Steve Valencic - Gold Life Master
I come from a card crazy family. My parents taught me Euchre, 500 bid, pinochle, spades, hearts and poker!
A poker buddy started me on bridge ten years ago after I retired from the PA State Police. I was hooked and started playing in the open games almost immediately and did I take my lumps for many years. I owe my start to the late Dennis Gross.
Merv Issacman, a great man and friend was my first hands on helper.
My tough love came from the late Judy Grononboom, and believe me it was very tough at times. That being said, Judy spent countless hours answering my daily Bridge questions.
Last, but not least, I owe the most to my current favorite partner and friend, H. Philip Monyer. Phil has mentored me the most. He is a terrific player, teacher and friend!
Dye - Diamond Life Master
My wife Dale and I began playing duplicate at Raffels
bridge club nearly 30 years ago. Navigating the bridge social scene
was daunting; one had to find the non-smoking games to survive, for
example. But it was all worth it the night I won a club Individual,
bidding an aggressive slam with the owner as my partner. Sue Raffel
made my day when she said, with her patented deadpan delivery, “I
could take you lots of places.”
Dale was my first and best partner. As we learned
the game, our ambitions grew and the search for Gold Points began
in earnest. One autumn our good friend Dennis Cleary from Syracuse
brought his regular partner to the Lancaster Regional to help us,
hopefully, earn some Gold in the Flight B Swiss.
We struggled early, but in the penultimate match
were dealt a “distribeauty”. The competitive auction reached
the five level, and with her customary fearlessness (I would have
to play the hand, after all) my wife bid five vulnerable spades over
the opponents five vulnerable hearts. Their double was emphatic, but
the bridge gods were with me in the play and we racked up +850. When
the comparison reached this board, I heard Dennis say “850”
and my heart sank; it seemed we had pushed the board. But no! We were
+850 at both tables; our wonderful teammates were doubled in five
hearts you see.
On the strength of this match result, we reached
the overalls and earned our first Gold Points. Now we were hooked,
becoming regular tournament players for twenty plus years.
Our first Regional Flight A win was at the Sunday
Swiss in Harrisburg (1996) with our good friends, Al and Estelle Ronderos.
We had already bought our Flight B entry when Doug Grove called for
a volunteer team to play “up” at his expense. We were
happy to oblige! The only bad moment came when, with about ½
hour to resumption of the event, the Chinese restaurant we visited
at the break admitted they failed to make our order. They threw bags
of food at us as we left, and Al and Estelle stored their meal, still
hot and pungent, under the table for the always fraught “first
match after dinner”. The opponent lady came to the table and
promptly exclaimed, “What is that terrible smell!? It smells
A number of my Regional wins were with Bill Grosnick,
a fine player and sometime Professor of eastern religions. Learning
partnership skills (we had Notes , can you believe it!) was an important
part of my bridge education.As my preempts became more undisciplined,
Bill may have pulled a face on occasion, but never lost his equanimity.
Early in our partnership he did get testy when our opponents in a
Regional Swiss were late getting to the table after a dinner break.
Bill gave them a lecture on bridge etiquette that was really quite
eloquent. I don't know if Matt Granovetter and partner actually took
it to heart though.
It seems like it's taken forever to reach the 5000
MP milestone, but I take pride in qualifying to represent the District
in Flight A NAPs four times with four different partners – Steve
Goldstein, Marty DeBruin, Ev Young and Andy Kaufman. And of course
winning the Flight A Grand National Teams in New Orleans in 2010 with
Rick Olanoff as my partner, and stellar teammates Howie Cohen, Corey
Krantz, Elliot Shalita (Captain) and Andy Kaufman.
Rick Olanoff deserves a special shout out for partnering
me at the GNTs, as he was a last minute pickup when my regular partner
had a conflict for the District qualifier. Thank goodness for BBO
's platform, which gave us enough game experience and bidding table
practice to perform well in New Orleans. After a shaky start (we were
the 16th of 16 teams to qualify for head-to-head play) our team rolled
to a succession of double digit victories, and Rick and I had a blast.
Over the years I've had the opportunity to play with
District Four luminaries such as Charlie Gray, Howie Cohen and Craig
Robinson, learning something from each. I will share this: when facing
the crucial bid or play on any deal, I suggest you follow Howie Cohen's
mantra - “God hates a coward!”
The 5000 point milestone was reached on Friday the
13th (October) at the Bala Sectional. My partner for the occasion
was the lovely and talented Gail Bell, whose awesome declarer play
landed us second overall in the Friday afternoon pair game and pushed
me over the top. Thank you, Gail!
All in all I have greatly enjoyed being part of the
unique subculture of bridge. Where else would one hear a snatch of
conversation that begins with “You hold….” and ends
with “By the way, when is Lancaster?” Good luck to all;
I look forward to seeing you at the table
Van Briggle - Advanced NABC Master
I got interested in duplicate bridge in 1980. My
grandmother played into her nineties. She encouraged me to play. I
played a lot of bidding card games growing up, but never bridge.
I went to a duplicate bridge game in Pittsfield,
MA and kibitzed a while before I got the courage to play. I played
for about a year in MA then life sort of interfered with work and
my interest in dog training. When I retired in 2013, I started playing
I play mostly in southeastern PA 7 months of the year and Tallahassee
FL in the winter. In June of 2016, I had less than 4 gold points and
did not think there would be much of a chance of progressing to life
master. I have enjoyed playing with a number of good partners who
have been willing to teach me. Southeastern PA vicinity has provided
many regionals so that I now only need about 6 gold points towards
my life master.
I absolutely love the game and play a lot on BBO. My duplicate bridge
partners have become good friends and I feel truly blessed to have
returned to the game.
Meyer - Diamond Life Master
As many other people did at the time, I started playing
bridge (too much) in college in the late 60's. When I was young, single,
and carefree, I played tournaments fairly frequently, but usually
only travelling within driving distance from my home. I was privileged
to play with some of the best players in District 4 on teams and as
partners. I won most of my masterpoints during this period, from 1970
– 1989, enjoying particular success in Grand National Teams
at the District level. (BTW Masterpoints were available in significantly
smaller quantities then than they are now.)
In the early 1970’s I frequently played at
the Harrisburg Bridge Club, which was about an hour’s drive
from my home (until I moved to Camp Hill to be closer to it), because
it had the biggest and best games around. Many players there liked
to play Brozel (which I repeatedly declined to play) and there were
several pairs that played weak NT’s. I thought (and still do)
that giving up a defensive double to show power in favor of showing
a 1-suiter was unacceptably inferior, especially against weak NT’s.
So, I persuaded one of my partners to play my “modified Brozel”,
using double as the traditional power showing call, 2C as a 1-suiter
and 2D as hearts and a minor, covering both the Brozel 2D bid and
the 2C bid that had been redefined.
Sometime in 1974 (the year I made Life Master), I
was playing in a social knockout match against a team including a
late well known expert from the Washington, DC area at the home of
a mutual acquaintance, who was an occasional teammate of mine. When
I partnered with the host, he wanted to play Brozel, but I declined,
describing my modification, and also volunteering that the 2D and
2H bids could be interchanged so that 2H and 2S would have similar
meanings. My partner consented to the minimum modification. Mike,
the expert, who overheard our discussion, said “I like that”.
When I got married in 1990 and subsequently raised
a family, I went into semi-retirement from bridge, playing only occasionally
and usually only when an old partner would ask me to play. During
this period (1990 – 2010) I never won more than 100 MP’s
in a year, only in single digits in several years, winning a total
of less than 500 MP’s during that 20 year period. .
When I retired in 2011 and with my children now grown,
I again started to play a lot of bridge, mostly club games and some
In my early active period, bridge proved extremely valuable to me,
not only as a direct source of enjoyment, but also, as I discovered,
as an excellent way to establish and maintain social relationships.
I expected that it would again provide these benefits after I retired
and am pleased that it has done so.
Shaub - Silver Life Master
My bridge career started at age 9 when my parents
played bridge with friends. To avoid paying a babysitter they would
take me along; I was totally bored with their card game but I did
circle the table and steal sips of beer from their cups. Then in my
twenties Mom taught my wife and me to play bridge (Goren) and then
finally in 1999 I hit the big leagues; I joined the ACBL. I found
out quickly that I really knew next to nothing.
My trek to silver life master has been like a progressive yo-yo but
I loved most of it. I have accumulated many friends along the way
but the highlight of my bridge world has been teaching. I became an
accredited instructor, taught a number of large beginner classes and
loved every minute of it. I especially enjoy watching the newer players
grow and reach their mini goals and watching how each year’s
Sometimes I schedule games (especially at tournaments)
with newer players that show goal reaching tendencies to help them
score gold or silver points. I personally receive more satisfaction
from the teaching and coaching than I do scoring well with a seasoned
partner. This process has definitely slowed my own master point accumulation
but it is what makes me happy.
To optimize a good teaching program requires a year
round effort but lately I have not had the opportunity to do so but
I would return back to it in a heartbeat if the circumstances permitted.
I have a word of advice to newer players who sometimes find themselves
struggling to reach their bridge goals and that is to take the initiative
to ask higher ranking players to schedule a couple of games with them.
Don’t assume that they will reject you as you will find that
the opposite to be true more often than you would think.
Fritz - Junior Master
When I came to this country, June of 1956 after
I married my husband, who was a Naval Officer, in Hong Kong, I had
to learn how to play rubber Bridge because all my husband’s
family played Bridge. In fact my husband’s aunt Jayne Rogge
(from St.Louis) was a lifetime master player.
My first experience with duplicate Bridge was in
1962 in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. A man asked me to be his partner at
a tournament and I gained 3 master points, but I was not a member
of ACBL then. I did not play bridge again for 40 odd years. Then I
started to sub a few times in 2008 in party Bridge and played with
a group of ladies for seven years before moving to Lancaster in 2016.
My husband and I started playing duplicate with the Maple Grove group
in July, 2016.
I learned a lot from reading the ACBL bulletin and
from the daily Bridge column by Philip Alden in the Lancaster newspaper.
Also my Thursday partner, Dottie Allen has helped me.
I shall be 80 years-old on October 22 and find it
hard to believe I am becoming a Bridge master.
Hildebrand - Silver Life Master
My husband and I started playing this wonderful game
of bridge with a group of church friends in Bethesda, Md. in 1958.
We moved to Bethany Beach,DE in 1990, and joined the ACBL in December
1995 in Dini Romito's sanctioned game at Cripple Creek Golf &
We traveled to many bridge tournaments and bridge-learning
trips with Larry Cohen and other directors. Also enjoyed games at
St. Petersburg, FL where I once had the awesome experience of playing
against Jeff Meckstroth and wife and Eric Rodwell and wife. A few
years later Nancy Jose and I went to the Bermuda Regional and were
celebrated on stage at the end of the session with holding the Silver
Cup which our names are now on permanently. I also joined Anna DeLapo's
" Shore Bridge" and Dorothy Hand's "Winning Hand"
games in Rehoboth and Rehoboth Beach while staying with Dini Romito's
games. My wonderful friend and talented partner, Jean Moxley, of the
past seven years and others made it possible for me to gain the points
I needed for my Silver Life Master, and I am eternally grateful to
Jean. This bridge game helps me to keep going, thinking, and laughing
with friends even at age 93. So join and have fun.
Thank you ACBL.
