Bridge in the ancient internet

(This was originally a facebook note from 2011.)

It was wonderful to see the famous psychologist Martin Seligman on TV (Newsnight) today. The name sounded familiar from a very different context …

In 1994 there was one internet bridge club, called “okbridge”, with a few 100s of members. There were a few international top players on there, including Marty Seligman who often played with Paul Soloway (a world champion, who died in 2007). They would have liked to play against other Dutch players including world champion Berry Westra – so they asked the only Dutch bridge players they met on the internet. In my old email archives I found an email I sent to Seligman after a bridge tournament.
Especially the last bit sounds quaint 17 years later.

“Yesterday I played at a tournament, and had the luck to get to play against Berry Westra and Wubbo de Boer (who played with Muller in the world champs team). We only lost 18-12 and were happy with that. We finished our hands rather quickly so I took the opportunity to talk to them about okbridge […] Hans van Staveren DID write about okbridge in the national bridge magazine […] but he never talked to the top players about it. I did my best to explain okbridge, and also Paul Soloway’s and your invitation to come play a match there. My impression was that it seemed like a waste of time to Westra at first, maybe it changed a bit when I told him some US players kept their partnerships trained through okbridge, and mentioned some names of top players on okbridge. Anyway Westra said he was going to be very busy in the near future. De Boer seemed slightly more interested. Neither had read the piece in the national magazine about okbridge, by the way. I refered them to that and to Hans van Staveren for help in borrowing in internet account, I believe they are all near Amsterdam.”

(added 2015: Berry Westra seems to be pretty active on these days! )