20 episodes

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.

The Setting Trick: Conversations with World Class Bridge Players John McAllister

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    • 4.3, 16 Ratings

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.

    Jack Zhao

    Jack Zhao

    Jack Zhao is a two time world champion in pairs and one of the funniest men in the bridge world. While this is an audio program, when Jack laughs wholeheartedly, it looks like his face is going to explode. I’ve had the pleasure of partnering Jack for a week long regional tournament and visited him in his home city of Tianjin, China.
     
    In this conversation we discuss Jack’s improbable journey to living in America, learning bridge as a teenager and the importance of Jack being welcomed into the bridge scene in Rotterdam. In spite of his team missing the first six boards of the semifinal, Jack won the 2017 Reisinger. In 2006, he won the Vanderbilt as the 44th seed, and the World Pairs, partnering Fu Zhong in both events. He won the World Mixed Pairs in 2014 with Kerri Sanborn.
     
    Jack’s ultimate bridge goal is to win a major world team championship, preferably the Bermuda Bowl. In spite of having been asked, he is not yet eligible for senior events.
     
    Highlights from Episode:
     
    1:25- The Edge - “It was like someone lit the touch paper on this bomb. I had never seen anything like it. It was like a switch went on.” From It Might Get Loud when he saw the Jam on Top of the Pops.
     
    2:30- Introduced to bridge by a casual player
     
    11:50- 50% slams
     
    14:12- Bridge in Rotterdam
     
    15:25- The importance of bridge books
    Kelsey
     
    16:46- Bridge bible, Better Bridge with Bergen
    Carried it everywhere with him
     
    19:18- Most helpful was Terrence Reese over my shoulder
     
    23:49- Playing with 1966 World Pairs champion Hans Kreijhns
    One club four cards, one diamond four cards, one heart four cards Underled ace of diamonds Only lead to beat the contract
     
    29:40- Jack’s lifetime hero, Barry Westra, always curious about what Jack was thinking
     
    36:35- Exams at Erasmus University
     
    39:28- Playing with Fu
     
    43:14- 2nd in Transnational teams
     
    44:25- “Easy” last day of Bermuda Bowl Round Robin
     
    47:19- Dream for all bridge players
     
    52:11- Bridge does not require a lot of calculations
     
    53:54- Reaction when he underled ace of diamonds
    He can still see his p’s face
     
    56:16- Top players in Netherlands were open to Jack
     
    1:02:00- How Jack learned about Michael Rosenberg
    He was the guy who could make THOSE hands
     
    1:04:27- Opponents cards
     
    1:13:08- Winning Vandy as 44th seed
     
    1:16:24- A grand slam in diamonds
     
    1:19:30- Winning the Reisinger 
     
    1:30:32- Better than Kalita?
     

    • 1 hr 55 min
    Kim Frazer

    Kim Frazer

    Kim Frazer is an Olympian, three time Commonwealth Games gold medalist in rifle shooting and author of Gaining the Mental Edge at Bridge. Seeking a hobby in retirement, Kim took up bridge in 2005 and in 2018 made the Australian women’s team in her first attempt.
     
    In this episode Kim shares how the mental techniques that brought her such success in shooting are just as applicable in bridge. Kim discusses the path she took in writing her book and explains with simple practices how to improve one’s mental bridge game. Kim is rigorous about improving hers. 
     
    When she encounters a new card combination, she makes sure to look it up in the ACBL Encyclopedia. Her diligence is contagious. Playing in a BBO speedball a few days after we spoke, I encountered AQ762 opposite J954 and wondered, hmm, I wonder if there is more to this combination than I know. (Encyclopedia still in storage)
     
    I played two slams in the same speedball which required careful play and handling. I noticed myself thinking I don’t know how to play slams well. Thanks to having talked to Kim, I was able to acknowledge this negative self concept and notice how it didn’t serve me. I went on to make both contracts. Thanks Kim!
     
    I echo what Ron Klinger shared in the introduction, “I would just like to bar all of my regular opponents from reading this book.”
     
    Here’s the fantastic photo of Kim from her shooting days mentioned in the outro. 
     
