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Gerard Cohen (1940-2012). Gerard, the North, the South, the East and West of this site, has apparently died of a heart attack. I'm not quite sure he's dead, and one of the more interesting aspects of his character is how easily one can imagine him staging his own death, for the pleasure of reading his own eulogy. I hope he's reading this one.
Gerard was reputed to have other accomplishments -- languages, piano -- but by far his favorite pursuit was bridge. For twenty years Gerard played bridge online nearly every day, for several hours at a crack, to an audience of at least fifty and often a hundred or more, among whom I was perhaps the most faithful. To speak of the Cult of Gee is no exaggeration. More people probably spent more time watching him play bridge than anyone in history.
He enjoyed the notoriety, as who would not, and we enjoyed watching him enjoy it. Some of my closest friends I first met through Gerard one way or another, and many other members of the Cult of Gee can say the same. He brought a lot of pleasure to a lot of people, doing what he loved to do, and that is more than most of us will manage.
Any follower of this site knows that he thought rather more of his bridge than an objective assessment would dictate. In this regard he served usefully as a scapegoat. It was not the least of his merits that we could all come to his table and forget, for a while, our own bloated self-regard.
Table Talk [Archive]
I don't think... I listen to your bids.
I don't need signals pard.
Why is it that nobody can see what I see?
Nobody argues with "the" Gerard.
By experience, I can tell you that those who watch me play then play
with me trying to copy what I am doing fall short... because they do not
know why I do the things I do. Those who know can do the things I do.
"You can't be a bridge player if you can't take a 2000 fall."
"Four diamonds doubled is like eight diamonds."
"I did not ask to be famous."
"Please NEVER play trump on defense, even if it is the right play...
I can't live with it."
"Four clubs is never to play."
"All I do is win and win and win you still think I'm a terrible player."
"It was not a play error, it was a play concept error."
"I'm the biggest masterpoint winner in California, doesn't that count for anything?"
"Those who can't lose 1700 can't win 1700 either."
"I have no opinion of myself, which is making me even more mad, because it is
not my concern what I am."
"Experts say I am an expert, novices say I am an expert, intermediates say I
am an expert, advanced players say I stink."
"We don't use what is called count and attitude...we don't lead 4th best
nor 3/5th and any of these things."
"I like to play short suit game tries, with k or q response positive,
"I regret to say I am right more often than I wish to be."
03.31.03 — It's been a while:
G: O_Bones is so malicious and devious, that he makes me vomit!
03.22.03 — Gee results update: As of today, according to his site, 2867 hands of IMPs, averaging -0.6435 per board, and 569 hands of MPs, averaging 42.32%.
03.17.03 — Heard in Gee-spec:
G: Aaron makes a living misrepresenting what people say
I knew I shouldn't have taken that piecework deal.
02.24.03 — Gee tells all! You need wonder no more. For those who aren't handy with spreadsheets I will summarize: 1622 hands at IMPs, with an average score of -0.708; and 250 hands at MPs, with an average score of 44.3%. Now, finally, you begin to understand how terrible his partners really are.
01.26.03 — I was saddened to hear today that Curtis Loftis, curtisxx on OKBridge and a frequent and valued commentator not only in the Gee Chronicles but elsewhere on the site as well, died from heart complications. The honor roll, of which, thanks to his contributions here, he was a prominent member, has been dedicated to him.
Curtis apparently had serious heart problems yet never mentioned them in public, at least not to me. He was 48 years old.
Scarce a day doth pass, but that I hear
01.13.03 — Yes, I know my OKBridge account is closed, and sincere thanks to everyone for their concern. Nobody forced me, or even encouraged me to close it; but I waste a lot of time on the thing and this is about the only way I can make myself stop. I'm sure I'll be back, but perhaps not right away. The Chronicles will of course continue.
12.30.02 — Someone sent a harrassing email to Gerard, using my name and the name of someone else who I seriously doubt had anything to do with it. (Hint: the usual point of setting up a bogus email account is to conceal your identity.) Anything I have to say I say here in public, not in snide, misspelled, witless and unpunctuated private missives. Anyone who thinks I condone such behavior has been missing the point of this site by a rather long stretch. Seriously, try the AOL chat rooms: I hear they're tons of fun!
12.16.02 Miss me? I understand. But as I warned you before, other duties, like earning a living, have begun to interfere with my updates to the site, and I usually quit projects the moment they succeed. (If you really want more Chronicles, then donate a few bucks. It's quick, it's easy, and the more you give the more I write. Send me enough and I'll even implement new features, like hand search and a glossary.)