Horwitz - Ruby Life Master
Like many of my bridge friends, I was born at an
early age, naked and a bridge orphan.
My first words were double and redouble; this lucidity
made my father very proud.
I’m not sure, but I think I knew the names
and order of the suits before I knew the names and order of days in
a week. And why not, there are only four suits but there are seven
days in a week.
By the time I was in high school, it was clear that
if I wanted to talk to my parents, I had to be East or West. Dad was
always North. I would also have to bring up things like what college
I had chosen in between the bidding and play of hands.
When I left for college, I swore I would never pick
up another deck of cards. That lasted the entire length of the trip
to Florida State University where I majored in Math Education.
As it turned out, my entire dorm floor played Hearts.
Being able to count cards was a very useful skill and I was playing
cards as much as attending classes.
Upon graduating I thought I might not pick up a deck
of cards ever again! I went to work as a Math Teacher and wouldn’t
you know it, they played bridge in the teacher’s lounge. I was
asked if I wanted to join in. It was a rhetorical question. By now
I was hooked!
I find the game fascinating, frustrating, challenging,
fun, and not fun. And I find it an important part of my life. Through
bridge, I make friends, travel, think and think and think!
As a youth I was a bridge orphan. I had wonderful
parents who played bridge often. I didn’t understand why. I
do now. Bridge has brought me fun, greatly entertained me and introduced
me to some of my best friends. I wish I could thank my parents for
sharing their love of the game and teaching me not to trump their
While becoming a Ruby Master brought me great pride,
it does not approach the thrill I had going over 1388.43 master points.
That was the number of points my father had. I won my first points
with him in high school at the age of 16. At 71 I won a local tournament
and crossed over that magic number. It had been a 55-year chase. I
am proud of my relationship with my wife, I am proud of my children,
proud of my PhD and proud of many things. But on the lists of accomplishments,
I must tell you I hold 1388.43 as a special number. And now I will
add being a Ruby Master to my list of proud achievements.
My next goal is to win 2776.86 master points!
Irvine - Sapphire Life Master
My bridge experience started when my wife, Peg and
I took up social bridge in the late 1970’s with new neighbors.
After a few years, she wrestled me into playing duplicate at a club.
With exactly a 50% game that first night we were hooked. We didn’t
play much those first 10-15 years, winning only 10-30 master points
per year. No bid boxes, no flighted games, no instructors and Swiss
teams were win/losses. One needed to win 6 of 8 matches to get Gold
points. Playing at all was a challenge as we both worked and started
a family. But in 1988 I was awarded a Gold card.
The things I love about the game are learning something new almost
every time I play and being able to play in any top-level event against
the best players whenever I choose.
One highlight of my career occurred when playing in Texas in a 1988
Qualifying Swiss team Regional event. Our team barely Q’d 23rd
out of 24 to be able to continue, Round 5 was against Bob Hammond
and Paul Soloway’s team. We won when I put my partner in a Grand
after going down 2 boards earlier in a small slam(ditto at their table).
Hammond found the only lead that let it make, which we then won the
round by. Round 7 was against Eddie Wold’s team. We beat them
too and ended up second overall.
For new players, learn three things, bidding, playing the cards and
defending, since that happens 50% of the time.
And have fun.
Minoff - Sectional Master
I learned Bridge as a teen in Long Island, when my
friend's mother (Audrey Bruckner) decided that her son's poker playing
friends were smart enough to take on bridge. We got it in our blood
immediately, and in between every sport you can name, we advanced
into Duplicate. Yes, we were the youngest, but back then, Duplicate
bridge was played in the evenings, so that worked for us. My partner
then ("Earl" Ehrlich) and I even created our own bidding
system, which was allowed in the 60's. I even taught my dad to play
in 2 days, and we played duplicate together the next week. A similar
experiment with my dear (but not card-savvy) wife of 40 years, Susan,
didn't work as well when we were living in Mexico in 1978. She took
notes, asked questions, but never really loved the game like I did.
Unfortunately, my career as an OB/GYN and my two children were the
two biggest obstacles to my continuing towards any dream of Life Master
status. So, I put bridge aside for a few decades, still reading the
columns, and waiting for a chance at rekindling that spark. We did
manage to squeeze in a game here and there, at college (Penn State)
and even amongst those old friends from back in the day. Last year
Glenn and I started trying again, as our bodies were getting a little
beat up for the full court basketball that introduced us to each other.
We both had to learn 2/1; as I had never even heard of it before.
Now we both are loyal Larry Cohen disciples, his site being our go-to
when bidding questions arise. Last Friday was the culmination of the
road back, having played at Moorestown, South Jersey, Raffles, and
even Thurs nights at The Philadelphian.
I would like to say that all of those clubs have been wonderfully
supportive of new "old" players, as we have so enjoyed the
competitive but welcoming spirit that Bridge can exemplify.
Suzanne Liebman - Life Master
has been a passion of mine for .. most of my adult life. However it
was only about eight years ago that my best friend and I decided to
tackle duplicate. We started small and didn't venture more than 10
miles from our house. Amassing gold points was a very slow process.
Therefore we decided to venture further and we went to Wilmington
where we were successful in getting more gold points. Sadly last year
my best friend and partner passed away before we could achieve our
ultimate goal this motivated me to play harder and with the help of
some new and wonderful partners I finally achieve my goal.
Pach - Silver Life Master
In 1975 I had a love affair! Of all strange things,
it was with a game called “bridge.” I ate, slept, and
breathed “bridge.” I took lessons until all hours of the
night, read nothing but bridge books, traveled to tournaments all
over the country, until I reached my goal of becoming a life master.
Shortly after that, life got in the way. I was working full time as
a teacher, and I started my own business. I unfortunately had to put
bridge on the back burner, where it stayed for 32 years! I retired
several years ago, didn’t quite know what I wanted to do, and
so I decided to return to the world of bridge.
I found things to be quite different. There were now all different
plateaus (bronze, silver, gold, etc.), the little slips of paper with
your master points on it were now computerized, and there were many
new conventions. I also had to find compatible partners which was
not an easy task. I definitely had my work cut out for me.
Through trial and error, I have found wonderful partners and have
developed great friendships along the way. My personal goal was becoming
a silver life master, which I now achieved; but I never loose sight
of the bigger picture of becoming a better player.
Frank Morgan - Silver Life Master
I had little time for bridge during many of my years as a math professor,
but finally I started teaching bridge at Williams College and taking
my best students to tournaments, as kindly supported and featured
previously by the ACBL (see photo).
My favorite partner remains my mom; we've much enjoyed bridge cruises
with Larry Cohen and Billy Miller, as pictured below.
Becker - Gold Life Master
My road to gold life master was one of perseverance that was bolstered
by having several friends, partners and mentors with infinite patience.
I attended my first duplicate in August of 1968. Shortly after that
time, I met Terry Coughlin while working at Sunoco. He introduced
me to Bill Foerster, Bill Bauer and Bill Mumbauer and my education
began. With their help and encouragement I gained confidence and master
Two decades ago, through our children, I met Mitch Snyder who has
stuck with me through my many weekly mistakes and those at national
and regional tournaments.
And so, with time out for business travel and helping Gail raise our
children, I collected enough master points over the next 50 years
to earn my gold life master award
Fred Strohm - Club Master
First I would like to thank Barbara Patterson from AMI Bridge club.
I started taking lessons from Barbara back in July of 2016. At the
end of her classes, Barbara gave all of us Audrey Grant's book on
"BIDDING." A great book to get started on. Barbara's guidance
and good instructions along with the Bidding Book, have helped me
improve playing bridge. The last time I played bridge was ~ 40 years
ago and was nothing like duplicate bridge the way it is played at
the ACBL level. In addition to Barbara Patterson's guidance, I also
purchased a few books written by Audrey Grant, Defense, Common Conventions,
More Common Conventions and 2/1 Game Forcing. Reading these books
and by playing often, I was able to put to use, knowledge from the
books and the constant guidance from Barbara Patterson to continually
improve my game.
The main lesson I learned from Barbara Patterson, "Learn the
basics first." Very profound words. There are so many conventions.
With new players, it is easy to get confused and mixed up when you
are still learning how to just bid the basics. I had a few partners
try and teach me new conventions before I was ready. It was hard and
very confusing. It hurt my game and things became frustrating. I stopped
doing that, went back to the basics and started learning at my pace.
This was beneficial because it helped me ease into the conventions
I was ready to adopt into my play.
I started out playing with the 0 to 5 point "C" group the
first couple months then moved on to the 0 to 20 "C" group
for a few weeks before playing with the regular bridge players. This
is where I had to utilize the training and constant guidance from
Barbara Patterson and the members of the Bridge club. I did not have
a regular partner, so it was quite hard learning and getting use to
playing with the different members. I did find this very beneficial
though. It helped strengthen my game and taught me to play with many
different types of partners. Since there are so many conventions,
I try to read through them and see what interests me. Then I will
study on my own until I believe I am comfortable and ready to play
that convention with other partners.
I am dedicated to improving my game and moving up the ladder and
maybe some day getting to Life Master. I know it will take time and
hard work. I put in anywhere from 3 to 5 days a week playing bridge.
I find the game exhilarating and fun to play. I am fortunate that
I have the opportunity where I can enjoy my hobby on a regular basis
and it just happens to be BRIDGE.
Kriz - Ruby Life Master
My partner and I had a chance to play with two other pairs in a team
game at the 1984 Colorado Springs regional. With one pair we could
play in a limited masterpoint swiss team game. With the other pair
we would have to play in a Flight A Board a Match game. We chose the
BAM game for the experience. I had about 45 points with 3 gold. My
partner had about 600. The teammate that forced us to play Flight
A had a little over 1000 points. In the middle of the round, we faced
Barry Crane and Grant Baze. The rest of his team was Chris Compton
and Rhoda Walsh. Barry reached the 30,000 masterpoint plateau at the
tournament. Baze won the 1984 McKenney Trophy (now the Barry Crane
Trophy) with Crane and Compton finishing 2nd and 3rd. Among the team
members, to this date, they have won 13 of these trophies.
Back to the hands. Barry first doubled my partner in a 5 Diamond contract
then likewise doubled me in a 4 Heart contract. We made both! We ended
up 4th in a field of 31 for 15 gold points. Barry and his team won
the event going away. When we left the table there was a somewhat
perturbed discussion about the bidding in one of the hands. Only in
bridge can a rookie play (and have a chance to beat) world and national
Wachsman - NABC Master
I started playing bridge in 1992 at the fall nationals at the Peabody
Hotel in Orlando Florida. Learned the game from my parents Janis and
David, won my first regional at the age of 11 which was written up
in the New York Times. Got more active in the game when I was a teenager
winning an open regional event about 17 years ago. Then college, career
and life and golf took over and I've been away from competitive bridge
for the last 15 years, just playing in unsanctioned games and online.
We recently bought a place in Florida where I have resurrected my
interest in bridge and started playing again for master points. And
after about five sessions I picked up right where I left off and was
a much better player than I was 20 years ago. I intend to be more
of a presence in the major tournaments going forward. Although of
course I will definitely take days off for golf!
Xiong - Sectional Master
I am proud to be part of the District 4 family. I
was born in China and migrated to the states 20 years ago at the age
of 27. I began to play bridge in my early 20s. I started with Charles
Goren's book, and I also studied the Big Club (Howard Schenken), and
the Diamond System. I enjoyed them. After I came to the US, I played
in a local club for a few years, but I could not find a compatible
I stopped playing from the year 2002 until last year.
