Stan says he was born in Sabourin’s General Store in Ardmore, Alberta. He is married to Lisa and is Professor Emeritus of the Department of Computing Science at the University of Alberta. He has a B.Sc. in Mathematics and a Ph.D. in Computer Science. His main hobby is bridge but he also dabbles in the stock market, plays Blackjack and does research in Computational Mathematics.
Stan has lived in Edmonton for his entire bridge career. He says, “After completing my Ph.D. degree, I read numerous books on chess and bridge. I chose bridge as a hobby over chess because of the diversity of challenges and because of its social aspects.” Stan was one of the original thinkers in bidding theory. Two-way NMF, which most experts play today, was originally conceived and written up by Stan over 3 decades ago. Stan has convinced me of the futility of “up the line bidding” and says that all NT balanced hands should be described by a NT rebid, thereby possibly suppressing a 4-card major (which can be bid later). Bridge is a serious hobby for Stan but he finds it fun. Probably the all-time fun team (jokes, wisecracks and general bridge chaos) that Edmonton has ever witnessed was the team of Stan Cabay, Lisa Lister, George Kelly, Allan Terplawy and Ron Gardiner. A sense of humour was a prerequisite to play on that team. They all played very good bridge as well, representing our zone in the CNTC several times. In addition, Stan and George represented the District 18 in the Grand National Pairs (now the NAOP) at its debut in 1978 and in the three subsequent years, once finishing in the high overalls (4th or 5th) at the national final.
Stan describes his bridge philosophy: “Bridge is a partnership game. Partnership understandings in bidding and defence, and partnership practice, are the most important elements for successful bridge. These understandings include compromising accuracy in bidding in order to interfere with the opponents’ communications. You won’t win often if you give the opponents free reign.”
Stan relates a couple of anecdotes from his bridge experiences: “Playing with Hans Groenig in a Lloydminster sectional, we crisply Q-bid to a 6S contract, which was loudly doubled. Holding xxxxx in spades, I pulled in fright to 6NT, which was also promptly doubled. Would you believe that even though partner held only xxx in spades, 6NT was unbeatable. LHO (the doubler) held KQJT in spades, RHO held the stiff A, and we had an easy 12 tricks outside of spades! Playing with George Kelly in the district finals of the Grand National Pairs in Great Falls, George pre-empted with 3H in the auction 1S-3H-4H-P-4S-P-5H. The 1S opener had a heart void, and after the 2nd heart call from his partner, opener concluded that George’s 3H bid must be a psyche. Oops! His partner also had a heart void. I have to give credit to RHO who shivered only slightly when dummy came down, but then quietly conceded ten tricks, with a hand that was cold for 7S.”
Stan offers this advice to anyone beginning to learn the game: “Become a great declarer by reading; this does not require a partner. Then work on bidding and defense (being a good declarer helps here), preferably with partners whose goals and skill levels are close to your own, and who are willing to work as hard as you. If a regular partner is your spouse, alignment of goals is mandatory.”
On bridge in general and on improving your game, Stan recommends strong enforcement of the zero tolerance policy, relaxing the restriction on conventions, and devising a better skill-rating system. He feels that these measures might encourage younger players to compete. Stan’s pet peeves are the alert procedures and the ACBL masterpoint rating system. Stan’s final words of advice to bridge players are: “It has to be fun”.