by Warren Block
I would like to thank all of the hundreds of people I have enjoyed playing bridge with and against over the past 69 years. I started playing when I was 5 years old with my family. I learned how to steal the bid of 3 no trump from my dad who always wanted to play the hand when playing with us. In middle school my Home Ec. teacher, Dora Scanlon was a life master in Grand Rapids, and graciously played with us when she came to our house for dinner. That was the first time I had heard of a life master. I would play occasionally in my parent’s social bridge club that met monthly for over 20 years. After high school I would only play sporadically, not so much in college, but occasionally in Vietnam and Grad School. I started playing Duplicate in the late seventies going to games without a partner and playing with players no one would play with. I didn’t play much in the 80’s as teaching, coaching and raising a family of 4 children consumed my time.
I started playing duplicate again in the 90’s at the Traverse City Senior Center where I got to play with really good players thanks to gracious and competitive directors. It was here where I learned to pay attention to your opponents and enjoy their company. After an intense evening of bridge I noticed the name, Roy Hickes and his wife, who I had just competed against. He was vacationing in the area. He had been a favorite Professor at Wittenberg University and I had done a two-week stint in his wife's classroom as I prepared to become a teacher. After 30 years, I had not recognized them while playing. It was nice to reconnect and go fishing with them. So please pay attention to your opponents, you might be pleasantly surprised how you connect outside the bridge world.
My quest for life master began in earnest when I retired in 2009. I joined the Birmingham Senior Men’s Club. The individual movement allowed me to play with players of all skill levels. I would like to thank Kirby Callam, the director, for his acceptance of all players no matter what their skill level was. Over the next 10 years, I picked up points playing with multiple partners such as: Tom King, Jim Smallwood, Tai Chan, John Kokobu, Jim Bayson, Ron Zurilla, Arnie Brandt, Vickie Vallone and many, many others.
A special thank you goes to the Traverse City area duplicate clubs. Especially, Paul Christ, Lynn Larson, Jane Vetter and over 20 players that I enjoyed picking up points with. Also, I would not have made it to the finish line without the robots of BBO.
It was nice to see my name next to Bob Ondo in the December Bridge Magazine. In one of my first forays to a Bridge Connection Tournament, Bob with 0 points needed a partner and since I had 200 points I was happy to play with him. We did quite well, as I remember. So, I encourage all players no matter what level to enjoy playing with others, be friendly and accept that all players make numerous decisions during the play based on their experience and skills and while those decisions may not be as “correct” as yours, they deserve respect 12/14