hundreds of players.   
61:45 12/15/23
66 Alex Kolesnik: Bridge Dad +
Alex Kolesnik: Bridge Dad + Move over, Soccer Moms, there’s a new game in town. Alex Kolesnik and his wife, Sharon Beynon, are California-based professors who play bridge. Somehow, they got both of their children interested in playing bridge too. Now ages 25 and 19, Emma and Finn are top-ranked players. Alex, a Platinum Life Master, describes his journey as a husband, professor, player and father, encouraging his kids in all their endeavors, maintaining balance and keeping perspective.   
85:54 12/12/23
65 Nathan Gong - A Junior Ambassador for New Bridge Players
The Setting Trick Episode 65: Nathan Gong – A Junior Ambassador for New Bridge Players Seattle-area teenager Nathan Gong has distinguished himself as an excellent bridge player at regionals, NABCs, and, this summer, his first World Youth Championships. He’s also getting noticed as a teacher, having started bridge clubs in middle and high school. With his family and the support of the bridge-playing community, Nathan has helped to teach and mentor a group of kids – and even get some of their parents to learn bridge.  
80:01 10/27/23
Amber Lin - Bridge's Wonder Woman Part 2
The show producer has not yet provided a description for this episode.
57:54 9/30/23
64 Amber Lin - Bridge's Wonder Woman
Amber Lin has already achieved a lifetime of success at age 26. A national champion and two-time world champion medalist (including gold in Morocco just a few weeks ago), Amber has found the time to develop as a bridge player, mentor and coach others, intern with the ACBL Educational Foundation, and work full-time as an energy consultant at Bain & Company. Listen to Amber’s amazing trajectory via the USBF Junior Training Program and the benefits of mentorship and learning together with friends.    
29:58 9/28/23
63 Katie Sullivan is not pumping the brakes
TST Episode 63: Katie Sullivan is not pumping the brakes   Katie Sullivan, as a second-year student at the University of Virginia, has infused her love of bridge with her college experience, starting an officially recognized student organization and recruiting other college kids into competitive bridge. Hear about her meteoric rise in the game and her plans for UVA world domination.  3:47 “Chalk it up” – how creative marketing got Katie needed contacts to create a bridge club. 10:50 Obtaining CIO status and how the club fair was a game-changer. 12:26 Trumpet players and bridge. Who knew? 17:09 Hoos Playing Bridge on Instagram. 18:50 Trying to teach the fundamentals, struggling with supplies. Creating slide presentations. 28:21 A shout-out to any UVA alumni who might want to help. Many students have branched out to playing sanctioned events at clubs. Katie is proud. 32:51 Katie, in her first year of college at Amherst, meets Michael Xu. 38:41 Recovering from a painful misbid by partner. 49:06 After success at the World Youth Teams Championships, Katie plans to get “seriously serious.” 53:40 Loving the postmortem. 1:05 Katie encourages all youth bridge players to plan on attending UVA when it’s time for college. Katie’s article on Bridge Winners about starting a bridge club at college. Hoos Playing Bridge on Instagram. Katie’s first BW post: a love letter. Katie in the New Orleans NABC Daily Bulletin. Like cards? Play bridge!  
68:03 9/14/23
61 Sartaj Hans Keeps Getting Better at Bridge
The Setting Trick Episode 61: Sartaj Hans Keeps Getting Better This week's guest is many-time Australian national champion Sartaj Hans. Originally from India, Sartaj has several high finishes in NABC events, including making the semifinal of the recent Spingold Knockout Teams in Chicago, where he played four-handed with partner Andy Hung and teammates Nabil Edgtton and Michael Whibley.  John had his first big knockout match win in the 2014 Spingold teaming with Sartaj to beat the then 7th- seeded Cayne team. Sartaj’s book, Battling the Best, won the 2107 IBPA Book of the Year award. He also won the declarer play of the year in 2019. On top of all that, he has a successful career and is married to fellow tournament bridge player Sophie Ashton; they have two young daughters. Sartaj discusses the psychology of bridge and how belief can make you a better player. The need for developing a way to categorize bridge mistakes because bridge problems have so much variance. Why postmortems are “rubbish.” Sartaj hits upon a hot-button issue: playing top-level events on computers. A couple of book recommendations from Sartaj. Sartaj’s belief that focusing too much on system in a casual partnership is not effective. In bridge, everyone has a chance to win.  Working on improving and how even experts have coaches and mentors. Finally, Sartaj philosophizes on enjoying the process.   Read Sartaj’s post on Bridge Winners about playing on tablets: https://bridgewinners.com/article/view/the-case-for-tablets/   Sartaj Hans’ book, Battling the Best: https://www.baronbarclay.com/battling-the-best/   Sartaj Hans wins Declarer Play of the Year: https://www.abf.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/2020_IBPA_Declarer_Play_of_the_Year.pdf  
87:19 8/15/23
60 The-Setting-Trick---Tom-Hanlon---Irish-Swordsman---MIXED
This week's episode of the Setting Trick podcast features Tom Hanlon, an accomplished bridge player with a remarkable track record in the game. One of his favorite bridge memories is winning the European Silver Medal in 2006, a significant achievement that highlights his skill and dedication. Tom has formed a strong partnership with Hugh McGann, a regular bridge partner who shares his passion for the game. Together, they have built a successful collaboration, leveraging their skills and strategic thinking to achieve notable results. Overall, Tom Hanlon's bridge journey is marked by his passion for the game and consistent pursuit of excellence continues to make him a respected figure in the bridge world.  During today's discussion, Tom talks about the global bridge discussions, where he exchanges ideas, shares insights, and collaborates with players worldwide. Also, Tom navigates the trials of decision-making and shares valuable insights into compelling gameplay. Tom shares his experiences to gain a deeper understanding of the strategic elements that drive success in the game. Moreover, Tom reflects on his favorite tournament experiences, reliving triumphs, challenges, and personal growth moments. Lastly, discover the power of friendship and partnership as Tom celebrates many years of collaboration with his trusted bridge companion.   
62:27 6/26/23
59 Tracey Bauer - In Support of Junior Bridge
Play in the SPARK Pro-Am with and against your favorite Setting Trick guests.
54:45 6/26/23
Episode 58: Olivia Schireson - Next Gen
The Setting Trick Episode 58 Olivia Schireson - Next Gen   Olivia and John talk about how they met and the opportunity to play on a last-minute team together at the Providence NABC. Olivia’s mantra, “the two C’s,” confidence (and competence) – “never play bridge scared.” The Cinderella Mixed Team at the US Team Trials. Bay Area Junior Bridge, the Rosenbergs, Will Watson, rooting for friends. Getting the best out of oneself.  John and Olivia discuss having their plays written up on Bridge Winners. Playing “What Are The Odds” at the World Championships in Poland. Can you guess Olivia’s favorite dance move? Plans for the future. Starbucks? More US Trials. The best dad ever. Olivia’s brother and the case of the mistaken identity.   
