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Farewell to Grant Baze

By: Peggy Kaplan

Michael Whitman and Tipton Golias, longtime partners and dear friends of Grant Baze, gathered a large contingent of partners, teammates and friends at the Spring 2009 NABC in Houston on Friday, March 13th, to say goodbye to a towering presence (literally!) in the bridge world. Chris and Donna Compton organized a warm and wonderful evening of memories, food and drink as the best and the brightest gave testimony to this one-of-a-kind player.

Tipton Golias, who won the 1997 Spingold with Grant and Poles Adam Zmudzinski, Marek Szymanowski, Marcin Lesniewski, Cezary Balicki, recalled Grant’s high standard of ethics. Reviewing Tipton»s declarer play on a hand, Grant realized that their score was in error. Finding a director, Grant had the score changed from making to down one — sending Grant and Tipton from first to sixth. Winning would be meaningless if it weren’t fairly earned.

Partner Gary Hayden marveled at Grant’s deep knowledge of history — and his ability to multi-task with ferocity. Alan Sontag, the only bridge player who might have played as rapidly as Grant did, recounted how their lightening speed saved the day. When only three players out of six showed up for a session of the Senior Bowl in 2001, the team worried they might be eliminated. No problem, when the world’s two quickest players paired up. Ultimately, Grant and Alan, along with Roger Bates, Bart Bramley, Rose Meltzer, and Lew Stansby captured their international title.

Other speakers, Mike Passell, Bob Hamman, Eric Rodwell, Alan Cokin, Gary Cohler, Peter Weichsel, Gary Cohler, Fred Gitelman and George Jacobs also spoke of Grant’s tremendous abilities, his creativity, his humor and infectious, booming laugh. They spoke of how Grant played through severe pain and fatigue, all because of his adoration of the game.

For those who knew Grant, it would be impossible not to have mention of his attachment to the ladies. Women loved Grant — and he loved them back. Indeed, Grant was such a ladies’ man, he put together a collection of at least nine wives! (Forgive me if I fail to get the final tally accurately; it was always a moving target.) Grant’s "last and best" wife, Cindy, listened good naturedly as tales of Grant and his many women were recounted.

Grant loved bridge, women, history and his friends with a passion. He gave them his all — and he will be sorely missed.