In the meantime I shall try to stick to the following reduced schedule.
New hands every three days. Yes, I've missed a couple lately. Don't worry, I'll make it up to you.
New WWGD every month. The next installment will be before the end of the month.
New Dr. Robert when I feel like it. The good doctor is sitting out the holidays at the Betty Ford Treatment Center while I audition a replacement. If I like the results they will appear soon. No promises.
And thanks to all my readers for bearing with me through this time of apathy.
11.09.02 Several readers have asked to be able to post comments at Dr. Robert. Now you can. Knock yourself out.
In other news, Gee raises the bar for web designers, which I had to show you because it's so pretty and sparkly and stuff.
11.08.02 Dross writes:
With two months to go, Gerard is winning masterpoints at a blistering pace. His 82 points YTD is nearly double his closest competitor in his unit's Mini-McKenney Sectional Master (50 to 100 MPs) Race. A good showing in Phoenix will secure his title. Watch Gee's progress.
Thanks Doug. We shall.
10.16.02 Loyal reader mercutia writes:
I thought perhaps Gee might find it helpful to do as I have done. I've noticed that sometimes, his partners ask him questions such as "WHY????" or "how could you [x]????" Well, occasionally, my partners have done the same thing, and since my answers seem to have gone unheard, I took the liberty of making myself several little cards, about 1.5"x2.5". When partner poses the interrogative, i just reach into my wallet, pull one out, and hand it silently across the table. i thought that perhaps Gee would like to have some of these cards printed up too. They say:They are.
10.16.02 Several diligent readers scanned back issues of The Bridge World and came up with several mentions of Ron Gerard and Larry Cohen, a famous partnership of the 70s and 80s, though none of Gee himself. So what Gee meant, when he said the magazine had written about him "several times," was that it had written about a partnership whose names coincide with his own. Can happen to anyone.
10.14.02 Last night Gee readmitted me to spec! I was speccing Mini-Gee, minding my own business the way you readers know I always do, when Gee came along, seated himself at the table, noticed me in spec, and informed me, apropos of nothing, that I could stay. I was warned, however, that this was a suspension, not a commutation, of my life sentence. I prepared a nice hand in honor of this; but say hello while I last.
10.04.02 I know I owe you a hand from yesterday, my little chickadees. It will appear by tomorrow, along with tomorrow's. Dontcha trust me?
Spec #1: try and get into challenge the champs, I think you could
Gee modestly disclaims all interest in his Bridge World mentions. Still, I'd certainly like to link to them or provide issue dates at the very least. The trouble is, as Spec #3 points out, the Bridge World web index doesn't exist. Please, someone help.
9.26.02 Yes, I have at last decided on a Bones Principle logo winner. It is dross, for this:
Which will now appear on all Bones Principle hands. Our readers will finally get to see what a two-logo hand really looks like. Doug will win, besides everlasting glory, whatever it was I decided to give away, whenever I get around to sending it. The entries were excellent, as ever, and I should note especially the runner-up, from a modest reader:
9.22.02 Gee seems to have his knickers in a twist. You can read the whole thing if you like, but there are a few points of interest:
Aaron, as usual, you lie, you misrepresent everything on the sole purpose to make me look like a fool...You carefully suppressed the lines in between that lead to my comments, but this is not the first time you do that. You are very deceptive, Mister!
I'm pretty sure he's accusing me of hiding something, although his syntax is difficult to parse. He doesn't tell me what I hid or cite any other examples of my alleged misrepresentations. An eyewitness to the remarks I quoted testifies to my complete accuracy. Everything Gee writes to me I publish prominently and in full, including, of course, this.
On another subject, you reported in your so called columns a discussion we had, you and I, about a squeeze play. That discussion never happened, it is a pure invention of your imagination, and I don't care if what you wrote makes me look good, it is all false.
Now this is interesting. Why would I fabricate a discussion that makes Gee look good if I were interested in character assassination? I wouldn't, of course. But the comments were spelled and punctuated properly and the analysis was sound, so I thought something might be fishy. I checked my referer logs, and sure enough, the comments that were purportedly from Gee came, not from his provider, but from an ISP in the UK. So what happened? I guess some misguided avenger of Gee's honor sent in these comments under his name to make me look bad. I will retain the comments, but under the name of "pseudo-Gerard," until the impostor decides to reveal himself. It was scurrilous of me to accuse Gee of analyzing a hand correctly, and it won't happen again.
