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08 May 2015 @ 04:37 pm
This year I'm an (invited!) panelist at Albacon, May 8-10, in Albany, NY.  Here's my schedule:

Saturday, May 9:

Reading, Kenneth Schneyer, 11:00 a.m. (I'm going to read my new not-yet-published story, "The Plausibility of Dragons.")

"Borders (if any) Between Fan & 'Original' Fiction", Mur Lafferty, Andre Lievin, Kenneth Schneyer (moderator), Anatoly Bililovsky, noon.

Autographing, Barbara Chepaitis & Kenneth Schneyer.  (I'll have copies of The Law & the Heart for sale, just in case you didn't bring your own. :) ) 1:30 p.m.

"SF vs. Fantasy -- is there a difference?", Mercurio Rivera, Paul Park, Catherine Stine, James L. Cambias, Kenneth Schneyer, Chuck Rothman (moderator), 4:00 p.m.

"Flash Fiction", Electra Hammond (moderator), Kate Laity, Kenneth Schneyer, Alex Shvartsman, Chuck Rothman.

Sunday, May 10:

"The Future of Copyright", Mur Lafferty, Kenneth Schneyer 1:00 p.m.

So yeah, Saturday's gonna be pretty busy.  If you happen to be in Albany this weekend, come say hello!
Current Mood: Chipper
Current Music: Hammond Song (The Roches)
04 April 2015 @ 10:32 am
A happy birthday to my friend madderbrad, always supportive, and enthusiastic.  Many happy returns!

Here's my father's third extant bridge column.  It's one of my favorites, as he loved to quote the first paragraph over and over.  I'd forgotten about takeout doubles and overcalls, but it all begins to come back to me now...

Mathematical Genius, or, Points Are Points

By Jerome J. Schneyer, M.D.

Southfield News

June 1, 1967

A group of research scientists have recently announced that they have discovered a certain type of animal of measurable, but limited, intelligence. It is able to count to thirteen and twenty-six, but is completely unable to count as high as forty. What I would like to know is how that animal so frequently gets situated across the bridge table from me. Let the scientists answer that one.


  7 5 4

  10 8 3 2

  5 4 2

  A Q J


  K Q J 9

  K J 6 4

  K 7 6

  8 2


  6 3 2

  9 7

  J 10 9 8 3

  9 6 4


  A 10 8

  A Q 5

  A Q

  K 10 7 5 3

Rubber bridge                         S          W        N         E

Vulnerable: none                    1       dbl       pass     1

South deals                            2 NT    pass     3 NT    pass

                                              Pass pass

Opening lead: K

First, as to the bidding: whether or not North should bid 2 over the takeout double is a matter of debate; with a hand as square as North has, it is usually better to pass and await developments.

South hesitated a few seconds after the dummy went down; North, being slightly theatrical, had put down the beautiful club suit last of all and South was trying to reswallow his heart after thinking the dummy was trickless. Having done this, he began to think, in this case a very fortunate circumstance for the opponents, of how to play the hand. Eight tricks were cold and finesses were possible in both red suits for a ninth, he pondered. Furthermore, there would be no point in holding off in spades, since both finesses must be taken into West; finally, he thought, diamonds must be the suit to try, since West is likely to have both majors, and East bid diamonds.

The cogitation over, South scooped in the first trick with the A♠, crossed over to the dummy J♣, and led a small diamond, finessing the queen. West gobbled up this trick, ran his three good spaces, and got out with a club. South then expended a considerable amount of time and energy in worry, but to no avail; West was certain to get a heart trick and the contract was doomed.

As the cards were being dealt for the next hand, South, in an effort to placate North, whose wattles were flushed a delightful shade of crimson with rage, commented to the effect that "they can't all be on-side" or some other such trivia. That did it. North proceeded to comment acidly on South's ancestry, place of origin, legitimacy, intelligence, and other assorted attributes and, in the course of his Phillipic, happened to mention the correct way to play the hand, briefly thus:

West made a takeout double, a bid requiring 14 points. Inasmuch as south is looking at 26 points between his own hand and the dummy, and there are only 40 points total in the cards, it is obvious that both finesses are bound to lose, since East cannot possibly hold a king (unless someone has slipped in a funny deck). This being the case, South should merely run his five club tricks and then lead the spade ten, allowing West to run his three tricks (West doesn't likely have a five-card spade suit, else he would have overcalled rather than making a takeout double). West must then lead away from one of his red kings and the contract rolls home.

