The Nick Nickell team won last year's USBC. This cycle, Nickell finished first in the Spingold and fourth in the Resinger, earning a bye to the quarter-finals of the USBC. 

System Information

Nickell-Freeman System Summary Form, ACBL Convention Card, 2007 WBF Card

Hamman-Compton System Summary Form , ACBL Convention Card

Meckstroth-Rodwell System Summary Form, ACBL Convention Card, 2007 WBF Card

About the Players and Their Coach

Nick Nickell

Nick is the driving force behind the composition of one of the strongest ever bridge teams. An investment banker and entrepreneur, Nick wanted to put together a very good team in the early nineties. His partner, Dick Freeman, suggested that Bob Hamman/Bobby Wolff and Jeff Meckstroth/Eric Rodwell were the two pairs needed. How right he was!

This group (with Paul Soloway replacing Wolff in 1998) proceeded to reel off an amazing run of results. They have reached the final of four of the last five Bermuda Bowls - beating Canada in the 1995 final in Beijing, Brazil in Bermuda in January, 2000, and Italy in Monte Carlo in 2003 but losing to the French in Hammamet in 1997 and to Italy in Estoril in 2005. They have also won too many US titles to list. Playing with Hamman, Nick won the Cavendish Invitational Pairs in 1998. He is a WBF Grand Master, ranking 10th in the current standings.

Business and family commitments leave Nick and Dick very little time to work on their partnership between major tournaments, but there are rumors circulating that Dick, the consummate old schooler, will finally get hooked to the Internet to permit some online practice.

Dick Freeman
   In 1952, at the age of 18, Richard A Freeman became the youngest Life Master in the history of the ACBL. In the 1950s he was one of radio's original 'Quiz Kids' and he brought that 'whiz' with him when he took up bridge. For many years he was the fastest and most accurate matchpointer in the world.

Dick won his first North American National title at the age of 22 (the Mens' Teams), an event he won again in 1962 and 1966. He won his first 'major' in 1979 - the Vanderbilt Teams. Playing exclusively with Nickell, he has added significantly to that tally. Dick is a WBF Grand Master, 11th in the current rankings.

A Senior Account Executive for a Securities firm, Dick currently resides in Atlanta, Georgia, with his wife Louise.

Bob Hamman

Robert D. Hamman was born in Dallas, Texas, in 1938. He lived in California for several years early in his bridge career, learning much from the many great West Coast players of that era. He returned to Dallas when he became the sixth member of Ira Corn's Dallas Aces, and has lived there since. Most observers consider him to be the consummate bridge player, with a remarkable ability to focus only on the deal being played, irrespective of the circumstances. He is particularly noted for his tenacity and his never-give-up attitude.

Unlike many of the top American players, Bob has a job away from bridge too - he is the President of SCA Promotions, Inc, a prize promotion company in Dallas, Texas. Petra, his wife of 15 years, has won North American titles and was a member of the winning USA women’s team in Maastricht, while his son, Chris, is also a promising player. Remarkably, Bob even has time for a few hobbies - all games, sports and playing backgammon.

Bob might be considered the high priest of the four-card major, but he also believes in limited openings and the power of a strong club system. His partnership with Paul Soloway provided an opportunity for Bob to indulge his creative side, and he never stopped tinkering with the system, which currently runs to nearly 200 pages. Soloway, who had more free time than Bob, learned the system well and mastered its more arcane sections rather better than The Great One himself, and it is possible that they did well despite the system rather than because of it.  

Chris Compton
   Bridge Resume:
Chris began playing Bridge professionally in the ACBL at the age of 17. He is a World Grand Master and an ACBL Grand Life Master with over 20,000 ACBL masterpoints.
While representing the United States, Chris placed 4th in the 1986 World Open Pairs in Miami, Florida (at the age of 26) and again placed 4th in the 1998 World Open Pairs in Lille, France. Chris continues to represents the USA in international invitational events on a regular basis.
In the US, Chris  won the 1989 Reisinger Board A Match Teams at the Lancaster NABC and the 2007 Jacoby Open Swiss in Detroit finished 2nd in both the 1986 and 2005 Vanderbilt Knockout Teams. Chris has at least 3 additional NABC 2nd place finishes, and no less than 6 semi-final appearances in Vanderbilts and Spingolds. Playing in a series of Bridge Pro Tour individuals during the year 2003, Chris won $16,400 and remains the BPT all-time winning money leader.
Chris enjoys playing high stakes rubber-bridge at TGR’s Bridge Club in London and the Cavendish Bridge Club in New York.
He has authored the teacher manual for 2/1 Texas Style and offers this class periodically at the Bridge Academy of North Dallas. Chris often serves as a volunteer lecturer at ACBL Regionals and Nationals.
Chris served as President of the United States Bridge Federation in 2004 and is presently 1st alternate to District 16 of the American Contract Bridge League.