101:23 6/24/23
57. Selena Pepić is addicted - Part 2
Today, my guest is Selena Pepić. She is a computer science graduate from ETH Zurich, a rates trader at JP Morgan in Paris, and a member of the Serbian national mixed, women's, and junior teams. She won the gold medal at the World Youth Open Championship in Opatija 2015 (girls U26), the bronze medal at the World University Championship in Lodz in 2016, and also won an event at the Junior World Championship in 2016. Join us as we talk about Selena’s background, playing bridge in Paris, her thoughts on the American bridge community, winning women’s events, and more. [04.11] Missing bridge – Selena shares the reason behind quitting bridge for 2 years at university. [21.03] Problems – Selena shares why she loves talking about bidding problems in bridge playing.  [25.10] First partner – We talk about the relationship between Selena and her first partner Giovanni.  [47.19] Playing blackjack – Selena dives into the story of playing blackjack for the first time. [1:01.19] Novi Sad Bridge Festival – We talk about the Novi Sad Bridge festival happening between April 28th to May 2nd of 2023.  Resources   Connect with Selena LinkedIn - linkedin.com/in/selena-pepic/                   bridgewinners.com/profile/selena-pepic/  bridgescanner.com/event/novi-sad-bridge-festival-2023  web.facebook.com/novisadbridge/
73:28 5/11/23
56. Selena Pepić is addicted - Part 1
Today, my guest is Selena Pepić. She is a computer science graduate from ETH Zurich, a rates trader at JP Morgan in Paris, and a member of the Serbian national mixed, women's, and junior teams. She won the gold medal at the World Youth Open Championship in Opatija 2015 (girls U26), the bronze medal at the World University Championship in Lodz in 2016, and also won an event at the Junior World Championship in 2016. Join us as we talk about Selena’s background, playing bridge in Paris, her thoughts on the American bridge community, winning women’s events, and more.  [04.08] Selena’s background – We start the conversation with a brief bio about Selena and her first junior world bridge championship in 2016. [10.27] Bridge in Paris – Selena talks about playing bridge in Paris and how the division system works. [20.51] American Sponsor – Selena shares the story of how she met Steve, her American sponsor. [23.37] Expectations – Selena’s thoughts on the American bridge community as national champions [31.55] Women’s Event – We talk about Selena’s thoughts on winning a women’s event in New Orleans. [35.20] Professional Events – Selena talks about the professional bridge events & culture in Europe before the USA [41.13] Playing with Family & Friends – Selena talks about how she played card games with her grandparents and later with high school friends. [50.09] Catan – A multiplayer board game Resources Connect with Selena LinkedIn - linkedin.com/in/selena-pepic/                   bridgewinners.com/profile/selena-pepic/
58:32 5/11/23
55. Greg Humphreys - Charlottesville’s Best - Part 2
Greg Humphreys, a talented software engineer and accomplished bridge player features in this episode of The Setting Trick. He is the winner of the Mott-Smith Trophy at the recent spring North American Bridge championships, a three-time North American champion, and the best bridge player in Charlottesville, Virginia. He got hooked on Bridge in 1998 and quickly joined a local club, where he found success playing with Walter Miller's 49er club. Greg studied computer science at Princeton and Stanford before moving to Charlottesville, VA, to teach at the University of Virginia. Also, Greg has since left academia and worked for several startups and major tech companies like Nvidia, Google, and Twitch. [07:00] Improving Your Bridge Game -  Greg emphasizes the importance of immersing oneself in Bridge and discussing hands with better players. [12:48] Recursive Diamond - Advantages of playing a solid diamond system and the benefits of opening with one club instead of one diamond. [18:50] Streaming Bridge on Twitch – Greg mentions his experience of streaming himself playing Bridge on Twitch. [28:16] Partner Support in Bridge - Importance of supporting your partner in Bridge and dealing with bad results. [32:54] Competitive Bridge Strategies and Performance – Greg outlines his experience playing Bridge in a competitive event, including strategies, gameplay, and the desire to perform well and achieve a high ranking. [57:04] Teaching beginners in Bridge - Frustrations and challenges Resources: Connect with Greg: LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/greghumphreys/ Twitter: twitter.com/humper   Mentioned in the episode: Physically Based Rendering: From Theory to Implementation: amazon.com/Physically-Based-Rendering-Theory-Implementation/dp/0128006455?redirectFromSmile=1
67:58 4/20/23
54. Greg Humphreys - Charlottesville’s Best - Part 1
Greg Humphreys, a talented software engineer and accomplished bridge player is featured in this episode of The Setting Trick. He is the winner of the Mott-Smith Trophy at the recent spring North American Bridge Championships, a three-time North American champion, and the best bridge player in Charlottesville, Virginia. He got hooked on bridge in 1998 and quickly joined a local club, where he found success playing with Walter Miller's 49er club. Greg studied computer science at Princeton and Stanford before moving to Charlottesville, VA, to teach at the University of Virginia. Also, Greg has since left academia and worked for several startups and major tech companies like Nvidia, Google, and Twitch. In addition to his impressive career in computer science, Greg has also made a name for himself in the world of bridge. He has succeeded in various tournaments, including the Mixed Pairs, Platinum Pairs, Mixed BAM, and Fast Pairs. Greg and Jenni Carmichael typically play together once a year in the Mixed Pairs, which they won in 2016 and have also finished second, third, fourth, and fifth. In 2018 they made it to the finals of the World Open Pairs. This spring in Reno, they finished second in the Mixed Pairs. Greg also finished 11th in the Silodor Pairs and won the Fast Pairs, playing with Adam Parrish.  On the other hand, when not playing bridge, Greg enjoys spending time in his woodshop, playing video games, and traveling. He also enjoys watching RuPaul's Drag Race. Also, Greg streams his bridge games on Twitch, where he plays against friends and robots on BBO. In this conversation, Greg shares a wealth of insights and experiences about his journey in the world of Bridge. He discusses his best-ever result in a tournament, the pressure of leading, and the impact of small mistakes. He recalls an unusual game where the opposing team doubled their bid and made a strange opening lead. Greg explains how miscommunication about a bridge bidding system leads to confusion and the importance of immersing oneself in bridge and discussing hands with better players. He also talks about his accidental discovery of bridge on Yahoo and how he fell in love with the game through books and local clubs. Additionally, Greg discusses his unique relay precision system with Jenni and the advantages of playing a solid diamond system. He mentions his experience of streaming himself playing Bridge on Twitch and the importance of supporting your partner in Bridge and dealing with bad results. Lastly, he shares his experience playing Bridge in a competitive event, including strategies, gameplay, the desire to perform well and achieve a high ranking, and the frustrations and challenges of teaching beginners in Bridge. [06:37] Best Result Ever – Greg discusses what he considers to be his best-ever result. [10:11] Pressure: The pressure of leading in bridge tournaments and the impact of small mistakes. [19:53] Unusual Tactics – Greg recalls a bridge game where the opposing team doubled their bid and made a strange opening lead. [23:27] Bidding Confusion and Resolution – Greg explains how miscommunication about a bridge bidding system leads to confusion. [25:50] Discovering Bridge – Greg tells how he accidentally discovered Bridge on Yahoo and fell in love with the game through books and local clubs.  [34:03] Non-Standard Homebrew System-  Bizarre Bridge System Leads to Unforeseen Victory [43:43] UVA - Reasons for choosing UVA for an academic career [52.48] Partnership with Jenny – Greg talks about playing Bridge with Jenny and the frequency of playing together. He also discusses their effort to practice online before a tournament and their unique relay precision system, which requires some study. Resources: Connect with Greg: LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/greghumphreys/ Twitter: twitter.com/humper   Mentioned in the episode: Physically Based Rendering: From Theory to Implementation: amazon.com/Physically-Based-Rendering-Theory-Implementation/dp/0128006455?redirectFromSmile=1  
