Becoming a life master was a goal I shared with my beloved mother, Lila Gleitman. Crushingly, she died at the end of a bridge game (but not before she asked if we got any points). I’m very proud to share this achievement with Mom, my first and forever bridge partner. Mom and Dad taught my husband and me how to play bridge around the kitchen table. It wasn’t until after losing Dad that we started our journey with competitive bridge and the ACBL.
After losing Mom, I was lucky enough to meet a fabulous man, Bob Grinwis, who became my mentor and close friend. A Ruby Life Master himself, he patiently took the time to teach me things after each game – never judging, never making me feel bad about myself. I became a Life Master at the 2023 Lancaster Regional with Bob as my partner and Mom there in spirit.
I have been very, very fortunate to take bridge lessons with two superb teachers – John Dickenson and Joann Glasson. All four of these special people taught me to always play up and never give up. I look forward to many more days, months, and years at the bridge table.
I have been blessed with a Mentor. He has taught me the conventions and has tested me constantly. I have read books on bidding and the play of the hand. I love the game so it wasn’t a hardship. I was a work in progress for a long time. Some of the best advice I was given: “Play up” and my favorite: “It’s history let it go”.
I have found the one thing that was hard to achieve is confidence. To go into the game and say to yourself – I know the conventions, relax and think. Listen to your partner, it’s a conversation and don’t try to play his hand. Obviously, these are some of my faults. Duplicate Bridge is a wonderful challenge.
It took me about 10 years to become a life master. My husband and I travel a great deal so I kept missing regionals. On Thursday of the week in Baltimore, my partner and I went down to play in the mid-flight Swiss. We didn’t have another pair so went to the partnership desk. I wasn’t very confident because I’ve heard some horror stories about random matchings. However, we were very lucky and got two of the nicest guys! They were good players too and we came in third. I got just enough gold to finally make life master! I guess it proves no one should give up.
The Harrisburg Bridge Club (HBC) is doing an extraordinarily fine job of developing and training newer bridge players. Other games are run by directors. Our games are run by a club. If I named “everybody” who has contributed to HBC, I would leave out a few people, because I cannot name everybody who contributed.
The mentor games at HBC have been a pure joy and they are needed, at every club. The 0-100 and then 0-50 game that has run for years, on Monday night, by Pam Murray and Linda Ivanoff, is worth driving 100 miles to play in. There were many good players in that game when I played there. Soon, you will see them achieving Life Master milestones. Other HBC members were interested in developing novice and inexperienced players, who came to the club after I did. Many of these players are better players than I am now, and are now very close to Life Master.
My deepest thanks to our current club President Midge Sobolewski, who was my mentor in the junior games; and (Ms.) Jan Leuenberger who worked with me when I barely knew vulnerable, from not vulnerable. Arguably, I still play like I don’t know the difference.
Thanks to Jim Boyer (previous club President) and teacher Rickey Boyer; office holders Jack and Cecile Hund, club manager Bob Priest; bridge instructor Mike Mendelson, who has tirelessly run classes for several years; Russ Poppleton, long time building manager; and my long time HBC partner Pat Kaufold…….oh, and the legal eagles in the club, who keep us on the straight and narrow path.
All of them, and other members, contributed to making HBC the club that is fun to play at; and develops pretty good players.
I learned how to play bridge from my high school math teacher, when I grew up on Long Island. As a twist of fate, I ran into him at the Boca Raton, FL bridge club a few years ago. I had stopped playing bridge for decades and like many people began to play again socially. A good friend, Fern Herman, who became my mentor, convinced me to try duplicate about 20 years ago and I became addicted. Like many people in the bridge world, I developed a number of friendships, including one of my closest friends. In addition, I convinced several of my friends to take lessons.
I feel like I honed my skills by not only doing a lot of reading but always asking questions at the bridge table. So many were flattered to share their wisdom and I will always remember the pointer that Daisy Goecker gave me. You probably don’t remember, but at a sectional at Bala Cynwyd, David Silberman and I played against you and Bob. I was terrified and you both immediately put us at ease. Despite our huge handicap, you beat us but it was a very lovely experience.
I also remember getting my first gold points at Lancaster when we lost in the final round against Canadian pros – although I didn’t know it at the time. I could go on and on but needless to say, I still love playing bridge!
I had not played in a Regional since 2017 and was not planning on playing in the Finger Lakes Regional this past August as I had really scaled back on my playing. In April of this year I got a call from an ex co-worker that now lives in Virginia, who I had introduced to Duplicate back in the 1990’s – guess you could say he was my protégé. He was wondering if I would be interested in playing the Finger Lakes Regional because he was coming up this way for a couple days anyways. I told him that I was not “tournament sharp” but if he wanted to do it I would commit to two days. So I started ramping up my local bridge dates to get more practice and we spent time via email discussing our convention card and treatments. Jumping to the end of the story, we had the good fortune of finishing first overall in the Mid Flight our first day and missed by three points repeating the following day. It certainly exceeded my expectations!