Al The Plumber

Nauseating Bridge Quotes: Marty Bergen

MARTY BERGEN: (cross-referenced to Bob Blanchard, Jill Blanchard (now Levin), Larry Cohen, Sue Emery, Brian Glubok, Meckwell, Warren Rosner, Steve Sanborn, and Allan Stauber)

Bergen (in a Grand National Teams match): What happened on the hand that was passed out at your table?

Stauber: It went Pass, Pass, Pass, Pass!

Bergen, my RHO, (after taking infinite time to decide what to open): 1NT

Larry Cohen (Bergen’s partner): What does he have this time? TWO stiff kings?

As per usual before playing with Bergen, he would thrust 100+ pages of the latest notes at his current victim, err, I mean partner. Even worse, these had approximately a zillion auctions each on some of the pages. But that was just one sterling attribute. Back during the Jurassic Period, most people including Bergen did not have a word processor. Apparently, he couldn’t barter his bridge lessons for typing services either. Thus, everything was handwritten, and it was mimeographed on unlined blurry purplish-blue paper besides. But wait! It gets worse. Clearly, Bergen should have gone to medical school. He easily would have led his prescription writing class in most atrocious handwriting. He also completely ignored lines even if they were available such as on the convention card. Thus, he took a stab at the correct area, and would write some indistinguishable nonsense at an upward 45 degree angle for some convention, downward at 30 degrees somewhere else, etc. I suppose that didn’t matter much anyway because Bergen would sometimes forget his own bids. I think his favorite screw-up was the Good-Bad 2NT; his partners were great at this too! Of course, I NEVER messed it up! ☺

Anyway, we were playing in a National Men’s Pair event somewhat before Jill Blanchard filed her lawsuit vs. the ACBL and got it changed (to the Open Pairs) so she could play in them with her husband, Bob. (Elsewhere there is another hand that I played against them.) We were about 10th with one session to go. The Meckwell boys were leading.

Bergen had given me some minor suit Blackwood system in the notes, but when I unleashed it against Meckwell, he promptly forgot it. So that was a disaster. That was nice timing by Marty for a double swing! He couldn’t wait to execute that maneuver against some pair that was out of contention??? I got back at him by later getting a slow play penalty against another pair that I think was out of contention. That is the proper technique for such tactics.

After the session was over, Bergen skedaddled, and as usual, I was playing “Can You Top This Fiasco?” with some of the other addicts.


Sue Emery, The ACBL Daily Butchery and Undeserved Results Bulletin editor (said to Stauber): Congratulations.

Stauber: For what?

Emery: You won!

I was never so surprised in my life to win an event! This shows that good bridge such as ours gets rewarded! Furthermore, to the delight of the readers, I believe that they got a one day reprieve before having to look at our mug shots because Bergen’s mug couldn’t be located. That’s in addition to the 100 gallon one that he always used to lug around with him. He always claimed he had water in there. If so, it must have been heavy water.

I did notice that guys from the Los Alamos National Lab used to kibitz him all the time. There were also a bunch of chicks who looked Russian, but they spoke English as perfectly as Michael Jackson’s “ABC”. However, on the (rare) occasions when they were psyched up by our perfect partnership music, sometimes they said something about singing to the “KGB”.

Incidentally, my slow play penalty was on a round for which we got 76 out of a possible 76 matchpoints before the penalty was applied! It would have been even more amazing if that had been the total including the penalty. (OK, it’s not as impressive as when Warren Rosner and Paul Grossman got 0 out of 50 for their slow play round in the New York City Goldman Pairs Regional event — and that’s before deducting the penalty! Therefore, they were negative for the round! In addition, somehow they didn’t emerge victorious in the event.)

Bergen (to Stauber, perhaps in the 1980’s): The next Nationals that I WON’T play in, is the one after I’m dead!

Apparently, Bergen has been dead for over 15 years, since he hasn’t been seen in any Nationals for at least that long. (Come to think of it, I disappeared from most Nationals for somewhat more than that amount of time too. Uh oh, this may start rumors!) Surprisingly, his ghostwriter continues to fire off articles and books.

Even more astonishingly, I talked to his ghost on the phone a year or two ago! Who claims there are no such things as ghosts? Haven’t they ever heard of a “phantom pair”? What morons! I hear women say it all the time when I take shortcuts in the bidding department, I mean department stores, and they always seemed to be designed to go through lingerie departments.


cam frenchJanuary 16th, 2011 at 5:10 am

Loved your post.

My friend Monelle talks highly of you.

Perhaps this summer you will venture north (yes will will need the AC in July) for the summer NABCs in my terre natale and city of residence – Toronto.

Hope so,



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