So please try to remember to learn to count to forty; surely you don't want the scientists investigating you.

* * * * * * *

And here's the column in its original printed form:

Mathematical Genius or Points Are Points 1 June 1967
Current Location: Ahead of the storm
Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative
Current Music: Downton Abbey theme music
I'm unforgivably late in posting this; my apologies.

This year I'm going to start by mentioning stories I've read that I think would be good award candidates this year.  I haven't done nearly as much reading this year as I'd like (especially at longer lengths), so I'm sure there are lots of wonderful things missing.  But here goes:


  • E. C. Ambrose, Elisha Magus

  • James Cambias, A Darkling Sea

  • Grady Hendrix, Horrorstör


  • Nancy Kress, Yesterday's Kin

  • Ken Liu, "The Regular" (Upgraded)


  • N. K. Jemisin, "Stone Hunger" (Clarkesworld)

  • Sam J. Miller, "We Are the Cloud" (Lightspeed)

Short Story:

  • Helena Bell, "Married" (Upgraded)

  • Adam-Troy Castro, "The Thing About Shapes to Come" (Lightspeed)

  • Lara Elena Donnelly, "Chopin's Eyes" by Lara Elena Donnelly (Strange Horizons)

  • Amal El-Mohtar, "The Lonely Sea in the Sky" (Lightspeed)

  • Matthew Kressel, "The Meeker and the All-Seeing Eye" (Clarkesworld)

  • Carmen Maria Machado, "Observations about Eggs from the Man Sitting Next to Me on a Flight from Chicago, Illinois to Cedar Rapids, Iowa" (Lightspeed)

  • Shira Lipkin, "The Final Girl" (Strange Horizons)

  • Ken Liu, "The Clockwork Soldier" (Clarkesworld)

  • Usman Malik, "Resurrection Points" (Strange Horizons)

  • Sarah Pinsker, "No Lonely Seafarer" (Lightspeed)

  • Sofia Samatar, "How to Get Back to the Forest" (Lightspeed)

  • Damien Angelica Walters, "The Serial Killer's Astronaut Daughter" (Strange Horizons)

  • Alyssa Wong, "Santos de Sampaguitas" (Strange Horizons)

Dramatic Work:

  • I Remember the Future, (Klayton Stainer, dir, based on the story by Michael A. Burstein)

YA/Middlegrade (Andre Norton Award):

  • Matt London,The 8th Continent.

Now for the sake of completeness, here are my own award-eligible stories from 2014:
I've put mine at the end because I'm not actually suggesting any of them as a candidate this year.  I like them all, but only "Levels of Observation" breaks any new ground, and "The Orpheus Fountain" has the most heart.  In all honesty, I'd rather see one of the stories on my favorites list win than one of my own (this year, that is. :) ).
Current Location: Winter Storm Juno
Current Mood: Sleepy
Current Music: Wind
Here's "On Advice from Mothers", my father's bridge column from May 25, 1967.  I'm able to follow most of this, although the nuances of doubles and duplicate bridge are a little beyond me.  (NB, the crack about North Dakota is heartfelt; we spent two years in Minot when Dad was in the Air Force, ending less than four years before this column came out.)

* * * * *

On Advice from Mothers

By Jerome J. Schneyer, M.D.

Southfield News

(May 25, 1967)

Once upon a time, there was a poor but honest boy named Jack, who, having demonstrated his bridge supremacy in his home town of Flouridation, North Dakota, set out to make his mark in the big wide world of bridge players. Jack had a kindly (aren't they all?) mother, who gave him this parting advice: "Jack, always trust people; the best in human nature will shine through." Very sweet. She can play bridge against me anytime.


K 6

A 10 9 8 5

K Q 6 2

4 2


  Q J 10 5


  8 7 3

  A Q J 8 5

East (Jack)

  A 9 7 4 2

  K 3

  A 9 4

  K 9 3


  8 3

  Q J 7 4 2

  J 10 5

  10 7 6

Duplicate bridge                                 N         E         S          W

Both vulnerable                                 1        dbl       2        dbl

North deals                                        pass     pass     3        pass    

                                                         pass     dbl       pass     pass


Opening lead: A

Jack hated to overcall on such a shaky space suit in the East seat and, besides, he had a textbook takeout double. South, the deceptive wretch, realized that, unless his partner's opening bid were very strong, and possible even then, East-West must have a cinch game in spades. Holding such wonderful heart support and no defensive values at all, he could afford to jazz up the bidding a bit; so he made a jump bid to 2♠ on a holding of 8-3 doubleton, just like he had it.

