Despite receiving Autobridge among my Bar Mitzvah presents, that’s not when my bridge career started. Sniffing my nose up at that gift, I buried it deep in a desk drawer.
During the summer after my sophomore year, I attended a National Science Foundation program for high school students at the University of Notre Dame. Spare time activities there included chess (which I knew how to play) and bridge (which I certainly didn’t).
Upon returning home, I dug into my desk drawer and retrieved Autobridge. Carefully following its steps, I learned the basics of bridge. To raise my game to a higher level, I also completely read Goren’s massive book Bridge Complete which my parents possessed.
Now ready to conquer the bridge world, I joined some family members for a few hours of bridge. Not only did I fail to conquer, but my uncle (correctly) told me that I should go back and reread the book. With my tail between my legs, I did so.
I don’t recall the details of later games with family members, but I think I kept from embarrassing myself too much the following two summers at other NSF programs (Of course, my fellow students didn’t play as well as my family members).
It was at college that I began to learn how to play at higher levels…intermediate, maybe even advanced. There were some very good players around me and I learned by playing with them and by reading additional bridge books. Some would say that I should have put the same effort into my studies.
I continued to play too much bridge in graduate school. However, after that, my game was shelved until I retired and moved to Philadelphia.
On the way to look at the condo my wife and I soon bought, my wife saw a familiar face across the street and shouted out, “Hey, did you used to live in Northern Virginia?” It was Carol Greco; she had belonged to the same Temple we did in Fairfax County. We spoke some. The next time we saw her, she gave us information about the city including Center City Bridge Club.
So, I resumed playing bridge after a 40-year hiatus.
There are many partners I could single out; I’ll mention just four local players. The late Steve Kahlstein rescued me from the vagaries of pick-up partners. Phil Greco has been my longest-standing partner. The late Stephen Vineberg might even have been more of a convention geek that I am. Lynn Condon fights valiantly, but unsuccessfully, to structure my bidding.
COVID and BBO also deserve significant credit in my reaching Gold Life Master. Without all the clear points I earned during the pandemic, I’d still be well short of Ruby Life Master