Meet Jim Streisand, from Wayland, Massachusetts, USA. He recently achieved a remarkable feat by winning both the Stars & Platinum Robot Individual for the second time and the Country vs Country Championships at the BBOers April Festival. I had the pleasure of interviewing him and learning about his impressive bridge journey.
Jim moved to Massachusetts from Salt Lake City, Utah, to work for a prominent biotechnology company in 1998. In Utah, he worked as an anesthesiologist, providing clinical care, teaching residents, and conducting research. He is currently semi-retired from his career. While he still does some consulting work, he now has more time to spend with his family (including his wife, 3 children, and 2 grandchildren), his mini–Australian Labradoodle named Lola, and playing bridge online. He added, “In fact, I typically play the Zenith game almost every day.”
Winning two events in the same weekend was a source of great pride and satisfaction for him. He attributed his success in the Stars & Platinum to being dealt a favorable set of cards, allowing him to score well on the first day and maintain his momentum throughout the tournament. Jim enjoys playing the Stars & Platinum event as it involves less luck and more skill. Despite not being a regular player in the Country vs Country Championship, he decided to participate this time around and ended up winning it. "I don't usually play the Country vs Country but had time this tournament, so I decided to give it a go," he explained. "And I'm glad I did! It seemed like every decision I made worked out."
Jim also shared his strategies and tactics in the competitions. For the Stars & Platinum Robot Individual, he explained, "I feel if I make very few errors, and take what is given me, I can score well." He also noted that with the three-day event, "You really only need one very good game to give you a chance to win." However, when it comes to the Country vs Country Championships, he plays straight and doesn't swing with unusual tactics to take advantage of the robots' tendencies. Instead, he upgrades his hands a bit to make a bid, especially when non-vulnerable. He believes that understanding the robots' tendencies and being careful in bidding are also the key.
Jim enjoyed participating in the BBOers Festival and finds it a great idea. He said, "It’s another feature of BBO that stands out and the fact that most of the events are free is a bonus. It’s fun to compete, especially against some of my friends and bridge colleagues. Since I don’t do social media, one can at least see which friends are still playing!". He continued, "My favorite event is the Stars & Platinum because I feel the competition is strongest and there’s less luck involved." It's clear that he values the opportunity to compete against strong players in a fair and challenging environment.
Jim's journey in the game of bridge began when he was a child, having been introduced to "honeymoon" bridge at summer camp. He played his first game of live bridge in high school and went on to compete in ACBL tournaments throughout his youth. After a break during medical school and residency, he resumed playing and has since had the fortune of partnering with some excellent players. Although he has won multiple regional events, he has yet to win a national event. He then stopped playing live tournament about 7 years ago, finding that sitting for 2-3 days in a row wasn't enjoyable. Despite this, Jim still loves the game and plays BBO regularly with the Zenith game. He enjoys playing with his friends in occasional team games and now, the BBOers Monthly Festival. As he put it, "I must admit that I enjoy the simplicity and convenience of playing robot games more than live bridge. And…. the robots are improving all the time."
When he was first learning bridge, he read a lot of bridge books, and among them, he enjoyed the books by Hugh Kelsey. Now he prefers to get his bridge fix through online platforms like BBO and the ACBL bulletin. He also mentioned that he has read Geza Ottlik's "Adventures in Card Play" more than twice and considers it his all-time favorite.
To improve one's game, he advises finding like-minded partners who are willing to put in the time to develop their partnerships. "Being thoughtful, kind and considerate, willing to admit, also understand and discuss one’s own mistakes will make one a better partner," he says. He also recommends playing with better partners and opponents to learn and grow. He mentioned, "When I was learning, BBO wasn’t around. Now, it’s so convenient to practice with a partner and even by yourself so if one is inclined, I believe it’s easier to improve."
Aside from playing bridge, he also enjoys a variety of other activities and hobbies. "Pickleball is my new favorite game," he said, adding that he also likes to go easy style mountain biking. Cooking is another passion for him, "Many appreciate my home smoked barbecue ribs, brisket and chicken," he said. But nothing is more rewarding to him than spending time with his family, especially his grandchildren.
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