West naturally doubled this bid and, when the bidding came around to south again, he "rescued" himself to 3. Now West hated to bid clubs at the four level, so he passed the 3bid around to his partner, feeling that good old Jack would not forget his previous double.

The decision was in good hands: sure enough, Jack remembered that West had doubled 2♠ but, on looking at his own spade length, Jack figured that the double had been based on generally distributed strength. He remembered his mother's advice and trusted South's bidding implicitly, figuring South for something like K-Q-x-x-x of spades and Q-x-x of hearts. In any event, it was obvious that East-West had a misfit and that the opponents were never going to make 3. Decision made. . . "Double!" from Jack.

He was right, too. Three hearts went down one for 200 points to East-West and Jack was preening himself for heeding his mother when West drily pointed out that this penalty was hardly compensation for a vulnerable game, to say nothing of the ice-cold slam that East-West had missed. Poor Jack! To this day, he doesn't trust anyone, including his mother.

Shed a tear for Jack. Better bridge players than he have been talked out of contracts before this. Jack's trouble was that he placed too much faith in the opponents' bidding. Always remember that those guys are going to be giving you very little; they're out for themselves, drat 'em. In a situation like this, believe your partner; if he doubles the opponents' bid when logic tells you that he can't possibly have their suit, somebody is trying to pull a fast one and it's probably NOT your partner; he's on your side (it says here).


Here's the column in its original published form:

On Advice from Mothers 25 May 1967 (cropped)
Current Location: Home
Current Mood: reminiscent
Current Music: More Tom Lehrer
25 January 2015 @ 03:02 pm
Here's my schedule for Boskone 52, February 13-15 at the Westin Boston Waterfront.  Hmmm, they have me moderating three (!) panels, and doing three (!) readings.  I'd better get to work.

* * * * *

Reading: Kenneth Schneyer

Friday 21:30 - 21:55, Griffin

Kenneth Schneyer

Dune — 50 Years later

Saturday 13:00 - 13:50, Harbor I

Frank Herbert's Dune, published in 1955, was an epic science fiction saga that won the Hugo Award and the Nebula Award in 1966. Now, 50 years after its publication, we look back at the legacy left by Frank Herbert and his unique vision of a feudal interstellar society that was rocked by political machinations, contentious religious orders, and a very lucrative spice trade — and giant worms! How has this seminal work held up over time? What place might it take in the science fiction hall of fame? Panelists also discuss the impact that Dune has had on their own work as well as on the development of science and science fiction.

Kenneth Schneyer (Moderator) , Scott Lynch , Beth Meacham , Joan Slonczewski, Walter Jon Williams , Karl Schroeder

Constructive Criticism for Revising Novel-Length Work

Saturday 15:00 - 15:50, Burroughs

Both getting and giving constructive criticism can be a challenge when going through the revision process, particularly for longer works. As a writer: how do you know what to ask of a potential critic, and how do you provide feedback on the success of the critique? As a critic: how do you identify and communicate issues or problems to the author? How do you keep track of plot threads, identify themes, and figure out what questions need to be asked? Also, how should writer and critic approach a series?

Kenneth Schneyer (Moderator) , Gregory Feeley, Ken Liu, John P. Murphy , Margaret Ronald

Cambridge SF Workshop Group Reading

Saturday 18:00 - 18:50, Griffin

A rapid-fire reading by the members of the Cambridge Science Fiction Writers Workshop, featuring Heather Albano, James Cambias, Brett Cox, James Patrick Kelly, Alex Jablokov, Steven Popkes (M), Kenneth Schneyer, and Sarah Smith.

Flash Fiction Slam

Sunday 09:30 - 11:00, Marina 4

Join Boskone's second Flash Fiction Slam. Be one of eleven (11) writers to compete for the title of The Flash, reading your own original fiction — which must tell a complete tale within a 3-minute period. Our expert panel of judges will score your work, and you automatically lose 10 percent for going over your 3-minute time. You may only read your own work. The reader with the top score wins! Sign up before the con for one of eight (8) reading slots on a first-come, first-served basis by e-mailing Or sign up onsite at Program Ops in the Galleria for one of three (3) at-con openings. A waiting list will also be available.