51:37 4/13/23
53. Olin Hubert - Not Just a Director!
In this episode of The Setting Trick, you are in for a treat as you get to hear from Olin Hubert, an exceptional American bridge player who has made a mark in the world of bridge. He has achieved the coveted title of American Contract Bridge League Grand Life Master owing to his impressive achievements in the game. Olin's exceptional skills as a North American champion bridge player have earned him accolades and recognition from the bridge community worldwide. His extensive experience in the game has led to some remarkable accomplishments, including winning the Grand National Teams in 2022 and the North American Bridge Championships. Additionally, Olin has been a runner-up in the Nail Life Master Open Pairs competition in 2021, proving his mettle as a consistent and formidable player. Apart from his impressive career in the bridge, Olin has also served as a retired tournament director for the American Contract Bridge League. He currently resides in the vibrant city of Atlanta, where he continues to inspire and influence the bridge community through his expertise and passion for the game.  As Olin shares his story, you will learn about his journey to becoming a professional bridge player. Although he faced financial challenges along the way, his dedication and passion ultimately paid off, and he is now a highly sought-after pro. Olin shares his experience, learnings, thinking, and tips throughout the discussion. Also, Olin recalls his triumph at the North American Bridge Championship, hosted by the American Contract Bridge League last summer, and his achievement of Grand Life Master ranking by winning the GNT Championship Flight. In a nutshell, you will be inspired by Olin's story and impressed by his accomplishments and experience in the world of bridge. Hence, he will surely be a memorable guest on this episode of The Setting Trick. [08:39] Olin's Story – Olin shares how he started learning to play bridge. [16:26] Tournament Director – We discuss how Olin became a tournament director. Moreover, we explore what the tournament environment was like back then. [26:36] Keep the Skill – Olin explains how he maintains his skill when not playing.  [28:30] GNT – Winning Grand National Teams and receiving the "Grand Life Master" ACBL ranking.  [45:47] Bridge – Olin's favorite thing about bridge. [01:00:30] Tips – Use Olin's insights and playing expertise to raise your bridge game. Resources: Connect with Olin: Website: bridgewinners.com/profile/olin-hubert-2-7fnpfuvmb2/ LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/olin-hubert-89409a250/
76:33 3/9/23
52. Interview with TST Host John McAllister
This week’s episode of the Setting Trick: Conversations with World-Class Bridge Players turns the tables and features professional player Greg Hinze interviewing host John McAllister. In this conversation, we cover John’s background, his favorite bridge books, his experiences at the national and world championships, his documentary movie about bridge, the reasons why he started the podcast, and more.   [01.29] John’s background – Starting the conversation, John discusses his Virginia roots, where he lives, where he went to college, and why he wants to stay there.  [08.40] Books – John and Greg talk about some of the best books about bridge.  [20.43] The summer nationals – We talk about John’s experience with mixed board-a-match teams in Providence at the summer nationals and the open BAM at the fall NABC.  [23.31] The movie – We talk about the movie called ‘Double Dummy’ produced by John, about bridge.  [32.10] The podcast – John shares the reasons behind starting his podcast and continuing until now.  [33:48] Meeting Migry – John remembers meeting partner Migry Zur Campanile and playing mixed teams at the world championships. [43.50] Bridge conventions – John chooses his desert island bridge convention.   Transcript [00:00:00] Greg Hinze: Hello everybody. Welcome to the Setting Trick. Uh, I'm your guest host, uh, Greg Hinsey. Uh, our normal host with the most will not be available today as a host. So without further ado, let me introduce our special guest star today. Creator of the Setting Trick Podcast, producer of the new movie, double Dummy and newly crowned N A B C Champion, my friend, John McAllister. [00:00:36] Hi John. Hey  [00:00:36] John McAllister: Greg . Thanks for having me. , should I think I cut you off there at the end, .  [00:00:43] Greg Hinze: So how you feel being on the other side of  [00:00:45] John McAllister: you? Nervous? I am, I'm definitely nervous. I didn't know what to expect and I, I definitely like, probably 20 minutes before I got home I was. And I was definitely like, okay, this is, uh, I get nervous before I host the show. [00:00:59] But, uh, to be this is a real honor to have you do this, uh, to have you do this for me. I feel a great honor for  [00:01:06] Greg Hinze: you having me, uh, do this. Uh, so, uh, I, I'm nervous too, so , so we just dive right in? Yeah, sure. Okay. Uh, yeah, just tell me a little bit about yourself. Cause I like, where are you from? Where'd you grow up? [00:01:19] And uh, okay.  [00:01:20] John McAllister: How, how'd you, I'm gonna start, I'm gonna go back. This is where you're now just a brief, so in Phoenix, the, the way this conversation came to pass is in Phoenix, after we won the Mitchell Board of Match, my first N A B C victory, you, Greg offered to, to flip the script here on the setting trick and to interview me. [00:01:39] And so that's how this conversation came to pass. And when I texted you about, You were like, I wasn't sure if you were totally committed to it, but you sent me a list of questions and you and you, you know, you had your intro planned, so I really appreciate that. I, um, it says a lot about you and just to go from there, I grew up, and I still live in Charlottesville, Virginia. [00:02:05] I went to college at the University of Virginia, which is here. My mom is originally from Charlottesville and. It's a great place to live. I've thought about living elsewhere, but haven't really found a compelling reason to, uh, to move just yet. I get a lot of travel playing bridge, so I, I get to vi see the world through bridge tournaments, which is, I think is a, as you probably would attest, a great way to, to see the world. [00:02:33] Greg Hinze: Yeah. I haven't seen much of the world myself. Uh, mainly just America. I've seen . But, uh, so what, you mentioned you gave 'em to college there, uh, as well. What, what did you study? Study  [00:02:43] John McAllister: when you, I like to joke when people ask me what I studied in college, that I was in a fraternity, , because I really, I was a good student in. [00:02:54] Like I went to a very academically rigorous high school, a boarding school, all, all male boarding school, about an hour from here called Woodbury Forest. And the, the teachers there really challenged me to work hard to learn the material. And then by the time I got to U V A, I sort of crapped out on school. [00:03:12] I was technically a history major. I tried to get into the undergraduate commerce school and my, uh, they didn't accept me and. Yeah, so I was technically a history major, but I had worse grades in history than I did in other subjects. It was sort of a last minute thing. My, one of my best friend's dad was a history professor, and so he could be my advisor and it was sort of the easy, easy thing to do when it was time to declare a major at the end of my second year. [00:03:42] And so  [00:03:42] Greg Hinze: outta school, you went, I had read that you were on involved in the hedge fund company or something. Yeah. You did that for,  [00:03:50] John McAllister: yeah. So. There's this guy named Jeffrey Woodruff, who is a hedge fund manager here in Charlottesville. And my parents, my, were actually friends with Jeffery's parents when, when we were younger. [00:04:06] And so I got interested in trading because I played a lot of backgammon after I graduated from uva. My roommate and I in New York City would play backgammon all the time, and we played for pretty decent stake. And so through backgammon I heard a, uh, I heard a recording where somebody was talking about trading, and that really appealed to me from like the same sort of thinking logic as backgammon. [00:04:34] And so I got a. The reason I brought up Jeffrey's name is because three different people, my mother, my piano teacher, and then a woman that my piano teacher had set me up with all suggested they knew I was interested in trading, that I should reach out to this guy, Jeffrey Woodruff, and I didn't do it. I never reached out to any of those through any of those people suggesting it. [00:04:56] Only when he, his company, appeared on the U V A. Uh, job site looking for interns. Did I actually reach out? And then I had a seven and a half year career working there, which ended in, in, in 2012. And, uh, I just got, I just was tired of working for, uh, doing that at that time. Had you, uh, played bridge yet? [00:05:19] Yeah, so I played, I started playing bridge when I was 18. My parents knew how to play and my aunt suggested it and. I loved it immediately, but I didn't really have an outlet for it. Like in New York City, for example, I lived, after I graduated U V A, I lived probably two blocks from honors, and it never even occurred to me to seek out a bridge game in, in, uh, in the city. [00:05:46] You didn't know it existed, but you were right nearby it. Yeah. Yeah. There was a backgammon club that I never went to, but I was, I wanted to try to go there to play backgammon for money against other players, and I never got the courage up to do it, but it didn't even occur to me to think like I loved bridge. [00:06:03] Like it, it was something I did with my parents when I came home and it didn't, like I played spades with co, with friends in college, but I didn't actually occur to, to explain bridge. To them, how, how did you  [00:06:18] Greg Hinze: find the Bridge Club or whatever to get into the A C B L?  [00:06:21] John McAllister: So, my older sister had three friends that were looking for her fourth for bridge classes when I moved back to Charlottesville. [00:06:29] And she knew I loved it and she suggested it. And then that woman took me to the, uh, to the local Bridge Club for the first. And have you, uh,  [00:06:41] Greg Hinze: thought about making a movie at this point yet at  [00:06:43] John McAllister: all, or no? No. Podcast or No, no, no. This is probably, this is, this was in like 2000. And  [00:06:49] Greg Hinze: so you learned, you learned from your, your, your  [00:06:51] John McAllister: sister, you said? [00:06:52] So my sister would be our fourth. So my parents kind of knew how to play and my sister would be our fourth, but she wasn't, she never really got into it. She was just willing, a willing participant. And then she had friends that were looking for a fourth, for a, like a weekly bridge class. Oh,  [00:07:09] Greg Hinze: that's good. [00:07:10] And, uh, what did you start reading about Bridge? Like, uh, do you read books? Did you play online? So  [00:07:17] John McAllister: we had a Bridge for Dummies book that I bought and we would, when I played with my parents, we would sort of have that out. They had like a two page cheat sheet maybe. And I had bridge books, uh, that I would read. [00:07:32] Yeah, I don't exactly remember what, what my first bridge books were or how it all, but I mean, I like, I like consuming information about bridge. Like that is one of the things I, I love playing Bridge. Like to this day I love playing bridge. I love consuming information about Bridge and reading Bridge books is a big part. [00:07:56] What's your favorite,  [00:07:57] Greg Hinze: uh, couple  [00:07:58] John McAllister: Bridge books? Uh, well, that's a good question. I'm reading right now Bridge with Another Perfect partner, which I think was the I B P A book of the year. And so that's by John Caruthers, who I don't actually know. I don't think I know him. I, I don't know if he plays tournaments or not. [00:08:17] He's Canadian. And it's like a at the table book where, you know, they give you the deal and he's got this partner who is a real, like a real expert. And so that guy explains the, uh, how the deal should be played or how he did play it, or how he created an illusion to, you know, to beat the contract. It's not something that you can read. [00:08:46] I'll read, you know, a couple of deals at a time and then like, do something else cuz it's Bridge Books are not like Rare. Is the Bridge book, uh, um, what's the name of that book? Uh, with the unlucky expert. Oh, uh, the, the Men. Oh. Why You Lose a Bridge? Why You Lose a Bridge? That's probably the, that is a rare bridge book and that you can read it. [00:09:11] Like I can read that book all the way. Without, I've always enjoyed  [00:09:16] Greg Hinze: like, uh, the Bridge and the Menagerie series. Uh, and they had the carpa, I think he was a unlucky expert or whatever. Uh, he was labeled as such. But, uh, that was always fun to read. Uh, they, they could, you could read through those things. Uh, just kind of, I just enjoyed the characters and it was a good bridge. [00:09:33] Uh, like a lot of non bridge stuff  [00:09:35] John McAllister: at the same time. Yeah, yeah, exactly. And hilarious. So well written Victor Ma. . So, uh,  [00:09:42] Greg Hinze: you just got into the A C B O and then you started, uh, going to tournaments.  [00:09:47] John McAllister: Uh uh so, uh, traveling the world, playing bridge everywhere. No, no, no. So shook the, my first Bridge teacher was a woman named Shook, and she was pretty eccentric French woman, and she could play with me once a month at the local bridge. [00:10:04] And so then she found this guy who was younger than me who was a UVA student, and she started playing with him. And then I started playing with him. His name's Jason Holderness, and he was better than I was. And we then went, uh, Jason and I, when the D Nationals were in DC in like 2009, I think Jason and I went up there and we played in like a two session. [00:10:30] 1 99 or pair game that we won. And so we got little trophies from that, which unfortunately I threw away, I think. I think I threw away the photo that they took too. . But I forget what your original question. Just like,  [00:10:43] Greg Hinze: you know, when you started playing tournaments and, you know, traveling a bit more, uh, as, as opposed  [00:10:48] John McAllister: to just going to the local. [00:10:49] So like, uh, my first national was in 2012, so I quit my job at Quantitative Investment Management and I gave, like, they said, will you give us two weeks? And so the last day of my two weeks was, Like that day, literally that day I left for Memphis to play in my first national, that was in spring of 2012. [00:11:12] And there was a sectional the weekend before and I hired this kid named Rob Brady, who was a UVA student who was a, a pro to be my partner. And I forget who our teammates were, but we won the Swiss and that was my first time winning a sectional Swiss. And winning the Swiss made me a life master. Oh wow. [00:11:36] That's  [00:11:36] Greg Hinze: a, that was a good timing for everything. pretty, pretty fun. Pretty fun. So, uh, so, so then after that you were just like hooked on nationals? Uh, I mean cuz nationals are pretty fun experience. Uh, I mean, if you haven't been to one, I think they're really fun things to go to.  [00:11:54] John McAllister: So, Yes. I mean, essentially yes, I, before I played my first national, I was in at a conference for work in February of 2012, and it was in Palm Beach and Gavin Wilpert lives near there. [00:12:10] And so I knew about Gavin from Bridge Winners and I messaged him on B B O and asked him if I could play with him. And so I played two days with him in the sectional. And he said, which I think is a great piece of advice that I like to give out to people is play against the best competition that you can play against, and that's playing at the Nationals. [00:12:31] So, uh, I've been fortunate to, I've gone to every national but won since then. And I've also played in, uh, one, two, played in four World championships now. Very good. Uh, where was your favorite place to play Bridge? I think Tromso Norway, I played in the European championships there, and it's inside of the Arctic Circle. [00:12:58] So it's, it was in the summer and literally the sun didn't go down. Um, that was a pretty unique, a unique experience. So how is  [00:13:10] Greg Hinze: bridge over there like, uh, run differently than it is here? Like, uh, is cuz it feels like it, you know, we may be a little bit outdated in, uh, some of the technology available. is when you played like in the world championships, uh, over  [00:13:25] John McAllister: how did, well I think the first time I played behind screens was at a bridge tournament in a Bulgaria. [00:13:31] And the top seven tables were behind screens, and they had like plastic boards. And I remember the, the further that we got in down in the table ranking, we had never seen this before. We had like these leather, little leather sleeves that had the cards in them, but the European championships. And the world Championships, as I imagine, you know, are like, they're all screens, all the tables are screens. [00:14:01] You're playing the same deals at the same time. Everybody's playing the same deals. It's, uh, it's cool because there's a lot of people there that I, that are new to me. So, you know, the national, the US nationals tends to be, tends to be a lot of the same people. But in Europe it was like a whole new, whole new crew of people. [00:14:24] More, uh, uh,  [00:14:25] Greg Hinze: foreigners come to America than Americans go to the foreign countries. It seems, um, there's not very many Americans that really do much traveling to play bridge over there as, as far as, as over here seems. Do you find it that way or do you know a lot of Americans that are going all over  [00:14:42] John McAllister: these? [00:14:42] Uh, you know, the, the, the Americans that are hiring real, like good teams for the nationals tend to probably play over there. , I would think like there's a tournament. The European Open is this summer in Strasberg, uh, which I think is in France, and the head of the E B L was telling me that he wants to get 200 teams in the open, which would be amazing. [00:15:09] I would really like to go for it, but I don't have firm plans yet for planning that. Also, it feels like in Europe that the. The main events are really the main events like the, the A C B L does a good job of making the events that are going on concurrent to the soloway, like the Board of Match that we won. [00:15:29] They