Responses to Rank-Change Letters—June-Sept 2015


I made this honor (twice!*) because I had a good mentor, very good partners, and tried to keep an even keel.  If you let them, bad boards will breed more bad boards so try to do your best to shrug them off.  My experience as a pitcher and on the golf course made me aware of this principle (but I wasn't always able to abide by it).

Mitchell Pote

P.S Wanted to explain the "twice": I first made diamond life master on Memorial Day in a club game.  Two days later, I got an e-mail from the ACBL tournament director reporting that the points awards for our March 2015 progressive sectional (which had already been recorded) were being adjusted downwards.  My partner & I lost almost 7 points, so I had to earn 7 points to get back over.  Playing in only club games, I made it (with the same Memorial Day partner) eight days later!!

Thanks for the congratulations.


Thank you for the opportunity to advance my status in the contract bridge world. This is inspiration to play as often as I can. However, my full-time position as a college professor requires many hours working at home, a situation that limits my availability for bridge mostly to summer breaks.

In response to your invitation to share something about my bridge-playing history, I began playing in the late 1960s or early 1970s – I believe as a college student. However, I did not play at all for many, many years because I did not know how to find games in the communities in which I lived. In fact, I recall scrounging together one game when I was a US Army wife stationed in West Germany in the 1970s– then not playing for another 30 years until I found a game at a senior center in Kennett Square, PA. You can imagine my delight at being introduced to duplicate bridge, with its structure and regularity, upon moving to the metro Cincinnati area in 2007.

I have found the Cincinnati Bridge Association to be very welcoming. I have taken a number of lessons there and have steadily improved my play and knowledge of the game (I began visiting the Northern Kentucky bridge group, but, although they also were very accommodating, have found the larger Cincinnati group better suited to my needs for a variety of playing times and skill levels).

For example, Cincinnati offers casual supervised play on Saturday mornings (one of my few off-days during the fall-spring time) as well as both paid and free instruction. Cincinnati directors also reached out to me for participation in the Flying Pig regional event, occasions that further served to improve my confidence and facility with the game.

Finally, the amenities are quite inviting at the Bridge Center. Volunteers bring tasty snacks and Director Kay Mulford is praised for her yummy treats. Parking also is plentiful and the interstate highway drive from Northern Kentucky typically is after the rush hours.

Again, thank you for the opportunity to pursue this amazing game. I can only look forward to retirement (if ever!) and having more leisure to enjoy.


Liza A. Benham


Fred Sigler and his wife Carol were mentors and teachers from the time I earned my first point until now. Fred has kept there games going for years which has given a large group of people a place to play who otherwise would not be playing.My wife of 52 years Judith took lessons from Fred as well as our best friends of 40 years Bruce and Sue Walker. The four of us learned from Fred and went to our first Sectionals and Regionals with them. Fred taught the game as well as be kind to your partner and opponents and to remember it’s a game not a how you make your living. Wayne and Marilyn  O’connor became great friends through bridge and traveled with Judith and I to many tournaments. I lost Judith one year ago and bridge has become a very impt. part of my life as I try to deal with my loss of my best friend and partner.


The MVBA has been great as I’ve worked to learn more about playing bridge, classes by Bob Stitt, Dallas Moore, Gary Hatten, Stu Petersen. have helped anyone who wanted to improve their game. The many people at the MVBA that step up on a daily bases to make new players feel welcome makes it one of the friendliest clubs I’ve ever played.


I am thankful for all bridge has taught me as well as the many friends I’ve made. I feel like I’m just starting to scratch the surface of learning and I’m enjoying each new challenge.


Thanks Ernie Dalton


Dear Beth,


Thank you for congratulating me on achieving the Life Master status.   This longtime goal became a reality for me because of the strong Evansville Duplicate Bridge Club (EDBC), its helpful members and my generous husband.

 It all started shortly before I retired when my neighbor suggested we start playing duplicate bridge. Since it was different than party bridge, I quickly gravitated to lessons for beginners and intermediate players offered by the EDBC.  

 Soon advanced players were kind enough to be my mentor.  They played with me at the club, met me for coffee to discuss hands or invited me for a game in their home.   In addition, the club held mentoring games that were great fun and allowed beginning players to partner with expert ones.  But that wasn’t all.  Many times advanced players, when asked, would make suggestions on how I could have played or defended a hand in a better way.

 Throughout the years that duplicate bridge has been my favorite hobby, I’ve been fortunate to have nice, calm partners who held their tempers and made playing this game a pleasant experience.    It’s been such fun going with these partners to tournaments and bringing home the GOLD.

 Finally, I’m thankful for my encouraging bridge playing husband who propped me up when I was discouraged and applauded when I reached this goal.

Suggestions for the District:

Charts in new member packets:  I believe many new players have no idea about the structure of ACBL.  A chart could be designed that would show the relationship of ACBL to districts, units and clubs.  Another chart could show the location of all the districts under ACBL.  Both of these charts could be included in  new member packets 

Discipline:  Emphasize the importance of acceptable behavior by players and management in order to promote a pleasant playing environment for all.