My brother invited me to play bridge with his friends and I resumed
the game. We formed a team and spent a lot of time together. My partner
was a brand new player. I tutored him and he did pretty well. My brother
partnered with another experienced player, and we won first place
in the Grand National Teams and that inspired me. We are excited and
we are going to do our best to see how far we can go in Toronto.
Reitz - Sapphire Life Master
Carol lives in State College, PA - she wrote -
My passion and love for the game of bridge, along with the support
of my knowledgeable partners, has enabled me to reach this goal!
Schmidt - Silver Life Master
It’s been a long journey to Silver Life Master.
I started playing in clubs in 1972, became addicted to the game, and
had to stop cold turkey in late 1979. At that point, I was about 1.14
gold points short of LM. Except for one tournament in 1984, I didn’t
play again for 20 years. When I resumed playing in 1999, it didn’t
take long to make LM, but I wasn’t able to win consistently
because I made too many errors.
There were four things that helped most in getting
to the next level: First, I read (and re-read) Bill Root’s book
How to Defend a Bridge Hand. I can’t overemphasize the need
to become a competent defender. Looking back, it’s amazing that
I won as much as I did in the 1970’s, with pathetically bad
defensive skills. And this book is excellent – the perfect presentation
for the majority of bridge players, who have a basic orientation to
Second, I learned how to stop making so many errors.
It used to think it was just a matter of experience – the errors
would gradually go away on their own, as I played more bridge. That
wasn’t true. What made the difference is when I started to keep
a mental list of my errors. Each time I made a mistake, I obsessed
over it for a day or two, vowing never to make that particular error
again, and adding it to the list. I suppose “list” is
the wrong word, because I don’t actually review all my bad decisions,
every time I’m about to make a new one. Rather, it’s a
collection of resolutions that I’ve embedded in my bridge psyche.
The key was not to just get more experience, but to make those experiences
count by really caring about the bad ones.
Third, I learned to bid quickly. One of my regular
partners dropped me because he always felt unethical when he watched
my bidding hesitations. To fix this, I put myself in a setting (OKBridge,
at the time) where I didn’t care whether I won or lost, and
committed to making every bid with 10 seconds, no matter how difficult.
Now that I’m in the habit, I allow myself to go over the 10
second limit occasionally, but only when faced with truly weird hands.
This habit of bidding quickly has greatly improved my game. I not
only don’t force unauthorized information on my partners, but
I keep my opponents guessing. If I ever make a bad decision by bidding
too fast, which is rare, I add it to the “list”.
Fourth, I continue to read and re-read books. Larry
Cohen’s To Bid or Not to Bid, and its sequel Following the Law
helped my competitive bidding tremendously. Winning Suit Contract
Leads, by David Bird and Taf Anthias, has revolutionized my approach
to opening leads. I read the ACBL Bulletin cover to cover each month,
and I benefit from the more advanced articles. I especially like Ed
Kantar’s articles, and each time I get one of his “Test
Your Play” hands right, it boosts my confidence.
Looking forward, I think the best next thing I can
do for my game is to find and cultivate good partnerships. Obviously,
I’ve been trying to do that since 1999. But now that I’m
(probably) retired from my software development career, I’m
going to put even more emphasis on finding and keeping good partners.
I earned a lifetime record 45.53 master points (and went over 1000)
in Lancaster, when I was able to play 10 sessions with two different
established partners. With better partners and more playing time,
I hope to make Gold LM in a lot less than the 16 years it took to
Wanck - Life Master
Bridge is a great game - my story started while in
college. When in the Student Union at lunchtime, this underclassman
noticed a “cute” upperclassman playing bridge with 3 professors.
Many days passed by, and, finally, I summoned enough nerve to sit
on the edge of the bench seat and watch the game “up close.”
The rest is history!
I decided while in college that golf and bridge were
the way to my man’s heart ~ we celebrated 50 years of marriage
a year ago and it’s been a wonderful 50+ years. Nick & I
both had active careers and supported our children’s activities.
With what little time was left, we each played bridge (when possible)
and golf for our county club teams. Philadelphia CC Suburban Mixed
Pairs Bridge League gave more opportunity for bridge play. Jane Segal
was women’s teacher; I attended lessons whenever possible. Jane
was a good teacher and I learned a lot from her.
Shortly after our move to Whitpain Farm in 2007,
we learned Bobbie Gomer was offering a series of lessons in the community.
Bobbie was wonderful; her instruction gave foundation to take my game
to a higher level. She also stressed duplicate play so I accepted
a neighbor’s invitation to play one afternoon. We came in 1st!
Thank heavens Bill Bauer was directing the game; he knew Nick and
suggested I sign us both up for membership in ACBL that December day.
For several years our activities allowed only sporadic duplicate play;
fortunately, the last two years, we’ve found time to play once
or twice most weeks. Bobbie continued to encourage and support us
throughout the journey. An added benefit, both Nick and I have enjoyed
being able to explore different areas of our wonderful country, combining
play in a few Regional tournaments. What a fun way to get "needed”
color points! Now that we’ve both achieved Life Master Status,
combining tournaments with travel will be even more fun!
Dell'Osa-Capodaglio - Club Master
I took Bridge lessons at the local high school evening
classes program and absolutely loved it right away, but only played
Some time ago, Harry Nuckols introduced me to Duplicate
and I earned a few points, but still went back to Rubber Bridge until
February, 2016 when I decided to give Duplicate another chance. Although
I don’t have a regular partner, you could say I’m a free
agent, I have played with some very interesting players, mostly with
Ceil Austenfeld, the Monday night director, who is always willing
to teach & mentor.
It’s sad to see that here in America, Bridge
seems to have lost its place of honor, but I’m glad to hear
that Bridge is part of the curriculum in some European countries.
How nice is that? As far as I’m concerned, besides reading,
Bridge is the only worthwhile pastime.
I emigrated from Italy at 15 years of age. I am
keenly aware of my heritage, the legacies and loyalties I have formed
here and very glad to have taken the initiative to learn Bridge. Although
I’m humbled by the game, it’s always great fun!
Vicky Sokoloff - Silver Life Master
I was introduced to bridge around 1970. Things were
very different then. Each day’s game had a different owner/director,
even though they shared a common space. A bit of friendly competition
inspired each director to keep improving his/her game. There were
no A/B/C strats, no NLM tournaments, no Gold Rush or Mid-Flight events.
Instead there were things like Mens Pairs, Womens Pairs and Mixed
Pairs. The ACBL strongly discouraged playing directors by reducing
the points award when a director did play.
In 1972 there was excitement leading up to the Fall
Nationals in Lancaster. Each unit had a day to provide the volunteers.
It was at that tournament that a met my husband. We were married a
year later. Then family, house, and a full time job kept me away from
bridge for nearly 30 years.
When I returned late in 2009 things even looked
different. There were bidding boxes and computer scorers. In the fall
of 2010 we headed to the Lancaster Regionals and things fell together
nicely…I hit both 300 points and 25 gold on the same day. A
month later I was diagnosed with breast cancer.
It quickly became apparent that I was going to need
a safe zone away from treatment. So for a year we tried to both keep
my condition quiet and arrange chemo, tests, surgeries, and radiation
so that there would be one afternoon a week to get away from all that
and play bridge.
I was just finishing radiation when the 2011 Lancaster
Regionals rolled around. With very little in the way of expectations
due to my depleted state, we again made the trip and were rewarded
with a win in a two-day Knockout. The very next day I decided I was
strong enough to take off the wig.
Health issues and pets still limit our travel to
day trips. I have a couple more months of oral medication which has
a serious impact on memory. But again this year we traveled to Lancaster
for the Regional, and again Lancaster was special. I‘ve been
a Penn State trained Master Gardener for nearly 20 years, so I like
to say I reached the rank of ‘Silver Life Master Gardener’.
Bridge is certainly not the most important thing
in life. But it can play a big role in helping us deal with the things
that life throws at us.
Rosen -Gold Life Master
So many wonderful pards that helped me on the way
to becoming a Gold Life Master.
Bidding tools from the ACBL magazine with terrific analysis also guided
me and made me change some of my thinking.
Most of all,being able to discuss with my pards our bidding ups and
downs and being flexible to change.
Sakr - Sectional Master
I was born in Lebanon, moving to the United States
in my teens. I studied computer science at Northern Illinois University
and worked with computers at the school for six years. My husband
and I moved back to Beirut in 2000 so he could help with the family
business. We returned to the US in 2010 and I now split my time between
Beirut and Bryn Mawr, PA, with regular travel to bridge tournaments.
I caught the bridge bug in my 20's after learning
the game with friends and was so smitten that I started the Bridge
Academy in Beirut. It was later turned into a bridge club and often
has as many as 90 tables in play.
I have more than 28 trophies from competitions around
the world and just recently started playing more in the United States.
I recently represented the USA in Poland and finished in eleventh
Sprowles - Life Master
My siblings and I were taught bridge in the 1950s
by our parents at the kitchen table. My first sanctioned games were
played in 1971 and 1972, when my younger brother Alden, our friend
Dudley Hendricks and some of Alden’s college buddies learned
Precision. I carried around 0.75 worth of master point slips from
those games and eventually lost them not too long before I could have
used them. The team broke up when Alden left for grad school. I didn’t
play competitively for almost thirty years.
In 2008 we started a social duplicate game when Alden was visiting
back East from his home on the left coast. That grew into a monthly
event that is still held. Dudley and I started fooling around with
Precision and eventually met weekly for a practice session and dinner.
It took us 18 months to master the system and along the way we acknowledged
that we knew about 20% of it in 1971. We started playing at Dotty
Lou’s Boutique and Bridge Studio, now known as Bridge Alert,
every Sunday in late 2008.
In October 2010 Fern Herman and Patty Bassman asked Dudley and me
to play with them in a Swiss KO at the Philadelphia. We won our bracket
and 10.87 gold points. Dudley still wonders if anybody has ever had
more gold points than black.
Shortly thereafter Dudley retired and I had to learn 2 over 1. I played
several times with the late Tom Sakaguchi and promiscuously with about
30 different partners before arriving at a regular Sunday game with
Ralph Collins. When Barbara Patterson and Jane Ball started Ami Bridge
I hooked up with Richard Perlman with whom I play Kennedy/Montreal
In 2014 I earned all the pigmented points I needed for life master.
In August I exceeded the 300 point total. Or so I thought. It turns
out that I double counted my July total. Barbara had a cake and a
sign on her screen congratulating me before I actually earned the
points for life master in the first week in September.
For reasons I do not understand I did not appear in the October or
November issues of the bulletin as a new life master. I hope my name
appears in the December issue or my friends at Ami Bridge and Dotty
Lou’s will think I am a liar, which I am when I play poker,
but am not when I play bridge
Widmyer - Sectional Master with Chuck Meister and partner, Lisa Younis
Linens, Libations and Lasagna
By Lyn Widmyer ACBL Bridge Bulletin July 2015
Now that I am retired, I am spending a lot more time
playing bridge. I learned the game decades ago because my mother believed
knowing how to play bridge was as important to succeeding in college
as good SAT scores. She adored the game. I always helped Mom prepare
when it was her turn to host the bridge ladies for an extravagant
lunch and an afternoon of play. My job was to iron napkins and tablecloths,
wash the good crystal and polish silver.