make a good, they do a good job of making those like standalone. Whereas I feel like when you get knocked out in Europe of an event, it's, it's not really a title and an event like that doesn't really carry the same magnitude of that. It might in the A C B L. I see. So,  [00:15:48] Greg Hinze: What kind of, uh, systems do you like to play? [00:15:50] John McAllister: Um, . I like to play pretty basic, uh, two over one natural bidding. Not a lot of complexity. I don't have a, like, I don't have a strong long-term partnership with one individual, so I've noticed over the years  [00:16:09] Greg Hinze: you do play with a lot of, a lot of different, uh, players, and I think that's a good thing. What do you feel. [00:16:16] You learn like a little bit of something from, you know, everybody  [00:16:19] John McAllister: you play with. I mean, one thing I'll say about Bridge, I think I really like to play with people that I enjoy their company and I feel like that we're a good, I feel like, like it's important for me to be able to discuss like the, the, my partner has the right mentality and that we can discuss the boards that we didn't do well and not get, not get angry with each other. [00:16:45] Greg Hinze: So, uh, yeah. Okay. We've been mentioning, uh, the Mitchell Border match, which you just recently won. Yeah. There you were playing with a, a relatively new partnership. Yeah. I  [00:16:53] John McAllister: was playing with, uh, spinny Erickson, who I met. I played the Icelandic, uh, the VEC Bridge Festival a couple years ago, and I met s Spinny there and he was playing with this guy named Neils, who's Danish. [00:17:10] And the two of them were just pure comedy. Like Neils had tried to rent a car for the tournament and it had all gone haywire. And he had gone through all these, all this effort to get this car that eventually really just sat in a parking garage in vec. Like he didn't even use it after spending all this energy and time trying to get this car. [00:17:33] And so that story, being told that story over the course of like the days of the event, really, I mean, we laughed so hard about. So much. And so I really enjoyed him. And then in Austin, uh, the first N A B C Post Covid, he was there and I needed a partner for the Swiss. And so we got to talking and we did pretty well in that. [00:17:59] And then we played the Swiss again in Providence and we did well on that. And so, We played the same teammates this, uh, whole time. Uh, the teammates for the Swiss and Providence and, and for Phoenix were the same. Uh, Jovi, uh, Jovi Smatter of, uh, and Sasha Warn, they're Austrian a mixed pair, Jovi's a woman. [00:18:26] Greg Hinze: And uh, so was that, uh, everybody, everybody's first, uh, been there on your team? Yes. That's pretty exciting for you all to experience it at the same time. So like how, how long were you just on the moon?  [00:18:39] John McAllister: Uh, you know, probably like a good, good 10 days through the rest of the nationals for sure. Yeah, definitely. [00:18:45] definitely it, it's, I, I mean I playing with Jovi and Sasha in a mixed board of Match in Providence, the summer national, we came in second and we were leading after every segment of the, of the event. But the last one, And that was the first time I'd ever come in second and the first time I'd ever really even been close to winning in one of these events. [00:19:08] And so we had a really good session in the, on the second day of the board of Match, the Mitchell's a two day event. And I had been in the position before and I really wanted to win this time. And then during the session, spinny and I, we just didn't seem like it was going well. We got to probably. Third from Final Round and we played against Curtis Cheek and we got to Issa and Curtis's table and they're like, how's it going? [00:19:41] And Spinny is like, no, we don't have a chance. . So, but yeah, I mean we just didn't, but you know, Jovi and Sasha play this canape system, strong club, so. I don't know how we won, but we won comfortably. It, it was, it was like, uh, yeah, when, when the woman from the A C V L told, told me that we had won, she goes, John, you won. [00:20:09] And I went like, like I had to cut myself off from really squealing like I wanted to. I think a lot of people. I think a lot of people did hear you. And that was, that was like probably one half or one third of what I like if I really had Yeah. Yeah.  [00:20:32] Greg Hinze: I just remember seeing you that, uh, day right afterwards and uh, whenever to say, look, and you were just like beeping, like, I mean  [00:20:38] John McAllister: it was like, you still  [00:20:41] Greg Hinze: happy? [00:20:43] So you went from first National 2012 to winning national like 10 years later. Um, but it's somewhere in between there. You decided that you were going to produce a movie about Bridge called Double Dummy. So  [00:21:00] John McAllister: why, what happened there? So my first national event was the IMP pairs in Memphis, and I played with a local guy from Charlottesville named Greg Humphreys, who I'm sure you know. [00:21:13] And Greg, he has a Emmy, right? He has a, he has a Academy Award. He has like an Academy award, I think for create, for writing a book about motion graphics or something like that. So Memphis was my first national, I didn't know anybody, and he invited me to this brainstorming session on how do we get new players? [00:21:42] Uh, young people playing bridge and I, I really didn't even know what the event was, but he said, there's a free dinner, there's gonna be people there. And so I thought, I thought, okay, great. I, I need to meet some people. I want to make some friends and free dinner sounds okay. I mean, maybe it won't be the best food, but whatever. [00:22:00] And so that was, I had just quit my job. I did marketing for the hedge fund, so I knew, like I knew how to sell things or what. . And so that was kind of the, that was the free dinner.  [00:22:14] Greg Hinze: I see. So, but the no experience or anything, you just up and like this is gonna be brand new, like the whole movie industry, uh, outta nowhere. [00:22:23] Like, I mean, you didn't go to school for this and you just, so, I mean it just a lot involved, I, I'm sure in, in ma like finding the right people and making a  [00:22:33] John McAllister: movie. So it wasn't, it wasn't at that brainstorming session that I had the idea for the movie. But it was at that brainstorming session. I didn't have another job lined up. [00:22:43] I just knew that I wanted to stop, I needed to stop doing what I was doing. And so I thought I could be involved in helping introduce Bridge to more young people. And then I came home and two of my friends were making a movie about a, a scripted film. And we, they took me out to dinner and they, one of 'em said, I think we're, you're the only person we know that plays bridge. [00:23:08] And so I told him about some of the statistics from this brainstorming session, and he said, that sounds like a documentary movie. And then that was, that was where that, that came from. And so you  [00:23:20] Greg Hinze: just began filming, was it? Uh, just pretty much all, all at one. Uh, Youth World Championships, right? Uh, most of it. [00:23:29] Or is there There was a lot of,  [00:23:31] John McAllister: uh, outside, so I had, I had met Adam Kaplan through Greg at the, uh, at the N A B C, the spring 1, 20 12. And he really, I was really impressed with, in spite of him being 20 years younger than Greg, Greg's my age, and Adam was 16 at the time, and. That the way he was making fun of Greg, talking about how Greg thought about these bridge deals that we were playing, that we were, you know, talking about after the round. [00:23:59] And I knew about Adam from Bridge winners and so he was already like kind of a star to me when I first met him. I'm like, oh, that's Adam Kaplan. And so he became the focal point of the film and he was, he was kind of the leader of a group that included the gross X. And the Jeng brothers and his partner Zach Brisco of like an under 21 team playing the junior world championships that took place in, in August of, uh, of 2012. [00:24:30] So yeah, that's the focal point of the film. Where are these, uh, world World Championships? It was in, uh, in Ta song China, which is about two hours from Shanghai. And this is a, like a,  [00:24:43] Greg Hinze: a really long tournament, right? With a big round robin phase and everything similar to like  [00:24:47] John McAllister: the B removal. Yeah, there was, uh, I think there was 17 teams in their, in their division, and you play all 16 other teams and then you have, uh, full day knockout matches. [00:24:59] And the finals actually a day and a half. So it was 12 days, 12 days of filming that we were 12 days of play. So you  [00:25:07] Greg Hinze: took a lot of this footage and you, you made it, made a movie of it. And, uh, you're trying to, uh, attract some young people. That's, uh, that's really nice. So, uh, the Gross Act also in this, uh, movie, they've done really phenomenal since then as well. [00:25:22] So they've, uh, really had quite a lot of success together and, and even, uh, part and, uh, particularly Zach Groza, uh, just recently cover the Bulletin for winning a Player of the Year. Um, so what. Think about how that is gonna impact the movie. You know, like cuz Zach is in this movie and then now here he is proving himself again later. [00:25:45] You know? I mean, what do you think?  [00:25:47] John McAllister: What are your thoughts on that? So the movie's now freely available on pbs.org. If you search for Double Dummy, it'll come up. You can watch it anywhere in the world. It's not geo blocked, obviously, as a filmmaker to have for the, the kids team in the tournament itself. [00:26:06] The way that went down was really great for us. I don't wanna spoil it for anybody. We can't. We can't, don't worry. I'm not, I'm not gonna spoil it. But it was really a great event from the kid standpoint. And then when I originally Adam Kaplan was like, Zach has really turned into what I hoped Adam Kaplan would, would become. [00:26:26] I didn't even know Zach before we got to China and. I was hoping that Adam Kaplan would be the next Jeff Max Troth. Really? And Zach has really, I mean, you know, as you said, like he's player of the year. Like, you know, that's, I mean,  [00:26:45] Greg Hinze: it's such a young age. I mean, uh, just really such a great  [00:26:48] John McAllister: accomplishment. [00:26:48] Yeah. But it's hard. Like it, one of the things about this film is we send an email out to everybody that is on like a board, like a unit board. Or a district board or that owns a club, or is it a member of the A P T A and I probably got like 20 emails back from, you know, maybe, I don't know how, I don't even know how many emails that was that we sent out. [00:27:13] So if like getting people to actually pay attention to the film is challenging and I'm really grateful that it's on P B s. So it's airing on specific P B S stations. And you can find that on our website, doubled dummy movie.com, but it's also freely available. I'm just glad that it's like that we have this p b s distribution arm cuz, you know, having spent 11 years working on this project, I just want people to see it. [00:27:42] I want, and it, it, it's beyond me at this point. And hopefully it'll be me. It'll, there'll be a meaningful impact. You know, like, uh, there was a post on bridge winners today by somebody talking about the Nebraska airtime. It's, it's, but it's been frustrating, like doing this and not always feeling like people are taking, you know, taking the reigns like, of the film. [00:28:08] So, uh,  [00:28:10] Greg Hinze: I remember many years I would always come up to you go like, how's the movie going? How's the movie going, , how's the movie going like year after year? And then, uh, to finally he, and then to finally get to, I saw, uh, you put, you did, uh, some kind of thing at a Nationals, I think where we aired it in. [00:28:26] There was a group of people, I mean, I don't know, maybe 50 to a hundred people, something  [00:28:30] John McAllister: in Toronto that was a longer version of the, this is actually a shorter version than if you ask my mother, she would say it's much better, which I agree with a  [00:28:38] Greg Hinze: shorter version's better. Okay. I hadn't seen the new, I, I just saw the one, uh, at the, at the time, uh, where you put it. [00:28:44] Uh, yeah. Okay. Toronto Nationals, I don't remember. So 11 years in the process. And, uh, podcast. Podcast now. So sometime, and now you're like, a movie wasn't, I'm going to also make a podcast. And is it, is it, is it the same type of a deal trying to draw a bridge into, to the world? Expand a bridge, or what, what's the reason for the, so the  [00:29:06] John McAllister: original reason, rationale for the podcast was to spread the word about the movie, and then it just became fun. [00:29:13] Like I, I enjoy the opportunity to have conversations like this. It's fun, it's challenging. It's a great way to share my passion for bridge. One consistent piece of feedback I've gotten though is from non-player that listen to the podcast is they don't really know what we're talking about. Like it's too high level bridge. [00:29:33] There's too many specific  [00:29:34] Greg Hinze: names of people and Yes. Like things that, uh, we take for granted. Like we talk about a Vanderbilt Yes. Or whatever, and they're like, what's the Vanderbilt? Yes. You know, something like that.  [00:29:43] John McAllister: Yeah. I underst. And I've tried at points to, to be more inclusive and it's challenging. Like it's, it's definitely challenging and I don't necessarily wanna water it down. [00:29:57] Like, uh, I enjoy the high level of it and we definitely have our fans, you know, like, I'm gonna give a shout out to, uh, one of your partners, Josh Dunn's dad, cliff. Is a regular listener. Hope you don't fall off your mountain bike when you hear this reference. Uh, we actually started doing a segment cuz Josh told me that Cliff listens to all the shows and then he, if Josh has ever mentioned, he'll send him a, a like thing from the transcript. [00:30:26] And so we started doing a Cliff Don, where somebody had the Cliff don segment where somebody would tell a story about Josh. So my story about Josh, not that you asked. Was at my first nationals playing in the Vanderbilt for the first time, cuz Gavin suggested it. We, it was a three-way and we lost in the, uh, afternoon. [00:30:49] So we were playing Josh Dunn's team in the evening and it was, I think Kit Wooey was on the team. Perhaps. I don't remember who Josh was playing with. I think Josh was playing with Roger Lee. And I remember thinking after the second segment that we won and they beat us by like 40 in that segment. [00:31:25] Greg Hinze: So anyway, uh, yeah. So you had a lot of, you ended up having a lot of, uh, you know, great people on, uh, on your, your podcast, uh, you know, great players, uh, like, you know, or even early on you had like Chef Maroth and some. Who are your, some of your favorite, uh, episodes? Do you have standout episodes where it's just like, you know, wow, this is like, you know, bridge on a, on another level. [00:31:48] Like, I just getting to know somebody this like, is  [00:31:50] John McAllister: just like, I think the three people that come to mind are Gavin because it was the first one and I've been wanting to do the podcast for a long time, probably three years. And so when I actually recorded the conversation, I thought, wow, this is, you know, it was just cool to actually finally do it. [00:32:07] And he tells a great story about ducking with King in one offside, and I mean, that was just why I wanted to do it. And then Hammond, you know, probably the most recognizable bridge name and then troth because he just was great. Like he told great stories and. You know, Jeff has really, uh, helped me become a, like, get more out of my bridge ability by challenging me to, to be a better player. [00:32:41] And, uh, so Jeff is always a very, uh,  [00:32:47] Greg Hinze: like fierce competitor. I mean, he is like, yes, I mean, but he's always so friendly and helpful away from the game as well, you know, but. He is, uh, always at the table. It's like nothing. He doesn't miss anything. He is never phased. It's just like, how, how does this guy ever, never do anything wrong? [00:33:03] John McAllister: he was my partner for a regional last year in Hilton Head and at Fir it went from like being elated that I'm playing with Jeff Maxy. And so frustrated with him cuz he was frustrated with me and it took me a while. I was driving back to Virginia after the second day we played together, and I was listening to these podcasts and I thought, man, this, you know, eventually it got through to me that the reason that he was upset with me is I wasn't getting the best outta myself. [00:33:32] And that led me to have my best year of bridge ever last year, which, uh, yeah, was a really, really good  [00:33:38] Greg Hinze: year. Capping it off. still, you still see you glowing, . Yeah. Uh, okay. Well, uh, some of your other favorite bridge  [00:33:48] John McAllister: memories. Well, I'll tell a story. So, I played my first World championships in Sonya in 2014, and the way that I ended up doing that was Christina Lund Madson had emailed me and she said that her and Dennis Bilda, who's one of the, you know, great players, great young players, uh, in the world, they were looking for a partners for the mixed teams. [00:34:14] and that sounded like fun. I really liked Christina. I didn't know much about her, her playing, uh, but I knew Dennis was a really like a rising star, and so I needed to have a female partner. I said, I don't have a female partner, and she suggested mre, uh, MRE Campanile who's, who's also been a guest on the show. [00:34:37] And I remember when, when mcg. So I went up and met her in New York City. We had lunch on her birthday and we hit it off and we're like, let's do this. And, and then I remember when we talked on the phone or we tried to talk on the phone for the first time. Riss originally from, uh, well she immigrated Israel, but she's originally from Romania. [00:34:56] And I remember I couldn't understand her and I was like, I don't think this is gonna work. . So, uh, are you speaking English? Miri introduced me to a lot of her friends. . I think just, that's one of the things about Bridge is like, it's, it's kind of a strange dynamic because we're playing against the other people. [00:35:19] So there are more often than not, you know, people are your opponent, but at the same time there's a lot of, there's a lot of kinship and, you