The Honorary Member Committee is charged with the annual selection of the ACBL member or pair of members widely known throughout the membership who has given freely of his time and ability, without thought of reward and in the interest and welfare of the League as a whole.
In the world of whist and auction bridge, which were predecessors to contract bridge, the game we enjoy today, Milton Work was a giant. These games were in their heyday at the turn of the 20th century, and Work was recognized as the outstanding American authority on them.
Work’s best-known contribution to the modern game was the popularization of the Work point-count method of hand evaluation in which aces are worth 4 points each, kings 3, queens 2 and jacks 1. This method, first proposed by Bryant McCampbell in 1915, became widely known through Work’s lectures and writings.
Although Ely Culbertson’s honor-trick method of evaluation dominated the bridge world for much of the Thirties and early Forties, Work’s point-count method became the rage when Charles Goren made it the cornerstone of his Standard American system. This method, with some modifications, is still used today by players everywhere.
After a 30-year career as an attorney in Philadelphia, Work took a leave of absence in 1917 to tour the U.S. with Wilbur C. Whitehead, organizing bridge competitions and lecturing on bridge, to promote the sale of Liberty bonds. The success of the tour induced him to quit the practice of law and adopt bridge as a career.
Work was the founder and chief editor of the earliest auction bridge magazines, the Work–Whitehead Auction Bridge Bulletin (1924–1926) and its successor, the Auction Bridge Magazine (1927– 29). Assisted by Whitehead, he served as the chief authority on the first series of bridge games broadcast on radio (1926–29). In 1928 he was paid $7000 per week to give brief lectures on bridge in the course of vaudeville presentations.
Work’s considerable fortune was substantially lost in the stock market crashes of 1929–30, and he resumed some bridge activities from which he had retired. In 1933–34 he resumed tournament play in contract bridge and won five consecutive sectional tournaments as a member of a team that included Goren, Olive Peterson and Fred French.
Wilbur Whitehead (1866-1931) of New York City, was one of the world’s greatest bridge authorities. He was president of the Simplex Automobile Company, but bridge held such a fascination for him that he retired from business to devote his whole life to bridge in 1910. At that time he was living in France and wrote his first publication, Royal Spades. A second book was published in London in 1913. His first book appearing in America was Whitehead’s Convention of Auction Bridge in 1914. The inventor of many of outstanding conventions of bidding and play, quick trick table of card values, Whitehead system of requirements for original bids and responses, Whitehead table of preferential leads. Instrumental in standardizing procedures in auction bridge and later in contract bridge. Member of the team that won Vanderbilt 1928, the first year it was in play, 2nd following year. Contributing editor The Bridge World. Published several books including Auction Bridge Standard, which explained the Whitehead System.
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You’re probably thinking to yourself, “Why do I know that name?” Well, when you were in school, you probably saw it everyday – on your pencil.
Eberhard Faber was the son of pencil-manufacturing giant John Eberhard Faber. He was an expert card player who took up each successive development of the game from whist to contract. He served as the president of the American Whist League and was named as the American Bridge League Honorary Member in 1930. Faber donated the American Whist League Faber Challenge Trophy in 1927 which remained in play until 1952. More significantly, in the early days of ACBL, Faber donated every pencil that was used in tournaments until the League was financially stable.
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.
E.J. (Ned) Tobin (1868-1953) of Miami and Chicago was one of the founders of the American Bridge League. He served as its first secretary in 1927 and 1928, became treasurer in 1929 and was made Honorary Member in 1932. Tobin was a contributor to the Chicago Record Herald and the Daily Journal. He won numerous whist championships and authored “Sound Principles of Auction Bridge.”
P(hillip). Hal Sims — the “Shaggy Giant” whose system had the greatest expert following prior to 1935 — was the first recipient of the von Zedtwitz Award.
Sims (1886-1949), who stood six-foot-four and weighed more than 300 pounds, was born in Selma AL and represented U.S. banks in foreign countries from 1906 to 1916. While serving in the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1917, he met and married Dorothy Rice, one of the first U.S. aviatrixes and a noted sculptor and painter.
After World War I, Sims devoted himself chiefly to competitive sports — including bridge. He held a national trapshooting record and won the Artists’ and Writers’ Golf tournament in 1937.
In auction bridge, he was a member of the highest-ranked team — the Knickerbocker Whist Club team — which included Sydney Lenz, Winfield Liggett, George Reith and Ralph Leibenderfer.
Sims and Ely Culbertson, who “fought relentlessly at the bridge table and outside,” according to Culbertson, teamed up to record the largest score in the history of the pairs championship of the Auction Bridge League. They also played their first contract bridge together.
“Secretly we admired each other” Culbertson wrote in his autobiography, The Strange Lives of One Man.
“Hal was my greatest rival and dearest friend,” Culbertson wrote in Sims’ obituary in The Bridge World. “For years we fought each other tooth and nail . . . Now he would come to the top, and now I. And never in all these years was there the slightest drop of personal bitterness in his big heart.”
Sims was captain of the contract bridge team called the Four Horsemen. Other members were Williard Karn, Oswald Jacoby and David Burnstine (Bruce). They won most of the principal American tournaments — the American Bridge League’s contract Challenge Trophy, the Vanderbilt Cup and the American Whist League and Eastern States’ auction championships — from 1931 to 1933.
When Jacoby and Burnstine formed the Four Aces with Howard Schenken and Michael Gottlieb, Sims began to play more bridge with his wife. The two challenged Ely and Josephine Culbertson to a 150-rubber match. When it took place between December 1931-January 1932, the famous Culbertson-Lenz match was known as the Bridge Battle of the Century.
The match ended with victory for the Culbertson’s by a margin of 16,310 points. The biggest rubber, however, went to the Sims side when Dorothy took time off to help Jo celebrate the sixth birthday of Bruce Culbertson. Strongly supported by the rising B. Jay Becker, still living in Philadelphia at the time, Sims defeated his arch rival by 2610 points.
Albert Morehead, who wrote Culbertson’s obituary in the January 1956 issue of The Bridge World, recalled that the two men “used to pursue their bitter enmity all day and then stroll off, arm in arm, to see a midnight movie together.”
Sims died in 1949 while bidding a hand at his winter home in Cuba . His epilogue to bridge players had been stated earlier:
Sound underlying principles of bidding are sound for all time. But the tactics for applying them may change and a flexible-minded player recognizes this.
The last word has not been said on contract bidding. I hope it will never be. If the time comes when the game ceases to grow, contract will no longer hold our interest.
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Nate Spingold (1886-1958) a New York publicist, motion picture executive and patron of the arts, was one of the most influential men in bridge administration from 1937 to 1943.
Born in Chicago, he became a reporter on The Chicago Examiner, The Chicago Record Herald and The Chicago Tribune. Spingold’s interest in show business brought him to New York City in the Thirties.
In 1932 he joined Columbia Pictures in a public relations capacity. He was named to the board of directors in 1940 and three years later was appointed vice president in charge of advertising, publicity and development. He became a vice president of the company in 1954.
Active in bridge from its earliest days, Spingold was named ABL Honorary Member in 1936. He was instrumental in effecting a peaceful merger between the American Bridge League and the United States Bridge Association in 1937 and became president of the newly formed American Contract Bridge League the following year.
He served for many years on the League’s Board of Governors and Board of Directors. Spingold was also president of the Cavendish Club in New York.
Phillip Steiner (1901-1993) of Cincinnati OH, company executive. ABL vice president in 1936, member of the Board from 1930-1938, committee chairman in 1934 and ACBL Honorary Member in 1937, Phillip was co-donor of Steiner Trophy, which for more than a quarter century was one of the most important events on the ACBL calendar. He won the Chicago (now Reisinger) in 1933. With Albert and another brother, Joseph, Steiner founded the toy-making firm Kenner Products in 1945.
Perhaps the most colorful and flamboyant figure in the history of bridge was Ely Culbertson. His career was so varied that it defies a brief synopsis, but in the world of bridge Culbertson is remembered as an extraordinary organizer, player and — above all — showman.
His success in all of these endeavors made Culbertson fabulously wealthy even at the height of the Great Depression.
A self-educated man, Culbertson was also an author and lecturer on mass psychology and political science. He was born in Romania but was an American citizen from birth by registration with the U.S. consul, being the son of Almon Culbertson, an American mining engineer who had been retained by the Russian government to develop the Caucasian oil fields and who had married a Russian woman, Xenia Rogoznaya, daughter of a Cossack atamon or chief.
Culbertson belonged to a pioneer American family who settled about Titusville PA and Oil City PA. Later he joined the Sons of the American Revolution to refute rumors that he had changed his name or falsified his ancestry.
He attended gymnasia in Russia and matriculated at Yale (1908) and Cornell (1910), but in each case remained only a few months.
Later (1913-14) he studied political science at l’Ecole des Sciences Economiques et Politiques at the University of Paris (Sorbonne) and in 1915 at the University of Geneva in Switzerland, but he was largely self-educated, and the erudition for which he was admired can principally be attributed to a self-imposed and invariable regimen of reading a book designed to improve his knowledge at least one hour before going to sleep each night. In this he was aided by an aptitude for languages.
He conversed fluently in Russian, English, French, German, Czech, Spanish and Italian, had a reading knowledge of Slavonic, Polish, Swedish, and Danish-Norwegian, and had a knowledge of classical Latin and Greek.
In 1907 Culbertson participated as a student in one of the abortive Russian revolutions. He pursued his revolutionary ideas in labor disputes in the American Northwest and in Mexico and Spain (1911-1912), serving as an agitator for the union and syndicalist sides.
After the Russian Revolution of 1917 wiped out his family’s large fortune there, Culbertson lived for four years in Paris and other European cities by exploiting his skill as a card player.
In 1921 he returned to the U.S. , almost penniless, and continued to derive his chief living from winnings in card games. In 1923, having acquired some reputation as a bridge player, he married Mrs. Josephine Murphy Dillon, one of the highly reputed bridge teachers in New York City.
Together they became a successful pair as tournament players and bridge authorities. Between 1926 and 1929, the then new game of contract bridge began to replace auction bridge, and Culbertson saw in this development an opportunity to overtake the firmly entrenched authorities on auction bridge.
Culbertson planned a long-range campaign that included the construction of a dogmatic system, the publication of a magazine to appeal to group leaders in bridge, the authorship of a bridge textbook to serve as a “bible”, an organization of professional bridge teachers, a dramatization of himself and his wife as largely fictitious personalities and the expansion of the appeal of bridge by breaking down religious opposition to card playing. The plan proved conspicuously successful.
Culbertson founded his magazine, The Bridge World, in 1929. Through the same corporation he published his earliest bridge books, all of which were best sellers. He manufactured and sold bridge players’ supplies, including the introduction of Kem playing cards, maintained an organization of bridge teachers (Culbertson National Studios), which at its peak had 6000 members, and conducted bridge competitions through the United States Bridge Association and the World Bridge Olympics and American Bridge Olympics.
In its best year, 1937, The Bridge World, Inc., grossed more than $1,000,000, of which $220,000 were royalties payable to Culbertson before profits were calculated.
As a regular tournament competitor Culbertson had the best record in the earliest years of contract bridge. In 1930 he won the Vanderbilt and American Bridge League Knockout Team events, also the ABL B-A-M Team event, and finished second in the Master Pairs.
That year he led a team that played the first international match, in England, and defeated several teams there. In 1933 and 1934 his teams won the Schwab Cup.
Culbertson seldom played tournament bridge after 1934, but he was second in the ABL’s 1935 matchpoint team contest and in the International Bridge League’s first intercontinental tournament in 1937. Culbertson continued to play high-stake rubber bridge until about two years before his death.
The success of Culbertson’s Blue Book in 1930 caused the established auction bridge authorities to join forces to combat his threatened domination of contract bridge. Culbertson countered by challenging the leading player among his opposition, Sidney Lenz, to a test match, offering 5-1 odds.
Culbertson’s victory in this match, played in the winter of 1931-32, fortified his leading position. The great publicity accorded the match enriched Culbertson; he and his wife both acquired contracts for widely syndicated newspaper articles, he made a series of movie shorts for $360,000 and he received $10,000 a week for network radio broadcasts. In 1935 Culbertson tried to recapture the magic of his match against Lenz by playing a similar match against P. Hal and Dorothy Sims, but although the Culbertsons won this match also, there was no such publicity advantage as accrued from the Lenz match.
The publicity accorded Culbertson throughout his professional career can be attributed equally to his unquestioned abilities, his colorful personality and his grandiose way of life. Culbertson lived in the grand manner, with total disregard of expense whether at the moment he happened to be rich or penniless.
Once he strolled into Sulka’s (then) on Fifth Avenue in New York and bought $5,000 worth of shirts. He smoked a private blend of cigarettes that cost him $7 a day. When he decided to buy a Duesenberg automobile in 1934, he did not sell his Rolls Royce but gave it away.
His home for years was an estate in Ridgefield CT, with a 45-room house, several miles of paved and lighted roads, greenhouses, cottages, lakes and an enclosed swimming pool with orchids growing along its periphery.
He always had caviar with his tea and made special trips to Italy to buy his neckties. When he died in 1955, he owned five houses for his own use — four of them with swimming pools. But Culbertson rationalized these extravagances as publicity devices. He actually lived in one small room with a cot and a table, and he spent most of his time pacing the floor and thinking.
In 1933, when a newspaper reporter asked him, “Mr. Culbertson, how did you get ahead of those other bridge authorities?” he answered, “I got up in the morning and went to work.”
Culbertson’s contributions to the science of contract bridge, both practical and theoretical, were basic and timeless. He devised the markings on duplicate boards for vulnerability and the bonuses for games and partscores.
He was the first authority to treat distribution as equal or superior to high cards in formulating the requirements for bids. Forcing bids, including the one-over-one, were original Culbertson concepts, as were four-card suit bids, limited notrump bids, the strong two-bid and wholesale ace-showing including the 4NT slam try.
These were presented in the historic Lesson Sheets on the Approach-Forcing System (1927) and in numerous magazine articles written by Culbertson in the Twenties and early Thirties. Specific bridge principles attributable to Culbertson, separately described, include among others Asking Bids, the Grand Slam Force, Jump Bids, and the New-Suit Forcing principle, which Culbertson first introduced and later repudiated.
In 1938, with war imminent in Europe, Culbertson lost interest in bridge and thereafter devoted his time to seeking some grand achievement in political science.
To affect world peace he proposed international control of decisive weapons and a quota for each major nation in tactical forces. After formation of the United Nations, to which Culbertson’s ideas made a discernible contribution, he persisted in a campaign to give it adequate police power.
At one time 17 U.S. Senators and 42 U.S. Congressmen subscribed to a proposed joint resolution of Congress advocating Culbertson’s proposals. But in the course of these activities Culbertson lost his position as the leading bridge authority; by 1950 or earlier, Charles Goren had surpassed him in the sale of books and other bridge writings and in the adherence of bridge teachers and players. When a bridge Hall of Fame was inaugurated in 1964, nine years after his death, however, Culbertson was the first person elected.
Though never an ACBL Life Master, he was named Honorary Member in 1938. Ely and Josephine Culbertson were divorced in 1938 and in 1947 Culbertson married Dorothy Renata Baehne, who was 35 years younger than he.
There were two children by each of his marriages. Culbertson suffered in later years from a lung congestion (emphysema) and died at his last home in Brattleboro VT of a common cold that proved fatal because of the lung condition.
Minor works by Ely Culbertson, such as paperbound books and pamphlets, are literally too numerous to mention, and all or nearly all were written by members of Culbertson’s staff, as also were most of the newspaper and magazine articles published under Culbertson’s name from 1932 on.
Earlier articles in bridge periodicals were written by Culbertson, as were the following of his major books, each of which was published in many editions: Contract Bridge Blue Book, 1930; Culbertson’s Self-Teacher, 1933; Red Book on Play, 1934; The Gold Book or Contract Bridge Complete, 1936; and Point-Count Bidding, 1952. Culbertson’s autobiography, The Strange Lives of One Man, was published in 1940. His principal works on political science were Total Peace, 1943, and Must We Fight Russia?, 1947.
