A bridge champion in six consecutive decades, Waldemar K. von Zedtwitz capped his career by winning the World Mixed Pairs in 1970 when he was 74 years old and legally blind.
Von Zedtwitz, linguist and lexicographer, was one of the great players and personalities of all time He was president of the ACBL in 1948 and of its parent organization, the American Bridge League, in 1932. When dissension threatened to break up the ACBL in 1948, the contesting factions agreed to von Zedtwitz as president and chairman with carte blanche authority. In these positions, he was credited with saving the League. In 1949, upon the League’s rehabilitation, he immediately returned power to the ACBL Board of Directors.
He was a charter member of the ACBL Laws Commission and helped found the World Bridge Federation. He also played a major role in the formation of the ACBL Charity Foundation.
As a player of auction and contract bridge, von Zedtwitz was noted for his versatility in playing with exponents of different bidding systems. He was an early contributor to the Culbertson system and is credited with invention of the forcing two-bid and also of the negative 2NT response to a forcing two-bid. He was also a contributor and consultant in connection with the Four Aces System. Von Zedtwitz was a member of The Bridge World team that won the first international matches in 1930 in England and France.
He also had a successful partnership with Harold S. Vanderbilt. The two men were well suited, since both were among the most deliberate of players, apt to plumb the psychological and technical depths of a problem interminably before proceeding.
He was one of the first 10 players to be designated a Life Master (#4) when that category was created by the ACBL in 1936. Von Zedtwitz began his tournament bridge career in 1923, won many national auction bridge championships and won nearly all the contract bridge championships. In 1930 he donated the Gold Cup for Master Pairs (now Life Master Pairs) and won it the first year. His other tournament successes are World Mixed Pairs in 1970 (at age 74), USBA Grand National Teams and Mixed Pairs in 1936; Spingold in 1937, 1941 and 1947; Chicago (now the Reisinger) in 1932 and 1945; Vanderbilt in 1930, 1932 and 1940; Master Mixed Teams in 1940, 1942, 1945 and 1965; Life Master Pairs in 1930; Open Pairs in 1928 and 1937; Men’s Pairs in 1946; Master Individual in 1936. He placed 2nd USBA Mixed Teams in 1936; Spingold in 1936, 1940, 1949, 1953 and 1963; Chicago in 1930, 1933, 1936, 1941 and 1942; Vanderbilt in 1937, 1938, 1943, 1945 and 1960; Reisinger in 1964, Master Mixed Teams in 1933, 1935 and 1956; Life Master Pairs in 1933 and 1939; Open Pairs in 1935, Men’s Pairs in 1938 and 1953. Von Zedtwitz won a major backgammon tournament in Hawaii at age 82. His other interests included Bridgette, travel, tennis and golf.