Carrie Cuinn (M), James Patrick Kelly , Kenneth Schneyer, Fran Wilde, F. Brett Cox

Writing Workshops: What's Right for You as a New Writer?

Sunday 11:00 - 11:50, Marina 3

Thinking about attending a writing workshop or an MFA program? Wondering how to pick which one is right for you? Once you do, then what? There is no magic formula to elicit an acceptance letter, but a solid application is a good place to start. Join representatives from various writing programs and learn how to present the best of what you have to offer as a student.

Kenneth Schneyer (Moderator), Debra Doyle, Theodora Goss , Shahid Mahmud, Jill Shultz

Autographing: Mur Lafferty, Kenneth Schneyer, Alison Sinclair, Charles Stross

Sunday 13:00 - 13:50, Galleria-Autographing

Current Location: Barrington
Current Mood: Nervous
Current Music: Tom Lehrer, "We Will All Go Together When We Go"
This is the earliest of my dad's bridge columns of which I have a copy.  First my trancribed (and slightly edited) version, then the original, scanned.

Orange Sauce Duck

by Jerome J. Schneyer, M.D.

Southfield News

May 18, 1967

Most bridge players are plagued with maxims that do more toward adding to their confusion about the game than they ever help: "never lead away from a king," "second hand low," "when in doubt lead trump." One of the oldest chestnuts that trickles down to us from the early days of whist is: "always cover an honor with an honor . . . kings were made to capture queens." In knightly days perhaps, but not always at the bridge table.


  7 6 2

8 5 4

  A Q J 10 7

  K 3


  A 10 8 5 4

  K J 7 3

  5 3

  8 2


  Q 3

  9 6 2

  K 8 6 4

  10 9 7 4


  K J 9

  A Q 10

  9 2

  A Q J 6 5

Rubber bridge                         E         S          W        N

Vulnerable: N/S                      pass     1       1♠        2       

East deals                                pass     2 NT    pass     3 NT   

                                               All pass

Opening lead: ♠5

There is a magnificent dish served in fine restaurants and enjoyed by gourmets the world over: duck with orange sauce. Bridge players, too are familiar with duck, of another sort. The common situation is x-x of a suit on the board and A-x-x in declarer's hand in a no-trump contract. The suit is led and the declarer waits until the third round to take his ace, hoping that by so "ducking" he will exhaust the opening leader's partner of the suit so that he cannot return it if he wins the lead. There are, however, many other ducking situations, a little more esoteric, but profitable to know.

The Queen of Spades

The South of our example was no gourmet, indeed he was something of a hog; he was familiar with the common, garden-variety of duck but, beyond this, he relied on the aforementioned maxims. He didn't see, when the queen of spades popped up out of the East hand at trick one, how he could get better value for his king. "Kings are made to capture queens," he was heard to mutter, as he scooped in the first trick; besides, if the diamond king were onside, he might as well make twelve tricks.

East Returned

Too bad! South had forgotten that his side had only contracted for nine tricks; when his nine of diamonds lost to the king at trick two, East returned a spade right through J-9 and West gleefully rattled off four spade tricks to sink the contract.

Was Not Enough

South should have realized that a gourmet-flavored duck was in order. Had he waited until the second or third trick to take his spade trick, West would have been unable to return the suit and South would have made at least nine tricks to wrap up the rubber. And what if East had three spades to start with and West allowed South to hold the second spade trick? Why then, West could take at most three tricks in spades altogether and that, added to the king of diamonds, would not have been enough to beat three no trump.

Humdrum Diet

So remember poor South and even if you do not frequently partake of gourmet foods, keep the duck with orange sauce in mind; it may sparkle an otherwise humdrum diet and earn you a good many compliments from your gourmet partners.


Here's the original (note that they mispelled his name, another reason I think this may be the first column he published):

Orange Sauce Duck 18 May 1967 (cropped)
Current Location: Home
Current Mood: Happy
Current Music: None
11 January 2015 @ 11:43 am
I finished cataloguing all of my Dad's bridge columns, or at least all the ones I have in my possession.  I have 142 of them, although the internal evidence suggests that there must actually be closer to 325 in total.  The first one I know of is dated May 18, 1967 (my mother's 32nd birthday), and the last one August 8, 1973, and he clearly was writing one per week for a long time.  Someday I may go to the Southfield Public Library and check their microfilm records to see if the other ones really exist.