    Highlights from this episode:
     
    19:00 Dont give yourself an excuse to fail
     
    26:24 Ron Klinger’s way of writing a forward
     
    43:19 How Kim credits her partner’s mental toughness for her first Commonwealth Games Gold Medal
     
    49:47 How Kim thinks about affirmations
     
    1:1:14 Studying card combinations
     
    1:02:34 Shooting results versus bridge results
     
    1:05:15 BLOW
     
    1:06:15 How Kim’s partner looks at the dummy as declarer
     
    1:08:09 Kim’s method for tracking the bridge if live bridge ever returns
     
    1:14:36 Kim’s bridge goals
     
    1:18:27 Kim’s cue word
     
    1:22:01 How she started writing bridge articles
     
    1:24:08 Does Kim hunt?
     
    1:25:10 Better than Kalita?
     
    1:26:59 Why she wrote the book
     

    • 1 hr 34 min
    This is the Best of The Setting Trick

    This is the Best of The Setting Trick

    Equal Justice Initiative
     
    Black Lives Matter



    Bridge is one of my favorite subjects. I love hearing stories about how people got started, a great play or how they approach a hand. The Setting Trick podcast is the forum where I share conversations with world class bridge players and fellow lovers of the game. As the host and founder, it is my pleasure to share highlights from Seasons One and Two in our first ever Best of The Setting Trick.
     
    Since we had our initial conversation with Bridgewinners co-founder Gavin Wolpert over two years ago, we are grateful to have spoken with 20 individuals over the course of 18 episodes. A portion of the audio from every conversation, save legendary Zia Mahmood’s discussion of a bidding problem, can be found in this Best of.
     
    We started this process with our intern Michael Xu having transcripts created for each episode. Michael read through every transcript and made a list of suggestions for what content should make our highlight reel.
     
    My goal was to include audio from each one of our guests. I chose not to include Zia’s discussion of a bidding problem to make this episode more accessible for less advanced and non-players alike. Playing with Zia is the subject of both Zach Grossack and Anam Tebha’s segments and he is mentioned by former partner’s Michael Rosenberg and Bob Hamman as well.
     
    It has been a pleasure to be coached and encouraged by so many of our listeners. I can remember being in Scotland for a Double Dummy screening at Stirling University and going out for a drink afterwards. It made my day when one of the attendees told me he had listened to my conversation with Migry and enjoyed it.
     
    My practice of how I am approaching interviews has been greatly influenced by listener Leonard Epstein whom I have never met. He stressed to me the importance of having an idea what I want to learn from the guest beforehand, sticking to it and making each guest the star. If you have suggestions, please pass them along!
     
    If you gave up because an episode was “unlistenable” in the words of one friend, please give us another chance. I took Dave Caprera’s advice and have edited some of the clips from this episode to minimize my interruptions. We have also hired a sound engineer to optimize this audio.
     
    It hit me as I was putting the segments into place what an accomplishment it is to have recorded and published these 18 conservations. I am giddy at the prospect of sharing it with bridge playing and non-bridge playing friends alike.
     
    These stories go beyond bridge. Eight time world champion and three time player of the decade Jeff Meckstroth, after playing his first ever duplicate, his father said, “you were almost average, that’s really good!” Jeff thought, “that didn’t sound good to me at all!” (21:40)
     
    Or the focus which Migry had when she was able to break up a squeeze at trick two on the last board of a disastrous quarter to help win an NEC Cup match. (46:10)
     
    You are going to hear Meck talk about the danger of pulling a false card too early (32:50), Bob Hamman size up his partners for a match against Sam Lev and Mike Moss (9:58). Gavin Wolpert talking about how September 11th influenced him to choose his passion for bridge over university (5:55). Nabil Edgtton, briefly, on what it’s like to play in the Bermuda Bowl (1:13:05) and Michael Rosenberg, even more briefly on his record playing the Bermuda Bowl with Zia (1:12:45).
     
    One of my favorite arrangements in the entire show was having Steve Weinstein gush about playing with Bobby Levin and Paul Soloway (48:45) (57:40) intermixed between Dave Caprera talking about playing with his wife of 44 years Anne Brenner (51:15). For my own personal safety I made sure to include from the head of the US Junior Program Michael Rosenberg how Dave is the best mentor (1:17:00). Dave,

    • 1 hr 30 min
    Anam Tebha, Mixed Tape

    Anam Tebha, Mixed Tape

    Anam Tebha is a professional bridge player, who learned the game during summer school as a teenager and fell in love. Shortly afterwards, her and three classmates went to the junior world championships knowing “only KC.” Afterwards, she returned home and “must have logged like over 50 boards a day” on Bridge Base Online, playing with any and everyone. Her hard work and passion paid off when she won the Mixed Swiss in a spontaneous partnership with Zia Mahmood. In the words of junior star, Finn Kolesnik, Anam “is a beast”.




