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!
So, sometime in the late 1990’s Dave and I made our first foray into the duplicate bridge world at the Raffles Bridge Club off City Line Avenue. For the past 20+ years, Dave and I have not gotten to play as much bridge as we would have liked (due to work and life commitments), but we kept at it and played enough over the years to slowly but steadily accumulate masterpoints.
Fast-forward to this year when Dave and I qualified for the Flight C GNT in Chicago with our long-time teammates Jeff & Lou. Entering the tournament, Dave had over 290 master points but I had only 277.67 points. That said, by making it to the semi-finals of our Flight C GNT tournament, we ended up receiving 22.5 masterpoints. That meant I just made the Life Master ranking by a fraction of a point! Whew!!!! But even more gratifying was to be able to cross that Life Master ranking threshold at the same time as my brother Dave. Our Mom & Dad died a year and a half ago, but somehow I felt them both with Dave and me while we played in Chicago.
If I may, I’d like to go back to the beginning 1969 at Virginia Tech. in Blacksburg VA. I was walking down a dorm hall when I peeked in an open dorm room where 4 guys had 1 suitcase standing on end and another on top playing a card game. Being from New York but going to college in Virginia, I said “what are y’all doing?” They responded, playing bridge, whereupon I responded “may I watch” and they said yes. It wasn’t long before I asked “can I join” and again they said yes, and again it wasn’t long before the game spilled out into the floor study lounge and became almost a 24 hr game.
We had a small duplicate game at the student union and played against some professors. One was a math prof., Dick Barnett. I basically had 3 partners Jim Adkins and I played S. A. Mark Bregman Precision Jannerstan style and K-S with Bill Covey. We would travel to Pearisburg and play against a Congressman, Jeff Stafford or travel to Roanoke and play against The Smoots.
We decided to go to Richmond to play in a sectional, played against Kit Woolsey and Steve Robinson, I cashed 2 aces against a slam and Kit turned to me and said nice defense kid but alas we didn’t win a match, and drove back to Tech with our tails between our legs… but not deterred.
I moved back to Delmar NY, was married, and eventually had 3 wonderful daughters. I worked long hard hours but played some bridge when I could. My wife Joan was understanding, well at least I think she was. I had some good partners there Albert Ross, Tony Prindle and Rhoda Kratenstein to name a few. I also had the privilege, at the Fireside Tavern over some white wine and popcorn or pizza, of listening to Lynne Deas as she held court. She truly was a class person.
Eventually I moved to Rochester (my wife had passed away too early) to be closer to my daughter Ashley. I searched out the local games. The directors Cheryl and Duncan Doug, and Bruce were very welcoming. I have played with many players from Rochester and won’t list them all for fear of leaving someone out (after all I still see most of them except for Doug Ross). All the people in RABA, Unit 112, and District 4 over the past 9 years have been exceptional in providing a great bridge experience. I wouldn’t change a thing.