Here's a link to my original post about these columns.

For the ones I have, the breakdown by year is as follows:

1967: 21
1968: 18
1969: 28
1970: 22
1971: 21
1972: 18
1973: 14

I have multiple copies of some columns, mostly labeled in my Mom's handwriting, as if she bought several papers so that she could distribute the columns to friends and family.  A few don't have visible dates, and some have no titles.

I think I'll try my hand at posting these columns on a weekly basis (more-or-less), which would take me something like three years to complete if I did all the ones I have.  If I can, I'll provide both the original column and a transcription.

Here is a chronological list.  For the columns without dates, I've estimated the date based on other clues such as printing format (which changed several times during the six years) and articles on the obverse side of the page.

18-May-1967 Orange Sauce Duck
25-May-1967 On Advice from Mothers
1-Jun-1967 Mathematical Genius, or, Points Are Points
8-Jun-1967 The Illegal Slam
22-Jun-1967 A Noble Sacrifice
29-Jun-1967 That's the Breaks
13-Jul-1967 Late Hours, Loose Play
20-Jul-1967 A Nod to the Mod
27-Jul-1967 Genius and Good Guesses
3-Aug-1967 Loves Sweet Song
10-Aug-1967 It's Magic
17-Aug-1967 Foiling (date uncertain)
27-Aug-1967 Three Against One
7-Sep-1967 Reprieving
14-Sep-1967 Edged Sword
21-Sep-1967 Matter of Trust
28-Sep-1967 Big Mouth
26-Oct-1967 Value Received
22-Nov-1967 Village
7-Dec-1967 Experience
14-Dec-1967 Stringently
11-Jan-1968 Decisions
1-Feb-1968 For the Ladies
8-Feb-1968 Knowledge
15-Feb-1968 Bored
7-Mar-1968 No Thought
28-Mar-1968 Follow Rules?
13-Apr-1968 Tactical Decision
25-Apr-1968 Half a Loaf
6-Jun-1968 The Acrobat
13-Jun-1968 Imagination
27-Jun-1968 Greedy George
5-Sep-1968 Card Talk
10-Oct-1968 Good and Bad
17-Oct-1968 Goldilocks
24-Oct-1968 Open Wide
27-Nov-1968 Brilliance
18-Dec-1968 About Face
26-Dec-1968 Good Fit
16-Jan-1969 First Decision
23-Jan-1969 Oops! Wrong Card
30-Jan-1969 A Little Care
13-Feb-1969 Expert Goof
27-Feb-1969 Play Well
13-Mar-1969 Meet Lady Carol
20-Mar-1969 Give Up!
27-Mar-1969 You Open?
10-Apr-1969 You Answer
24-Apr-1969 Triple Club
1-May-1969 Precision
16-May-1969 Hear, Hear!
22-May-1969 Responsive?
29-May-1969 Funny Boy
3-Jul-1969 Enough Twine
31-Jul-1969 Refreshing Pause
14-Aug-1969 Giveaway
18-Sep-1969 Reputation
25-Sep-1969 Morning After
9-Oct-1969 Ave Imperatrix!
16-Oct-1969 Blind Spot
23-Oct-1969 Cold Duck
30-Oct-1969 Lead On, Macduff
13-Nov-1969 No Answer
20-Nov-1969 No Ultimate Weapons
4-Dec-1969 Weak Sister
11-Dec-1969 The Hog
26-Dec-1969 Re-Verse
8-Jan-1970 It's Magic
15-Jan-1970 Up, Up, and Away
5-Feb-1970 Losers? Where?
19-Feb-1970 Quizzem
12-Mar-1970 You Guess
26-Mar-1970 Cooperate
9-Apr-1970 Shimmering
16-Apr-1970 Preferentially
23-Apr-1970 Old Saw
30-Apr-1970 Peerless Quiz 4
7-May-1970 Backward
14-May-1970 Simple Simon
25-Jun-1970 Camelot
12-Aug-1970 Simple Finesse
20-Aug-1970 Rhett Foxx
27-Aug-1970 An Extra Ace (date uncertain)
28-Aug-1970 Fantastic!
14-Oct-1970 Surrender? Never!
18-Nov-1970 Fumble Recovery
2-Dec-1970 Forced Out
9-Dec-1970 Baa, Baa, Baa. . .
17-Dec-1970 No Sacrifice
6-Jan-1971 Greed's Price
13-Jan-1971 A Shade Different (date uncertain)
22-Jan-1971 Systems (?)
3-Feb-1971 Persistence
17-Mar-1971 With Innocence
7-Apr-1971 Support for Cindy
14-Apr-1971 A Little Larnin
28-Apr-1971 First Decision
19-May-1971 Ho Ho Ho!
9-Jun-1971 (No Title)
16-Jun-1971 On Precision
30-Jun-1971 Slight Error
21-Jul-1971 (No Title)
4-Aug-1971 Full Value
14-Aug-1971 With Bananas
15-Sep-1971 Enter the Fox
22-Sep-1971 With Trepidation
13-Oct-1971 Taking Care
17-Nov-1971 (No Title)
3-Dec-1971 The Pusher
22-Dec-1971 Jump Up
2-Feb-1972 The Exception
9-Feb-1972 All the Way
23-Feb-1972 A Bit of Wool
1-Mar-1972 Slight Difference
15-Mar-1972 One Too Many
22-Mar-1972 The Royal Page
12-Apr-1972 How to Gamble
24-May-1972 Take Your Time
12-Jul-1972 Chances
16-Jul-1972 Rapid Complaints
22-Jul-1972 Avoiding Defeat
2-Aug-1972 A Trill of Bugles
8-Aug-1972 A Little Thought
17-Aug-1972 Keep Cards On Table / A Way Out
23-Aug-1972 Who's a Dope?
13-Sep-1972 Double Trouble
20-Sep-1972 No Guesswork
18-Oct-1972 Confidence
1-Feb-1973 Loquacious (date uncertain)
7-Mar-1973 Stiff Upper Lip
14-Mar-1973 Why Finesse?
21-Mar-1973 Impossible Dream
26-Mar-1973 A Quick Ruff
4-Apr-1973 Fine Evaluation
2-May-1973 A Simple Problem
9-May-1973 The Answer
16-May-1973 What Honors?
6-Jun-1973 Second Effort
20-Jun-1973 Royal Marriage
5-Jul-1973 Simplicity
2-Aug-1973 Proper Order
8-Aug-1973 Smooth Defense