Based on my childhood experience, I came to associate
bridge with liquor, linen and lasagna. Add a few glasses of wine and/or
sherry and it was amazing my mother’s bridge group was coherent
enough to actually play bridge.
When my mother sent me to bridge lessons, she hoped
it would help me find social success in college. I found other interests
in college and put bridge on hold.
Fast forward to 1990 when I started playing bridge
with a small group of ladies in Charles Town. Naomi Moses, my bridge
span into the modern era of bidding, invited me to join her group
for an afternoon of play. I welcomed the invitation and decided to
skip breakfast to save room for a lavish lunch a la my mother. I arrived
at Naomi’s home and viewed the kitchen table, adorned only by
two decks of cards and a score pad. No buffet. No lasagna. No silver
cutlery. The only food was a bowl of cantaloupe squares pierced with
I could barely hear the introductions of the other
players over the rumblings of my empty stomach. These ladies were
far more interested in teaching me “weak two bids”, “negative
doubles” and “strong artificial 2 club opening”
than feeding me.
I loved it. Unfortunately, working full-time and
raising a family cut into my bridge time.
Now, freed of work and young children, I am back
at the bridge table. There is quite an active group of bridge players
in the area, ranging from weekly bridge games among friends to more
structured, duplicate games in Martinsburg, Charles Town and Shepherdstown.
I am one of the youngest players at my regular bridge
game in Shepherdstown. No matter—these ladies are sharp! Recently,
my 93-year old partner (who has been married longer than I have been
alive) reminded me after we failed to make our bid that the Jacoby
transfer convention is still on after an interference bid by the opponent.
I nodded to give the impression I knew what she was
In Charles Town, I have played with a hero of World
War II, Fred Mayer. Or as he is referred to in Wikipedia, “Frederick
Mayer (spy)”. During World War II Fred parachuted into Austria,
then posed as a German Army officer to learn about troop movements
near Innsbruck. He was captured and tortured by the Gestapo. Fred
was freed in 1945 by American troops and later awarded the Legion
of Merit and a Purple Heart by the United States Government. What
an honor to sit at the bridge table with an American war hero.
My mother insisted bridge would help me socially
in college. That never happened but her investment in lessons is paying
dividends now that I am older and retired. Playing bridge has introduced
me to a wonderful new group of friends and acquaintances.
Best of all, knowing an opening bid of 2 No Trump
promises 20-21 points is considered far more important than knowing
how to iron linen napkins or polish silver.
Mancioci - Gold Life Master
How did I became a Gold Life Master. It was not the
traditional way, I suspect. I practice law, which is all consuming.
I was also married with children. I played when I could, which for
a long time was exclusively nights. A tournament appearance for me
and rarely involved a Sunday, as I felt a family obligation. I rarely
made games in advance because work and family came first.
So how did I improve? I read bridge an average of
an hour per day, 7 hours per week. I watched the experts on BBO and
at national tournaments. I tried to stay in decent physical shape.
I worked on my stamina and did not tolerate table talk, particularly
critical talk, which was tiresome to me and keeps me from concentrating
on the next hand. I sought out partners who do not offer unsolicited
advise. I "kissed up" to no one. This way my way.
Ramussen - Junior Master
My story is really about my family. Every year for
12 years, my dad and 2 brothers along with our families would vacation
in Sea Isle City, NJ. My dad and two brothers knew how to play bridge,
but I had not yet learned. I was always interested and loved to play
cards, so I thought I would give it a try. We would play a few boards
each night as they taught me the basics, bidding, playing, etc. My
dad gave me the book ‘The Play of the Hand’ by Watson,
I took an evening bridge class at our local high school and I would
read up on the internet. The first couple of years were a bit hard
and I am sure frustrating. By the 3rd or 4th summer, we were playing
at least 24 boards a night 6 of the 7 nights. (My father owned a duplicate
set of boards.) That is really how I learned to play. Dad passed away
3 years ago and as a result, we stopped going to the beach.
The oldest brother, Chris, saw the Monroeville bridge
tournament and invited me only a week before it began. I just joined
the ACBL that Tuesday. Well, I didn’t have any official tournament
experience, but I guess you could say that I had a ton of Rasmussen
I really enjoyed my experience. I think Chris and I will be planning
to attend another tournament in the not so distant future.
Belman - Life Master
I started playing bridge in the army. I continued
playing while at Penn, and occasionally play duplicate at Rhoda Gran's's
at 21st and Walnut. I played occasionally at The Tuesday evening Calcutta
at the Cavendish club when it was at the Drake. Than came about 50
years that I took a vacation from duplicate and raised a family, built
a business and spent many hour volunteering for for worthwhile charitable
organizations. I did continue to play rubber bridge at the Hamilton
Club on Saturdays. About 4 years ago I retired and decided to start
playing duplicate again. My thrill,(I am sure you don't remember)
was playing against your team in the KOs at Wilmington and winning
13 1/2 gold ,I needed 12 1/2 to make LM. This left me 1.1 silver short,which
I picked up in this months STAC. I've made lots of new friends and
enjoy playing in games and tourneys.
Palmer - Junior Master
I played bridge in graduate school and for a short
time after I joined Du Pont in 1963 until I was transferred from Wilmington.
In 2013 my wife expressed interest in learning the game and took lessons
at the Bridge Center of Delaware County. I joined her in the lessons
the next year and we began playing with friends in Delaware. They
mentioned their beneficial experience with the Bridge Studio of Delaware
so I signed up for their Intermediate Lessons in September 2015 even
though I live in Pennsylvania. Starting this year I began playing
in games at the studio and to accumulate points. I am very pleased
and impressed with the principals, teachers and volunteers at the
Studio for the quality of the training and the friendly and open atmosphere.
I also commend the District for the mentoring program that is being
held this summer. I am impressed as are the other newer players at
the thoughtful guidance and helpfulness of our mentors as well as
their willingness to participate. I recommend that the program be
continued on an as needed basis.
Dalati - Club Master
I arrived to the States on the 12 of October 2015
from Lebanon, Beyrut. I stayed more than four months before I discovered
the Club in Cape May Court House and I called and I had a very nice
lady on the phone, Harriette. She asked me to come and play. So I
said I don't have a partner. She replied "I will play with you".
So I went for the first time so uncomfortable not knowing anybody,
but they were all so nice warm and welcoming that I felt relieved.
And it was my first day and so comfortable. I was playing Bridge every
single day almost in Beyrut. I participated in so many international
tournaments before I came here. Now I am playing with very good players
here and I am so happy .
Bishop - Life Master
I started playing bridge as a 12-year old, with my
twin sister and parents. During my 31-year Army career, there were
many years without bridge in my life, but when I retired in September
2004, a friend recommended Dotty Ehling's club in Warminster; and
I joined the ACBL in February 2005. For the first 4 years, I never
entered a gold-point event, which I regret now, but no one told me
to start collecting gold early - the advice I got was: enter the lowest
event possible at the tournaments. Gold points were slow in coming:
1.53 here, 2.90 there, until I only needed 0.08 for Life Master, even
though I had a total of 650 points. Finally we got that one big win
at the 2016 King of Prussia tournament (9.94 gold) which pushed us
way over the top (thank you Carolyn and Sheldon Per). Most of my gold
was earned with Dave Hallman, and most of my silver with Jean Harney.
I have both partners to thank, along with my parents who got me started.
Tom Mulgrew - Life Master
I started playing bridge in the '60s. A co-worker
taught three of us during lunch hours. I played some duplicate and
party games and started to play seriously in the '90s. I have been
playing with one of my present partners for about ten years. Three
years ago we decided to form a partnership and began playing together
a couple of times a week. This allowed us to get a feeling for each
other's bidding and play and to practice our conventions. We went
to Sectionals and Regionals to earn Red, Gold, and Silver points.
This year we went to a tournament in Toronto for two days, May 26
and 27, 2 sessions each day. I needed 1.28 Master Points. We won the
last session and earned 1.93 Gold and 1.93 Red.
For me, Gold points are the hardest to get. Gold
Rush and Swiss Team games provide a good opportunity to earn these.
Karen Sylvester - Gold Life Master
A friend of mine called me in the winter of 1996
asking me if I would go to bridge lessons with her. Now, I had played
pinochle in college (and spent so much time playing it instead of
attending classes, that I could probably have earned a degree in it),
but knew nothing about bridge (I actually thought it was for old ladies
with big hats and maybe winos). Having a life-long problem of saying
“no” to people, I agreed to go with her to a Senior Center
(which was exactly where I knew it would be taking place). Of course,
after being there about twenty minutes, I was hooked.
My friend and I decided, after a few months of taking lessons, to
try the big time, and showed up at a local duplicate game. A player
came over and introduced herself and asked how long we had been playing.
We said only a few months, but we thought we played a good game and
beat everyone at the “Senior Center”. She laughed and
said, “well, you will not come in first here and it will be
a very long time before you beat players here at our club”.
Well, she was wrong….we came in third that first night and thought,
this is easy, and not as intimidating as we imagined. Well, she was
also right….we came in last after that first night, for months.
I was working full time so didn’t get much time in at the bridge
table, but kept at it whenever I could.
About two years later, the women who owned the club asked me to sit
for the director’s test. Soon after, she became sickly and gave
up ownership. One of the members took charge, incorporated, and the
club, The Cape May County Duplicate Bridge, became a club owned by
its members. He was President for two three year terms and then asked
me to take over. I am presently on my 4th three year term.
I enjoy the game, the competition and the people. In 2003, I entered
our club in the One-Star Club competition and won. I have enjoyed
planning parties for all the holidays and starting a yearly club newsletter
and website. I have been fortunate enough to play in bridge in Atlanta,
Nashville, New Orleans, New York, Mesa, Las Vegas and Italy.
Hileman - Club Master
My father and mother taught me bridge when I was
very young. My father was a life master and played almost daily at
the White Rose Bridge Club in York.
Over the next fifty years I played with family, however,
never had played duplicate.
I heard about the Bridge Boardroom and how they provided
lessons. For the past three years I have been going there. Edward
Scanlon, the owner, is a very good teacher and gives lessons several
times a week. The atmosphere is very friendly. There are several excellent
players at the club who are always giving advice or impromptu lessons.
His lessons are so popular that there is a contingency
coming up from Annapolis, Maryland for the experience.
What I have learned in the past year where I have
tried to be a regular participant at the Bridge Boardroom is more
than I ever knew from playing for the past fifty years.
Diana Erney - Regional Master
Bridge has become an unexpected joy ride in my life!
I retired in 2008 with much trepidation because I couldn't believe
the time had arrived so quickly. My elderly parents needed me and
so I had to give up my life's work which I thoroughly enjoyed. A dear
friend suggested I take up Bridge and quite frankly I always wondered
what this game was all about. I have always loved playing all sorts
of card games. Well, after two years of courses under the direction
of Dini Romito, our director, I got hooked! My work had always involved
setting goals and reaching them and this game filled the gap. The
challenge of reaching the different levels, meeting so many interesting
people from all walks of life, and having fun with my partners has
put a different perspective on retirement. The most important aspect
is that my brain is being exercised just as my body is on the tennis
Layla Dalati - Junior Master
I am so glad to join the ACBL American Bridge. I
came here to the States in early November and after 4 months I discovered,
thanks to my husband, the Bridge Club in Cape May Court House where
I joined the club and became a member of ACBL since
about only 2 months. I was playing Bridge in Beirut, Lebanon before
I came here 4 or 5 days a week in a very professional club in Beirut.