Henry P. Jaeger (1888-1971) was bridge writer, lecturer, and bridge editor of the Cleveland Sunday News, the largest bridge department of any American newspaper in the thirties. He was a member of the group who promoted the “Official System.” In addition to serving as ABL president in 1928, he was also a president of the Cleveland Whist Club and the Cleveland Interclub League. He won trophies in whist, auction and contract bridge.
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The modern version of our game — contract bridge — occurred as a refinement to the rules of an older version called auction bridge. Harold S. Vanderbilt of Newport RI is the person responsible for this improvement.
How did Vanderbilt come to be the father of the game we enjoy today? Aboard the cruise ship Finland in late October of 1925, Vanderbilt — who was traveling with three friends, all of whom were auction bridge enthusiasts — tested an idea he had for making the auction bridge version of the game more interesting.
In auction bridge, players scored points for taking a certain number of tricks as in the modern game. The problem, however, was that players received game and slam bonuses even if they didn’t actually bid a game or slam. For example, if you were in 1NT making three, you got the game bonus anyway.
Vanderbilt decided to make it more challenging by requiring a partnership to actually bid to the game or slam level in order to receive the bonus. Since this refinement made slams too risky to attempt, he also increased the slam bonuses.
Finally, he developed a scheme for doubles and redoubles so that penalties for sacrificing were equitable. Vanderbilt dubbed this new version of the game contract bridge.
The rapid spread of contract bridge from 1926 to 1929 is largely attributable to Vanderbilt’s espousal of it; his social standing made the game fashionable. Vanderbilt’s technical contribution was even greater. He devised the first unified system of bidding, and was solely responsible for the artificial 1*C* bid to show a strong hand, the negative 1*D* response, the strong (16-to-18 point) notrump on balanced hands only, and the weak two-bid opening.
These and his other principles were presented in his books, Contract Bridge Bidding and the Club Convention; The New Contract Bridge; Contract by Hand Analysis; and The Club Convention Modernized. Vanderbilt was a member of the Laws Committee of the Whist Club of New York that made the American laws of contract bridge (1927, 1931) and the first international code (1932). He then became chairman of that committee and largely drafted the international code of 1935, the American code of 1943, and the international codes of 1948 and 1949. He remained co-chairman of the National Laws Commission of the ACBL for the 1963 laws.
In 1928, Vanderbilt presented the Harold S. Vanderbilt cup for the national team-of-four championship. This prestigious contest has been held annually to the present day. The Vanderbilt Knockout Teams is played at the Spring North American Bridge Championships. This became and remained for many years the most coveted American team trophy, mainly because the replicas were donated personally by Vanderbilt to the winners.
In 1960 Vanderbilt supplied the permanent trophy for the World Bridge Federation’s Olympiad Team tournaments, again adopting the policy of giving replicas to the winners. As a player, Vanderbilt always ranked high. In 1932 and 1940 he won his own Vanderbilt Cup. He played by choice only in the strongest money games and was a consistent winner. His regular partnership with Waldemar von Zedtwitz was among the strongest and most successful in the U.S.
In 1941 he retired from tournament bridge, but he continued to play in the most expert rubber bridge games, in clubs and at home. In 1968, Vanderbilt spent more than $50,000 to recreate the lost molds for the replicas of the American trophy and to provide a quantity of replicas of both trophies sufficient to last from 20 to 40 years.
To perpetuate this practice of awarding individual replicas, Vanderbilt further bequeathed to the ACBL a trust fund of $100,000, a gift that wisely foresaw the possibility of inflation, but provided that excess funds, if any, can be donated in Vanderbilt’s name to a charity of ACBL’s choice. In 1969, the World Bridge Federation made Vanderbilt its first honorary member. When a Bridge Hall of Fame was inaugurated in 1964, Vanderbilt was one of the first three persons elected.
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Col. Russell J. Baldwin (1889-1969) of Norwalk CT was an Army officer and expert on tournament procedure. A leading American bridge personality, he was active as an organizer from the earliest days of contract bridge. He became a director of the American Bridge League and its treasurer shortly after its foundation in 1927. He was a member of ACBL Laws Commission (originally Committee) since its foundation in 1933. Baldwin was primarily responsible for the first Duplicate Code issued in 1935 and played a considerable part in formulating subsequent codes. Author of McKenney-Baldwin schedules for Howell Movements and constructed other movements. His many contributions to tournament procedure included ACBL’s former method of dealing with fouled boards. Baldwin was a tournament director from 1927-1941 and after war service became ABCL business manager from 1948-1951. Recalled to military service at outbreak of Korean War and returned to ACBL in charge of tournament scheduling 1958-1963. He was named ACBL Honorary Member in 1943.
General Alfred M. Greunther (1899-1983) of Washington DC, a recognized authority on duplicate contract bridge and the outstanding director of bridge tournaments in America in the Thirties. He was the chief referee in the Culbertson-Lenz Match 1931-1932. He authored Duplicate Bridge Simplified, Duplicate Bridge Guide and Famous Hands of the Culbertson-Lenz Match. Gruenther was named honorary president of the World Bridge Federation from its inception in 1958 until he resigned from all bridge activities in 1978. Awarded the Wetzlar Trophy in 1938, he was also named ACBL Honorary Member in 1944. Gruenther was a charter member of the ACBL Laws Commission and its Honorary Member from 1948-1978 He was also chairman of the ACBL Charity Foundation from 1964-1965 and a former member of the Editorial Advisory Board of Bridge Encyclopedia. Gruenther served 38 years in the U.S. Army. His final military assignment was Supreme Commander, Allied Powers, Europe, 1953-1956. In this capacity, he came into contact with General Dwight D. Eisenhower. On occasion, they played bridge. He retired December 31, 1956 and from 1957 to 1964 was president of the American Red Cross, serving with particular devotion and special interest in its youth program. He received nine awards from Red Cross Societies from other countries for International Red Cross league activities. He was decorated by 14 governments other than the United States. He was the recipient of the Distinguished Service Medal with two Oak Leaf clusters and the Legion of Merit from this country. He had honorary degrees from 31 American colleges and universities.
Robert Gill (1889-1983) of Baltimore was an attorney. He was ACBL president in 1941and chairman of the ACBL Committee on Membership Eligibility in 1952. He was named ACBL Honorary Member in1945. He served in both World Wars and received many military decorations. In 1945 he was appointed chief military counsel to Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson at the War Trials in Nuremburg.
October 1996 marked three decades since Albert Morehead died of cancer at the age of 57. Many of today’s generation know little about the man except, perhaps, that there is a bridge library in Memphis named for him.
Morehead was a lad of 23 when Ely Culbertson hired him because of his talent as a player and an expert analyst. In a short time Morehead was technical analyst for The Bridge World magazine and technical manager of all Culbertson enterprises. He was only 25 when he played on the Culbertson team that defeated the English in the second international match for the Schwab Trophy in 1934.
Morehead not only published and edited the magazine, he was responsible for much of the writing of Culbertson’s books and radio scripts. He managed details pertaining to the Crockford Clubs in New York and Chicago . He negotiated endorsements and was executive director of Kem Playing Cards, Inc. — which he sold within a few years for a profit of more than half a million dollars.
A tireless worker, he was the first bridge editor of The New York Times. He wrote and edited bridge books. He ran a plastics business and did free-lance writing on a multitude of non-bridge subjects for leading American magazines.
After he resigned from the Times late in 1963, he devoted full time to the writing, editing and publishing of dictionaries, encyclopedias and a thesaurus which made him one of the foremost American lexicographers. His works also included many “Hoyle” books, giving the rules of cards games, on which he was the leading American authority.
Meanwhile, he found time for tremendous service to organized bridge. He was an officer of the United States Bridge Association when that organization amalgamated with the American Bridge League in 1937. He became a governor of the newly formed ACBL, which he later served as president and chairman of the Board. He was named Honorary Member in 1946. He was a member of the National Laws Commission and was in charge of production of the International Laws of Contract Bridge.
He not only served ACBL as adviser and laws consultant, he made enormous contributions to The Official Encyclopedia of Bridge — far beyond the scope of duties suggested by his title of chairman of the Editorial Advisory Board.
Early in 1966, while suffering from his then undiagnosed mortal illness, Morehead rose from a sick bed to travel to Amsterdam to present the constitution he had prepared for the World Bridge Federation — the first formal definition of the scope, structure, powers and duties of that organization.
Some insight into the man behind all this talent can be found in his obituary in the November issue of the 1966 Bulletin. Then editor Dick Frey wrote,
“Dwarfing these magnificent achievements were personal traits rare among men. No one ever saw him lose his temper at the bridge table or heard him speak an unkind word to a partner. He smiled often, but the only player he ever laughed at was himself.
Rarely if ever did he turn down a plea for help. Writing this, I am proud to acknowledge the debt I owe him and to claim that he was my best friend. The secret of his greatness was that there are scores of others who will truly say exactly this of Albert Hodges Morehead.”
Morehead left his large and valuable collection of books to the ACBL, and they formed the heart of what has been for more than three decades the Albert H. Morehead Memorial Library.
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Ben Golder (1891-1946) died the day before the close of his term as 1946 ACBL president. He was a four-term Congressman from Pennsylvania and later became a criminal attorney – he once represented Al Capone. Golder was the ACBL Honorary Member in 1947. A trophy donated by his widow Peggy (later Solomon) in his memory, the Golder Cup, was put into play 1947.
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Shepard Barclay (1889-1955) of New York City, was a bridge writer, publisher, lecturer and club director. In 1927 he bought Auction Bridge Magazine and sought to make it a mass magazine, featuring the editorship of Milton Work and Wilbur Whitehead. The magazine failed (1929) and its mailing list was used by Ely Culbertson to start The Bridge World. Barclay conducted a bridge page, with doggerel pertaining to bridge as a regular feature, in the New York Herald Tribune 1929-1934. During those years he also ranked the 10 best (or most successful) players each year for Collier’s magazine. He conducted bridge clubs and duplicate games. Wrote many books on bridge and from 1932 until his death he wrote a daily newspaper feature on bridge for King Features Syndicate. Barclay was a member of the executive committees of the ABL and the ACBL from 1936-1949. He was named ACBL Honorary Member in 1948.
Alexander M. “Al” Sobel, an engineer who turned to bridge rather than sell apples during the Great Depression, was remembered by the magazine as “. . . a towering figure in the world of tournament bridge (for 40 years) . . . . A key associate of Culbertson, he was one of the first tournament directors and for some 25 years was the ACBL’s National Tournament Manager. He was an editor of The Bridge World, an editor and a regular columnist for the Bridge Bulletin and a member of the Laws Commission. He set the pattern for directors everywhere.”
Sobel, a graduate of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, turned to directing during the Great Depression. His other choice: selling apples. He began directing in 1934 and was named National Tournament Manager in 1942. He held that position until his retirement in 1969. During that time, he directed tournaments around the world and in every state — ending with Alaska in 1968. He was the first Honorary Member of the Japan Contract Bridge League and ACBL Honorary Member in 1949.
His greatest thrills, he wrote in the Bridge Bulletin, included “the night I escorted President Eisenhower around the Sheraton Park Hotel in Washington to show him what a National tournament looked like.
“As we went down the grand staircase, he held my arm. I still preserve that spot on my elbow and never rest it on a bar.”
A second thrill, he added, was in 1935 when General Alfred M. Gruenther introduced him as his successor as chief director of the Eastern States Championships, then a national tournament.
Known as “Mr. Jimmy”, Baird (1878-1963) was a widely traveled bridge player. He lived in a town named after him, Baird MS. He twice headed the Mississippi Unit. ACBL feted him by naming him Honorary Member in 1951. His wife, Mary Elizabeth Baird, was ACBL Honorary Member 1947, the year she died. In her memory, Baird donated Baird Trophy for the Open Individual.
MILES, Jr. Rufus L. (Skinny) (1907-1984) of Virginia Beach VA was an investment executive. He served as ACBL president 1950, 56, and was a member of many of its administrative committees for nearly two decades. He was named Honorary Member in 1952. Skinny also served as president of Mid-Atlantic Conference, npc of the North American Bermuda Bowl team in 1957 and of the U.S. team World Team Olympiad in 1960.
Curt H. Reisinger (1891-1964) of New York City was a principal patron of contract bridge and the ACBL in the early years of both. Reisinger was great-grandson of both Anheuser and Busch, co-founders of the brewery from which he inherited great wealth. That wealth enabled him to become a stalwart financial supporter of the game, as well as a noted philanthropist on a far larger scale. Among the positions in which he served were director of the USBA, president of the Greater New York BA and chairman of ACBL. He was named ACBL Honorary Member in 1953. In 1965 the Chicago Board-a-Match teams was renamed the Reisinger Board-a-Match teams in his memory. The Reisinger Teams at the New York Eastern Regional is one of the longest running bridge events
Snite was one of the first polio victims to receive significant publicity regarding chronic dependency on the iron lung. After college at age 25 he joined his family on a dream trip around the world in 1936. While in Peiping (now Beijing) he came down with polio. He was admitted to the Rockefeller Memorial Hospital. This hospital was known as the John Hopkins of the Orient.
His physician was a graduate of the Harvard Medical School. This hospital owned the only iron lung in China. At the time there were just over 200 iron lungs in the world. This iron lung weighed 1200 pounds.
After fourteen months in the iron lung, Snite was successfully moved from China to Chicago by ambulance, train and ocean vessel. He never became independent of the iron lung except for several hours a day by using a portable respirator that could be strapped to his chest.
In 1939 he married Teresa Larkin, a woman he had known before polio. They had three daughters. His medical problems took their toll and at the age of 43, Snite died in the iron lung from heart and lung failure.
George W. Beynon (1864-1965) was born in Portage La Prairie MB; lived in St. Petersburg FL. An authority on tournament directing and one of the leading personalities in the world of bridge, his first career was as professional hockey player. He made music his major occupation, studying at La Scala in Milan and later directing orchestras in Europe and America. After becoming an American citizen in 1904, Beynon developed a successful plan for synchronizing music with silent films. He was musical director of Birth of a Nation (1915) and other early successes before retiring to East Orange NY in 1917. Forced out of retirement by 1929 crash, Beynon made a new career in bridge. After directing games in New Jersey and writing a Newark bridge column, he joined the Culbertson organization in 1935 as office manager and became secretary general for USBA. He rapidly became an authority on movements and continued to report on tournaments. After moving from New York to St. Petersburg in 1955, Beynon founded a successful correspondence school for directors and began writing a weekly bridge column for St. Petersburg Times. When he celebrated his 100th birthday in September of 1964 he was probably the oldest working newspaperman in America. His writings include Bridge Directors Manual, the standard work on duplicate organization, as well as many magazine articles. He was a contributing editor of The Encyclopedia of Bridge.
Alvin Landy was Life Master #24 and a longtime ACBL chief executive. A Cleveland native, Landy was a graduate of Western Reserve University. He also earned a law degree from the school in 1927. He practiced law in Cleveland until 1943, when he served in the Army Transport Command during World War II.
Landy joined the ACBL as a tournament director in 1948. He had previously worked as a free-lance director for years and was referred to as a “national director” long before the position of a salaried national TD actually existed.
In 1951, Landy was named acting business manager of ACBL, when his predecessor, Russell Baldwin, was called for active duty during the Korean War. Landy, who was in charge of the day-to-day business of ACBL, worked with the legendary Al Sobel, who was named tournament manager in the same year. An article that appeared in a 1951 Bulletin noted that, “These top-flight national directors will continue to conduct tournaments despite their added responsibilities.”
In December 1952, Landy was named executive manager of the ACBL. He remained in that capacity until his unexpected death from a heart attack in 1967 at the age of 62.
Landy’s 16-year tenure as the top executive for the ACBL was marked by rapid growth in the membership and a stable administration. Landy was named ACBL Honorary Member of the Year in 1957.
In addition to these contributions, Landy served as secretary of the ACBL Charity Foundation from the time of its inception and was also a principal figure in its creation. Through his efforts, the Foundation grew to a $250,000 annual project by 1967.
Landy served as Secretary of the ACBL Laws Commission from 1956 until his death. He was also active in the World Bridge Federation. Landy was one of its founders and first officers, serving as secretary-treasurer from 1958 to 1966.
As a player, Landy was widely recognized for his skill and expert play. He won several major events. His first was the American Bridge League’s Knockout Team Challenge in 1936. He later scored four wins in the Fall NABC Men’s Teams, a record.