I'll use this list as the central link for the columns, updating it so that each title will link to the location where I've posted the column.
Current Location: Home
Current Mood: calmcalm
Current Music: Janice talking on the phone to George
05 January 2015 @ 11:33 pm
Here is my schedule for Arisia, January 16-19, Boston Westin Waterfront:

Remembering Robin Williams —Friday, 8:30 pm - 9:45 pm — Marina 1 (2E)

The world lost one of the great funnymen last year when Robin Williams died. From his start as Mork from Ork through cult hits like Toys and Hook to big budget movies like Jumanji and Aladdin, he’s worked in some incredibly memorable genre roles as well. Join us as we remember some of his greatest moments.

Hanna Lee Rubin Abramowitz, Daniel M Kimmel (m), Santiago Rivas, Ken Schneyer, Cheryl Wallace

Character Dynamics — Saturday, 7:00 pm - 8:15 pm — Hale (3W)

You have your cast of characters, now how do you get them to interact the way you want? How can you make them fight, love, and laugh at each other convincingly? How do you make changes in a relationship between characters come about naturally, rather than seeming forced? Our panelists will elucidate on the finer points of getting your characters to behave with each other on the page the way you imagine them in your head.

M. L. Brennan, Jeffrey A. Carver (m), Timothy Goyette, Suzanne Palmer, Ken Schneyer

Fear Is the Mind-Killer: Dune at Fifty — Sunday, 7:00 pm - 8:15 pm — Marina 2 (2E)

In 1965, Frank Herbert’s Dune, which went on to win the 1966 Hugo award, was published. Arriving in the wake of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring a few years earlier, Dune was perhaps the first SF novel to explore ecology on a grand scale. It has spawned several sequels, been adapted into multiple filmed adaptations, and inspired countless works of music in several genres. Come celebrate the 50th anniversary of this seminal work.

John Chu, Max Gladstone, Karl G Heinemann, Ken Schneyer (m), Heather Urbanski

Managing Backstory — Monday 11:30 am - 12:45 pm — Hale (3W)

The backstory is the set of events that happened before your main story begins. These details cover everything from a character’s personal history to the origins of the world itself. How does an author relay that information effectively? How do you determine what should be backstory and what should take center stage?

