Letter from a Player

"Thank You Bridge" sums up the story of new Ruby Life Master.

July, 2021
By Michael Hewlett

What attracted me to Bridge? I always liked cards, in college I played hearts and spades and pinochle with my roommate and friends and wife to be. I was also a competitor and enjoyed all sports with my favorite being basketball. I blew my knee out in an over 30 league at the age of 40 so I focused on business. My wife enjoyed bridge and I told her when I retired I would learn how to play bridge. True to my promise when I retired I took a series of lessons at my local bridge club held by Bill Miller which gave me a foundation for the game. My wife and I would discuss the lessons afterwards and I would teach her some of the newer bidding techniques and she would help me better understand a lot of the other concepts. So my journey in bridge began. In the beginning I took my lumps early and often but tried to learn from my mistakes which offered me countless learning opportunities. A key turning point for me was when we played in a Swiss game at our local club. Everyone playing had a 1,000 or more points with some having up to 7,500. My team all were in the low 100s with me being in the 50s. Our partners were Tom and Carol Arnold. We won the game with over a 20 point lead over the next closest team. That showed me that I could compete with anyone and gave me confidence. We then won the double knockout tournament for our Unit with the same partners. We were not the favorite team to win the tournament but prevailed and it again increased my confidence.

I was also very fortunate to have several people show interest in my development and help me along the way. Early on Peter Stein who was the President of the Board of Directors for our Unit offered to give us lessons for free anytime we wanted before our local game. He would also answer any questions we might have during play at games. Also Ed Hill and Susan Schwartz who were superior players would willingly offer to play with me anytime I needed a partner and were free with their knowledge and friendship. We took bridge as an experience and not just a game. We talked with everyone and would compliment them when they made a nice play or bid. I guess karma is true as one day a player Frank who was a good bridge player but not real talkative played Puppet Stayman which we were not familiar with and told him some day we would like to learn it. By the end of the bridge game Frank walked up and handed me a 2 page handwritten explanation of Puppet Stayman which we still use today. Later in my bridge journey I met Judy Rothstein who was the Essex Bridge Club Champion I think 10 years in a row. Judy was also free with her knowledge and was always approachable and willing to answer any questions I might have. She has since become a good friend. I am appreciative of all of the people that so freely gave of their time and knowledge to help me along the way. I try to do the same. One example is a friend of ours Bernice wanted to become life master but couldn't get the elusive silver points she needed. She asked me to play with her and I agreed. Her friends assured her it was in the bank. I explained that this was in the open game and I was still playing in the 299er game so don't count your chickens just yet. Fortunately we were able to place 3rd in the Open Tournament in Woodbridge,NJ. Bernice was thrilled and it gave me a real good feeling to see the joy and happiness on her face.

One of the things that has served me well is my ability to double. Several people give me the nickname Double Trouble or Mr Double. I find it keeps people honest and helps us get contracts at the right level.

Bridge is a wonderful game which served a great purpose during the recent COVID lockdowns via BBO and the numerous offerings available. It gave people some distraction. More important than the game are the number of friends we have made along the way which have brightened our life and added joy to us.

Lastly and most importantly I would be remiss if I didn't mention that I am blessed with a great partner Jacqueline Hewlett. Not only a great bridge partner but a life partner as we are going on 48 years of marriage this July. Bridge has given us a common experience that we can bond over. We enjoyed traveling to tournaments with friends and competing and than having a great meal afterwards. It has definitely added to our lives.

Thank You Bridge.

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