Landy was a member of the winning Spingold Knockout Team in 1949, playing with teammates Jeff Glick, Arthur Goldsmith, Bruce Gowdy and Sol Mogal. He was second in the event twice.
Landy was also the originator of the convention that bears his name: a 2*C* overcall of an opposing 1NT bid to request that partner bid a major. In fact, many bridge players are most familiar with the name of Landy because of this simple and effective two-suited overcall.
There exists a small group of individuals who can combine successful professional careers with stellar bridge talent, evidenced by a long line of tournament victories, while maintaining a sense of humor and dignity.
Lee Hazen was one of that group.
Hazen, who died in 1991 at the age of 85, earned degrees from Columbia University and New York University Law School and practiced law for nearly 50 years. He learned to play bridge in the early Thirties when he was a young attorney.
His impressive tournament record leaves no doubt as to his ability.
Hazen had four wins in the Vanderbilt, three in the Spingold and two in the Chicago (now the Reisinger). In addition to those outstanding team victories, he won the Master’s Individual in 1941 and the national Men’s Pairs in 1945. He was runner-up in eight North American championships.
Hazen represented the United States in the Bermuda Bowl twice (1956 and 1959), finishing second on both occasions.
He was the non-playing captain of the first-place North American team in the 1971 Bermuda Bowl in Taipei, and of the silver-medalist team of the 1972 World Team Olympiad in Miami Beach .
Hazen’s contributions as a bridge administrator are equally impressive. He served as an ACBL director in 1949 and vice-president 1945-47, was a member of the ACBL Laws Commission for more than 30 years and was ACBL legal counsel for more than 40 years.
Hazen is widely credited with helping the ACBL modernize during this tenure in the late Forties.
In addition, Hazen was named ACBL Honorary Member in 1958, served as trustee for the ACBL Charity Foundation and was also the founder of the Greater New York Bridge Association.
Hazen’s reputation as a bridge raconteur and humorist separated him from other experts.
He explained his bidding philosophy as follows: “If I like my hand, I bid. If at the next round I still like it, I bid again. As soon as I stop liking it, I quit bidding.”
Another example of Hazen’s humor: “I remember getting up from one table, still thinking hard about the hand I had just struggled through. A pretty lady with dark eyes asked how I was doing. I mumbled some perfunctory reply and moved on to the next table.
“Suddenly, as I took my cards from the first board, it hit me. That lady was my wife (Sylvia)! Being a bridge player herself — and a good one, too — she understood and forgave me.”
Hazen liked to tell the following story, as told to him by an acquaintance, Charles Duffy. “Duffy and his wife were playing against a pair of long-pause bidders. The opponents stopped on one hand in three hearts, making four, after an agonizingly long auction. They then began to bemoan their failure to bid game. ’You never could have bid it,’ Duffy assured them. ’You just didn’t have the time.’ “
Recounting the stories of other players was a favorite pastime of Hazen’s. This now-classic George S. Kaufman talk was part of his repertoire.
“After one hand, Kaufman asked a rather inexpert person playing as his partner, ’By the way, when did you learn to play, partner?’ And before she could reply, he continued, ’I know it was today, but what time today?’ “
This may summarize Hazen best. “I’ve had two great romances in my life. More than 50 years ago I was able to persuade a perfectly beautiful, charming, bright girl to throw in her lot with me.” His second romance was bridge.
No name is more closely associated with the game of bridge than that of Charles Goren. Indeed, Goren earned and proudly bore the nickname of “Mr. Bridge.”
Born in Philadelphia, Goren earned a law degree as a young man but practiced only briefly before bridge became first in his life.
As a protege of fellow Hall-of-Famer Milton Work, Goren adapted Work’s point-count evaluation method and published the now-familiar 4-3-2-1 system. The idea caught on quickly and was used by millions of players. Goren — a tireless worker — promoted his ideas through books, tours and lectures. Overnight, point-count displaced Ely Culbertson’s honor-trick approach to hand evaluation.
Goren’s hugely successful books, Contract Bridge Complete and Point Count Bidding, made his methods — dubbed “Standard American” — the most widely played system in the history of the game.
Goren’s talents were not limited to writing and lecturing. He also hosted the popular television program Championship Bridge with Charles Goren from 1959 to 1964.
The record for the most number of wins in the annual McKenney contest (now the Barry Crane Top 500 masterpoint race) is held by Goren, who won it eight times. He also holds the record for the most number of consecutive victories in the contest: five, from 1947 through 1951.
His tournament career was outstanding. Goren won 34 national championships (now NABCs) and earned a world championship title when the U.S. squad won the inaugural Bermuda Bowl in 1950.
The name of Goren became synonymous with bridge to millions. His importance as a world figure was recognized when he was on the front cover of Time magazine. His classic Contract Bridge Complete ran to 12 editions.
It is estimated that Goren books have sold more than 10 million copies. His writings have been translated into a dozen languages. His books include: Better Bridge for Better Players, Standard Book of Bidding, Contract Bridge Made Easy, A Self-Teacher, Point-Count Bidding in Contract Bridge, Goren Presents the Italian Bridge System, New Contract Bridge in a Nutshell; Sports Illustrated Book of Bridge, Goren’s Winning Partnership Bridge, Charles Goren’s Bridge Complete, and Goren on Play and Defense.
Goren became a world champion in Bermuda in 1950 when the first Bermuda Bowl World Championship was staged. He placed 2nd in the 1956 and 1957 Bermuda Bowls, was a member of the U.S. team that finished 4th in the first World Team Olympiad in Turin in 1960.
His television show, Championship Bridge with Charles Goren, ran from 1959 to 1964. It was called the first successful bridge program on television and won an award as one of the best new television features.
A lifelong bachelor, Goren may genuinely have been married to the game. In spite of his work as writer, lecturer, promoter, TV personality (unlike Culbertson, who grew bored with the game when he became successful), Goren was devoted to tournament play.
He seldom played rubber bridge, and never for high stakes. He considered his playing status amateur and once turned over to the Damon Runyon Cancer Fund the full amount of a $1,500 purse which he won in a charity tournament played in Las Vegas .
Before his retirement from active competition in 1966, he captured virtually every major bridge trophy in U.S. tournament play.
He was elected the ACBL Honorary Member of 1959, one of the first three elected to the ACBL Hall of Fame (then of The Bridge World) in 1963. He was a member of the ACBL Laws Commission from 1956, contributing editor of The Bridge World, member of Editorial Advisory Board of The Bridge Encyclopedia. Goren was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws by McGill University in 1963.
After retiring from the tournament scene in the late Sixties, Goren lived quietly at his home in Miami Beach. For the last 19 years of his life he lived with his nephew, Marvin Goren, in Southern California. Because of poor eyesight and failing health, he was seldom seen in the Seventies.
There were rare appearances on the According to Goren panel shows at North American Bridge Championships and in 1972 he hosted a party for the press at his Miami Beach home during the Fourth World Bridge Olympiad.
His personal record by events includes: won the Bermuda Bowl in 1950, placed 2nd in 1956 and 1957; 3rd in the World Team Olympiad in 1960. On the national level he won the Vanderbilt in 1944 and 1945, placed 2nd in 1934, 1936, 1949, 1950, 1953, 1955, 1959 and 1962; Asbury Park Trophy (later the Spingold) 1937; Spingold Master KO Teams in 1943, 1947, 1951, 1956 and 1960, 2nd in 1939 and 1950; Reisinger B-A-M Teams (formerly Chicago) in 1937, 1938, 1939, 1942, 1943, 1950, 1957 and 1963, 2nd in 1944 and 1951; the Master Mixed Teams in 1938, 1941, 1943, 1944, 1948 and 1954, 2nd in 1946, 1949, 1950 and 1951; Men’s B-A-M Teams in 1952, 2nd in 1946 and 1955; the Life Master Pairs in 1942 and 1958, 2nd in 1953; the Open Pairs in 1940; the Mixed Pairs in 1943 and 1947, 2nd in 1934; the Men’s Pairs in 1938, 1943 and 1949, 2nd in 1935; the Masters Individual in 1945; the McKenney Trophy in 1937, 1943, 1945, 1947, 1948, 1949, 1950 and 1951. Goren accumulated 7046 masterpoints in his bridge career.
Dr. Arthur M. Dye (1896-1980) of Charlotte NC, was the first blind bridge player to become an ACBL Life Master. A perfect sportsman, Dye never took advantage of his affliction. When he pulled wrong cards, he refused to allow opponents to let him retract his plays. When Dye made Life Master at New Orleans Winter Nationals 1956, he received a standing ovation. A charter member and long-time president of the Charlotte BA, he served as president of the Mid-Atlantic BC. He shared with Charles Goren in 1959 the ACBL Honorary Member award.
Tom Stoddard of Laguna Hills, California, was known as the Father of Bridge on the West Coast. And for good reason.
He was one of the outstanding personalities of American bridge, a pioneer in bridge teaching and bridge-club management, founder of the Pacific Bridge League (PBL) and former ACBL executive.
In 1931, at age 35, Stoddard owned a Los Angeles hotel at a time when most hotels were going bankrupt. He conceived the idea of making his hostelry a center for bridge lessons and duplicate games. The project was a sensational success, at its peak employing eleven teachers and conducting games daily from 9:30 a.m. to midnight.
Stoddard founded the PBL in 1933 and was responsible for the wildfire growth of bridge on the West Coast. The PBL included the 11 far western states, the territories of Hawaii and Alaska and the Canadian provinces of British Columbia and Alberta. Stoddard also founded the Contract Bridge Forum in the early Thirties and during more than 75 years of publication it has been the voice of the PBL and the Western Conference.
Collaboration between the ACBL and the PBL began in 1940 when they agreed upon a uniform masterpoint system. In 1946 Stoddard turned his bridge business over to his associates and in 1948 he agreed to a merger of the PBL and national organizations, an arrangement that was consummated in 1956. It was at that time he was elected President Emeritus of the ACBL, Western Division and ACBL Board member.
Named the ACBL Honorary Member in 1960, he was also a member of the Goodwill Committee. In May 1976 he was awarded the rare “Certificate of Service” citation by the ACBL’s Board of Directors for his long and devoted service to bridge and to the ACBL.
The Blackwood Award is given to a person for contributions to bridge without necessarily being a top player. Therefore, it is fitting that Tom Stoddard receives the Blackwood Award as part of the Bridge Hall of Fame Class of 2010.
Charles Solomon of Philadelphia, attorney, bridge administrator, teacher and author was a leading figure in bridge. He became Life Master #16 in 1939 and he amassed a lifetime total of 6594 masterpoints. Solomon won 12 national titles, including the Chicago (now the Reisinger) in 1937, 1938, 1939 and 1944; the Men’s Pairs in 1943, the Life Master Pairs in 1946, the Master Individual in 1947, the Master Mixed Teams in 1949, 1950 and 1959; the Men’s B-A-M Teams in 1952 and 1965; the Spingold in1955. In addition to 16 2nd places — the Life Master Pairs in 1938, the Spingold in 1939, the Master Mixed Teams in 1939 and 1940; the Master Individual in 1943, the Reisinger in 1953 and 1959; the Vanderbilt in 1954 and 1958; the Men’s B-A-M Teams in 1955 and 1960; the Open Pairs in 1959 and 1968; the Mixed Pairs in 1961, the Life Master Men’s Pairs in 1963 and numerous regional wins.
Solomon was a member of the U.S. International team in 1956, non-playing captain of the Open Team in 1959 and for the U.S. Women’s Team in 1960. He donated the Charles J. Solomon Trophy to the World Bridge Federation in 1966, to be given to the country with the best record in pair events at the World Pair Championship. He served as the ACBL president in 1958 and was chairman of the Board in 1944, 1955 and 1957; He was named ACBL Honorary Member of the Year in 1961.
On the international level, Solomon was a member of the organizing committee and helped to found the World Bridge Federation. He served as the WBF vice president from 1958-1964, as president from 1964-1968, chairman of the Board from 1968-1972 and was honorary chairman from 1972 until his death. He also served with distinction on the ACBL Laws Commission from 1940-1960 and on the Editorial Advisory Board of The Official Bridge Encyclopedia. Solomon was the author of Slam Bidding and Point Count and NoTrump Bidding and was the bridge editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer for 30 years. He sponsored the IBPA Solomon Award, given annually for best the description of a bridge deal in the world press.
Bertram Lebhar, Jr. (1907-1972) a.k.a. Bert Lee had a national reputation as a sportscaster and later as a bridge player and administrator. In private life he owned radio and television stations in Florida. Perhaps his greatest achievements arose from his work as ACBL treasurer (1945-1947) and as a member of the Steering Committee. In the late 1940s, Lebhar was instrumental in ACBL modernization. He was perhaps the first man to visualize ACBL’s vast potential for expansion. His farsighted efforts were recognized when he was made ACBL Honorary Member in 1963. A founder of Greater New York B.A. and its first president in 1948, he donated the Lebhar Trophy to ACBL. Lebhar was named Life Master #61 in 1946 and was a two-time North American champion.
Jeff Glick (1906-1985) of North Miami Beach was a bridge administrator. He was instrumental in organizing the Florida Unit, subsequently the largest ACBL unit and was its president from 1949-1965 and executive manager from 1965-1979. He was the chairman of two international tournaments and four North American Championships, all held in Miami. He was the ACBL president in 1955 and the ACBL Honorary Member in 1964. He was the npc of U.S. team that placed second in the Bermuda Bowl in 1956. He won the Spingold in 1949, the Chicago (now the Reisinger) in 1940 and 1949, the Men’s (Open BAM) Teams in 1947, 1948, 1954, 1958; the Hilliard Mixed Pairs in 1941, and the Asbury Challenge Teams in 1934.
No information available
Harry Fishbein of New York City, was a pro basketball player and president of the famous Mayfair Club, proprietor from 1940-70. Fishbein, who wore a beret as his trademark, authored the Fishbein convention and was an outstanding player. He won 12 North American titles: the Vanderbilt in 1936, 1943, 1947, 1949 and 1958; the Life Master Pairs in 1939 and 1940; the Master Individual in 1942 and 1952; the Master Mixed Teams in 1947; the Men’s Pairs in 1959, and the Men’s B-A-M Teams in 1965. Fishbein placed 2nd 18 times: the Spingold in 1937, 1943, 1945 and 1958; the Master Individual in 1938; the Men’s Pairs in 1940; the Chicago (since 1965 the Reisinger) in 1942, 1953, 1957 and 1959; the Master Mixed Teams in 1945 and 1948; the Men’s B-A-M Teams in 1952, 1953 and 1960; the Open Pairs in 1959 and 1968, and the Life Master Men’s Pairs in 1963. He represented the U.S. in the Bermuda Bowl in 1959 and served as the non-playing captain of the 1960 U.S. World Olympiad Team. Fishbein served as the ACBL treasurer for 14 years (1952-1966) and was named the ACBL’s Honorary Member in 1966.
One of the great players of all time, Oswald Jacoby, first achieved international preeminence as the partner of Sidney Lenz in the famous Culbertson-Lenz Match of the early 1930s. Having already established himself as a champion at both auction and contract bridge, Jacoby next became a member of the famed Four Horsemen and Four Aces teams. His selection by Lenz over players of greater experience and with whom Lenz had practiced partnerships was early recognition of the brilliance and skill that were later to bring Jacoby to the top of the ACBL’s list of all-time masterpoint winners.
With the outbreak of World War II, Jacoby placed his bridge career on hold for four years. He played infrequently in the late Forties, and returned to active duty during the Korean War. During this time, fellow great Charles Goren had amassed a huge lead as the all-time masterpoint holder. After two years in Korea, Jacoby returned to active play with the goal of overtaking Goren on the masterpoint list.
By 1962, he had done so. He won the McKenney Trophy (now the Barry Crane Top 500), a contest for amassing the most masterpoints in a year, four times in five years (1959 through 1963) at ages 57, 59, 60 and 61. In 1963 he became the first to acquire more than 1000 masterpoints in a single year (1034). He surpassed the 10,000-point mark in 1967, at which time he retired from active competition for the McKenney Trophy. Almost exactly one year later he relinquished his position as top masterpoint holder to Barry Crane.
