In his book, “The Bridge Bum,” Alan Sontag wrote the following: “Thirty million people play the game in this country alone, but few of them have any idea what life – and bridge – is for the ‘internationalists,’ those rare few who have achieved world-class status in a sport that is one of the most intellectually demanding and rewarding on earth. The champion’s way of life, and especially his expertise, is vastly different from that of the suburbanite who plays social bridge with friends on Saturday night. It can be exciting and lucrative, but there is no security.”
That book was published 30 years ago, and Sontag must have made a lot of right moves over the years because he is still one of the top bridge players in the world and successful, full-time player.
Now a resident of Gaithersburg MD, Sontag has a trophy chest filled with honors and championships, most recently the Rosenblum Cup, which he earned as part of the Rose Meltzer team at the World Bridge Championships in Verona, Italy.
His bridge accomplishments are the stuff of legend.
In 1973, he and Steve Altman became the first Americans to win the Sunday Times Invitational, at the time the toughest and most esteemed invitational tournament in the world. Two years later, Sontag returned to London and won the tournament again, this time with Peter Weichsel, with whom he would have a long and successful run of bridge achievements.
The two were partners in 1983 in Stockholm, Sweden, when the USA defeated the vaunted Italian team in one of the most exciting Bermuda Bowls in the history of the event. He returned to the final of the Bermuda Bowl in 2001 in Paris to help Rose Meltzer become the first woman ever to win that championship.
Known for his lightning-fast play, Sontag seems brimming over with energy nearly all the time. Still in his prime as a player, Sontag has an impressive list of victories and achievements in high-level bridge competition, including two victories in the Cavendish Invitational Pairs.
He is an ACBL Grand Life Master with more than 28,000 masterpoints to his credit. He is a World Bridge Open Grand Life Master and is ranked 23rd by the WBF among the top players in the world. Besides the Bermuda Bowl victories, Sontag has won the World Transnational Open Teams (2000) and the World Senior Team Championship (2005).
He has won the Vanderbilt Cup three times (1972, 1988 and 1999), the Reisinger Trophy in 1973 and the Spingold Trophy in 1980, 1982 and 2000.
Other victories in the NABC + category include winning the Men’s Teams in 1971 and 1979; the Life Master Men’s Pairs in 1971; the Life Master Pairs in 1977; the Men’s Swiss Teams in 1985 and 1987; the Master Mixed Teams in 1989; the Grand National Open Teams in 1994 and the Open B-A-M Teams in 2001.
Besides his aforementioned highly acclaimed book, Sontag has written “Power Precision” and is co-author of “Improve Your Bridge Fast.”