Personal Life:
Chris Compton has a B.A. in History from the University of Houston and a J. D. from the University of Texas School of Law. Chris presently plays professionally while performing a modicum of legal services. Donna and Chris live in Dallas with two daughters, ages 13 and 9.

Jeff Meckstroth

Jeffrey John Meckstroth was born in 1956 in Springfield, Ohio and now lives in Tampa, Florida. He has been a star of the bridge world for over 20 years and we can expect him to continue dominating both national and international events for at least another 20. At his current pace, Jeff is set to compile a record second to none.

Although Jeff and Eric Rodwell are two of the world's leading players, it is as a partnership (known universally as "Meckwell") that they have built their widespread reputation as one of the greatest partnerships of all time. Together, they have won virtually every major title in the game, most of them more than once. They are renowned not only as great players, but also as brilliant theorists. Their bidding system (starting from a Precision base) is complex, their agreements extensive, and their trademark style ultra-aggressive.

A WBF World Grand Master, Jeff is sixth in the current world rankings, right ahead of his partner.

Jeff has played in the finals of eight World teams championships, the first at the age of just 26. All of his major international successes have come in partnership with Eric. They have won the Bermuda Bowl four times (1981, 95, 2000 and 2003) but had to settle for Silver medals in 1997 and 2005. At World Team Olympiads, they won Gold in 1988 and Silver in 1992. They also won the World Pairs in 1982.

In 1974, At the age of 18, Jeff was one of the first recipients of the ACBL King of Bridge scholarship. Five years later, he broke onto the tournament scene with a vengeance, winning three North American titles that year, including the Reisinger, and reaching the final of the Vanderbilt. He also won the ACBL Player of the Year race in 1992 and the Barry Crane Top 500 in 1996. In 1998, he was awarded the IBPA's Charles. J. Solomon Award for the year's best-played hand.

It is surely only a matter of time before Jeff surpasses John Crawford's pre-Hamman record of 37 NABC titles. Indeed, with more than a 15-year age advantage over the big man, perhaps one day Jeff will surpass even his teammate's incredible achievements.

Jeff is one of those people who work hard at whatever he does, but he is also blessed with a natural ability for many things. When he is not playing bridge or spending time with his family, he can usually be found on the golf course. As a teenager, he was a scratch golfer and harbored hopes of playing the game professionally - golf's loss is the bridge world's gain. Not that he has given up all intentions in that direction - he says that he may try to get onto the Senior Golf Circuit when that time comes.

Eric Rodwell

Eric V. Rodwell was born in 1957 in West Lafayette, Indiana and now lives in Florida with his wife Donna and Eric's two children from his first marriage.

A professional player and writer, Eric is the main creator of the vaunted "R-M Precision" system, and has invented many popular bidding treatments, including Support Doubles. Eric is constantly tinkering with their system, looking for the elusive perfection in constructive bidding to mesh with their trademark ultra-aggressive style.

In addition to his many successes with Jeff, Eric also won the 1988 Staten Bank tournament (with Zia Mahmood), the Icelandic Pairs and Teams and the Pan-American Open Pairs, all in 1992, the Notrump Challenge Match in 1993, and the 2000 Cavendish Invitational Pairs (with Marty Fleisher).

A graduate of Purdue University, Eric is an accomplished pianist and enjoys composing music for relaxation. Ragtime is a special favorite. He has also co-authored a number of books and is a major contributor to the ACBL Teaching Series authored by Audrey Grant.

Coach Eric Kokish
   Canadian Eric Kokish has been coaching the Nickell team since 1998. Eric was born in 1947 in Montreal, and now lives in Toronto with his wife Beverly Kraft, son Matthew, dog Jackie Robinson, and latest addition Kitten, of that ilk). After his Canadian team lost the final of the 1995 Bermuda Bowl to the Nickell team, Eric was not expecting to be asked to work with Hamman and Soloway to develop a viable bidding system for their new partnership. However, a week with them at Duke University’s weight-loss clinic (for Hamway, not the coach, much to Hamman’s chagrin, as he was sharing an apartment with Eric, who was free to cook wonderful meals that Bob was not allowed to eat) proved to be a positive experience that segued into a full-time coaching position with the team. Eric claims his biggest failure was not being able to convince Bob to give up four-card majors for a weak notrump/five-card major base before it was too late, but the results haven’t been completely disappointing. Eric rarely gets to play any more, but most of his time is devoted to bridge: coaching, writing, commentary, analysis, and consulting. His other hobbies are as space consuming as his bridge library – collecting baseball cards and rock ‘n roll records/CDs/concert tapes.