know, spirit and, uh, You know, like for example, you congratulating me in, in Phoenix for winning the national, for winning the event. Like so many people were so excited for, for me. [00:35:41] And, uh,  [00:35:43] Greg Hinze: yeah, it, it, it's nice. I mean, uh, yeah, it's a lot of camaraderie, you know, it's, it's bitter competition at the table, but then away from it at the parties at night or whatever afterwards, you know, the drinking at the bars and going over the hands and so, Speaking of hands that you're like most  [00:36:03] John McAllister: nightmare hand ever. [00:36:04] Uh, well, there was a hand at the, I played in the mixed world championships this year with, uh, Olivia Sheen as my partner and we were playing in the Paris. We didn't make it to the, uh, heads up matches for teams when we're playing in the pairs. And I had like, uh, a six of diamonds. Queen 10, double 10 of clubs, Jack, fourth of hearts. [00:36:33] So I had ace, queen jack, six of diamonds, queen 10, double 10 jack, fourth of hearts. So they opened a, I was fourth and they opened a Polish club on my right and every, nobody's vulnerable. So I bid three diamonds and it goes, What happened? I forget what happened, but they got to seven eventually, lefty did six hearts. [00:37:00] So Polish Club, you don't get, it's like a strong club in that you don't reveal your suit at first, or the fact that you, so I, I didn't have Jack fourth of hearts. I had, I had like 10, I think I had ten fourth of Harvey anyway now. So now the guy bids five hearts, then lefty bids six hearts, and then they bid seven. [00:37:22] and I'm kind of rooting for them to bid Seven Hearts . So I lead the ace of diamonds cuz I'm thinking, you know, there's no way that they're bidding this grand slam with the king of diamonds. You know, they're not valuing that. But lo and behold, lefty had King Fourth of Diamonds, . So now declare has a chance to make it. [00:37:44] And I'm like, shit. I was rooting for that and now I'm get about to get burned. So Dummy had Ace start of clubs and declare had King Jack nine fourth, and if they, so I'm like, am I gonna play the Queen of Clubs on the first round of clubs? So he drew Trumps and now he plays. I think I had three Trumps. I don't know I'm telling the story terribly, but he, on the first round of clubs, he plays club to the Ace and I played the Queen [00:38:18] And now  [00:38:20] Greg Hinze: did he have like nine of 'em and  [00:38:21] John McAllister: now he played No, no. It actually worked. He played, he played back and he thought, and he thought, now I played the nine and I won the 10. I was like, yeah. So it went from being a nightmare to. It was all, both your nightmare and your  [00:38:36] Greg Hinze: first favorite hand All. Yeah. [00:38:39] John McAllister: Yeah. Nightmare hands. I mean so many nightmare hands. I remember a hand mire in the world championships. We were on the verge of qualifying for the finals of the world pairs in 2014. My first world championship, the World Bridge Series, and there was a hand where I had like, uh, king in one sp. and we had a two over one auction and then she bid two. [00:39:03] No. And now I just bid three. No, cuz you know, that was just the right thing to do. And they lead a spade through my king and it goes queen. And then the, and then my lefty plays the ACEs spades and mires. Jack Doubleton comes. Now they got the whole space suit and I'm like, God damn it nigger, why are you hogging the hand? [00:39:30] Oh, .  [00:39:31] Greg Hinze: That's funny. Funny. So, uh, most important bridge convention if  [00:39:37] John McAllister: you can only have one. Oh, wow. Probably negative double. I think. Uh, I played in London, used to talk about the bridge in the Menagerie series. I played rubber bridge for the first time over there and I felt like I was a character. I felt like I was in that. [00:39:52] when I was play. Which one were you? Well, I wasn't nec, I just felt like I, I didn't have a character myself, but I just felt like I was like playing with the characters in that book. And we, they don't let you play negative doubles there. They don't let you play. Don't  [00:40:07] Greg Hinze: they all play like usually the same? [00:40:08] Everybody plays the same thing  [00:40:09] John McAllister: like that. They don't play, they don't. You play Roman keycard. You can only, you can't find out about the King of Trump or the queen of Queen of Trump. Bobby, uh, Wolf was  [00:40:20] Greg Hinze: a big, uh, advocator of, uh, not playing key card. He wouldn't mind being on, uh, in a slam on the finesse of the King of Trump. [00:40:28] So he would always know, although you may know you're off a key card, he would know that it was the king cuz he would know about the number of ACEs cuz he didn't count the king as a key card, counted that later in the Kings or whatever. So, so he would know that he would be on a finesse and he wouldn't mind. [00:40:46] Is it better than like, being there and like, oh, am I off the Ace ? It's not even on the Finesse, it's off the Ace. You lose the Ace .  [00:40:54] John McAllister: Is he someone that's been a mentor to you? Like I know he is from Texas. I think we got to play with Bobby one  [00:40:59] Greg Hinze: time and uh, I just remember that was like we, we, we wrote down like four things on the commissioner. [00:41:04] We had those, uh, the white com, the old fashioned white convention card. I think we wrote down like four things, like 15, 17 real big with transfer or something, and. We wrote down, you know, ACE asking, it was like not, it was not . We, and we wrote down carding or something. And, uh, so we, we played, uh, we played that one time. [00:41:24] And, uh, I played as a teammate of his, uh, a few times. He had some, uh, of his regular older partners, uh, that he played with some, some long ago. And, and I played against him many times from, uh, the area that I was playing in. Uh, I think he eventually moved to Vegas and, uh, I don't  [00:41:43] John McAllister: dunno what's happening. I don't even know. [00:41:44] I, I'm sure I've played against him, but not, uh, I only have a couple more questions by the way. I just, who, I wanna say that Greg sent me a full list of questions, including like, the best hand. I, I don't know if the best hand was in there, but I wanted to be spontaneous. It would've been something like the best hand would've been good to think, or worst hand would've been good to think. [00:42:05] Before, uh, but you did send me like a full list. Yeah, that one.  [00:42:08] Greg Hinze: I, I, I'm not even sure I included that. I did throw, I, I did have some questions that it weren't on your list that I asked you. So anyway, like this one who's faster, you or Justin Law,  [00:42:21] John McAllister: were you at that tournament? No, but I heard about it. So you're referring to at the Williamsburg Regional some years ago. [00:42:31] We had a, a race in the hotel conference area and it was probably a 50 yard dash and Justin smoked me . Sad but true.  [00:42:46] Greg Hinze: And question from my wife. You like pineapple on your  [00:42:51] John McAllister: pizza? I used to like a Hawaiian pizza. I used to, that used to be on my order, but, uh, it's been a while. Why? Why is your wife asking? I don't know. [00:43:02] She  [00:43:02] Greg Hinze: knew I was gonna be doing this interview and, uh, she just thought, uh, that was a, some silly question. Thought I would ask.  [00:43:11] John McAllister: You can cut back out , cut out the pineapple pizza, . You got it.  [00:43:18] Greg Hinze: Anyway, I don't, I don't have anything else. Okay. John, I going through my list of questions.  [00:43:25] John McAllister: How, what do you, what is your setup there? [00:43:27] Do you have like a sheet of paper with all the questions on 'em? Do you have 'em like, uh, yeah, I,  [00:43:32] Greg Hinze: I, I'm looking at my little questions here. Yeah. And then some of 'em, you know, I had to skip over cuz you kind of covered them already. You know, they were gonna be questions, but That's okay. I mean, that's great. [00:43:42] You know, it's great. I don't have to ask questions. You just knew what I was gonna ask you. Well. As if you knew, like, so somebody may have fed you the questions.  [00:43:50] John McAllister: No, he did, but I mean, I really appreciate it. When I saw that list of questions, I wasn't sure if you were like, how committed you were to it and if, what if it was more like me saying, oh, you know, you offered to do this, but maybe, anyway, when I got that list of questions from you, I was really, it really touched me like that you were. [00:44:08] You were thinking about it so much. Well, I'm glad.  [00:44:10] Greg Hinze: I mean, this went, I, I was a little nervous about how this may go cuz it's, you know, not so easy to just, to be, you know, talking and you're, you're used to it. I'm, I'm not, I'm not so used to it. .  [00:44:21] John McAllister: It's funny how I'm used to it. It's funny how it's something that is so natural just to do. [00:44:28] Like me and you, for me and you to talk, but then when it becomes a Yeah, that's what made it  [00:44:33] Greg Hinze: easy for me. Cuz I mean, you know, we're looking at each other on the camera or whatever, so we can see each other and it's just like, to me, it's not like really doing an interview at all. I mean, you know, it's more like just talking to a friend, you know, just like, tell me more about you tell me something. [00:44:47] John McAllister: Didn't know. Mm-hmm. , what was the most surprising? Like, what was the depth? What was the depth? Can you. Is there a way for you to explain the depths of the research that you did or ? Like what the depths, what do you think was like the most down a rabbit hole you went? I didn't  [00:45:06] Greg Hinze: go that far, really. I was like, uh, you know, I, I, I, I just, yeah. [00:45:11] I found your police profiles and your mugshot. That, that was, that was the most surprising to me was when I found your mug.  [00:45:21] John McAllister: I have never been arrested, by the way, for all my loyal listeners out there. I, I have not. Well, they should take that off  [00:45:28] Greg Hinze: the internet  [00:45:28] John McAllister: then, . Um, well, thank you. No, I,  [00:45:32] Greg Hinze: I, I, I, seriously, I, I didn't, I didn't do that much research. [00:45:35] Um, and you know, I mean, just, I, I, I know a lot about you already, , you're a great guy and, and a lot of people, a lot of people know a lot about you.  [00:45:46] John McAllister: Well, it's, it is, it is. I'm flattered and I really appreciate it and, uh, thank you so much. Oh, you're  [00:45:52] Greg Hinze: quite welcome. And, uh, yeah, thanks. Thanks for having me once more. [00:45:57] I really enjoyed it. We'll see you again on the circuit.  [00:46:00] John McAllister: Are you playing any tournaments next nationals? I, so here's your, here's your team. The next national. I've got some possibilities out there, but nothing is confirmed. Yeah. Okay, well, the intrigue, we'll see you there in New Orleans. We're going though, for sure, right? [00:46:15] Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, for sure. No, I'm definitely playing. You playing with Vinnie or, I don't think so. You don't know? They, nothing's  [00:46:21] Greg Hinze: confirmed. Okay.  [00:46:24] John McAllister: All right, man. I'll see you in New Orleans. I'm, I'm actually playing in the North American Paris. Are you gonna be there for that? No. No. Have you won that  [00:46:33] Greg Hinze: Platinum Pierce? [00:46:34] No. I've, I've, I. I think I only entered one time to the national level. We made it and we got knocked out first day or something. What  [00:46:45] John McAllister: was your first national win? Yeah. I've never done well in that event.  [00:46:48] Greg Hinze: My first national win was in New Orleans where we're going now, and in 2004 we won the North American Swiss, but that was in the fall of 2004. [00:47:00] This is spring of  [00:47:01] John McAllister: 2020, whatever. Had you been close before that?  [00:47:06] Greg Hinze: I was fourth in the LMS once, uh, before that, the three day LM pair, like basically lost in the last round. Mm-hmm. , , it was pretty  [00:47:17] John McAllister: close. Who is your partner?  [00:47:20] Greg Hinze: Uh, guy with, uh, I don't play with him, haven't play with him long time, but Nagi came out from, uh, he's from Texas also. [00:47:28] He's one of my original players that I used to play with learning back in the day. Played a lot of bridge with. But not, not so much. In the last 15  [00:47:36] John McAllister: years, if you could, if you could teach bridge to one person on the planet, who would it be to teach to one person on the planet? You got to choose your bridge student. [00:47:47] Who would it be?  [00:47:49] Greg Hinze: Yeah, it would be like he's my, yeah, so like somebody famous, like, uh, I don't know, maybe, uh, yeah, I don't know. That's too tough of a question. Something like famous actor  [00:47:58] John McAllister: or something. That would be pretty cool. All right, well you gotta gimme an answer in New Orleans. Okay, I'll give you an answer. [00:48:03] New Orleans,  [00:48:03] Greg Hinze: um, he put me on the spot  [00:48:05] John McAllister: now. All right, man. Thanks.   Resources Connect with John LinkedIn - linkedin.com/in/johnmca/  Website - thesettingtrick.com/    Book by John Carruthers Bridge with Another Perfect Partner –  goodreads.com/book/show/60495965-bridge-with-another-perfect-partner    Book by S.J. Simon Why You Lose at Bridge –  goodreads.com/en/book/show/1141603    Movie - Double Dummy imdb.com/title/tt3531224/  doubledummymovie.com/ 
47:43 3/2/23
50. Kevin Rosenberg - Dream Partner
This week’s episode of the Setting Trick podcast features Kevin Rosenberg, a professional bridge player, and a full-time software engineer. Kevin comes from a family of professional bridge players, with Debbie and Michael Rosenberg as his mother and father. Kevin won the Soloway Knockout Teams in Phoenix and he also earned second place in the Reisinger at the Fall 2022 Phoenix NABC. He is a multi-time winner of the Youth World Open Championships (2022 Salsomagiorre, 2019 Opatija, 2017 Lyon). In this episode, we discussed getting stars from BBO, teaching bridge for beginners, Kevin’s thoughts on having parents who are world-class bridge players, impressive partnerships that Kevin came across, and more.   [02:12] BBO Star – Starting the conversation, Kevin shares how he got a star on Bridge Base Online (BBO).  [13:42] Teaching Bridge – Kevin explains what he mostly focuses on when he teaches bridge. Further, he shares why engagement among beginners is not a huge issue in bridge playing.  [33:35] Junior Trials – Kevin started junior trials in 2014. He shares some of his junior trial experiences with us.  [45:46] Experiences in Australia – Kevin shares why he likes Australia and how he met a lot of bridge players while he was there.  [57:11] Impressive Partnerships – We discuss Kevin’s most impressive partnership that he played against in the recent bridge tournament.    Connect with Kevin bridgewinners.com/profile/kevin-rosenberg
66:56 2/9/23
49. John Kranyak - Better Late than Never
This episode of The Setting Trick: Conversations with World-Class Bridge Players features John Kranyak. John is a professional Bridge and Poker player from the United States of America. He is a highly accomplished and respected member of the Spectre team, widely considered one of the bridge community's most successful and competitive teams. John's skill and expertise in the bridge are matched only by his exceptional character and integrity. In this episode, we shared several experiences that we had gained from competing in tournaments, playing with a number of other players, and accumulating the most memorable memories, along with the wonderful learnings and experiences that we had gained.  [00:40] Background – John fills us in on what's new in his life, including details about his family and what it's like for him to be in a new city.  [05:00] Regionals -  Will the current trend in regionals is going to continue, or are people starting to return?  [11:32] Memories – John reflects on playing against the Swiss team and some of the interesting memories. [22:06] Changes in Bridge -  John discusses the changes in the world of bridge. He elaborates on the most underappreciated aspect of the game. [47:31] Levels of Players -  What is the most critical factor separating top-level players from those who are not top-level? Resources: Connect with John: bridgewinners.com/profile/john-kranyak/ bridgeinstructors.com/profile/30/info
84:02 2/2/23
48. Kitty Cooper - Loves a Good Hand
“The secret to winning a world championship is great teammates, a good partnership, and good team spirit.”  Kitty Munson Cooper is a bridge blogger, genetic genealogist and world-champion bridge player. She has won eight North American Bridge Championships and the Venice Cup in 1989. She currently lives in San Diego, CA. Today we talked about her background, the secret to winning world championships, sexism in bridge, and more.  Kitty has won NABCs with two different husbands. Playing with someone close to you is a different feeling; they see what you don’t see, and you see what they don’t see.  [18.26] 1987 – forcing her way onto the British ladies’ team in the 1987 European championships.  [23.11] The dream team – winning a world championship with the help of a good partnership between teammates.  [27.35] The keys – Willing to play up, having a good partnership, and having the killer instinct are the keys to having success in open bridge for women.  [35.50] Stories about playing with the great players in the old days.  [42.02] Teaching bridge – talks about how satisfying it can be to teach kids bridge and designing a beginner curriculum.  [47.03] The 70s – walks us through the story of meeting her late husband in the 70s, then re-meeting and marrying him in 2000. [51.49] Thoughts on what makes a serious partnership.    [57.39] Playing with your spouse – the difficulty of playing bridge when emotions get involved.    Resources Connect with Kitty LinkedIn - linkedin.com/in/kittycooper/  Website - openskywebdesign.com/                  blog.kittycooper.com/                  bridgeteaching.com/  Twitter - twitter.com/openskyweb 
70:52 1/26/23
Joe Grue
Today I have an abbreviated conversation with my good friend Joe Grew, who is one of the best bridge players in the world. This is my first in-person conversation and it took place at Congressional Country Club in September.  It got cut short because, frankly we had to get on the tee!
26:51 11/8/22

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