    Highlights from Episode:
     
    2:00- How Anam learned bridge
     
    3:45- Anam’s parents (disappointing) view towards bridge
     
    6:05- Anam’s housemates
     
    7:45- How Anam likes to allocate her bridge questions
     
    9:40- Anam played in the Junior World Championships with a team of people who all had been playing for fewer than 6 months
     
    12:35- Anam’s story of playing with Zia Mahmood and winning the Mixed Swiss
     
    23:50- Anam’s experience of playing in a regional right before the coronavirus outbreak became very severe
     
    32:10- How Anam played on the Zimmerman team
     
    34:50- How Anam played with Joe Grue in the Mixed World Series
     
    38:25- What Joe Grue taught Anam about opening 1N
     
    41:15- Anam’s experience playing against team Kranyak in the 2019 trials
     
    45:20- Is Anam better than Jacek Kalita?
     
    46:05- Why we should all emulate Finn Kolesnik

    • 50 min
    Geoff Hampson

    Geoff Hampson

    When I invited world champion Geoff Hampson to be a guest on The Setting Trick, he shot back, “What’s the Setting Trick?” Crushed, I sent him a link to our website along with question marks and exclamation points. To which he responded, “I just bust chops, I’m down.” 
     
    It’s a pleasure to welcome one of the finest bridge players in the world with a sense of humor to match.



    Highlights from Episode:
     
    2:55- Geoff talks about how he is sick
     
    12:10- Geoff’s favorite bridge memory
     
    14:00- Geoff talks about Fantunes and how he suspected they were cheating
     
    23:20- The impact of the Covid-19 virus
     
    26:50- A high level declarer play young Geoff made that changed John Gowdy’s opinions about him
     
    31:35- Geoff’s college experience (or lack thereof)
     
    33:05- Geoff’s experience with playing money bridge
     
    37:20- Funny comment Geoff made when he was in the Well
     
    39:20- How Geoff first started playing bridge
     
    41:20- Funny story back when Geoff was still a beginner
     
    42:35- Geoff’s initial motivation to get good at bridge
     
    45:10- Geoff’s idea of using this time of quarantine to help spread the game of bridge
     
    48:20- John and Geoff discuss golf
     
    55:15- The biggest advice Geoff has for players is to COUNT
     
    1:01:50- Geoff plays Barbu. Here is the site where we play Barbu and the Barbu ladder, currently led by Episode (?) guest Zach Grossack 3/25
     
    1:08:35- Geoff likes to read the Game of Thrones books
     
    1:10:30- Geoff says he isn’t even the best player in his partnership
     
    1:11:45- Is Geoff better than Kalita?
     
    If you are interested in joining our online barbu group please apply to join our Facebook Group so that Shireen Mohandes may send you the particular set of rules by which we play.

    • 1 hr 16 min
    Meet Steve Weinstein

    Meet Steve Weinstein

    Steve Weinstein speaks highly of his partners, demands a lot out of his students and plays to win. As a 17 year old, Steve became the youngest ever winner of a North American Bridge Championship, winning the Life Master Pairs with his stepfather Fred Stewart. While Steve is one of the best professional bridge players in the world, he considers himself “lucky that I have gotten to do things that I’ve loved and enjoyed and (I’ve) never had a job.”
    Today, his regular partner is Bobby Levin whom Steve describes as “without a doubt, unquestionably one of the best players in the world.” When asked what makes them such a formidable pair Steve said their biggest strength is they “we consistently hit the ball hard to the opponent’s backhand.”
    A constant theme in our conversation is the importance of focus. From watching the spots at the table to not mixing bridge and poker, which Steve also plays at a very high level. Steve sets an excellent example for anyone wanting to be the best they can be. Make sure your goals and actions are in alignment and enjoy the wins.

    • 1 hr 27 min

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5
16 Ratings

16 Ratings

Elky777 ,

Great Bridge Talk!

Listened to the first two podcasts on the way to and from the Philadelphia NABC. Needs a little polish in script and dead air to be great, but all the content was very amusing! Looking forward to the next one, keep it up!

Calfan1988 ,

Is this a joke?

Is this podcast supposed to be about the interviewer or about good bridge players? It's hard to tell! I have been a life long fan of the game but am not loving these interviews.

BD99999999 ,

What's important?

OK discussion, but you need to decide whether the interview is about you or the interviewee.

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