I shared in so many tournaments out of Lebanon in Europeans Countries.
I will be always grateful to improve my Bridge because every time
its different and every day you learn something new -- its never enough.
Marie Caruso - Junior Master
My father, John Quinn of Massey, Maryland introduced
me to the game of Bridge approximately seven years ago. He was an
avid player right up to the time of his death in November of 2012.
I began taking lessons at the Delaware Bridge Studio
in 2015. I enjoy the lessons and playing at every opportunity in order
to enhance my skills. I find Bridge a fabulous and challenging game!
Andy Stayton - Diamond Life Master
Bridge has been one of my main interests since I
started learning the game as a senior in high school. I love the sociability
of the game and the competition it affords. I play all kinds of games;
golf, tennis, backgammon, board games, etc. but nothing compares to
tournament bridge. I am gratified that I reached one of my long-term
goals of making Diamond LM although it has only taken me about 50
years and 150-200 thousand dollars – well worth it for the enjoyment
has given me. Family (wife, 2 daughters and 5 grandchildren) and work
( I was a DE State Trooper for 20 years and a registered lobbyist
for business interests and non-profits for 25 years) kept me from
“going on the tour”, but since retiring 3 ½ years
ago and moving to Rehoboth I have been able to play a lot more. I’ve
picked up approximately ¼ of my total master points thanks
to all of the wonderful friends and partners I have met since moving
Over the years I established partnerships with a great many fine players
and the following is a list of those who helped me on the way: Tom
Kirch, Roy Peters, Frank Giovannozzi, Len Reed, Rick Rowland, Andy
Kaufman, Assen Slavov, and Jeff Ruben from northern Delaware and Eli
Solomon, Terry Patton, Terry Dutton, Beth Mallon, and Don Wand from
southern Delaware. Of course I have played with many other talented
players during my bridge career, but there are too many to mention.
Emerald LM?? I hope to be healthy enough both mentally and physically
to pursue that goal. Special thanks goes to my family for their support
over all of these years.
Tylander - Life Master
My journey to Life Master has been a long one as
well as a very short period to accomplish this. Sounds like an enigma,
doesn't it? I learned to play Bridge as a teenager by checking out
a book from the library. Having played card games with older cousins
from the age of three, I felt I knew how to play everything except
Bridge. I played social Bridge all through college and then moved
to duplicate after college. I went to a couple of tournaments and
acquired points of color thinking I would be a Life Master. However,
marriage, children, and a career in teaching meant no time for duplicate
and ended the ride to Life Master.
Forty years later, I met wonderful friends in Bethany
Beach and they encouraged me to return to duplicate. Bev and Jack
Shubert sent me to Dini Romito who matched me with partners, served
as a mentor, and made Bridge so much fun, once I had the hang of the
bidding boxes and Bridgemates. However still teaching, there was only
time to play a few games in the summer. Then two years ago, I retired.
In 2015, armed with 60 points I set out on a Bridge mission. During
this year of Bridge, I played with many different partners. My husband
and I travel so it is difficult to play with just two or three people.
During winters in Florida, Val Covalciuc took over for Dini and found
me dozens of snowbird partners. The partners have all been fascinating
people, including professional athletes, attorneys, doctors, an artist
and many "computer" career players. I was so lucky to have
been paired with great partners many of whom have become special friends.
Fourteen and a half months later, I went to The Sarasota
Florida Regional. My colors were all in place and I needed a little
under 5 points. Once again, I played with some partners that I met
at Dini Romito's club and a partner from Ohio that I met from The
Bridge Centre in Fort Myers, Florida. The journey for Life Master
materialized February 17, 2016 with a Swiss team win! My passion for
the game of Bridge will always be a part of my life!
Goldberg - Life Master
When I began taking bridge lessons a little over
5 years ago, my objective was to learn enough to be able to play a
competent game with my wife, Suzie, who is an accomplished bridge
player. Life Master, or any ACBL rank for that matter, seemed way
out of reach. Through the help of patient and talented bridge teachers
and mentors, and dedicated study with my partners (we started out
as a cohort of newbies intent on learning how to play bridge), my
game improved to the point where I could do well in local, sectional,
and regional events.
Getting newer players to that point where they are confident in competing
is a key to helping them progress through the various ACBL levels.
It is long and daunting road to Life Master status, especially for
those of us in the new 500 MP category.
At a little over 400 master points, and still needing
16 more in gold, my wife and I participated in an ACBL regional at
sea along with our friends (also accomplished bridge players) Bill
Young and Debbie Hoveland. We had a phenomenal experience- we played
pairs and teams in 19 out of the 21 sessions during the cruise. I
was hoping to make a big dent in the gold points that I still needed,
but our success vastly exceeded any expectation that I had. Our week
at sea added 62 master points to my total, with 58 of them being gold.
I was absolutely thrilled when Larry Cohen presented me with a trophy
for the highest “B” player of the tournament. Within a
few months of our return, I was able to get to the magic number of
500 at one of our local club games. The lesson from my experience
is that no one makes Life Master on their own. Anyone who achieves
that level only gets there with the help and guidance from more experienced
players, just as I had help from Bill and Debbie, Suzie, and many
Life Master is a significant accomplishment for any
player. To me, it is more of a beginning point than a destination.
Life Master says someone has learned how to play bridge and has competed
successfully in local, sectional, and regional events. But, in reality,
this is where you begin to learn how to play bridge at an advanced
level. In athletic terms, you have made the varsity team, and now
you must learn how to play at the varsity level.
Bridge is a fascinating game that requires a complex
mix of skill, knowledge, and judgement. In most endeavors, the more
you know about a game, the easier it is. With bridge, the opposite
occurs. The more you know, the more you realize how difficult and
complicated the game can be trying to figure out the billions and
billions of hands that you pick up at the table. Two hands can look
nearly identical, but the path that succeeds with the first may fail
with the second. Figuring that out is the challenge that keeps people
While I love playing bridge, my real passion is teaching
the game. As a student, I learned the rules and procedures for bidding,
play, and defense, but I also tried to understand the reasons behind
them so I could better judge what to do in unusual or undefined situations.
As a bridge teacher, I enjoy helping my students appreciate bridge
by giving them a better understanding of the “why” behind
the rule, rather than just following the rule. Lately, it has become
bitter-sweet when I play against two of my students at a club game
and they get the good board scores (because they learned something
in my class or workshop).
Marilyn Robinson - Club Master
I walked into Ami Bridge (Langhorne PA) 2½
years ago clueless and uneducated. Director Barbara Patterson
in answering my phone call asked me to arrive 15 minutes prior to
meet and do paperwork and assured me I was most welcomed at her new
club. The gentlemen at the table gave my friend and me an in-service
on using Bridge Boxes and the games began.
I signed up for Lessons with Barbara at the local
Community College. I ordered books and dove in. The addiction
was immediate: This is what I want to do for the rest of my
life! Now that I’m learning the game I too love the newbies
who are brave enough to come to the Adults Table and take a chance
on themselves. I found a regular partner and we entered our
first tournament at Bala, coming in second in our bracket!
I earned Junior Master points, printed out the certificate,
and posted it to my Facebook page. I blinked and now I’m
a Club Master! What an honor! Yet Duplicate is such a
humbling, learning game. One day I join the 70% Club and score
a free game and the next I’m back down in the 23%. But
I continue to go back, a good week is 3 days of play, a great week
I never was a numbers person and started this game
in the hopes that my genius husband would take up the game with me
and carry us but alas, card shyster that he is he has no desire.
From what I understand that could be to keep peace in our marriage,
but I can still dream about Some Day.
With the support of Ami Bridge, chosen because the
word "Ami" means friend and defines the experience Barbara
Patterson wants everyone to have when they come to her club,
almost every hand is a learning opportunity. Every foursome
has three teachers in in for the asking!
Wolston - Junior Master
My first experience with bridge, in fact duplicate
bridge, was when I was around 9 or 10 years old. My parents, who played
bridge with a couple of different groups, were in a duplicate bridge
group. When my parent's hosted the duplicate group, they would
let me shuffle the cards for the boards. After their friends left,
I got to finish off any of the leftover appetizers.
Until I moved to Pennsylvania from Minnesota two
years ago, I had only played with people a dozen times. My dad had
taught me when I was 11, but I only played with my parents and some
of their friends a couple of times. Other times, I played with my
Tai Chi group during its annual weekend retreat, which one of the
group, Kim Hayward, is a Grand Master. My other prior experience is
playing bridge solo almost every night. I deal out, bid, and play
the hands to what be the most likely lines of bidding and play.
I moved to the eastern Pennsylvania & western
New Jersey area to be able to work in my business associate's, Rose
Levy Beranbaum's, Hope, New Jersey home. Rose is the award winning
baking cookbook author of 11 books. I found the when I was looking
on-line for a bridge group. Jo Ann Mauger received my email and invited
me to join the Stroudsburg, PA Monday afternoon group.
My experience with Jo Ann's group has been wonderful.
She is a great director and an excellent teacher, as she frequently
holds a class for players after we finish our games. She paired me
up with a good “C” ranked partner as well, Sam Goosay.
Before joining the club, I had only played informal party bridge and
only knew Stayman and Blackwood for conventions. So it has been a
rapid and interesting learning curve for duplicate bridge.
What I like about our club is the willingness of
the experienced “A” ranking players to offer their advice
on bidding, playing, and strategy. Especially, William Haynes, who
likes to remind Sam and me,” You need to remember the scoring.
Sometimes better to let the opponents get the bid with the possibility
of setting them than be in the same contract as everyone else.”
I also, have found the ACBL’s on-line “Learn to Play Bridge”
very helpful with playing the various hands, especially with all of
the modern conventions. I have also enjoyed reading and trying to
solve problems in the Bulletin. My partner also recommended Audrey
Grant’s “Bridge at a Glance”, which I check with
it and convention pages from Learn to Play Bridge when I practiced
Since Rose and I research, test, and write baking
books, I generally bring a treat to the group each week for their
Jane Beck - Life Master
When there is a duplicate-bridge player in the family,
the whole family is affected. It all began in the fall of 2009.
Jane looked for something new to master
Her knowledge of bridge – a disaster
Conquered books and lessons
Lost her apprehension
And achieved the rank of Life Master
He is married to Jane, Who had no clue of the game
She sought out great books, and lessons she took
While partners were many, It sure cost him plenty
It took so much time, her husband did pine
First Sectionals he feared, Then Regionals and Nationals appeared
Oh dear lord, will she ever get bored?
She got her Life Master, Now he’ll be put out to pasture
While Holidays are here let’s give her a cheer, and at least
one more beer
On gold points and silver points and red ones too, If some are black
she’ll be happy too. Happy Holidays !!
I had a lot of help along the way ! Thank
• My terrific partners : Patti Isaacs (the
angel always sitting on my shoulder), Nancy, Terri, Jill, Joan, Leslie
& Karen. Thanks for your patience and putting up with me through
this bumpy ride !