Jacoby pioneered many bidding ideas, including Jacoby 2NT (game-forcing raise of a major), Jacoby transfers and weak jump overcalls. He invented the use of 2*H* as a double negative response to 2*C* with 2NT a positive heart response and 2*D* as the usual waiting bid.
He was a longtime bridge columnist as well as the author of several books on bridge, backgammon, mathematics, gambling, poker and other card games, including canasta.
Frank Westcott (1901-1974) of North Attleboro MA was an engineer and contractor. ACBL president 1960, chairman of Board 1961, Honorary Member 1968, former member of the ACBL Board of Directors, president New England Bridge Conference and Eastern Massachusetts BA. Life Master #152, npc of the North American international team 1961, 64; placed second Men’s Teams 1964. Won Inter-City matches 1970, 71, 72, 73 for Boston.
Sam Stayman was a leading bridge administrator, an innovator, an author and a successful businessman.
Stayman’s name became a household word in bridge circles when he described a convention developed by his partner, George Rapee, in The Bridge World, June 1945. In response to a 1NT opening bid, 2*C* asks for a major suit. This became known as the Stayman Convention – familiar to bridge players throughout the world.
He contributed to The Official Encyclopedia of Bridge and wrote three books: Expert Bidding, The Complete Stayman System of Contract Bridge and Do You Play Stayman?
His contributions to bridge theory include Namyats (Stayman spelled backward), which used an opening 4*C* bid to show a strong hand with a long hearts suit and 4*D* to show a strong hand with a long spade suit.
Stayman won his first major NABC titles in 1942 when he took both the Vanderbilt and the Spingold, and his last (the Reisinger) more than four decades later in 1984. In all he captured 20 North American championships and was runner-up 14 times.
A World Bridge Federation Grand Master, he and George Repée, Charles Goren, Howard Schenken, John Crawford and Sidney Silodor won the inaugural Bermuda Bowl in 1950. The January-February 1951 Bulletin reported.
At the close of the eighth and final session of the grueling battle of brains the Americans led England by 3660 points and were ahead of the Europeans by 4720 points.
Dr. Einar Werner, captain of the European team, said: “The Americans made few mistakes and had the advantage of a team composed of six good players,familiar with each other’s play.”
The following year, Stayman and Crawford, Schenken, Repée and B. Jay Becker represented America in the World Team Championship in Rome.
They defeated Italy, winner of a European round-robin tournament, in a 320-board match played over a period of one week. Julius Rosenblum,1951 ACBL president and non-playing captain of the team, reported in the January-February 1952 Bulletin.
It gives me great happiness to say that the members of the American team distinguished themselves by their courtesy as well as by their bridge skill. It was a friendly, enjoyable match, and it will build for future international goodwill in bridge
The same team – with Theodore Lightner as a sixth member – defended their title successfully in 1953. In all, Stayman represented the ACBL six times in international competition. He won the silver in the 1964 World Team Olympiad.
As a bridge administrator, Stayman served several years as ACBL treasurer and was a trustee of the ACBL Charity Foundation. He was named ACBL Honorary Member in 1969 and American Bridge Teachers’ Association Honorary Member in 1979. He was president of the Cavendish Club in Manhattan from 1958 to 1972.
Born in Worcester MA in 1909, he took his A.B. degree from Dartmouth College in 1930 and his M.B.A. from Tuck Business College in 1931.
He was president of Stayman & Stayman until the mid-Sixties when he sold the business and became a portfolio and investments manager.
His wife Josephine, known as “Tubby”, is a tireless worker for her favorite charity, bridge games which contribute to the United Jewish Appeal.
Julius Rosenblum (1906-1978) of New Orleans was a leading American bridge personality. He served as President of the World Bridge Federation from 1970-1976 and as ACBL president in 1951. He won the Men’s Pairs in 1960. Rosenblum captained the U.S. team that defeated Italy in the 1951 Bermuda Bowl and played briefly thus becoming the only person to have captained and played on a team that defeated the Italians. He also captained U.S. teams in 1963,1966,1967and 1968. He became WBF secretary-treasurer in 1966 and a voting member of WBF Executive Committee in 1968 when he was appointed to replace Waldemar von Zedtwitz, who retired. He was elected to WBF Committee of Honor. International Bridge Press Association bestowed the Charles Goren Man of the Year award on him 1975. In 1977 the Australian Bridge Federation named him to Life Membership, the 1st non-Australian to be so honored. Rosenblum was the ACBL Honorary Member in 1970.
Joseph Stedem (1899-1983) of Palm Springs CA was the executive vice president of Hertz Corporation. He was ACBL president in 1968, a member of the ACBL Board of Directors from 1949-50 and from 1964-69, president of the ACBL Charity Foundation 1973-74, and a trustee from 1972-75. He was elected ACBL Honorary Member in 1971. He was also President Midwest Bridge Conference and Chicago CBA. Stedem helped initiate the ACBL policy, begun in 1949, of holding North American Championships in many different cities as possible. Previously all such tournaments had been held in the Greater New York area. The experiment of attempting a national in Chicago in 1949 proved most successful. As a result, players in all sections of the ACBL have had the opportunity to play in NABCs at not too great a distance from their homes. He was instrumental in the reorganization of the ACBL, working with Waldemar Von Zedtwitz. Stedem placed second NAC Senior Master Individual 1952 and won several regionals.
Despite living most of her life with a disability, Phyllis Cohn Smith always found time to volunteer and help others. She was instrumental in starting the volunteer program at the Detroit Medical Center’s Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan (RIM) and was one of the founding members of RIM’s Auxillary. She counseled patients, served on advisory boards, greeted patients and visitors and scheduled volunteers. Later, she volunteered at Detroit Receiving Hospital and the former Michigan Cancer Society, accumulating almost 10,000 hours of service. Smith was an avid bridge player, having won many local and regional tournaments. She was one of the American Contract Bridge League’s early Life Masters and their Honorary Member in 1972. Smith passed away April 24, 2003 at the age of 76.
Kate Buckman (1902-1997) of Toronto ON, bridge teacher, director and bridge club owner. She introduced duplicate bridge to Vancouver BC shortly after World War II. She opened her studio in Toronto in 1959. It developed into the largest bridge club in Canada averaging 300 tables a week and 750 students a year. Many bridge stars and personalities such as Sami Kehela, Eric Murray, George Mittelman, Percy Sheardown, Bruce Elliott and Bruce Gowdy developed at this studio. She had certain ideals and traditions upon which she was insistent and these remain in effect today. In 1973 she received the Edwin A. Wetzlar Memorial Award and was made ACBL Honorary Member. In 1983 she suffered a stroke and in 1990 sold her studio, but continued to visit and play occasionally. In 1982 the Metropolitan Toronto B.A. donated a trophy to Unit 166 to honor Kate. The Kate Buckman Award recognizes special qualities, not solely bridge ability. She was its first recipient.
Louise Durham (Honeychile) (d.1999) of Durant MS was Life Master # 358 and the first Life Master in Mississippi. She served as ACBL director and secretary, co-chairman of Goodwill Committee and WBF Friendship Committee. She was a past president of Mississippi BA. Durham was named ACBL Honorary Member 1974.
Moody was active in the Hawaii bridge clubs from 1940 until her death. She served nearly every position in the bridge hierarchy of the 50th state.
Charles S. Landau (1898-1981) of Mount Lebanon PA was a former member of the Board of Directors and longtime bridge administrator in the Pittsburgh area.
Fred B. Ensminger of Ann Arbor MI was Trustee Emeritus of the ACBL Charity Foundation and previously served the foundation as president and as a trustee for four years. He was a member of the ACBL Goodwill Committee and a former president of the Michigan Bridge Association.
Ensminger first became interested in duplicate bridge in the early Thirties. He attended one of the first “National” tournaments in Chicago. His time in the 1940s was largely devoted to business; he founded his own firm, Pensions Inc. of Detroit, and was busy installing pension plans for many corporations. Ensminger became Life Master #1331 in 1957.
As 1970 ACBL president, William A. Baldwin (1907-1978) was the person most instrumental in relocating national headquarters to Memphis. His interest in this project grew naturally from his career as a building and land developer. He was also president of Western Conference, trustee of the Charity Foundation and chairman of ACBL Board of Directors (1971).He was elected ACBL Honorary Member in 1978. Baldwin was ACBL representative to WBF and treasurer of that body.
Margaret Wagar, a woman who distinguished herself as a player and as an administrator, was one of the all-time great players. She became Life Master #37 in 1943, the fifth woman to earn the ranking. She and Kay Rhodes share one of the most remarkable achievements in ACBL history — they won the Women’s Pairs four consecutive years: 1955 through 1958.
Wagar and Rhodes share another record, one of frustration. They were second in the Women’s Teams for seven consecutive years, 1952 thriugh1958.
Wagar’s impressive record spans three decades and includes wins in women’s and open competition: Women’s Teams in 1940, 1943, 1944, 1945, 1946, 1964 and 1965; Chicago (now the Reisinger) in 1941; Spingold in 1946 and 1948; Women’s Pairs in 1944, 1955, 1956, 1957 and 1958; Master Mixed Teams in 1942, 1945, 1948, 1954 and 1964; Open Pairs in 1947 and 1948; Mixed Pairs in 1948 and 1949, and Life Master Women’s Pairs in 1962.
Wagar served on the ACBL Board of Directors from 1960 to 1972 and was named ACBL Honorary Member in 1979. She was non-playing captain of the U.S. World Women’s Teams in 1968 and 1972.
Former world champion Carol Sanders considers Wagar one of her role models. “She gave me such opportunities when I first started playing bridge. She was so dear to me.”
Sanders tells this story about Wagar’s table presence and sense of humor:
“Margaret was playing at an NABC against someone who was known to try to get a look at your hand. Margaret was having none of this, so while declarer was studying the hand, she pretended to have a coughing fit.
“She opened her purse and took out her handkerchief. Then she detached the card — a queen — that declarer was looking for and folded it into the handkerchief and put it in her purse.
“If he could get a look at her hand, he wouldn’t find the queen there.
“Sure enough, declarer took the finesse into Margaret. She opened her purse, produced the queen and won the trick.
“She wasn’t going to let him read her.”
Former world champion Dorothy Hayden Truscott remembered Wagar as “a very gracious lady always — a very ladylike manner but with a twinkle in her eye.”
Truscott recalled playing with Wagar in a Women’s Teams:
“A woman — a young girl, actually — came to our table and she wasn’t wearing very much. Her outfit appeared to be two little straps.
“I would have been all right, but I caught Margaret’s eye and I began to giggle. I pretended to be coughing, but I kept giggling.
“Finally, I had to excuse myself and leave the table. As I left, I heard the girl say to Margaret, ’Is your partner all right?’
“Margaret’s reply: ’I don’t know — I’ve never played with her before.’ ”
Easley Blackwood was a power in contract bridge and the American Contract Bridge League for more than 60 years. His fertile 30-year-old mind spawned ideas and innovations about the game and, as a respected elder statesman in his 70s and 80s, he was still collecting the many honors and accolades the game has to bestow.
As a writer, teacher, lecturer, administrator and innovator, Blackwood has name recognition throughout the world. His name became a household word because one of his early inventions, an ace-asking bid that became known as the Blackwood convention, caught on like wildfire with the rank and file players while confounding the experts.
He played bridge, he wrote about bridge, he taught bridge, and he directed bridge games in his own studio and aboard many cruise ships. A legendary storyteller, he was one of the game’s most popular lecturers.
One of his greatest contributions came in 1967 when he was persuaded to take the job of executive secretary and general manager of ACBL. His long experience in the business world was put to work to save a declining ACBL during the three years he served in this position.
Blackwood put the ACBL on a sound financial basis and worked out a revision of the masterpoint plan for tournaments and clubs, correcting inequities that had existed for years. He gained the admiration, respect and gratitude of the headquarters staff, of the Board of Directors and of ACBL members everywhere.
He is still best known, however, for his “little ace-asking convention.” Six decades after Blackwood submitted his brainchild to Ely Culbertson’s magazine, The Bridge World – and was turned down – it is still the game’s best known convention. The Bridge World responded, “While the suggestion is a good one, the 4NT bid will remain informative rather than interrogative . . .”
The convention, however, caught on from player to player and was soon widespread throughout the bridge-playing world. In 1949 Culbertson gave up and said, when a pair announced it was playing the Culbertson System, it should be assumed the Blackwood convention was being played.
The voice of the people had prevailed over the voice of the experts. The Blackwood convention appeared in 17 different languages and 57 books by the time Blackwood published the convention in his own Bridge Humanics in 1949.
Blackwood was born in Birmingham AL in 1903 and went to work as a clerk with Metropolitan Life Insurance Company at the age of 17. At 26 he was made manager of the Decatur IL office. In 1930 he was transferred to Indianapolis , where he managed the Metropolitan office for 34 years.
After his early retirement in 1964, Blackwood established a plush bridge club in Indianapolis and enjoyed a gratifying career as lecturer, teacher and bridge cruise conductor.
He already found time to write several bridge books, a lot of magazine articles and a syndicated daily newspaper column. His monthly column on basic bridge appeared in the Bulletin for almost two decades and formed the basis for his 1978 tome, Play of the Hand with Blackwood.
In 1980 he was elected ACBL Honorary Member of the Year. He was a longtime member of the National Goodwill Committee and the National Laws Commission. He was Honorary Member of the American Bridge Teachers’ Association in 1978. In 1984 he received the International Bridge Press Association’s Personality of the Year Award.
Carl Rubin(1920-1995) of Cincinnati OH, was an attorney and Chief Judge U.S. District Court for Southern District of Ohio starting in 1969. ACBL president 1971, chairman of Board 1972. Member ACBL Board of Directors 1966-73, ACBL Honorary Member 1981. His vote as ACBL president broke a 12-12 tie and sent ACBL Headquarters from Greenwich CT to Memphis TN.
Ethel Keohane (Mrs. William H.) (1901-1995) of Wellesley Hills MA. Keohane served as the secretary of the Eastern MA Bridge Association for 18 years, as assistant chairman of the Goodwill Committee for many years, and was on the executive board of the New England B.C. Keohane got her start in bridge because her husband Bill played duplicate regularly and she decided to find out why he found it so enchanting. She bought a Culbertson book, studied it and ventured forth into duplicate in 1939. Keohane was Life Master #151 and the leading masterpoint holder in the New England states at the time of her death. In 1981, at the age of 80, Keohane survived a brutal car accident that killed her partner, Ida Bennett. Although practically every bone in her body was broken and she was not expected to live, she somehow managed to pull through. She was told she would never walk again, but after months of exercise and going through physical rehabilitation she regained the use of her legs. In 1982 she was named the ACBL Honorary Member. Keohane won two North American championships.
One of the world’s foremost bridge columnists, authors and analysts, Alfred (Freddy) Sheinwold is best known for a writing career that spanned nearly seven decades. But the champion player and famed international team captain had many other credits inside and outside the world of bridge.
Sheinwold was a Laws expert who served as chairman of the ACBL Laws Commission and of the Appeals Committee at North American Championships.
He was chairman of the ACBL Board of Governors in the early Seventies and was named ACBL Honorary Member in 1983.
Sheinwold wrote more than a dozen books as well as a series of Pocket Book of Bridge Quizzes.
He achieved fame as a lecturer and speaker with acclaim from many groups, including bridge teachers’ associations and the ACBL Intermediate/Novice program.
He was a storyteller and raconteur without peer. A real audience pleaser, he had an amazing memory and an endless file of entertaining talks and anecdotes.
Of Sheinwold’s many popular books, the most successful, 5 Weeks to Winning Bridge, has gone through many editions and sold more than a million copies.
During World War II, he was chief code and cipher expert of the Office of Strategic Services. For a decade in the Forties and Fifties he was a singer with the Cantata Singers.
His writing and editing background is awesome, dating back to the Culbertson era, when he was technical editor, managing editor and senior editor of The Bridge World magazine. He was editor-in-chief of Autobridge since 1938.
He was editor of the ACBL Bulletin and edited the NABC Daily Bulletins.
He was the longtime bridge editor of The Los Angeles Times, was a contributing editor of Popular Bridge, and was the syndicated bridge and backgammon columnist for the Los Angeles Times Syndicate.
Sheinwold was a top-ranked player until he retired from competition. He won the Chicago (now the Reisinger) in 1958 and the Men’s Teams in 1964. He was second in the Vanderbilt in 1958 and the Chicago in 1959. He also won numerous regional championships.
