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Michael Shuman

Mike Shuman, a Grand Life Master with more than 26,180 masterpoints, died Dec. 16 from lung cancer. He was 79.

Shuman twice won the Truscott/U.S. Playing Card Senior Swiss Teams (2000 and 2004) and was among the top 40 masterpoint holders in ACBL history.

Courtesy of Unit 559

Born in 1931 in Los Angeles, Mike grew up in a family where his parents and his older sister all played bridge, giving Mike the opportunity to learn at home at an early age. His sister became a Life Master before him and taught him some of the finer points of declarer play, a part of the game he excelled in for the rest of his life. Mike’s partners have always said that declarer play was the best part of his game, but his clients will tell you he was an excellent teacher as well, and always a gentleman at the table. Once, at a sectional where Mike was playing with a client, his partner cashed an ace on the opening lead and then led a heart, which was void in the dummy. Mike had the ace and queen, but declarer was able to score the king. Mike’s comment? “That might have been right, partner, but on this hand it wasn’t our best defense.”

Mike became a professional bridge player in the 1960’s after playing with and learning from the stars of the game. In those years he played with many of the best of the day, certainly too many to mention, but Mike spoke fondly of learning from bridge great Al Roth, international star Erik Paulsen and women’s champion Trudi Nugit. Other longtime favorites were Gene Simpson and Hamish Bennett, and for these last several years his best partner and very good friend has been Jeff Goldsmith.

In 1973, he met and married Kerri Sanborn, a great bridge player in her own right. Both Mike and Kerri loved horse racing and with a small group of friends owned Don’t Read My Lips, a filly that won more than $250,000 and eventually sold for that amount. The marriage ended in 1985. Shortly after that, Mike met Ann Walsh, his life partner until the end.

Although he had a long list of bridge accomplishments Mike was particularly proud that he and his teammates twice won the prestigious Truscott Senior Swiss National Teams Championship. The first time was in 2000 and the second was in 2004. The contenders in the final of four sessions were the best in the world and many of them world champions. The following year, in 2005 at the ACBL Fall Championships, Mike played against Alan Truscott and ruffed his partner’s ace so he could lead a trump, a devasting play that set the contract. His play was the talk of the tournament and the next day Truscott recognized Mike’s ability and fine play in his New York Times bridge column.

Michael Shuman