• Caroline for taking me to my first Regional: where I earned
by first red points, and playing teams when I earned my needed gold
• The Bridge Studio, Wilmington DE, for providing a fabulous
venue for lessons & games
• Julie Hockersmith for continuing the Tuesday-evening Casual
Bridge --- answering question, after question, after question
• Barbara Rhoades, who INSISTED that this little team, who won
big at Bala two years ago, compete in GNTs – not taking no for
an answer, and those who made it possible for me to compete
• Cheryl Shields and Tom Kramer for the friendly game in Middletown
DE that is a safe haven for beginners
• Len Thomas – my greatest cheerleader – for his
dedication by helping every Friday morning in the NLM game at the
Studio, teaching and mentoring beginners (always with a smile) for
the love of the game
Were you bridging Grammy? Yes, I was. Did you have
fun bridging Grammy? Always, Abigail
Life is Good
Wall - Junior Master
Junior Master status! I never expected to “go”
anywhere in the bridge world. How did I get here? I played bridge
in college (St. Lawrence University, Canton, NY) 47 years ago –
typical college bridge where most of us did not know how to keep score
so only kept track of winning tricks. In June 2014 I retired from
teaching and my one goal was to play bridge again and enjoy it.
I moved back to hometown of Oswego, NY and in October
of that year ran into an old friend to whom I expressed my desire
to get into bridge. And the next thin I knew I was playing 2 or 3
time a week and had 2 new friends who were my partners and a local
bridge club that encouraged me and welcomed me into their membership.
I am having fun, keeping my mind active and learning how to play “real”
bridge as my parents did many years ago.
Maitra - Emerald Life Master
Samaresh (Sammy) Maitra was born on December
13, 1938 in a small village in East Pakistan, now Bangladesh.
He was the youngest of 19 children. He remembers a very happy childhood-
he would get one tennis ball for the year and the whole village turned
out to see it.
He and his family migrated to India and settled in Calcutta. In 1961,
he won a scholarship to the University of Maryland to do his Ph.D
in Physics. Here he was introduced to bridge, and with his background
in mathematics became fascinated with it.
He moved to Rochester as a post-doctoral research fellow at the University
of Rochester, and began playing bridge in earnest. He met and married
Yashu who claims, quite erroneously, he adds, to be a better bridge
player than he is.
Sammy says, 'Bridge has given me an intellectual challenge, but more
than that it has given me a sense of community and has led to lifelong
Yashu adds: His passion for the game and calm demeanour (haha) are
well known in the Rochester bridge community.
He plays with a great variety of partners, and is unstinting in his
praise of them. He congratulates at least 50% of their plays at least
25% of the time.
He is equally grateful to his opponents, without whom he could not
have achieved this milestone. Yashu often jokes that he should clone
himself and play with his clone, but she shakes her head, he would
never agree that the clone was as good as he. |
Seriously though, he truly loves the game and the Rochester bridge
Sammy has the last word: I could not have done it without Yashu's
love and support, and for her unique ability to create a bottom board
out of a top.
White - Club Master
Clayton White began playing duplicate bridge in 2003
after retiring from a 33-year career as Professor of Music and Department
Chair at Community College of Philadelphia. Playing in The American
Bridge Association (ABA), Clayton captained teams that won three national
Knockout Championships and 12 Sectional Knockout Championships as
well as numerous pairs Championships. Also, he is a bridge instructor
certified by the ABA and the ABTA.
Since his ABA club closes for the summer months,
Clayton and his partner, Anola Vance, have played at Raffles on Wednesdays
during July and August the past two years. Anola, a former student
in Clayton’s bridge class, has been playing duplicate bridge
for 3 years. In the NLM (under 500 MP) game hosted by the PCBA at
Bala Golf Club on October 9, 2015, Anola and Clayton placed 1st overall
with a 65.46% score. Anola will soon advance to Club Master.
O'Boyle - Junior Master
Many many years ago when I was very young,
A friend and I read Goren’s Book, love of bridge had then begun;
Other friends’ and neighbors quickly said, in no uncertain terms,
“Too much study time involved, no desire to read, to learn”;
So one day we heard “There’s a bridge game in town, just
come in and you can play”,
So off we went to check it out, to see if we could stay….
And play some hands, what could we lose, after all we read Goren’s
We were seated at a table, introduced and then we looked,
No cards were dealt or taken, instead once played were all returned….
To the board, then passed on to be played again until played by all,
we quickly learned;
Well the years rolled on, business demanded much time and my bridge
days faded away,
Until late last year I decided to observe a duplicate game to see
if I felt I could still play;
The first thing I learned, the Goren I played was no longer being
Conventions and strange bidding now ruled the day and to compete you
must adapt if you care….
To stay in the game and win some points, after all winning is what
we all want to do,
And if you play your cards right and luck is on your side, you’ll
pick up a couple of points too;
So now I’m a Junior Life Master, at this time of my life, I
think to accomplish that really is a blast,
But the real benefits of the game are the friendships I’ve made,
and that soothes me if I come in last;
So I look forward to continuing and improving my game, even collect
some more points along the way,
And win, lose or draw, I’ll continue to play, even sneak some
Goren in….but I’ll never say.
Jim Herrington - Gold Life Master
I am a 77 y.o. retired Presbyterian minister, who
played my first duplicate game in June, 1959, in my hometown of Abilene,
TX. I shortly thereafter went to Europe (U.S. Army) and earned 40
points in three years, then played almost no bridge at all for ten
years (graduate school and first pastorate). Moving to Mobile, Al
in 1972, I became a life master in January,1976, before moving to
Delaware later that year. For several years in Delaware I played some,
then directed the unit game--slowing adding up to 750 points. When
asked to assist a friend to get his Gold Points several years ago,
I again began to play regularly, making 1,000 in May, 2007. Since
then, I have accumulated the additional 1,500 points, playing regularly,
and earning ca. 200 points a year.
Some of my favorite partners have been Jeff Koltenuk, Jan Garber,
Alan Horowitz, and Carla Wasniewski.
Lonker - Bronze Life Master
I learned to love bridge when I started taking lessons
about 15 years ago. There was so much to learn and understand! I found
the game challenging, interesting, often fun, and many times frustrating.
The social aspects of Bridge have been a real plus. Most importantly
Bridge afforded me the opportunity to make many good friends with
whom I have shared Bridge games, good conversation, movies and dinners.
I especially want to thank Linda, Judy and Natalie who were so instrumental
in helping me to earn the points I needed. I look forward to many
more years of friendship, challenges, and even the frustration!
Parrett - NABC Master
I joined the ACBL in 2010 after getting my feet wet
on BBO where I was introduced to the basic SAYC system. It was my
BBO friends who encouraged me to join the ACBL and find ‘real’
games at a local club. My first session at the Lancaster club was
quite an experience – much different from online Bridge, and
it was also my introduction to bidding boxes and director calls.
That first night of club Bridge was great. Oh trust me, I had a terrible
game, but the director and players were extremely friendly and welcoming.
For the first year, I played pretty consistently with one partner,
became familiar with a few conventions, and started earning partial
points here and there. On one surprising Tuesday night I earned my
first overall club win! Director John teased that ‘C’
players are not supposed to beat ‘A’ players, but I was
Following that first year, I started playing with
many partners that used a variety of conventions and carding systems.
Initially, I tried to adapt to others’ conventions cards, but
looking back I can see that added a layer of complexity and confusion
as I was trying to learn. I now have a preferred convention card to
which I’m slowly making adjustments as I learn new conventions.
I continue to play on BBO, primarily with a select few partner-friends
there. I’ve also used the BBO ‘Robots’ to get more
experience with the 2 over 1 game force system.
As the years have passed, great friendships have grown from my Bridge
community. By becoming part of the Lancaster Regional Tournament Committee
and most recently, the Unit 168 Board, that Bridge family continues
to grow. I now realize that I may have acquired a mild addiction –
because more than a few times, I’ve taken a day of vacation
from work to play Bridge (but there are others that have a worse addiction
Looking back, I realize the game was never about the master points
or reaching a certain level, it was about challenging myself and trying
something new. That still holds true. The friendships, this sense
of ‘family’ that developed, that’s the most cherished
part of my journey. My Bridge family supported me through difficult
personal times, embraced me as a person, and they continue to encourage
my learning of this wonderful game. It sounds cliché to say
that Bridge changed my life, but it’s true. Where else would
I have met this diverse, intelligent, serious, silly, compassionate
and maddening group of people? How else would I have developed such
a wonderful extended family? Nowhere else but in Bridge!
My story would not be complete without acknowledging the huge impact
a Club Director can have on the Bridge player’s experience.
It would have taken much longer to achieve the rank of NABC Master
without the support of Debi and John Klinger who went above and beyond
the call of duty in finding partners and teams, encouraging my learning
and growth, and challenging me to participate in Regionals and Nationals.
They are amazing people and great advocates of the game!
What I’ve learned in my journey, and would offer to newer players
to support their enjoyment and advancement in the game, include the
1. Get to know the locals:
a. Your club directors are an invaluable resource!
b. Club members can become great friends and a support network
c. Get involved in your club’s activities
2. Be resilient:
a. Expect failure – learn from those hands/experiences
b. Don’t be intimidated by skilled players, they were once new
to the game
c. Director calls are part of the game and not a personal affront
d. Practice forgiveness (for yourself and others) – all bridge
players have good days and not-so-good days
3. Learn more about Bridge:
a. Log on to the ACBL website for useful information and educational
b. Attend lessons at your club, if available
c. Consider asking a skilled player to become your mentor
d. Borrow books from your Bridge director or other players to advance
4. Practice and Play:
a. Play at your local club(s) and play against the best competition
b. Attend sectionals, regionals and nationals, if possible
c. Use BBO to practice and hone your skills
Flor - NABC Master
Gertrude Flor will be 94 in September. She was born
into a family of wealth and privilege in a small town that was once
considered part of Romania and Austria. As a child she spoke many
languages and was extremely musical. She recalls her mother playing
bridge with friends and "always there was yelling and screaming"
and so she vowed never to learn "that game".!!!!!
Gert is a Holocaust survivor who was liberated by the Russians and
then became a freedom fighter for the Czech army. Her late husband,
Sam Flor, was also a survivior and was a sought after speaker to tell
his story of the Holocaust to the world. (Gert could not bear to speak
about it). While living in Minnesota he was with the Minnesota Symphony
(a concert violinist) and there they learned to play bridge with friends.
Moving here with their daughter Gloria, Gert was a concert pianist
and even played for bridge players at the Philadelphia NABC. After
Sam died in 1996 a friend persuaded her to try duplicate bridge. She
did so reluctantly and only went to local tournaments. She has tried
to become an NABC Master for almost 20 years. Two years ago she had
a stroke that affected the vision in her left eye and the use of her
left arm. But she continues to play at the Yorktown Bridge Club a
few times each week.
Over the years, Joan Brandeis and Miriam and Sheldon Einhorn made
several efforts to play with Gert to earn the points needed to become
an NABC Master, but she still needed 2.95 Gold points after many attempts.
When Susan Kestenbaum heard how close she was to her goal she enlisted
several club members to try and help her achieve it this year. Ellie
Goodman. Edie McAlpin and Wes Powers all agreed without hesitation
to make this happen during the Valley Forge Regional's new Mid-Flight
The directors at the Valley Forge tournament were
helpful and encouraging. Marc Labovitz made sure Gert had a stationary
table for her wheelchair and an electrical outlet for her lamp. Both
Marc and Marshall Kuschner made sure her cards were sorted into suits
and all of the opponents were patient and understanding.