Sheinwold’s partnership, friendship and collaboration with Edgar Kaplan is legendary. The two co-invented the Kaplan-Sheinwold system, which features the weak notrump and other features still widely played in tournament bridge.
Sheinwold was non-playing captain of the 1975 Bermuda Bowl team when two Italian players were caught sending foot signals during play.
Sheinwold strongly felt that his American team should not continue in the tournament unless the offenders were ejected, but he was overruled by ACBL officials.
The Americans lost to the Italians. Ten years later, after the rift with ACBL brass was repaired, Sheinwold captained another American team in the Bermuda Bowl world championships in Saõ Paulo, Brazil — this time they won.
Born in London England in 1912, Sheinwold lived in New York and graduated from City College of New York in 1933. He became associated with the Culbertson organization about that time — and that’s when one of the most remarkable careers in American bridge got under way.
Solomon (Sol) Seidman (1909-1995) of Brooklyn NY was a social studies teacher and bridge lecturer, educated at NYU and City College of NY. ACBL Honorary Member 1984. Co-chairman NABC Appeals Committee for many years, served on Board of Directors 1974-84. Former president of District 24, associated with Greater New York BA from 1952, held every major office. Chairman of board of GNYBA in 1984, succeeding Ira Zippert, who succeeded Seidman as District 24 director. Diamond Life Master, won just about every title at sectional and regional tournaments in NY area, New Jersey and Philadelphia, including von Zedtwitz Teams, Goldman Pairs and Eastern States KO Teams.
When you saw Dave Treadwell at a tournament, it was wise to prepare yourself to suffer through — or enjoy, depending on your taste — a bad joke.
The tournament veteran was notorious for his seemingly endless store of puns and gags that he managed to relate in perfectly deadpan fashion. Despite Treadwell’s reputation, you often didn’t know you’d been had until you heard the punch line.
There were, however, a couple of serious sides to Treadwell, a retired chemical engineer.
First, as an expert bridge player, the Wilmington DE resident maintained the solemn view that it was his obligation to take as many tricks as possible when at the bridge table. In so doing, he earned the rank of Grand Life Master (with more than 20,000 masterpoints) and represented the U.S. in international competition on several occasions.
Second, Treadwell was quite serious when it came to serving the bridge community. His dedication earned him accolades as ACBL Honorary Member of the Year in 1985. He also has a place in the Hall of Fame as the 1998 winner of the Blackwood Award as an ACBL member who contributed to bridge outside of bridge-playing expertise.
Treadwell served as chairman of the ACBL Board of Governors from 1979 through 1981 and was co-chairman of the ACBL Appeals Committee from 1975 to 1991. He was a past-president of Unit 190 (Delaware) and of District 4.
When Treadwell first started playing, few had even heard of contract bridge. The game he played as a youngster growing up in New Jersey was known as auction bridge.
It all started when, at the age of 15, Treadwell was recruited as a fourth. He was immediately smitten. By the time he enrolled at MIT in Cambridge MA in 1929, contract bridge had taken off, and Treadwell liked it even better than auction.
“I avidly read the Culbertson Blue Book on bidding,” Treadwell said. “I knew it by heart.”
As he became better and better at bridge, Treadwell found himself at the same bridge clubs as some of the future stars of the game, including Billy Seamon, Billy’s sister, Edith (now Freilich), and Sidney Silodor.
One of Treadwell’s biggest thrills came in a game against the legendary Oswald Jacoby. Early on in one deal, Treadwell bared a king behind Jacoby, who didn’t believe the unknown Treadwell was good enough to do it. When Jacoby took the finesse and went down, he was furious.
“I was just a squirt,” recalled Treadwell, “but that’s the thrill of bridge. Any player can get a good board against an expert.”
Naturally competitive, Treadwell always played in the top event for which he was eligible. He liked the mental stimulation.
When not playing bridge, Treadwell spent his time playing blackjack and working on the “magic rectangle” — a figure composed entirely of squares of different sizes. The minimum number of squares is nine, with only one possibility. With 10 squares, there are more possibilities, and so on. Treadwell developed magic rectangles with up to 15 squares — about 2500 — using a computer and a mathematical formula.
Treadwell won hundreds of regional championships to go with two major titles — the North American Swiss Teams in 1982 and the Master Mixed Teams in 1985.
ROVERE, Ernest (Ernie) (1906-2000) of Carmel CA was a journalist, author and director of Contract Bridge Cruises. A bridge editor for the San Francisco Chronicle, a bridge columnist for the San Francisco Call Bulletin for 23 years and commentator on radio and TV bridge programs, Rovere conducted one of longest running TV bridge programs, 32 weeks on 2 PBS stations with 12,000 students. A pioneer in changing rules and laws restricting blacks and Jews from being included in the bridge community, he served as member of the ACBL Board of Directors from 1957-1960. He was a contributing editor to Bridge Encyclopedia and the author of Leads, Signals and Discards, Modern Point-Count Contract Bridge, Contract Bridge Complete. Rovere won the Master Mixed Teams in 1955, was named Life Master #100 in 1948, and was the ACBL Honorary Member in 1986.
Kathie Wei-Sender, a three-time world champion and a tireless promoter of bridge, was the 1999 recipient of the Blackwood Award for service to the game outside of contributions as a player. The award was made on the vote of the ACBL Bridge Hall of Fame committee.
Born in Beijing (then Peking), China , Wei-Sender is a graduate of the Shanghai University School of Nursing. She arrived in the U.S. in 1949 and worked as a medical facility administrator for 15 years before retiring in 1972.
Although a U.S. citizen, Wei-Sender still visits China regularly and is the only American to hold minister rank in China . She is the official adviser to the Chinese Bridge League. She often leads trips to China for tournaments.
Wei-Sender took up bridge while she was married to the late C.C. Wei, a shipping magnate who invented the Precision bidding system. In 1971, she was co-captain and manager of the bridge team from Taiwan that surprised the bridge world by making it to the final of the Bermuda Bowl. She assumed the same role for Taiwan’s team in the 1972 Olympiad. C.C. Wei died in 1987. Kathie married Henry Sender of Nashville in 1992.
The official Ambassador of Bridge for the World Bridge Federation, Wei-Sender was named ACBL’s Honorary Member in 1987. She was named Bridge Personality of the Year by the International Bridge Press Association in 1986.
Although the Blackwood honor is for contributions outside of bridge play, Wei-Sender has accomplished much as a player. The Grand Life Master (with more than 16,000 masterpoints as of 8/2007) has won three major world women’s titles — the world Women’s Pairs in 1978, the Women’s Olympiad Teams in 1984 and the Venice Cup in 1987. She was on the second-place team in the Venice Cup in 1981 and 1985 and was runner-up in the world Women’s Pairs in 1990. She and Juanita Chambers were seventh in the world Women’s Pairs in Lille, France, in 1998.
Along with her world championships, Wei-Sender has won numerous North American titles, including the Women’s Knockout Teams, the Women’s Board-a-Match Teams and the North American Women’s Swiss Teams. In open competition, she has three seconds in the Vanderbilt Knockout Teams.
In between tournaments, Wei-Sender has served as a member of the ACBL National Charity Committee (former trustee and president), and an adviser to the ACBL Educational Foundation. She also served as member of the National Goodwill committee.
Wei-Sender has written for the Bridge Bulletin, contributing a series of articles on business leaders who play bridge, among other articles. She has also co-authored two bridge books — Action for the Defense and One Club Complete — and served as editor of Precision Today. Her autobiography is entitled Second Daughter. Her latest book is about Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping, who was a bridge enthusiast.
Victor Mitchell learned bridge as a teenager growing up in Brooklyn. By the age of 20, he was running a 24-hour-a-day money bridge club. In his prime, he was flamboyant and cocky when he needed to be — and he knew all the tricks of the trade.
When Mitchell died at the age of 71 in January of 1995, bridge lost one of its most colorful characters — a champion player, bridge philosopher, mentor to the stars.
“For more than 30 years,” said bridge star Ron Andersen in 1994, “Vic has been the expert’s mentor from coast to coast. His unknown contributions to the world of tournament bridge are far greater than those of better known people.”
Mitchell grew up in a rough and tumble neighborhood. His friendship with a policeman led him to discover bridge — the beginning of a love affair that lasted his whole life.
A Grand Life Master with more than 10,000 masterpoints, Mitchell won five North American championships and represented the United States in international competition several times. His major titles include the Spingold Knockout Teams (1956 and 1959), the Life Master Men’s Pairs (1962) and the Men’s Teams (1962 and 1963).
He finished second in the 1964 World team Olympiad and was runner-up in the World Mixed Teams, playing with his wife Jacqui, Sam and Tubby Stayman and Jimmy Cayne.
Mitchell’s expertise at the table was sometimes overshadowed by the stories told by him and about him. Jacqui, Victor’s wife of 35 years, figures that if she had written down the various tales, “I could easily fill a book.”
Mitchell’s second win in the Spingold Knockout Teams (1959) was especially significant because the win guaranteed his team an appearance in the World Bridge Olympiad the following year.
On the last deal of the Spingold, Mitchell found himself in 3NT redoubled. The critical suit was clubs, and at one point Mitchell played the queen from dummy, covered by his right-hand opponent with the king.
Mitchell, who felt sure of the layout of the cards, followed low and said, as his LHO played the singleton ace, “My first Olympiad.” Mitchell’s team won by 1 IMP.
Another story involved the legendary Ira Rubin, sometimes referred to as “The Beast.” Mitchell and Rubin were opponents in a rubber-bridge game when Rubin blasted into 6NT, which Mitchell doubled.
“Redouble!” said Rubin with typical force.
“Ira,” said Mitchell, “you can’t do that.”
“I said, ’Redouble.’ ” was Rubin’s reply. “I have my bids.”
“Ira,” said Mitchell, who was on lead, “I’ve got three aces.”
Mitchell was included as a real character in three bridge mystery books written by Matthew Granovetter, one of Mitchell’s protégés and a lifelong admirer. “If I had to play for my life,” Granovetter said, “I would choose Vic as my partner. It’s not even close.”
Mitchell didn’t play much in his later years, but he was usually on hand at NABCs to see his friends and give advice.
Mitchell claimed that he never played bridge for glory or prestige. “The people,” he said, “are more important than the bridge. I’ve met some of the most fantastic people playing bridge. I’ve had a ball.
Dan Morse (b. 1938) is a native of Houston TX and a retired pharmacist. He has served on the ACBL Board for more than 15 years representing District 16. He was ACBL President in 2008. Morse has also served as a zonal representative and honorary secretary for the WBF. As a player, Morse has won 10 NABC titles including all four major team events (the Spingold, the Vanderbilt, the Reisinger and the top flight GNT). He has represented the U.S. in a number of world championships and was on the winning World Senior Team in 2000.
“Bridge is a hobby for me,” says George Rosenkranz, causing one to wonder what heights he would have attained had he taken the game seriously.
Such an understatement seems unjustified from someone whose list of accomplishments in the game is staggering. An ACBL Grand Life Master with more than 13,000 masterpoints, Rosenkranz has 11 NABC titles: Vanderbilt Knockout Teams (1975 and 1976); Spingold Knockout Teams (1976 and 1984); Grand National Teams (1981); Men’s B-A-M Teams (1984 and 1987); Reisinger B-A-M Teams (1985); Master Mixed Teams (1990); North American Swiss Teams (1990); Men’s Swiss Teams (1991).
Born in Hungary in 1916, Rosenkranz earned his Ph.D. in organic chemistry in Zurich, Switzerland. His plans of accepting a teaching position in Ecuador in 1941 were changed by the outbreak of World War II, stranding him en route in Havana, Cuba. There he worked as a research chemist and later as a scientific director of a large pharmaceutical company until 1945.
After the war, Rosenkranz accepted a position in Mexico City, where he founded Syntex Corporation. He led the company’s research team to important discoveries, namely the synthesis of cortisone and the development of birth control pills.
Rosenkranz remained in Mexico and became the leading Mexican player and theorist. He has represented his adopted country in dozens of world championship events since the early Sixties. He represented North America in the Bermuda Bowl in 1983, and reached the semifinals. Rosenkranz was Mexico’s first Life Master and is a WBF World Master.
The story of Rosenkranz’s career is not complete without mentioning his wife, Edith. Edith is originally from Vienna. She and George met in Havana in 1942 and were married in 1945, a short time before leaving for Mexico.
“My favorite partner is my wife,” says George. “We have been married 54 years. She is the most wonderful thing that happened in my life.”
The couple has three children and seven grandchildren. Edith Rosenkranz has been Mexico’s top woman player for years and has represented Mexico in many world championship events.
Rosenkranz learned to play bridge from Culbertson’s Blue Book. “I’d beat my parents for allowance money,” he says mischievously.
Rosenkranz took a break from bridge during the early years in Mexico, but returned to the game at a regional in Fort Worth in the mid-Fifties. “There I found my mentor, John Gerber.”
Rosenkranz developed the Romex system in response to the success of the Italian Blue Team in world-level events. “Our bidding methods were inferior to theirs, so I decided to develop a system that would put us on more equal footing. At first, the pros in the U.S. didn’t want to invest the time to learn it, so I had to prove to myself that it was workable.”
Rosenkranz’s record speaks for the success of his methods. Along the way he managed to attract some of the best and brightest players to his cause. His best-known partnerships include those with Eddie Wold, Mike Passell, Roger Bates and Miguel Reygadas.
Rosenkranz was the non-playing captain of both Mexican teams in 1964 and of a team in the USBC in 1984. He placed 3rd in the Bermuda Bowl 1983. He’s an ACBL Honorary Member 1990 and an ACBL Grand Life Master with more than 17,000 MPs as of 2/2008.
He established the Rosenkranz Award for the International Bridge Press Association in 1975, won the Precision Award 1976. Rosenkranz’s writings include contributions to the ACBL Bridge Bulletin and other bridge periodicals. He has authored 10 bridge books including The Romex System of Bidding, Win with Romex, Bid Your Way to the Top, Trump Leads, Tips for Tops, More Tips for Tops, Bridge: The Bidders Game, also Modern Ideas in Bidding, Bidding on Target with Alan Truscott and Bid to Win, Play for Pleasure with Phillip Alder. He invented dynamic notrump, Mexican two diamonds and Rosenkranz doubles.
In a career that spans more than 40 years, Bob Hamman collected nearly every accolade available. He has been the No. 1 player in World Bridge Federation rankings since 1985, has won nine world championships, dozens of North American titles, and he was the first person to earn ACBL Player of the Year honors twice.
The only gap in his resume was that he had not been elected to the ACBL Bridge Hall of Fame. The reason: he wasn’t old enough.
When the Hall of Fame was resurrected by the ACBL Board of Directors in 1994, the ground rules for election were that living members had to be at least 60. Hamman reached that milestone in 1998 and was an automatic choice for the Hall in his first year of eligibility.
One of the qualities that secured Hamman’s place among the legends of the game is a relentless drive to be the best. Former partner Bobby Wolff still regards Hamman as possibly the best analyst in the history of the game.
Even top experts marvel at Hamman’s mental toughness, manifested most prominently in his unparalleled ability to leave hands already played completely in the past. Even Hamman, generally loath to toot his own horn, is proud of that quality.
In his book, Michael Rosenberg talks about playing with Hamman in the Open Pairs at the World Bridge Championship in Albuquerque in 1994. Rosenberg recounts how he misplayed a 5 contract and went down, costing the pair first place. Rosenberg marvels at how, after the game, Hamman eschewed recriminations, focusing instead on a deep analytical point in the play involving the spade spots.
Hamman did the same thing in an article he wrote for the now-defunct BOLS Bridge Tips competition. In the piece, Hamman rakes himself over the coals for something that never happened. The occasion was the 1991 team trials. Hamman and Wolff opposed Richard Pavlicek and Bill Root late in the final.
Against a 4♥ contract, Hamman led the ♦10 from a doubleton. He got in at trick two and led his other diamond. Wolff came in at trick four but did not immediately return a diamond for Hamman to ruff. After the deal was over (Hamman did get his ruff), Hamman discussed his state of mind while waiting for Wolff to play. He criticized himself for not thinking about another way to defeat the contract — there was one — had Wolff not returned the diamond. Hamman looked at the deal as a great lesson hand in keeping one’s eye on the ball.