On the same token, you reported questions asked by justinl and shotgun. They never asked you these questions.And that's just the tip of the iceberg. "Superstitious in the Sudan" isn't really from the Sudan. "Mystified in Missoula" isn't from Missoula either. I've even heard rumors that Dr. Robert doesn't have an M.D. Now that would be a scandal.
Meanwhile, for all the reasons I mentioned earlier, I do not accept a challenge by you at the bridge table until these columns about me either stop or stop being a character assassination of me. Show yourself as a gentleman, and then we'll talk, but not before.
Perhaps an analogy would be in order. I offer to flip you a coin for $100. You answer, "Tell you what, pay me the $100 and then we'll flip." I think something got lost in translation here. I'll go through it again, slowly. Closing down the site is not a condition of the match; it is the stake of the match. You can't make the stake a condition, because then there isn't a stake any more.
I refer the interested reader to several examples of gentlemanly discourse.
9.14.02 Playing with or against Gee poses unique challenges. You've got questions? We've got answers! Mail your Gee-specific questions to our own Dr. Robert, and he'll tell you what you need to know. Coming soon.
9.10.02 I'm told not personally of course, but by a third party that Gee has declined to play my challenge match. My conditions are apparently unfair. After careful consideration, I am willing to abandon my third condition. He need not advertise my site on his card since everyone knows where it is anyway. While I'm at it, I'll drop the second condition as well; why shouldn't Gee retain the right to banish spectators, especially at other people's tables? And now that I think about it, I don't really want him to open his Lehmans either, lest he scare off prospective opponents. Better drop that too. I've already agreed that Gee can choose his partner; suppose I let him choose mine as well, no experience necessary. Finally, I think it only fair that if I have to close down my site if I lose, I should have to close it down if I win as well. I look forward to further negotiation.
9.09.02 A reader was kind enough to forward a complete copy of Bridge Is a Conversation, which I plan to peruse over the next couple of days. There will be additions to the book page. For now, I leave you with this: "Recently, I played Roman Club 1959 with a partner and got rimmed by him because I used a modification that appeared in the 1961 version." "Rimmed"? Did he really say "rimmed"?
9.06.02 For all your web design needs.
All Gee has to do is agree to play a 100-board IMP match, with a partner of his choice, against me and Justin Lall, who is already well-known to God of the Machine readers. Two experts against an intermediate and a child: piece of cake. And if he wins, I close down the site, forever, no tricks. But if, by some remote chance, he loses, the following conditions obtain:
Now is that a reasonable offer or what?
8.29.02 Yes, it's time for another logo contest. Several readers have asked for a Bones Principle logo. I hear you. Of course I could Google up a skull and crossbones or something, but I'd rather you guys do my work for me. The prize, as ever, is an inscribed copy of Shadow in the Bridge World, by the Bones Principle author himself, whose work is not confined to bidding theory. All entries, as usual, to me; as usual, the contest closes when I get something I really like.8.26.02 In a recent hand Gee's partner opened 1NT and accepted a 2D transfer to hearts, over an intervening double, holding Ax. The ensuing ardent discussion of bidding theory deserves to be quoted in full:
Spec #1: Why did he accept the transfer? Does anyone else play accepting the transfer promises 3 after a double?
8.24.02 Turns out I had the wrong idea about that phone call. Here's the real story. "I called Aaron, not to threaten him, but to tell him that I meant business and I was not just making noise. And if he doesn't like it, he had better lay low."
You see? It wasn't a threat after all. Glad we cleared that up.
8.23.02 I got a weird phone call yesterday from some guy with a French accent. Didn't identify himself, just started in: "I just want you to know that I have your home telephone number and your address and my lawyer has..." I hung up at that point. I'm a very tolerant person. I wait until the second time before I call the police.
And here's a little excerpt from yesterday's spec chatter:
G: all of you specs... If you really care, and you seem to... most of you at least, please help me to chase aaron away from here so all this horrible stuff ends
Sounds like fun. Can I play too?
8.19.02 I had nothing to do with this.
8.14.02 Gee was wondering the other day how I knew what was going on at his table when I wasn't there myself. Well, you know how, when you watch the news on TV, you find out about things that happen in faraway places, even though you weren't there, because the nice TV reporters explain it to you and show you pictures and stuff? Same thing.
8.09.02 Today we really do have news. It turns out that Marilyn Monroe committed suicide because she was despondent over the fact that spectators laughed at her when she made mistakes playing online bridge. Her and so many others.