The team left the tournament feeling disappointed that she was still
over one point short of her goal. Gert, however, was not discouraged
and was busy making plans to try again in Lancaster. She was upbeat
and on the trip home and she raved about how nice everyone was to
her, including the opponents and directors.
Imagine our great surprise when we found out that
the initial scores posted were revised and that Gert had, in fact,
become an NABC Master! (The team earned 3.40 Gold points)
At a celebration party this week at Yorktown Bridge
Club she gave a little speech expressing her gratitude to all, saying
that with the exception of her daughter, she had lost everything and
everyone in her life and this wonderful experience "restored
my faith in humanity". She also said that "the bridge players
are now my family". All Gert’s friends and teammates were
very touched by her words.
Many thanks go to Bruce Schwaidelson who called ACBL to question the
scores in the A/X flight - the revisions corrected the team’s
scores also and Gert now has her 3.40 Gold points to be an NABC Master.
Gert’s team has named Bruce their honorary team member!
Barbara Stepanek - Life Master
I've been playing bridge for a long, long time, but
it wasn't until I retired that I got interested in duplicate. One
of my goals was to play in a national tournament. I got that wish
playing in Philadelphia, where I won my first gold points.
Even then I never dreamed of reaching Life Master.
I can only thank my partners, especially Marci Abbott. A few weeks
ago at Valley Forge, I sat down and to my amazement, there was my
old boss. I worked for him 35 years ago.
I really enjoy the tournaments and meeting new friends,
but the Bridge Studio in Wilmington beats them all. They all inspired
me to go for the gold.
Paston - The Long and Winding Road to Master of Life
Valley Forge, PA Regional Tournament week of June
22nd, 2015: all present and accounted for, the crazy boisterous bridge
players, the instructors (unlicensed except in their own minds) who
will gladly tell you everything you did wrong at the bridge table
and everything you are going to do wrong – and you don’t
even have to ask. Then we have the strong silent types who can’t
smile, nod in your direction or even pretend they are playing against
any other functioning human beings. To them you are invisible.
And everyone in the room on every floor of the hotel is screaming
the same thing: “How many points do you need?” In my case,
it was 6.0 gold. To become a life master. To stop schlepping to far
flung tournaments, playing all day and drinking all night and paying
the ACBL a ridiculous amount of money over the last 100 years, acquiring
all my black, red, silver on the road to 6 gold.
Luckily, Valley Forge is my hometown so the only
expense this go-round was gas. Well, ok, food. But I would probably
eat anyway if I lived in Podunk, Iowa. I just wouldn’t be here
in the Philadelphia area for any tournament or famous historic sight.
Seen them all.
A word about my team, God bless them. My partner Barbara and our mates
Gina and Hollis have played many a Swiss, Knock-Out and Knock-Up which
has brought us to this turning point in my life. The other three have
long been life masters and they were doing this just for me. I really
To keep you in suspense no longer: we did very well. We acquired 2.36
gold in Swiss and 2.61 gold in knock outs. Close but no cigar! Don’t
you just love that saying? I bet you don’t know what it means
But I digress… we left the tournament very proud and happy for
me. I now needed 1.03 to achieve greatness. Here’s where I say,
“So if I don’t get it, I don’t get it. Big deal.
I can probably live the rest of my life and it won’t change
And here’s where my partner, ‘never say die Barbara,’
says on the ride home, “We will do it. We’ll go to Fairfield,
NJ, Baltimore, Timbuctoo and all points east, west, north and south
in the USA and abroad where there is a regional or better. And if
all else fails, the nationals will be in Philly in 2018.”
“I’ll be dead,” I say.
“Oh don’t be silly,” Barbara says. Sure, what does
she know; she’s 10 years younger than me. Hollis and Gina say
nothing so I know where they stand on these cockamamie bridge trips.
That was Saturday, June 27th.
On Tuesday, June 30th I get a call from my friend Sue K. She’s
an extraordinary bridge player with ‘skatieight’ master
points and what’s more she has her finger on the pulse of the
local bridge world. Our conversation went like this:
Sue: “Hi you probably don’t know it but you are a life
Me: “No I’m not. I still need 1.03 gold.”
Sue: “No you don’t.”
Me: “Yes I do.”
We continued the “No I’m not; Yes you are!” volley
for another five minutes until she said:
“Stop talking and I will explain.”
Here is what happened: A local bridge player named Bruce whom I know
in passing also played in same tournament at Valley Forge. His results
from a Swiss event were disappointing and definitely “wrong.”
He too is an excellent player, life master with “skatieight”
points and somehow he couldn’t reconcile his scores with his
play. So he took matters into his own hands and called the ACBL right
then and there from tournament central.
Although I have no way of knowing I “imagine” that conversation
went like this:
ACBL: “Hello and how may I direct your call?”
Bruce: “You made a giant mistake and I expect you to fix it
ACBL: “Oh no, sir. The computer never makes a mistake.”
Bruce: “Yes it did.”
ACBL: “No it didn’t.”
Here we go again. I bet that volley continued for another five minutes.
Not only did the computer screw up Bruce’s scores but he asked
them to check across the board and sure enough, it screwed up my score.
And God knows who else.
I now officially and forever more earned 7.02 gold at Valley Forge.
And I was and am a Master of Life!
I think I will marry Bruce!
Pollak - Life Master
I had learned to play bridge in college and played
bridge casually and rarely until 3 years ago when I retired. A friend
who is a life master suggested that I might enjoy duplicate bridge.
I thought, why not? I started the quest to finally learn the game
via the wonderful lessons at the Bridge Studio of Delaware. It has
opened a whole new world for me. I have met so many wonderful people
who are now friends. I love bridge, I love the competition, I love
the security of the club games, I love the sectionals and the regionals
for the larger numbers and the added stress. I want to particularly
thank my partners (Eileen, Jane, Caroline and Tom) for the great ride.
I also want to thank the Bridge Studio of Delaware for having such
a terrific venue to play and for the frequency of games.
I want to commend the district for the way the Valley
Forge Regional was run this year. This is physically the closest to
my home and therefore, a favorite. In the prior 2 years when I attended
this regional, it was significantly less organized as far as it seemed
for an attendee. This year was an absolute pleasure: breakfast was
not in the middle of registration, there were signs and people to
direct you to where you needed to go, etc., etc. I am looking forward
to Lancaster again this year.
Jane Romal - Life Master
Earning a Life Masters took about 9 years, during
which time I worked full time as an associate professor of accounting
and did lots of other things, including traveling. This “Masters”
was the hardest one to earn – after ones in mathematics and
an MBA! (-: All of my needed colored points were earned playing with
players like me—non Life Masters—so I encourage players
to play with comfortable partners at their own level, but against
those better than they are on their home turf, while constantly studying
the game and perfecting partnerships. Gold Rush events helped immensely.
Most players are very considerate and helpful, but non-Life Masters,
who are upset playing against more accomplished players should consider
the advantages of better competition and not be intimidated. Duplicate
is a great game, where I’ve meet many fine people. My personal
thanks to all my partners and opponents.
Morris - Bronze Life Master
My father was in the Air Force and while stationed
in England - he and my mother played duplicate bridge with the locals.
It was there that our parents taught my sister and I the basics of
bridge as teenagers. It was many years later before I continued to
learn about bridge. First party bridge then a few times at the local
ACBL duplicate game in Toledo Ohio where I won my first 2 mps in 1988.
.. which held for twenty years! ..at that point I seriously began
brushing up online w/ BBO so that I could be up to par playing in
the local clubs. My first tournament was at The Bridge Boardroom in
York Pa. I was paired with a ' ringer' and won that day! It was a
huge encouragement since I was so very nervous. From then on I continued
playing in the local clubs but really enjoy the tournaments for the
competition. I wish to acknowledge Edward Scanlon, owner of the Bridge
Boardroom in York. He has been the most influential person in my bridge
world. He has helped me when I have made poor judgment and given advise
on tournament issues ..he is an excellent teacher on many levels and
covers a wide variety of topics / issues that a bridge player needs
to know, He is so dedicated to the bridge community and truly helps
so many folks.
Manjula Mehta - Club Master
I grew up in India and came here 40 years ago and
have lived in Rochester all along.My parents taught me bridge when
I was in college as they were avid players but they played rubber
bridge...my husband,a medical doctor learned in college as well..so
we played a little when we got married and when the kids came we didn't
play for a number of years but now that we are empty nesters got back
into it and love duplicate-realizing how the game has changed with
the advent of so many new conventions...we have taken lessons and
read a lot to improve our game...My husband Jagat and I play well
together but he is still working so we only play once or twice a month
together...I am still looking for a good and serious partner so I
can play more and rack up some more points.I find the game so interesting
as you are always thinking and learning with each new hand.Rochester
has an impressive bridge community and my hope is to find a partner
and play more.
Eskin - Life Master
The 80 year old Life Master
Joseph Eskin is a club director in Harrisburg. He has accumulated
over 1400 master points. Joe is over 80 years old.
For multiple reasons he has traveled to almost no tournaments for
20-30 years. Joe needed 13.3 Gold points to become Life Master.
Joe’s son David decided that, with Harrisburg Split Site Regional
being local and a workable 10/2:30 start times, he would play with
his dad to try to cut the amount needed.
On Tuesday afternoon they played. They ended up with an overall scratch
worth 6.83 Gold. Nice game, home they went. Half an hour later, the
Split Site comparisons were done, and they had advanced to first overall
in B (0-2500) across both sites, 12.37 Gold. The call to Joe with
the update was received with delight. The callback from David did
not arrive until 10:30 that night. His response was a sarcastic “Damn,
I guess we have to play again this weekend”.
Saturday they did. A small Flight B overall place netted another 2.49
Gold, producing our newest 80+ year old Life Master.
Moral: It’s never too late to pursue that elusive LM goal.
My first foray into sanctioned duplicate bridge occurred
on a vacation to Bermuda some thirty years ago. We went to the Bermuda
Bridge Club with another couple, sitting North-South while our friends
sat East-West. Both of us came in first in our directions. We were pretty
impressed with ourselves until we found out later that it was an Under-Twenty
point game. But it was the beginning of our quest for Life Master.
Lancaster was our favorite tournament destination,
but we ranged far in pursuit of our goal, from Tennessee to Canada,
Palm Springs to Vancouver. It was a great way to take vacations from
our stressful jobs. My husband Rich and I both earned our Life Master
status in 2000. We coasted a while. filling our lives with all sorts
of volunteerism and grand-parenting and attended fewer tournaments through
those years. Although Rich no longer plays as often as I do, he was
my partner when we came in first overall a few weeks ago to put me over
the 1000 points.
District 4 has given our Unit 133 good guidance and
support. We like the directors we have had assigned to us. The District
4 Spot keeps us abreast of what’s happening elsewhere in the unit
and provides a venue for us to communicate our news. Above all, we’re
gratified that players from many parts of the region, including the
Philadelphia area, like to come to our sectionals. It is good to feel
we’re part of the larger bridge community.
One of my friends at work kept telling me “Terri,
you have to learn how to play Bridge before you retire.” She said
I needed to keep my mind sharp when I retired and so I took my first
lesson in June 2008. My instructors were Life Masters and they played
very well. But, as they say “Bridge is easy to learn but takes
a lifetime to master” and I realized I had a lot to learn.