Visits:  The district representatives, who sits on the ACBL board, could visit the unit at least once every two years.

Tab:  Create a tab on the ACBL website for quarterly reports like the Midwest Monitor.


 Offer more Gold Rush Swiss Teams.

Offer gold points for the C category winners in team games.

Offer some open games where professionals are not allowed


Phyllis Kincaid, EDBC Member


Thank you. I reached a goal that I never believed I would.  It was such fun and all my partners were great. It is about the people I have met and the friends I have made   Bridge is a game my mother   taught me.  

Nancy Field

I have been a member of ACBL for 15 years.  I needed 1.62 silver for 2 years, having gone to several out-of-town tournaments.  Those silver points seemed to elude me.  Finally at a STAC game, with a 69%, I got Life and Bronze at the same time.  And incidentally, in the 3 weeks since then I have accumulated 20 more silver points.  Go figure.  

Jeanne Theissen

Hi Beth,

Thanks for your congratulations. I have been trying to accumulate points for about 1 year now and for the last 7 or so month with only one partner, David Elliott.

 I have learned playing bridge many years ago in Brussels, Belgium. I actually took lessons in order to improve my French. For many years after that I played socially, never duplicate until I joined the ACBL. I joined the ACBL after I became widowed and needed something to keep me busy.

 I have a MBA from a German University and am teaching languages right now on the Internet. David and I played in three tournaments so far and enjoy playing in the club on Monday and Tuesday nights. We hope to continue adding points and improving our game.

 Please let me know if you have any questions,


Carla Runda


After 25 years of social bridge, my wife and I decided to improve our bridge came as a retirement hobby.  Little did we know where that decision would take us.  We knew nothing about the ACBL or the game of duplicate.  All of that changed while on a 28 day cruise of the Pacific.  Formal bridge lessons and supervised play was offered each of the 20 days we were at sea.  We became personal friends of the instructor/director.  Under his tutelage, this past February we began our duplicate experience at an ACBL Palmetto Regional Tournament.  To our great shock and delight we won the beginners event.  To secure our first masters points (red), we promptly joined ACBL and officially became 67 year old “Rookies”.  From that point to this, we have taken additional formal lessons, studied on our own and met some wonderful new friends.  We play duplicate at the In-Between Bridge Club in Sarasota, FL, The Indianapolis Bridge Center and the Westside Duplicate Bridge Club of Indianapolis.  It is fun to watch true masters of the game bid and play.  What an eye opener!  However, at my current level of play, I find that solid and consistent basic bidding to adequately describe my hand to my partner is more valuable than an arsenal of conventions that I don’t fully understand.  That said, weak two bids, transfers and Stayman are good basic conventions to employ at any level.  The ACBL Bridge Bulletin offers interesting articles and sound advice such as: “it is better to be a good partner than a good player”.

Tim Jackson

Thank you so much for your Email, I'm probably the oldest person to receive this ever but, I'm just as proud as punch.



   Thank you so much for your Email, I'm probably the oldest person to receive this ever but, I'm just as proud as punch.

Jean Loos

Thank you very much Beth, I truly appreciate the recognition.

 Unfortunately I did not join the ACBL until very late in my Bridge playing life so it has been a real challenge to earn sufficient Master (etc.) points to reach this level.  I now have even more motivation to continue pursuing points.   

 Bridge is a great opportunity to meet new and interesting people, play a competitive and challenging game and expand my knowledge.  Most enjoyable and a very healthy way to keep myself young (?) and engaged.

Kwang Cha Hurley   

Thanks for your e mail. My story is unremarkable so doubt that it would be inspirational. I started playing duplicate in the late 60s. Family and career intervened and I did not play again for 20 or so years. Since then I played maybe 12-25 times a year and the points slowly added up to 300. My wife has been my primary partner and we won enough gold points at the Chicago nationals for me to achieve the status. She became a life master 2 or 3 years ago. I enjoy bridge but in terms of priorities I play 100+ rounds of golf per year and 12-25 bridge games per year.

 I have no suggestions for District 11. I will say the restroom facilities at the Chicago nations were very inadequate.

Jack Shaw

I received an e-mail congratulating me on my accomplishments.  I became a gold life master because I played a lot, spent a lot of money.

I became a good director because Jay Albright mentored me.

I rarely direct that someone doesn't say "glad you are here".

I owe my success in the bridge world to Jay Albright.

Thank You Jay!

 Joanne Westinghouse


Concerning Mary Ann Seng, recent silver life master.

 Duplicate bridge began in Jasper in 1962.  In Tampa, Fl, in 1985 I became a life master--in a big way.  Forty five gold points.  Playing with Julia Bomalaski (now a diamond life master) from my hometown, we won a woman's session and won 30 gold points.  We ranked high in a Flight A Swiss and got 15 points.  Now, 35 years later I am silver.

 I am known as a teacher, never for pay.  I am proud of the three daughters and five grandchildren I have taught.  My daughter Carol Olinger is the youngest person from our club to become a life master.  We are pictured in First Quarter Midwest Monitor, 2014, in a three generations photo.