Today, Hamman is the very busy owner of a prize promotion business in Dallas.
It has been a long time since a young Bob Hamman made the rounds of the rubber-bridge clubs of the Los Angeles area, knocking heads with the best players of his day.
Along the way to the pinnacle, Hamman has been a member of the fabled Aces, the first full-time professional bridge team in the world; has won more than 30 North American championships and nine world titles; has been second many more times than he cares to think about; has been named ACBL Honorary Member of the Year (1991) and has become a WBF Grand Master and an ACBL Grand Master.
Hamman was inducted into the ACBL Hall of Fame in July 1999 in San Antonio TX.
BEAN, Percy X. (1916-1992) of Olympia WA was a wholesale hardware business owner. He was very active in his community where he was known as a businessman, fund raiser, and civic leader. He was the first recipient of Olympia’s Man of the Year award in 1968. He was on the ACBL Board from 1964-1988, ACBL President in 1972, chairman of the board in 1973, president of the Charity Foundation from 1974-1981, a member of the National Goodwill Committee and the Board of Governors, as well as president of his unit and the general chairman of arrangements for the World Team Olympiad in Seattle in 1984. Bean and his wife, Anne, were elected ACBL Honorary Members in 1992, this was the first time that honor was bestowed on a husband-wife combination. Bean was the editor of Mad, Mad World of Bridge, a publication strongly championing players of less than expert class.
Edgar Kaplan did virtually everything in bridge. The New Yorker established himself as a player, writer, analyst, commentator and administrator. He won NABC titles in each of the last five decades of his life. Even with those shining credentials, he considered bridge a great leveler.
“Bridge is one of my pleasures,” commented Kaplan, former editor and publisher of The Bridge World, “but bridge teaches you how to endure misery.”
Kaplan won his first Vanderbilt title in 1953. “I started to get up, but my knees were weak. I realized then that I had been under pressure after all.”
His greatest thrill was the 1983 Reisinger victory with Oswald Jacoby — plus regular teammates Norman Kay, Bill Root and Richard Pavlicek.
Kaplan, Kay, Root and Pavlicek had played always as a foursome, but they invited Jacoby, a man they admired for his past feats and for his strength and courage in battling cancer, to join their team.
“When I was a young man he played a lot with me. Jake was very good to me when I was a kid. We’d been friends a long time and I’d played on teams with him before, but I hadn’t played as a partner with Ozzie in 30 years.”
Kaplan and Jacoby, along with Root and Pavlicek, played the first final session and led the field with 23 wins out of a possible 33. Jacoby sat out the second final session and his teammates scored 18 wins — and claimed the victory. Jacoby died the following year.
Kaplan served as chief commentator for World Bridge Federation championships for more than a decade and was well-known for his wit. Here are some samples of his sometimes-biting commentary as a vugraph panelist.
4*H* is a very good bid — but on some other hand.
North doubled 4*H* to tell himself what to lead.
Mahmood gave himself some very good advice when he said STOP, but he paid no attention.
He may bid and he may not. I believe that covers all possibilities.
Kaplan was perhaps the world’s greatest authority on the laws of duplicate and rubber bridge. He served as co-chairman of the ACBL Laws Commission for many years and was a member of the WBF Laws Commission.
In 1979 Kaplan was named Bridge Personality of the Year, a worldwide honor presented by the International Bridge Press Association. He was selected the ACBL Honorary Member for 1993.
He represented District 24 (the New York City area) on the ACBL Board of Directors for many years.
He was a former partner of the Card School of New York and the co-inventor of the Kaplan-Sheinwold system — Kaplan and frequent partner Norman Kay listed “Timid K-S” as their general approach on their convention cards.
Their results belie the “timid” designation — they won six Vanderbilts, two Spingolds and eight Reisingers. In addition, Kaplan and Kay won the Life Master Men’s Pairs in 1973 and the Blue Ribbon Pairs in 1974.
Kaplan was a Grand Life Master with more than 13,500 masterpoints. He won the McKenney Trophy (now the Barry Crane Top 500) in 1957.
Richard L. Goldberg, who died in 1999 at age 76, was a major figure in North American and world bridge for many years. At the world level he was a member of the Committee of Honor of the World Bridge Federation (WBF). He served the WBF as treasurer and finance officer from 1981 to 1990. He was elected a member of the WBF Executive Committee in 1972 and served on that board until 1984.
At the North American level, Goldberg began his career as a tournament director in 1959, rising to national tournament director in 1961. The ACBL drafted him for work as tournament division head in the New York City office in 1963, and he switched to Greenwich, Connecticut, when the ACBL moved there. In 1965 he became assistant to Alvin Landy, the executive secretary. He served in this post under Landy and later under Easley Blackwood until he took over as chief executive officer in 1971.
Goldberg faced a monumental task during his first year as CEO. The board of directors voted to move ACBL headquarters from Greenwich to Memphis, Tennessee. The task was accomplished in December 1972, when the ACBL headquarters building was completed.
Goldberg was named the ACBL’s Honorary Member in 1994. He was a member of the ACBL Laws Commission and the ACBL Goodwill Committee. He was also a good bridge player, achieving the rank of Life Master with several regional championships to his credit.
He retired as CEO in 1984 and moved shortly thereafter to Nashville, where he was born and where he earned a bachelor of science degree in engineering at Vanderbilt University. He worked as a civil engineer for 15 years before turning to bridge as a player and then as a director.
After announcing his retirement, Goldberg said his most satisfying moments in bridge came during his time as a tournament director. “Then I was working directly with the members,” Goldberg said, “and there is no substitute for being around people, understanding them, talking to them.”
On Goldberg’s death, Roy G. Green, former ACBL CEO, recalled Goldberg as “a wonderful human being who left his mark on the American Contract Bridge League. The people who worked with him loved him and respected him as an outstanding leader and a friend.”
Tommy Sanders of Nashville, former ACBL President and former District Director for District 10, remembered Goldberg as “my friend for 50 years — we were always close. He always gave me encouragement when I was on the Board of Directors. I loved him like a brother.”
Henry Francis, whom Goldberg hired as editor of The Bridge Bulletin in 1972, also called Goldberg one of his closest friends. “I never worked for Dick — we always worked together. He was one of the kindest men I ever knew. His son said it best at the funeral services: ‘He was a gentleman and a gentle man.’”
At the age of 12, Bobby Wolff watched his parents playing bridge on a four-day train trip to Chicago from their home in San Antonio TX . He was fascinated. Soon the youngster was an avid player himself. At the time, he had no aspirations in bridge beyond the next game.
More tha sixty years later, Wolff can look back on a career in which he has reached the top as a player and as an administrator.
Wolff, who now lives in Las Vegas, has won numerous North American Championships and nine world titles — including six Bermuda Bowls. He is the only player to have won world championships at four different levels — Open Pairs, Bermuda Bowl, Team Olympiad and Mixed Teams.
An original member of the Aces — the first professional team to win a world championship — Wolff is a Grand Life Master with both the ACBL and the World Bridge Federation. He is also the author of a syndicated bridge column carried by hundreds of newspapers.
His record as an administrator has been just as spectacular. Wolff, intimately involved in bridge politics for more than 25 years, has served as an ACBL Board member, as president of the ACBL and as president of the World Bridge Federation.
Wolff is the creator of the ACBL’s Active Ethics program, and he originated the idea of the recorder system in bridge.
His other contributions to bridge include development of the Wolff Signoff convention.
Wolff credits Ira Corn Jr., the founder of the Aces bridge team, with getting him into politics. Corn had served on the ACBL Board of Directors for three terms. He had decided to step down and wanted Wolff, an original member of the Aces, to succeed him.
At first Wolff was reluctant, but he finally gave in to Corn’s urging, viewing the political arena as “a new challenge.” Wolff represented District 16 on the Board until 1992, when he became president of the WBF.
Wolff reflects that his presidency of the WBF came about as a compromise appointment when former WBF President Denis Howard resigned. “Timing,” say Wolff, “is so important.”
Wolff considers his election to the Hall of Fame with Edgar Kaplan and Alvin Roth somewhat ironic. As a 19-year old attending the 1953 Fall NABC in Dallas, young Wolff was in awe of Roth, who was already a star in the bridge world.
After the NABC, Roth visited San Antonio to coach a married couple, and Wolff remembers Roth declaring that one could not become a top player “without the experience of playing in tough rubber bridge games in New York for stakes you can’t afford” — as was the case with Roth and Kaplan.
Wolff never got the rubber bridge experience, but his tournament record — he’s been on the winning team in the Spingold and Reisinger two straight years — speaks for itself.
His Hall of Fame election, Wolff says, “is very very gratifying. My heart goes out to a lot of people who are every bit as talented as I am.”
Wolff and his regular partner at the time of Wolff’s induction into the Hall of Fame, Bob Hamman, formed one of the world’s best and most enduring partnerships. The two anchored the squad which won the Spingold Knockout Team and Reisinger B-A-M Teams in 1993 and 1994.
Aileen Osofsky, ACBL Goodwill Committee chair for more than two decades and one of the ACBL’s most influential voices for promotion of friendly behavior at the bridge table, received the Blackwood Award and was inducted into the ACBL Bridge Hall of Fame in 2009.
Osofsky was known as the Queen of Goodwill because she led by example. Fittingly, the surprise announcement that Osofsky had received the Blackwood Award came during the Goodwill Committee meeting at the 2009 Spring NABC in Houston. The normally loquacious Osofsky was left almost speechless when Steve Robinson told the assembly of the award, given to a person for contributions to bridge without necessarily being a top player. She may not have qualified as a world-class competitor, but those who knew her agree she had no peer as a Goodwill ambassador for bridge.
At the induction ceremony, her son Alan noted, “Although she isn’t the best player, she has done as much for the game as anyone.”
In her 25 years of service as Goodwill chair, Osofsky never stopped trying to convince ACBL members that friendly demeanor at the bridge table is good for everyone.
Carol Sanders along with her husband Tommy were co-recipients of the von Zedtwitz Award, which recognizes contributions to bridge through bridge-playing expertise or contributions to the game outside their area of bridge expertise.
The Sanders, affectionately known by their friends as Mama and Papa Bear, were married in 1956. They have six children and 14 grandchildren.
Carol and Tommy are longtime ACBL Grand Life Masters. Carol is a World Bridge Federation Grand Master. She won the Venice Cup in 1974 and 1976, the World Women’s Pairs in 1982 and the Women’s Team Olympiad in 1984. In addition, she was the non-playing captain of the winning Venice Cup team in 1987. She has won numerous North American championships.
The Sanders were co-panelists for The Bridge World’s “Master Solvers’ Forum” for more than 30 years.
Carol and Tommy have traveled extensively for bridge. They won the Israeli Swiss Team Championship in 1986, the Taipei Bridge Week Championship in 1979, the Beijing International Friendship Cup in 1986 and the Beijing Ambassador’s Cup in 1987.
Carol was also a trustee of the ACBL Charity Foundation from 1989 to 1997 and has been a vice chairman of the ACBL Goodwill Committee since the Eighties.
Tommy Sanders along with his wife Carol were co-recipients of the von Zedtwitz Award, which recognizes contributions to bridge through bridge-playing expertise or contributions to the game outside their area of bridge expertise.
The Sanders, affectionately known by their friends as Mama and Papa Bear, were married in 1956. They have six children and 14 grandchildren.
Tommy and Carol are longtime ACBL Grand Life Masters. Tommy, npc of the 1981 Bermuda Bowl champions, has several high finishes in international competition. He was second in the 1994 World Senior Teams. He won the 1981 Cavendish Invitational Pairs (with longtime partner Lou Bluhm). He and Bill Pollack won the Romex Award, presented by the International Bridge Press Association, for the Best Bid Hand of 1992-1993. Tommy has also collected numerous North American titles.
He is a traditional jazz buff and has co-produced Dixieland jazz albums as a labor of love.
Tommy and his wife were co-panelists for The Bridge World’s “Master Solvers’ Forum” for more than 30 years.
The couple has traveled extensively for bridge. They won the Israeli Swiss Team Championship in 1986, the Taipei Bridge Week Championship in 1979, the Beijing International Friendship Cup in 1986 and the Beijing Ambassador’s Cup in 1987.
Tommy represented District 10 on the ACBL Board of Directors from 1980 to 1989. He served as ACBL president in 1986 and as chairman of the Board in 1987.
Tommy was instrumental in establishing the ACBL Educational Foundation — he was president for the first five years of its existence. Tommy is often given credit for the idea of the foundation but he set the record straight. “Buddy Spiegel, who was then working at ACBL headquarters, told me about his idea back in January of 1986. I had enough sense to listen to him and I became the moving force to get the foundation going.”
Tommy is now president emeritus of the foundation.
One of the most popular and capable personages to ever grace the ACBL family is Bulletin Editor Emeritus Henry Francis. As a teenager in the early 1940s living in Massachusetts, he embarked upon two careers that for six decades would enrich his own life as well as others with whom he came into contact.
One endeavor was bridge (as a player, tournament reporter, club director and owner, and ACBL tournament director at the sectional, regional and national level). The other was as a journalist.
According to his dear friend and well-loved Co-Editor Emeritus, Sue Emery, “It was pure serendipity when these two careers came together in 1972. The Boston Herald was folding, and the ACBL was moving to Memphis and needed an editor for the Bulletin. Henry brought his considerable knowledge, great experience, talent and boundless enthusiasm to the job.”
During his years in Memphis, he edited the monthly ACBL magazine, three editions of The Official Encyclopedia of Bridge, many editions of the World Championship Book, World Championship Bulletins and Daily Bulletins at the North American Bridge Championships for more than 30 years. His association with the World Championships attracted the attention of the world bridge press. Soon thereafter, he was invited to serve in several capacities by both the International Bridge Press Association and the World Bridge Federation.
Henry still can be seen playing in the local and nearby tournaments, an occasional ACBL event and in the weekly Memphis duplicates where he ran his own Thursday night game for many years. Despite the passage of much time, his interest in the game has not diminished, and the mutual love affair between Henry Francis and the world of bridge continues to flourish.
It should certainly come as no surprise that Bobby Goldman was selected for induction to the ACBL Bridge Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility. A stellar career, Goldman had many accolades and made even more contributions to the game along with multiple victories.
Goldman’s tournament record is impressive. He earned four world titles (the Bermuda Bowl in 1970, 1971 and 1979 and the World Mixed Teams in 1972) and 19 North American championships: the Life Master Men’s Pairs (1964); the Life Master Pairs (1968); the Open B-A-M Teams (1993); the Men’s Teams (1968, 1989 and 1991); the Spingold Knockout Teams (1969, 1978, 1983, 1986 and 1988); the Reisinger B-A-M Teams (1970, 1976 and 1980); the Vanderbilt Knockout Teams (1971, 1973, 1978, 1997 and 1998). Goldman also had 13 second-place finishes in NABC events. He won both the pair and the team events at the 1977 Pan-American Invitational Championships.
At the time of his induction into the Hall of Fame, Goldman was an ACBL Grand Life Master with more than 25,700 masterpoints, and ranked ninth on the all-time list of masterpoint holders. He was also a WBF World Grand Master.
Goldman authored several books on the game, including Aces Scientific and Winners and Losers at the Bridge Table. His contributions to bidding theory include Super Gerber, Kickback, Exclusion Blackwood and Goldman after Stayman. He was one of the principal architects of the Aces Scientific System.
Goldman served as ACBL recorder from 1986–1988 and was a longtime member of the Competitions and Conventions Committee. His views on the game helped shape the modern-day Alert procedure, the ACBL convention chart, ethics and the appeals process.
Goldman was honored by the ACBL by being named the 1999 Honorary Member, presented for long and meritorious service to bridge.
Goldman’s early career was distinguished by his association with the now-famous Aces, the professional, Texas-based team created by businessman Ira Corn for the purpose of winning world bridge championships. Goldman was a member of the successful squad until 1974.
Goldman enjoyed a 25-year-long partnership with fellow expert Paul Soloway. The pair won several NABC events as well as countless regionals. Despite the fact that Soloway’s services were acquired by the team of Nick Nickell, Goldman and Soloway still played regularly and created somewhat of an online following with their popular “Goldway” matches on OKbridge. Goldman advocated promoting the game through online play.