8.06.02 Some reorganization. Hands are listed first now, since they are the most popular item. "Quote Archive" has been renamed to the snappier "Table Talk," and now includes the ten most recent quotes on the main page. No need to click a link to get the latest. Quotes from Bridge Is a Conversation are now listed by category. There will be some further changes, and feedback is welcomed as ever.
8.03.02 Today's hand is in a slightly different format, showing the names of the players over the hands and the bids instead of at the top. Comments about whether you prefer this are appreciated.
It is remarkable that aaron only shows boards with a bad results and of course pin the blame on me, regardless of the reasons that led to that bad result. He has not shown anything positive at all I might have done during the course of the 500 or more hands I play a week, which makes a minimum of 26,000 boards a year (500 boards a week x 52 weeks a year), but found the 35 worst possible examples in the same period. Does that mean that I played 25,965 boards correctly during that period?
Why, yes! Yes it does! And now it should be clear why I don't publish Gee's "positive" results. If, let's suppose, I were able to find two or three examples of brilliant bids or plays on Gee's part, and published them, that would imply that he'd butchered the 25,997 other hands he played that year. Which would compromise the reputation for objective reporting that I work so hard to maintain.
7.31.02 Several readers have asked that the hand format be changed so that the diagram and the bidding always match and the dealer is clear. To the OKB hand format, in other words. Well, here at God of the Machine the customer is #1! All hands are now in standard format.
7.30.02 Gee, We Hardly Knew Ye...Were Quitting
Another time I edited his guest commentary for spelling and subject-verb agreement without notifying my readers. I realize now that this was a clear breach of journalistic ethics. It won't happen again.
When I began to write hands for the site I occasionally conveyed the impression that Gee's bidding or play was less than expert here, for instance, or here. And here and here too. (Also here and here and here, come to think of it.) It should have been obvious to my readers that these lapses were simply a matter of my inability to express myself clearly. But still, mea culpa.
Finally, I wish to clarify that the sole purpose of these pages is to help non-experts learn from the masters, from a particular master, to play better bridge. If certain malicious readers have taken what I write in some other spirit, then I deeply regret it. Really.
7.24.02 I know I've delayed quite a while, because my decision was difficult. The winner of the Sticks & Wheels Logo Contest is bon, and here's her winning logo, which now marks each Sticks & Wheels hand for easy reference:
The overall quality of the entries was impressive. Here are a couple of the other finalists. From dross:
Thanks to everyone who played.
7.21.02 The following people are banned from watching any table on OKBridge where Gerard is playing. I publish this chart for reference. If I've overlooked anyone, please let me know.
7.20.02 Sticks and Wheels week is over, but the Sticks and Wheels logo contest continues. Some very nice entries so far, and soon I will show some of them, but something tells me there are graphics geniuses out there from whom I haven't yet heard.
A word of thanks to all you readers who continue to send me hands and quotes from Gerard's tables. Everything I publish comes from you, and this note, though inadequate, will have to suffice to express my gratitude. I hope the pleasure you get from reading this site compensates the trouble you take to help me with it.
7.16.02 Logo contest update: Some nice entries so far, but I'm not closing it yet. Bear in mind that I want something that looks good even fairly small: not icon-sized, but 150x150 pixels or thereabouts. Keep them coming.
7.13.02 Temper temper. Yesterday Gerard threw out all the spectators for disrespect, including the ones who were minding their own business. Careful what you wish for.
This week I'm inaugurating a special feature, the 1100 Collection. I'm going to need a logo for it, and as regular readers have probably figured out, logos aren't exactly in my line. So it's contest time. The designer of the winning logo will receive a credit, an autographed copy of Mike Wiss's amusing book, Shadow in the Bridge World, and anything else I can find around the apartment. All submissions via email to me. The contest ends when I say so.
7.09.02 A special bonus today. Stat card madness!
7.07.02 You will now find comment forms available on all Gee hands. All comments may be published at my discretion. If you wish to contact me privately there are means available. Valid email addresses are required, and if you have an OKBridge account I would like to know your login although I don't insist. Happy posting.
7.06.02 Looks like I'm banned for good from Gerard's tables, effective immediately. I could come back if I took down the site; fat chance. Try not to miss me too much OK? I also want to thank everyone who has sent me quotes and hands for your remarkable generosity; you know who you are. If I don't use yours right away please don't be insulted, and please keep sending them. I will probably get around to them, and as all experienced Gee spectators know, there is a superabundance of material.
I'm in the process of refining an XML-based method of storing hands that will allow me to post them much more quickly and add some useful sorting and searching capacities. Meanwhile I will try to adhere to my hand a day schedule. Thank you all for reading.