Letter from a Player

Playing Bridge since the age of 17

June, 2017
By Paul Douglas

When I was 17, before I started college, I worked at a children's camp in the Adirondacks, where three fellow employees recruited me as a fourth in bridge since they were desperate. I had never played before. After that, I did not play again until law school where, to relieve tension, a group of us would play from 11:30 PM to about 1:00 AM. I found a friend to play duplicate some Saturday afternoons. I did get a few points but never joined the ACBL. Back then, not only did we open with four card majors, but if you partner opened with 13 points (never 12), and your RHO overcalled, you did not respond unless you had at least 9 points.

After my marriage in 1959, I taught my wife to play and we played socially sporadically for many years. When my wife died in 1987, I decided to take lessons at the Scarsdale Junior High School. I thought my teacher was great, and only appreciated how good he was when I read a bridge column in the NY Time describing him as one of the top players and teachers in the world. It was Marty Bergen!

When I married Miriam in 1989, she played bridge so we played socially, and we only played duplicate on a few cruises. On one of them, the director suggested that I join the ACBL and I did in December, 2008. Little did I know this would permit me to become a life master with only 300 points.

I started to take some lessons including with Sylwia McNamara (a fine player and teacher who later, with her husband, Mike, purchase the Bridge Deck in Hartsdale). In May, 2012, Neil Beck, a tennis friend, said that he needed a bridge partner on Thursdays since his former partner no longer wanted to play on that afternoon. We played in the open game and exactly five years later, I became a life master. I should note that getting gold and red points was not too difficult but getting silver points was rough. This is not surprising, since the Bridge Deck has many excellent players.

I have always found the game both challenging and fun, and have appreciated playing with and against many fine players – who are also fun to be with!


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