Chip Martel began playing bridge seriously while in high school in Urbana IL. He was fortunate to be near the University of Illinois campus where they had good campus games and several strong players willing to help him improve.
Later, Martel studied computer science — and bridge — at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, earning a B.S. in 1975. In 1980, he earned a Ph.D. from University of California at Berkeley where he met his wife, Jan, and great long-time partner, Lew Stansby.
In 1981, Martel won his first North American title, the Reisinger Board-a-Match Teams, with Stansby. The following year they won their first world title, the Open Pairs, and also finished second in the Rosenblum teams (fittingly, Martell Cognac sponsored the tournament). Subsequently, Martel and Stansby won four additional world championships and more than 20 North American titles together. Martel has also won NABC titles with Jan, Zia, Kit Woolsey and Eric Rodwell.
After playing with Stansby for 35 years, Martel recently started a new partnership with his old friend Marty Fleisher.
Martel served as captain and coach of the world champion Junior team in 1991 and was coach of the world champion Senior team in 2005. He is also the chair of the ACBL Laws Commission, a member of the World Bridge Federation Laws and System Committees and was on the drafting committee for the 1997 laws. Additionally, he won the Bols Tip Competition and was named ACBL Honorary Member in 2000.
Before he retired in 2013, Martel was a professor of computer science at the University of California at Davis. He helped found the computer science department there and served as one of its first department chairs. In the 1985-86 academic year, he achieved a rare double of winning a world championship and achieving tenure. He continues to work at the college as an emeritus professor.
A favorite hobby is refining his bidding system (“Chip abhors a bid without a meaning,” friends say) and devising defenses to methods played most commonly outside the United States. Other hobbies include reading (mostly science fiction and mysteries) and bicycling.
Martel has one step-son, Rick, and two grandchildren, Maya and Eli (neither plays bridge yet).
JOHNSON, Jane (1933-2000) of Memphis TN, former manager of ACBL Club Membership Department. Johnson worked on the fourth edition of Bridge Encyclopedia. She was a charter member and assistant manager of Parkway Village B.C. from early 1970s through 1982. She was editor of the Club Managers Newsletter. At NABC’s Johnson held the very popular and well attended “Coffee with Jane” for club managers.
When Jane Johnson died in 2000, the ACBL honored her by establishing the Jane Johnson Award, to be given annually to the ACBL employee who provided the best customer service. It was decided that the award would be dual – one for a staff member at Headquarters and one for a tournament director.
As a high school senior, Norman Kay was invited to play bridge with a friend and his family.
I’d love to,” was his reply, “but I don’t play bridge.”
“Oh, that’s no problem,” said the friend. “Come over a half-hour early and I’ll teach you.”
That 30-minute lesson paid dividends as Kay — one of ACBL’s top players for more than four decades — was inducted into the Bridge Hall of Fame in 1996.
Kay was named ACBL’s top performance player for the double decade 1957-1977.
Partnered by Sidney Silodor before his death in 1963 and later by Edgar Kaplan, Kay had 13 major wins in those 20 years: two Spingolds, four Vanderbilts, four Reisingers, one Blue Ribbon and two Open Pairs.
He was a World Bridge Federation Life Master who placed second in the Bermuda Bowl in 1961 and 1967, and second in the World Olympiad Teams in 1968 and third in 1960.
He also placed fifth in the World Open Pairs in 1982 and sixth in the Rosenblum Teams in 1986 and tenth in 1982.
An ACBL Grand Life Master with more than 12,500 masterpoints, Kay won the McKenney Trophy (now the Barry Crane Top 500) in 1955. His other North American championships are four additional wins in the Vanderbilt and the Reisinger.
He was also second in the Vanderbilt three times and the Spingold five times.
“I have been very fortunate,” said Kay. “My two regular partners were Sidney and Edgar, both super players.”
Super player Kaplan characterized Kay as “a very sensitive and caring partner. He is not only thinking about his own problems but about the problems partner may face — he’s taking care of partner.
“And if things go wrong — no matter how stupid I am, I feel this vast beam of love from the other side of the table and Norman says, ’How could you do anything else?’ “
“Kay,” said Kaplan, “has a very sweet nature — unusual in a bridge player. In fact, it sometimes seems that the opponents think Kay has made a defensive mistake or has decided to help declarer make the hand. It’s not true — Norman is very competitive — but because of his sweet nature, they think he just may be on their side.”
As a player, said Kaplan, Kay “is among the best I’ve ever seen.”
Kay may have sometimes been slow, Kaplan allowed, “but what soothes my stomach is that when Norman goes into a huddle, we’re usually about to win 10 IMPs.”
The two were partners for more than 40 years. “I chose Norman as a partner,” says Kaplan, “and I never let go. I don’t intend to.”
Kay was a retired stock broker who owned harness horses from 1970 to 1987. After his retirement he was in the baseball card business with wife Judy and son Larry.
Larry, Kay noted, “never took to bridge” while daughter Robin, who lives in New York , has been very active.
Kay was the author — with Silodor and Fred Karpin — of The Complete Book of Duplicate Bridge, published in 1965 and reprinted in 1993.
Although better known as the coach of the Nickell team, Eric Kokish has many accomplishments as a player. He has won two North American championships the Vanderbilt Knockout Teams and the Mens Board-a-Match Teams (now the Mitchell Open BAM). He won the Canadian National Team Championships (CNTC) five times. He has earned two silver medals in international play in the World Open Pairs in 1978 and the Bermuda Bowl in 1995 and has finished third three times in the Rosenblum Cup.
In 1980 Kokish won both the Bols Brilliancy Prize and the Romex Best Bid Hand Award. He has authored several conventions including the Kokish Relay and the Montreal Relay.
Away from the table and his coaching duties, Kokish manages to stay busy with other projects. For years, he was editor and writer of the world championship books produced by the World Bridge Federation. He is heavily involved in the experts publication, The Bridge World, serving as director of Master Solvers and Challenge the Champs.
For many years, he contributed a column in the ACBL Bridge Bulletin, Our Readers Ask. He is a former bridge columnist for the Montreal Gazette in his former home town, and the Toronto Star Syndicate. He is also a regular vugraph commentator at world championships.
Kokish got his first coaching gig in 1985, traveling to Brazil to try to mold a loose group of emotional Brazilians into a tight-knit bridge team. His efforts paid off when the underdog Brazilian team came within a hair of defeating the powerful American squad in the semifinal round of the Bermuda Bowl.
In the late Nineties, Kokish moved his family from Montreal to Jakarta, Indonesia. The government of that nation had talked him into a two-year contract to coach the national bridge team. Six months into the job, the political and economic situation in Indonesia had deteriorated to such an extent that they had to leave.
Fortunately, he had purchased a home in Toronto before moving to Indonesia, so he had somewhere to return to.
Kokish is a stickler for getting partnerships to concentrate on whats important. “The way they react and how they use their time is more important that what system they play,” he says.
Kokish enjoys coaching players with potential, and he gets a lot out of his job with the Nickell squad, although he acknowledges it can be taxing to try to get a relatively new partnership on the squad ” Bob Hamman and Zia Mahmood on the same page. Zia and Hamman are great players . . . from different planets.”
Mostly, Kokish says, “I really miss playing.”
Since the early Nineties, Frank (Nick) Nickell has been captain of one of the most successful and dominating teams in organized bridge. Nickell and company have won three Bermuda Bowls and earned the silver medal in two others.
The Nickell team practically owns the Spingold Knockout Teams, having won the event nine times since the squad was assembled. For many years, until his death in 2009, Richard Freeman was Nickell’s partner on the team.
Nickell has won other major championships, including the Cavendish Invitational Pairs and the Blue Ribbon Pairs, but he has also distinguished himself as a businessman and a behind-the-scenes supporter of the game he loves.
In nominating Nickell for the ACBL Honorary Member of the Year award for 2003, former ACBL President Joan Gerard said much of what Nickell does for bridge goes unnoticed because he doesn’t seek publicity. “He gives and gives,” Gerard said. “There isn’t anything he won’t do.”
Nickell is president and chief executive officer of Kelso & Company, a private equity investment firm. He lives in New York City. Nickell and his wife, Carol, have two sons – Joey and Thomas.
Sidney Lazard of New Orleans LA is an oil and gas producer. He is one of the most successful American players. He is a WBF World Life Master who placed 2nd in the Bermuda Bowl in 1959 and 3rd in 1969. Lazard was a member of the U.S. team World Team Olympiad in 1960. A Grand Life Master, Lazard won the Team Trials in 1968, the Spingold in 1958 and 1968; the Chicago (now the Reisinger) in 1960, the Vanderbilt in 1970 and 1994; Master Mixed Teams in 1963, 1977, 1978, 1979 and 1982; the Grand National Pairs in 1990. He placed 2nd in the Spingold in 1954, 1966 and 1973; the Vanderbilt in 1967, the Reisinger in 1968, 1969, 1975 and 1997; the Men’s Teams in 1954, 1956, 1961 and 1965; the Men’s Pairs in 1967; the Master Mixed Teams in 1961, the Mixed Pairs in 1959, the North American Men’s Swiss Teams in 1983, the Grand National Teams in 1987, the Open Pairs II in 1997.
Fred Gitelman(b .1965) was born in Toronto ON. He is a leading bridge player, as well as the founder and manager of Bridge Base Online, one of the most popular bridge playing sites. Gitelman was a member of the Canadian youth and later the open international teams before moving to Las Vegas NV. He resides there with his wife, Sheri, also a well-known bridge player. A WBF World Grand Master and ACBL Grand Life Master, Gitelman has won the Rosenblum Teams (2010), seven North American Bridge Championships, a gold medal in the 2002 IOC Grand Prix, and was runner-up in the 1995 Bermuda Bowl. In 2005, he was elected as the International Bridge Press Association’s Personality of the Year and as the ACBL Honorary Member.
Zia is one of the most colorful and recognizable personalities in the bridge world. He is a 14-time North American champion and four-time ACBL Player of the Year. As of October 2006, Zia was ranked 21st among all World Open Grand Masters.
Zia first came to the attention of the bridge world when he led his team from Pakistan to a silver medal in the most prestigious bridge event on the schedule — the Bermuda Bowl. The lightly regarded team came from nowhere to make the championship round of the tournament in Port Chester NY. Zia’s flair attracted immediate attention, and he was back in the limelight five years later in the Rosenblum Cup in Miami Beach. Playing four-handed and led again by Zia, the Pakistani team earned another silver medal in a world championship.
His reputation solidified, Zia started winning championships in North America. Playing with a wide variety of partners, he has earned an unprecedented four ACBL Player of the Year awards. The title is given to the ACBL member who earns the most masterpoints in national championships during a calendar year. Zia earned the accolade in 1991, 1996, 2000 and 2005. He has more than a dozen North American championships to his credit, including two victories in the Spingold Knockout Teams and the Vanderbilt Knockout Teams. He is a three-time winner of the Reisinger B-A-M Teams, one of the toughest events on the bridge calendar.
The ACBL Board of Directors selected Zia as Honorary Member of the Year in 2005. This top award is given to recognize a player’s long and meritorious service to the organization.
He is the author of “Bridge My Way,” an autobiography written in 1999. He has also hosted many television shows.
In recent years, Zia has settled down as a family man. He and Emma, his wife of five years (2007), have two sons. It doesn’t take much prodding to get Zia to talk at length about the pleasures of fatherhood and his life at home in London.
In late 2005, Zia turned his attention to his native Pakistan, which was devastated by an earthquake in October of that year. He spent much of the next 18 months or so in a fund-raising effort aimed at producing enough cash to build a school in one of the hardest-hit areas. He announced at the 2007 Spring NABC in St. Louis that sufficient funds had been raised to build that school.
Zeke Jabbour of Boca Raton FL is professional player, writer, cruise director and lecturer. Jabbour’s column “Winsome & Loathsome” appears monthly in the Bridge Bulletin, he is an “It’s Your Call” panelist, and a hand consultant for “Tall Tales and Short Stories”. In addition to his eight North American championships, Jabbour won the Barry Crane Top 500 and the Fishbein Trophy in 1989 and was the Senior Player of the Year in 1995.
John Sutherlin (1936-2017) of Dallas TX is a retired bank vice president. Sutherlin has served as co-chairman of the Ethical Oversight Committee 1999-2001, national recorder 1986-1996, and a member of the International Team trial Executive Committee 1999-2011. A WBF World International Master and Senior Life Master, Sutherlin won the World Senior Teams in 2000. Coincidentally, his wife also became a world champion that year when she won the World Women’s Olympiad. The Sutherlins won silver together in the World Mixed Pairs in 1982. In addition to John’s 11 North American titles, he has also won the Mott-Smith Trophy and the Fishbein Trophy. John and Peggy were the ACBL Honorary Members in 2008.
2014 Blackwood Award
Peggy Sutherlin of Dallas TX has arranged her life around bridge. Sutherlin, a retired flight attendant, says, “When I applied for the job, I told them I wanted to be a stewardess so I could go to bridge tournaments. The plan worked! I was a stewardess for 37 years.”
A Grand Life Master, Sutherlin has won nine North American titles including the GNT Championship Flight, the Women’s Board-a-Match, Women’s Knockout Teams, Women’s Swiss Teams and the Rockwell Mixed Pairs.
Sutherlin is also a world champion. She won gold in the Women’s Team Olympiad in Maastricht, the Netherlands in 2000. In fact, both Sutherlins were champions there – her husband John won the Transnational World Senior Teams crown. Her other successes at the world level include a second in the World Mixed Pairs with her husband, two fourths in the Venice Cup and a fourth in the Women’s Pairs.
Her service to bridge started when she worked for Ernie Rovere (journalist, author and director of bridge cruises). She has since served on the Laws Commission, the Board of Governors for Dist 16 and 21, the Competitions and Conventions Committee, the Ethical Oversight Committee, the Women’s ITT Committee, and as Co-Chair of the National Appeals Committee. She and John were named ACBL Honorary Members in 2008.
Sutherlin has a BA from San Francisco State University. Her hobbies include genealogy, a subject she has pursued for over 30 years and about which she has written several family history books and numerous articles in genealogy journals. She is a member of Daughters of the American Revolution and Mayflower Society.
Jeffrey D. Polisner (b. 1939) of Lafayette CA was ACBL’s general counsel from1985 to 2001 and WBF counsel general from 1992 to 1994 and since 2000. Polisner was a two-term president of Unit 499 and president of District 21 in 1983-84. He was chairman of the District 21 Judiciary and Conduct and Ethics Committees in 1981. He has served on the NABC Appeals Committee since 1979 and the ACBL Laws Commission 1982. Polisner is a WBF World Master. He was npc of winning GNOT Team in 1982 and placed second in the Silodor Open Pairs in 1989 and the Nail Life Master Open Pairs in 1993.
GATES, Bill (b. 1955). Founder and chairman of Microsoft, Gates is often seen at ACBL tournaments and even occasionally at a world championship. Gates is an enthusiastic supporter of bridge which prompted him to donate $1 million to help promote teaching the game in schools. He plays regularly with Sharon Osberg and can be found on Bridgebase using the name “Chalengr”. Gates and Warren Buffett were named the ACBL Honorary Members in 2010.
Warren Buffett (b. 1930) is an investor, industrialist and philanthropist. He is widely regarded as one of the most successful investors in the world. Often introduced as “legendary investor, Warren Buffett”, he is the primary shareholder, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway. He is consistently ranked among the world’s wealthiest people. He was ranked as the world’s wealthiest person in 2008 and is the third wealthiest person in the world as of 2011. Buffett has been a champion of bridge for many years. He has donated money to help promote the teaching of bridge in schools, he sponsors the Buffett Cup, a challenge match modeled after golf’s Ryder Cup, in which teams from Europe and the U.S. face off in different competitive formats, and can often be found playing on Bridgebase as “T-bone.” Buffett and Bill Gates were named ACBL Honorary Members in 2010.