Genevieve Iseult Eldredge, Elaine Isaak (m), Rachel Kenley, Suzanne Palmer, Ken Schneyer

Reading: Crooks, DeCandido, Schneyer — Monday, 1:00 pm - 2:15 pm— Bulfinch (3W)

Authors Morgan Crooks, Keith R. A. DeCandido, and Ken Schneyer read selections from their works.

Morgan Crooks, Keith R. A. DeCandido, Ken Schneyer

Current Location: Work
Current Mood: sleepysleepy
Current Music: Fanfare from The Hunger Games
03 January 2015 @ 05:18 pm

My father was, among other things, a life master at Contract Bridge.  He told me once that, on the day John F. Kennedy was assassinated, he was sitting in his medical office dealing Bridge hands to himself, because he'd only opened the practice two months before and he hadn't any patients yet.  The radio was on, and that's when he heard the news.  He taught me to play -- twice, actually, as I wasn't a quick learner for card games.  Only once did I ever play against him and my mother when they were teamed up; they blew me and my partner out of the water.  It wasn't even a serious contest.

From roughly 1967 to 1971 (when he was 31-36 years old) he wrote a Bridge column (sometimes weekly, sometimes biweekly) for the Southfield News, called simply "Bridge Hand".  These were about 500 words each, and I think he must have dealt out random hands and made up stories about how they would go.  Often he created characters, and he loved being snarky when describing the play.  Some of them included quizzes on bidding, with answers and explanations provided.

My dad died in 1992, my mom in 2014.  When my mother got sick, she gave me a collection of clippings of "Bridge Hand".  I haven't touched them since I got them (must be at least five years ago), but just today I started sorting and cataloguing.  There are probably well over 100 of them in the collection.  Most of them are labeled with the date -- usually in my mother's handwriting, sometimes in another hand (could be my grandmother, I'm not sure, but never in my dad's).

Here's one of the columns in its original form.  "Reputation," September 18, 1969:

Reputation 18 Sep 1969 Cropped

And here's a different one, that I transcribed:

Support for Cindy

(April 7, 1971)

So after Cinderella and her Prince were wed, she buried the hatchet with her step sisters and the four of them sat down to play a little bridge; Cindy was South and her groom was North; his step-sisters-in-law (sic) sat East-West; then the fun began…


  7 3

♥   K Q

K 9 8 7 6 5 3 2

♣   6



9 8 5 2

♦   J 10 4

♣  A K 9 7 3


  K J

10 6


♣  Q J 10 5 4


  A Q 9 6 5 2

A J 7 4 3

8 2

Rubber bridge                         S          W        N         E

Both vulnerable                      1        pass     1 NT    pass

South deals                             2        pass     3        pass

                                             3        pass     4        all pass

OL: ♣K

Cindy and the Prince were playing one of those new-fangled systems in which no four-card majors are opened and a 1 NT answer to 1 of a major is a one-round force, thus Cindy's bidding absolutely showed a 6-5 distribution. Now, supposedly the Prince knew all that, so why in the world would he choose to support hearts is beyond me. . . just look at what happened:

West led two rounds of clubs and Cinderella ruffed the second round with the Q and hooked the Q; when this won, Cindy thought she had it made; she led a trump to the king, ruffed a small diamond and cashed A-J; but when she tried to cash the A, West ruffed in and forced out Cindy's last trump with a club lead; East-West then made the rest of the tricks for a cool down three; furthermore the step-sisters smashed the royal pair with a vulnerable grand slam on the next deal (because this is a fairy story and besides, I always did think that Cinderella and the Prince were just too goody-goody for words).

All right, all right, I know that Cinderella might've played the hand much better . . . but she couldn't play any better than her husband could bid; because the final contract should've been in four spades which, as you can see is colder than Golda Meir's attitude toward Beirut, declarer losing only a club and two trump against the obvious club opening.

Remember, gentle readers, even if you are not a prince . . . when you have two doubletons and your partner shows 6-5 support the six-card suit, even if your other doublet is A-K!

I'm trying to decide whether to post these -- whether there'd be any interest (Bridge is a much less common game than it used to be, I think), and whether I'd need to clean them up.  (I nearly didn't type the line about Golda Meir and Beirut, for obvious reasons, but I decided to be faithful to the original, at least this time.)  If I posted them, it'd probably be about one per week, so it'd take me a few years to get through them.

What do you think?

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