I played that summer and into the fall, but at work my hours changed,
( working nights) and couldn’t continue to play. Every time I
would vacation in Florida for a few weeks, I took a several lessons
by John Foster, in Sun City Center (He was one of the finalist in the
ACBL Bridge Teacher of the Year in 2013).
I finally retired in 2013 and that fall started taking Easy BridgeTM
lessons in Sun City Center.
Kathy Smith and Sue Batt started the program and it
has exploded with so many new players Even people who were social bridge
players were converted to duplicate because they heard we were all having
so much fun. There program consisted of lessons on Wednesday followed
by playing (boards that were related to the chapter) and then they would
also have workshops that expanded on the lessons. I finally started
to understand why I couldn’t pass when my partner doubled, and
how to play Stayman and Transfers. It has been so much fun, and I have
met the most interesting people. We also have monthly happy hours and
pot lucks and in the summer, we go out to dinner/lunch at local restaurants.
Sun City Center hosted a Sectional Tournament this
February and my partner and I came in first North/South in the 0-20
category. Some of the other area bridge clubs have extended invitations
to play, Sarasota, St. Pete, Manatee. One even had a cake to welcome
us. And there is a Tournament on May 25th that I am going to attend.
I also attended a week long Bridge Boot Camp in Warwick,
New York (summer 2014) sponsored by Marti & Gary Ronemus. That was
intense bridge lessons, and I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed/learned
that week. It was all inclusive meals, lessons and room for under $800.00
thru Road Scholar.
I am truly excited to attain the rank of Silver Life
Master in bridge.
My entry into the world of duplicate bridge began some nineteen years
ago upon my retirement from optometry. My wife and I would take long
walks together and as we walked, she’d explain various conventions
to me. And so began our lives as bridge partners and eventually certified
bridge teachers both at home in Utica, NY and on ten bridge cruises.
While competitive running (I’ve run six marathons),
and autocross racing continue to be two of my avocations, at the age
of eighty-one, I know that bridge will keep me challenged long after
I drop running and car racing!
My husband died in 1995 very suddenly and right before
my eyes. I was in shock and became very anxious which spiraled into
a deep clinical depression. A friend of mine, who was also going through
problems of her own, decided to get a few women together to socialize,
be together, and maybe help each other with our grief. She knew enough
bridge from playing in college and decided to start to teach the others
in our little group. I don't know how much I really learned that first
year, but it helped to be with friends and have to direct my mind to
focus on something else rather than my problems. After a while we all
started taking bridge lessons from Jane Segal. When I moved to a new
home a couple of years later I met other people who played bridge and
eventually started playing duplicate. I have to say that Bridge helped
me focus and was a wonderful distraction. I set a goal to become a Life
Master and am so happy to have reached that goal.
My bridge life began a few years back when a friend
of mine asked if I wanted to learn how to play the game with her by
taking lessons. We decided to take lessons at the local Women’s
club and learned just enough to be dangerous. Luckily, a friend of ours,
Sally Manning, was kind enough to put a game together once a week and
we continued to learn this crazy game of Bridge and become even more
dangerous..to ourselves, that is!
Eventually, schedules conflicted with fun time and
Bridge went to the back burner, but I was addicted. I found the Bridge
Doctor website and started playing online. While some folks had no patience
for my inexperience, others noted my drive to excel and helped me learn
along the way and I will be forever grateful to all of them. After jumping
into the shark waters, getting chewed up, spit out, and used to mopped
the floor, I finally started to really understand the game…a little!
I bumped into Sally months later and she convinced me to play at the
Williamsport Bridge Club on the day that the amateurs got together.
I braved going to the club and continued to enjoy the game for yet another
year while playing with a variety of folks and learning even more insights
to the game of Bridge. However, my hunger to excel got the best of me
again and I finally decided to take the plunge and go back into the
shark waters. This time it was at our local Bridge club on the days
that our better players got together. Again, the folks were extremely
supportive and I eventually became a substitute for the better players.
I am currently still a sub for the club and welcome every challenge
that comes my way.
While I started later in life to learn the game of
Bridge my goal I to rise to the top of the player board. My drive is
fierce; the game so humbling; I may have to attend Bridge Anonymous
Now that I am retired, I am spending a lot more time
playing bridge. I learned the game decades ago because my mother believed
knowing how to play bridge was as important to succeeding in college
as good SAT scores. She adored the game.
I always helped Mom prepare when it was her turn to host the bridge
ladies for an extravagant lunch and an afternoon of play. My job was
to iron napkins and tablecloths, wash the good crystal and polish silver.
Based on my childhood experience, I came to associate bridge
with liquor, linen and lasagna. Add a few glasses of wine and/or sherry
and it was amazing my mother’s bridge group was coherent enough
to actually play bridge.
When my mother sent me to bridge lessons, she hoped it would help me
find social success in college. I found other interests in college and
put bridge on hold.
Fast forward to 1990 when I started playing bridge with a small group
of ladies in Charles Town. Naomi Moses, my bridge span into the modern
era of bidding, invited me to join her group for an afternoon of play.
I welcomed the invitation and decided to skip breakfast to save room
for a lavish lunch a la my mother. I arrived at Naomi’s home and
viewed the kitchen table, adorned only by two decks of cards and a score
pad. No buffet. No lasagna. No silver cutlery. The only food was a bowl
of cantaloupe squares pierced with toothpicks.
I could barely hear the introductions of the other players over the
rumblings of my empty stomach. These ladies were far more interested
in teaching me “weak two bids”, “negative doubles”
and “strong artificial 2 club opening” than feeding me.
I loved it. Unfortunately, working full-time and raising a family cut
into my bridge time.
Now, freed of work and young children, I am back at the bridge table.
There is quite an active group of bridge players in the area, ranging
from weekly bridge games among friends to more structured, duplicate
games in Martinsburg, Charles Town and Shepherdstown.
I am one of the youngest players at my regular bridge game in Shepherdstown.
No matter—these ladies are sharp! Recently, my 93-year old partner
(who has been married longer than I have been alive) reminded me after
we failed to make our bid that the Jacoby transfer convention is still
on after an interference bid by the opponent.
I nodded to give the impression I knew what she was talking about.
In Charles Town, I have played with a hero of World War II, Fred Mayer.
Or as he is referred to in Wikipedia, “Frederick Mayer (spy)”.
During World War II Fred parachuted into Austria, then posed as a German
Army officer to learn about troop movements near Innsbruck. He was captured
and tortured by the Gestapo. Fred was freed in 1945 by American troops
and later awarded the Legion of Merit and a Purple Heart by the United
States Government. What an honor to sit at the bridge table with an
American war hero.
My mother insisted bridge would help me socially in college. That never
happened but her investment in lessons is paying dividends now that
I am older and retired. Playing bridge has introduced me to a wonderful
new group of friends and acquaintances.
Best of all, knowing an opening bid of 2 No Trump promises 20-21 points
is considered far more important than knowing how to iron linen napkins
or polish silver.
I first played bridge in 1997 after my father and father-in-law
both passed away. We wanted an activity we could do with our mothers.So
we took night-school classes of bridge. Those classes gave us the basic
skills to be able to play social bridge.
However, I only played for a few years. Other than our mothers, not
many people I knew actually played bridge.
Then in the summer of 2014 some friends mentioned they
were taking bridge lessons from a great teacher in Ocean View. I'll
have to admit I was a bit skeptical about taking lessons. Why would
I need lessons? How hard could bridge be? I knew the basics. What else
would there be to learn?
However, I decided to try these lesson. What a huge
awakening! First of all, Dini Romito is a fantastic bridge teacher!
She knows her stuff and presents it in a fun and challenging way. I
am still amazed at all she knows and all I have yet to learn. She is
kind, encouraging and very supportive!
In October of 2014 she suggested I join the ACBL. I
had started playing duplicate in Ocean View and Rehoboth Beach, DE.
She didn't want me to lose the points I had earned.
I've had some wonderful partners who have helped me along the way. I
didn't earn those points by myself. Everyone I've partnered with has
been kind and willing to share their knowledge and love of the game.
I have become obsessed with learning more and more
about bridge. My bridge library currently contains 14 books. I read
a little from one book, then switch to another, gathering information
from well known experts.
One of the things I love about bridge is that you continue
to learn every time you play. I still make lots of mistakes. However,
I am starting to see them as I make them. Now I need to work at seeing
them before I make them!
I never dreamed I would have so much fun and enjoyment from playing
It has been fun. Some of the highlights are:
• My favorite partner getting deported.
• Driving the wrong way on the turnpike – thank you, Daisy.
• Getting a police escort when we were lost and late for a sectional.
• Taking Hugh Kelsey to brunch at the country club.
• Caddying when Terence Reese was playing.
• Getting rear-ended in Seattle with the English ladies bridge
team in the back of the car.
• It is exciting to watch someone as brilliant as Meyer start
to swing when he decides we need some good results.
• Losing a partner when I told her the double was ‘do something
intelligent’. She took it personally.
• Retiring from bridge at 18 when I realized none of the bridge
players in the bar at The London School of Economics ever graduated.
• Playing with a pickup partner at Lancaster and getting him his
first gold points when Bobby Levin opened 1NT with a singleton, giving
us a top on the last board.
I am surprised by how much I am enjoying teaching bridge.
We have fun and laugh a lot. Easier to teach adults bridge than to teach
adolescent boys math on a Friday afternoon.
One of the memorable things was playing on bbo with
Jerry Blumenthal when he was in Jefferson for several months. It was
a lifeline to the world. As sick as he was he sometimes played 55 boards
in a day. We ‘talked’ even when we didn’t play.
My next goal is playing in the platinum pairs.
I learned bridge around 8 years of age, my parents
both played socially and I wanted to learn, so my mom would have me
as her partner when she played with friends or family and my dad wasn't
available. I played a little in college (I was a member of Lehigh University's
bridge club in 1989 or so, but it wasn't a very active club). It was
while playing in volleyball tournaments in the mid to late '90's, when
some of my teammates and I would play bridge between matches, that I
learned about duplicate and the ACBL.
I didn't join at that time, feeling too busy with work
and other hobbies, but in 2010 I did join, part of putting my life back
on track after major life changes. I still don't get to play as often
as I would like, daytime games at the local clubs still conflict with
work (my work now involves race cars; it used to be computer databases
- did I mention major life changes?) but I have met some great people
through the partnership desk at both sectionals and regionals, and found
an excellent teacher at the Yorktown club, Bobbi Gomer, who has taught
me much and encourages me. It was her encouraging me to play in a Pro/Am
at the Yorktown club a few weeks ago, where I was partnered with Ellen
Gordon, that I got the black points I needed to push me into the club
master category. It will be interesting to see if I can get another
couple of good games at Yorktown I may reach "section master"
soon. All I need is black for that, too.
It took me a year to achieve Junior Master status.
I started playing in sanctioned games with my partner and we always
came in last . . . for many months. It seemed like we would never climb
out of the cellar against such great players. Then one day we found
ourselves in the middle of the pack - that was a huge victory for us!
A few months after that we came in first, we squealed with delight when
the winners were announced (very unprofessional of us) but others shared
our joy knowing how hard we had been trying. We had been taking lessons
for about two years and playing against people who had been partners
for 30 years. Our first victory was the result of good defense as we
didn't have great cards that night. Perseverance is what I would recommend
to anyone who is trying to gain master points. At least that's what
worked for me!