COHEN, Larry N. (b. 1959) of Boca Raton FL is a bridge lecturer and author. He has authored six books and six CDs including best sellers To Bid or Not to Bid and The Law of Total Tricks. He is also a regular contributor to The Bridge World magazine and the Bridge Bulletin. In 1980 his career was launched when at 20 years old, he was written up in the New York Times for opening 5*S* holding 8-5 distribution with QJ1098xxx – – AKQxx – -. Since then he has won 25 North American Championships and placed second in nearly as many. In 1998 Larry and David Berkowitz came as close as it is possible to come to a World Championship without actually winning. In the World Open Pairs, they led throughout the five-session final, only to be overtaken on the last two boards. They also won a Bronze Medal in the World Team Olympiad. Cohen is a member of the National Appeals Committee, the Conduct and Ethics Committee, and Chairman of the Hall of Fame Committee. He was ACBL Player of the Year in 2002, ACBL Sportsman of the Year in 2003 and the ACBL Honorary Member in 2011. To this day, he is still mistaken for the “other Larry Cohen.” Cohen is an 11-handicap golfer.
She is the driving force behind Better Bridge (along with husband and HOF presenter David Lindop and son Jason) an all-things bridge enterprise that publishes books and “Better Bridge” magazine, offers cruises and festivals, and to fill in Audrey’s “spare” time has recently started an online Daily Bridge Column.
Grant is the author of several classics that are well-used by teachers everywhere: “The Joy of Bridge”, “Bridge Maxims” and “Better Bridge” to name a few.
2013 Honorary Member award and title honouree for Unit 166’s annual “Audrey Grant Award”, special recognition for a bridge teacher who consistently demonstrates excellence and professionalism in the field.
Millard Nachtwey (d. 2012) was a national tournament director and director-in-charge at Fall NABCs who served the Mid-Atlantic Bridge Conference for decades.
In nominating Nachtwey, ACBL Board Members Bob Heller (District 7) and Margot Hennings (District 6) praised him as “one of our game’s greatest assets. His contributions extended far beyond the selling table or making rulings or supervising colleagues, and that was particularly the case in Districts 6 and 7.”
Nachtwey was born in Washington DC and grew up in Bethesda MD. He earned a bachelor’s degree in English at Bucknell University, where he met his life partner of 40 years, Doug Grove. Nachtwey began his directing career in the early Seventies and operated his own club, Millard’s Bridge Studio, from 1978 until the fall of 1983, when he began to direct tournaments full time. His reputation as a master of tournament operations quickly grew, and he became the chief director for the MABC, a position he held for 20 years.
Nachtwey also lent his organizing expertise to the American Bridge Association, which has a presence in the Washington DC area, where Nachtwey and Grove lived. The ABA prevailed upon his volunteer spirit to mentor ABA directors on how to make a tournament experience the best it could be. ABA tournaments continue to be successful
Jay Baum served as ACBL’s chief officer from 2002-2012. Before becoming CEO of the ACBL in 2002, Baum was the executive director of the Greater Omaha Convention & Visitors Bureau. As CEO, Baum was responsible for relocating headquarters to a modern facility in Horn Lake MS which includes the only bridge museum in North America. Jay is a founding trustee of the Foundation for the Preservation and Advancement of Bridge and currently serves on its board. He and his wife, Kathy, placed second in the Rockwell Mixed Pairs in 2003.
When Eddie Kantar first learned bridge as a youngster in Minneapolis, he had no notion of turning that new-found knowledge into a job.
Today, the Californian is one of the best-known bridge writers in the world. He has more than 20 bridge books in print and is a regular contributor to the Bridge Bulletin, The Bridge World, Bridge Today and many foreign publications.
Although he doesn’t play as often as he used to, the two-time former world champion is still highly regarded as a player and is a regular at major tournaments. He is also known as a great ambassador for bridge. Matthew Granovetter, in a letter to the editor published in the Bridge Bulletin in 1992, said, “Eddie may genuinely be the nicest guy in bridge.”
Kantar learned bridge at 11. By the age of 17, he was teaching the game to his friends. Kantar was so enthusiastic about bridge that he often took his bridge books to school with him, hiding them behind his textbooks.
At the University of Minnesota, where Kantar studied foreign languages – he is still conversant in Spanish and French – he taught bridge to earn spending money. When he played, he sought out tough games and honed his skills.
Somewhere between the first bridge book he read and the first one he wrote (in 1965), Kantar developed his literary signature – the ability to inject humor into just about everything he writes or talks about.
Relating his experiences as a bridge teacher in Germany during a stint in the U.S. Army, Kantar recalled that he taught in German. “Even though the people spoke only German, by the end of the class they were begging me to teach in English.”
This kind of self-deprecating humor has made Kantar popular with readers around the world. Never afraid to laugh at himself, Kantar personalizes all his writing, transforming the dullest of lessons into lively, interesting reading.
“I never thought of myself as a bridge writer,” Kantar says, “ but now I don’t think I could write about anything else.”
He gained stature as a player by winning 13 North American championships and two world titles – the Bermuda Bowl in 1977 and 1979. He was second in the 1975 Bermuda Bowl, the championship which erupted in controversy when two members of the winning Italian team were caught giving foot signals. On one crucial deal, Kantar held the ♣K 10 and heard the opponents bid to 7♣. With declarer to his right, Kantar envisioned a huge swing. When dummy hit with the ♣A Q, he recalls, “it was as close to shock as I’ve ever been.
There was speculation that the contract might have been defeated had Kantar played the ♣K – feigning a singleton – when declarer first played trumps. “I never thought about playing the king.” Kantar recalls. “I wasn’t thinking about anything.”
Kantar is a Grand Master in World Bridge Federation rankings and an ACBL Grand Life Master. His North American titles include wins in the Spingold Knockout Teams (three times), the Reisinger B-A-M Teams (four), the Vanderbilt Knockout Teams (two) and the Grand National Teams (two).
Kantar today is best known as a writer – his favorite games to play are tennis and racquetball – and many of his books are considered classics. In a survey of bridge writers and players, Kantar’s Complete Defensive Play was listed in the top 10 of all-time favorite bridge books.
Eddie Wold has come a long way from his start in bridge. It happened one day on the Rice University campus. He was on his way to dinner when a friend recruited him to be a fourth in a bridge game, “I don’t really play,” Wold said. The response was, “We don’t really care.”
It wasn’t long until Wold found himself playing bridge for pay. He made his mark in 1977 when he was on the winning team in two national events: The Grand National Teams and the Spingold Knockout Teams.
Since then Wold has won an additional 13 national events which include two victories in each of the big three: the Vanderbilt, the Spingold and the Reisinger. He has won the Barry Crane Top 500 three times, the Mott-Smith Trophy (most masterpoints at the Spring NABC) three times and the Lou Herman Trophy (now Goren – given for the most masterpoints at the Fall NABC) twice.
Wold won the Transnational Teams in 2001 and eventually the d’Orsi Senior Bowl in 2013. He decoded the illegal coughing signals used by a pair of doctors playing on the German national team. Uncovering the cheating ultimately resulted in the Germans having their gold medal stripped. The medal was awarded to the Lynch Team (Carolyn Lynch, Garey Hayden, Mike Passell, Marc Jacobus, Roger Bates and Wold) in 2014 at the Fall NABC in Providence RI. Wold also earned a silver medal in the 2 010 World Mixed Teams and bronze in the1978 Rosenblum Teams.
Wold has been a very active teacher in the Houston area for many years. From individuals to groups to hosting Wold’s World seminars, Wold is happy to share his bridge expertise with upcoming players. He has hosted similar seminars by invitation across the ACBL. Wold also expanded his teaching venues by hosting bridge cruises for the past decade. Houston players can often be heard saying “Eddie says…”
Assisting junior players has also become a major focus for Wold when he started teaching for credit at his alma mater in 2013. His students subsequently established a bridge club and they competed for the first time in the 2015/2016 College Bridge Bowl. Wold has also successfully hosted a summer bridge camp for upcoming junior players many of whom are competing internationally for the ACBL.
Jan Martel, whose tireless dedication and selfless service has made a major impact on the bridge community, is this years Blackwood Award Hall of Fame inductee.
In the early 1990s, Martel was one of the founders of the ACBLs Womens Committee, which oversaw the process for selecting womens teams for world championship play. The committee created the seeding point scale for the Womens Knockouts as well as establishing the ACBL child care program at NABCs.
After the International Team Trial Committee was formed, the Womens Committee became the Womens International Team Trial Committee and Martel served as its chair from inception until the late 1990s. She almost single-handedly created the Conditions of Contest for the womens trials and continues to update them every year. Martel brought her organizational skills and enthusiasm to the Senior International Team Trial Committee as well, writing the Conditions of Contest and organizing the U.S. Senior Bridge Championship.
When the U.S. Bridge Federation was organized, Martel served as a board member and as its president. When she reached her term limit, she became the first and only USBF Chief Operating Officer – a position created specifically for her because the Board of Directors had become so dependent on her organizational skills.
Behind the scenes, Martel’s volunteer responsibilities grew to where she chose to retire as an attorney so that she could devote her energy fulltime to the avocation she clearly cherishes. A woman with a closet full of hats, Martel manages the USBF website, bills active member dues and archives trial records and official documents in addition to her administrative duties. She takes photos at championships. She organizes BBO vugraph presentations for NABC events, and frequently serves as a vugraph operator at major championships. She served on the Hall of Fame Committee from 2003 to 2008. In short, she does whatever needs to be done.
Martel has been the non-playing captain of three Bermuda Bowl Teams, two Junior Teams and one Senior Team and has coached several other teams over the last 25 years. As a player, she has won seven NABC titles and was also second in seven NABC events. Of her titles, her favorite was winning the Baldwin North American Pairs with husband Chip in 1988.
Becky Rogers is Honorary Member of the Year
Becky Rogers has been contributing to bridge in many ways for over 60 years. A longtime tournament director, she became the second woman to achieve the rank of national tournament director in 1979. She acted as the ACBL’s director of operations from 1987 to 1991, and was general manager of the World Bridge Federation from 1992 to 1999. More recently, she served on the District 17 board and Las Vegas unit board from 2015 to 2019. Even now, at 80, she’s still an active member of the Laws Commission.
Rogers has been an innovator. She helped create the Standard American Yellow Card and the ACBL’s Code of Disciplinary Regulations, and she implemented seeding points for the first team trials. She worked to make bridge a timed event in the days when it wasn’t.
“I think she was the one who invented stratification,” said Patty Holmes, a longtime tournament director. “It’s hard to know how much she’s done because she never took credit for anything.”
For all these contributions and more, Rogers has been selected by the Board of Directors as the ACBL’s Honorary Member of the Year for 2020. It is her 70th year as an ACBL member – she joined in 1950 at age 11 while growing up in Topeka KS.
“It’s a good choice,” said Jeff Meckstroth, with whom Rogers won the World Mixed Pairs in 2002 in Montreal. “She’s a bright, gifted player and a really good person.” ment director, she became the second woman to achieve the rank of national tournament director in 1979. She acted as the ACBL’s director of operations from 1987 to 1991, and was general manager of the World Bridge Federation from 1992 to 1999. More recently, she served on the District 17 board and Las Vegas unit board from 2015 to 2019. Even now, at 80, she’s still an active member of the Laws Commission.
Rogers has been an innovator. She helped create the Standard American Yellow Card and the ACBL’s Code of Disciplinary Regulations, and she implemented seeding points for the first team trials. She worked to make bridge a timed event in the days when it wasn’t.
“I think she was the one who invented stratification,” said Patty Holmes, a longtime tournament director. “It’s hard to know how much she’s done because she never took credit for anything.”
For all these contributions and more, Rogers has been selected by the Board of Directors as the ACBL’s Honorary Member of the Year for 2020. It is her 70th year as an ACBL member – she joined in 1950 at age 11 while growing up in Topeka KS.
“It’s a good choice,” said Jeff Meckstroth, with whom Rogers won the World Mixed Pairs in 2002 in Montreal. “She’s a bright, gifted player and a really good person.”
A Grand Life Master with more than 20,000 masterpoints, Rogers won the Keohane North American Swiss Teams in 2005 and the Senior Mixed Pairs in 2018 with her brother John Grantham, who called her “the best sis ever!” when a day was named for her during the Spring 2017 NABC in Kansas City.
Rogers started directing in the late
’60s. “She was an excellent direc-
tor, very committed to fairness,” said Charlie MacCracken, whom Rog-
ers considers a mentor. “She worked extremely hard to make the ACBL a more perfect place,” he said, recalling that she would bring work with her to the club in Memphis during her time at Headquarters.
Once, while working a sectional in Phoenix, MacCracken recalls, Rogers had gone on a cleaning spree before packing up and driving home. She was about halfway to Tucson when she realized she had put all the entry fees from the tournament in a Big Gulp cup that was among the things thrown out. “So at 1 a.m., she was back in Phoenix in a dumpster looking for a Big Gulp cup.”
Holmes started directing in May 1986 at the same tournament that Rogers had intended to be her last. Holmes considers her a mentor. “She was player-, player-, player-oriented,” Holmes said. “She’s patient. She listens. She delivers the right ruling. Everyone who’s worked with her or under her – they all said they learned the most from her.”
Matt Smith is one who credits Rogers with helping him become a better director when he was learning the ropes, and later she became the first person he would seek out for
an appeals committee. Even better,
he said, was when she was on a conduct committee. “She has a way of disarming people and getting to
the truth better than anyone I have ever seen. She would smile and nicely ask the miscreants questions about what had happened in such a way that I saw more than one of them bury themselves by saying damning things in an attempt to please the nice lady asking the questions.”
Holmes describes Rogers as someone who broke up the old boys club and always stood up for what was right. She certainly ruffled feathers along the way.
“She was an iconoclast. She saw things in black and white,” said Chris Compton, who came to respect Rogers despite receiving penalties from her as a young player in the early ’70s. “She’s done everything for bridge.”
Rogers worked with Bobby Wolff on developing Active Ethics and the recorder system and worked on developing the old convention charts. During her time at the WBF, Rogers oversaw the first World Junior Championships in Ann Arbor MI in 1991 and the World Bridge Series in Albuquerque NM in 1994. While it’s unusual for a world championship to turn a profit, that one did, Wolff said, and she was a major factor in its success.
“She has had a lifetime of strongly contributing to our game,” Wolff said. “I do not think you could make a better choice.”
As for the invention of stratification, Rogers clarifies that stratified scoring was already being used by clubs when she introduced it to NABCs in St. Louis in 1987. “What a chore it was to do stratified scoring by hand pre-computers,” she said. “We typed all the names using carbon paper to have three copies of the results, entered scores in pencil and scored in red pencil. It was tough on the TDs, but players loved it.”
It was her more recent work on behalf of District 17 that prompted former district president, Jerry Ranney, to nominate her for Honorary Member.
“I was very impressed she was willing to step up and help out,” said District 17 Director Bonnie Bagley.
“She had done so much already. She was at a point where she could just play. It can be frustrating to be involved in bridge governance. I was impressed she wanted to help. She wanted to make things better.”
For the past five years, Rogers has been district recorder, tournament committee chair and representative of Las Vegas Unit 373 on the District 17 board. She oversaw regional schedules and acted as a liaison between the district board and tournament chairs in the units, which have responsibility for running regionals in District 17.
There has been a lot of turmoil in the Las Vegas unit in recent years when a bad contract with the former host hotel for regionals threatened to put the unit underground. Las Vegas used to host the largest regionals and sectionals
in the ACBL. But when they made the move to a new regional site in 2014, conditions were so bad that the table count dropped by half over a four-year period. The unit was left with a bill for more than $100,000 in unmet hotel room blocks, forcing the cancellation of the regional for two years.
It was amid this mess that Rogers stepped in to help, said Bob Lafleur, the current unit president. Rogers helped the unit protect its assets amid bankruptcy and negotiated a new contract for the regional to return to a different site in 2020. “Becky’s insight in difficult times, tireless efforts and indomitable spirit have positioned the unit for future success,” Lafleur said.
“Without her efforts, the Las Vegas Regional would not be returning to the ACBL calendar in 2020.
“She spent hours and hours working on the details, mostly behind the scenes. She’s a hell of a woman.”
She has two sons and four grandchildren.
Smith, who retired as a national TD last year, adds: “I think what stands out about Becky for me more than anything is her ability to truly listen to what the other person is saying. While too many ofus simply argue our position and perhaps let our egos and preconceptions get in the way of hearing what the other person is really saying, she never lets that happen to her. In the bridge world, it is a rare ability.”