 Carol's son Phil and his first cousin Mike Olinger (my student also) have won several times in Evansville, Louisville, and Owensboro.  Their recent win was an overall at Cincinnati-Owensboro regional, June 1-7, 2015.

The youngest of my playing grandchildren, Eli Seng, and I had a 79.17% game, named in Bulletin, JUNE 15, 2015.  He was playing less than a year.  Another grandson, Phil Olinger, and I have a 76.3 % game not yet recorded in Bulletin.

  I am 88 years old.  I began play as a freshman at I.U. in 1945.

  Mary Ann Seng



Responses to Rank-Change Letters—February - May 2015

Hi Beth

Thank you for the email. I do not have much of a story to tell. It was a long journey which started after I came to Syracuse, NY, in 1977 to do graduate studies. I have been in West Lafayette since 1981. Of course I enjoy the game immensely but could not play competitively as much as I would have liked. Our local club is very small and shrinking. It is very unfortunate, but that is the reality. These days I play exclusively on Bridge Base On-line. The ACBL speedball tournaments are a great way to spend an hour, convenient, fast and high quality bridge. Plus you get to play with long lost friends from all over the world. Judging by the number of people logged in at any time and playing in tournaments, I think it is a winner. Does ACBL give some of that money to the districts? 

Hope you have a great regional in Indianapolis. I will try to make it. 

Thank you again. 

Girish Joglekar

All of the members of the clubs in my area are incredibly friendly & helpful. I owe whatever success I have to a great partner, Jim McCool, to super lessons & advice from John Groben & Pete Lambert.

I absolutely love this game when I don't hate it!!


George Baumgardner

Dear Beth,

Thank you for your note of congratulations.  There was nothing special about my achievement except perhaps the help I got from my many different partners.  Like many current players, it took an almost 50 year hiatus before I started playing again.  It’s a great way to keep your mind sharp during retirement. 

            I also appreciate the time and effort that you and the others on the District Board put into making the game enjoyable for the rest of us.

 Yours truly,

Dennis Dewey

Thank you Beth for the congratulations.  My journey to life master began many years ago when I played in a weekly small duplicate game in a small city in Michigan.  Life  happened, and I was away from the game for many years until we relocated to another small city in the South in 2004.  I picked up duplicate there, and two years later arrived in Louisville with 30 masterpoints and time on my hands.  Thank goodness I was able to rejoin ACBL under the 300 point life master requirement!  I started playing once or twice a week in Verna's games, but really got enthused after the NABC here in Louisville.  My journey has been slow but steady, and all of my points have been earned with my peers.  I have several regular partners and also some great teammates who helped in getting that gold!

My immediate goal is to become a more skilled and confident player and to keep learning.  To paraphrase Verna  " when you become a Life Master you find out how much you really don't know!"

Joanne Traver


When I earned my first masterpoint I could not envision ever earning 1,000 masterpoints, but it happened. 

Unlike some bridge players who always do the right thing at the right time, I usually do wrong thing at the wrong time.  Consequently, becoming a Silver Life Master was mainly the result of grinding it out:  taking lessons, reading about bridge, and playing a lot of bridge—a whole lot.  It was very rewarding, because along the way I had many enjoyable experiences and met many very nice people. 

Robert Jiobu


 Jean Addleton

Thx Beth.  No special story.  Just love to play.  Glad my dad introduced the game to me when I was about 11!  My older brothers....not so much....

Cliff Pleatman


The Bridge Master award was a surprise. I assume it means 20+ master points. I was enjoying the game and the fellow players at Evansville Duplicate Club so much it came quick. Thanks to  great instruction by Jan Tucker in E-Z Bridge, top-notch Directors (all of them), and patience from fellow players it has been a great experience. I was also able to fit in with the duplicate club in St. Augustine and continue the experience for 1 month. It has been a unique experience  to develop a working partnership and I have learned the game is about sportsmanship and patience with other players.

Bob Messick  #2761564

Hi A. Beth:

I play bridge for the enjoyment and not the awards -- and to keep whatever is between my ears working. Also, playing only once a week, it's tough to collect silver points, so this is appreciated.
I can't imagine why you'd want my handsome face, but here it is.

Arnie Friedman 

Thank you for your congratulations. My story is a tribute to two people, Nancy Sachs and my wife, Marlene Pierce. In 2004, Marlene and three of her friends were taking lessons from Nancy Sachs. She and Nancy convinced me to take lessons also, and to play duplicate bridge with Marlene at the Cincinnati Bridge Center( Tom’s 0-50MP Game). From these lessons, a friendship grew between Nancy, Paul, Marlene and I that  lasted until the day she tragically died. During the intervening years, I  never quite devoted the time to the game I should have, but  managed to find the time to accompany Marlene to Nationals, Regionals, and Sectionals. She became a Life Master about two years ago.  She was my also my taskmaster, and that explains  why I obtained my gold, silver, and red points long before I had the total number required. I want to thank all the members of District 11 for helping me.

Sonny Pierce

Best and most helpful to me: #1 bridge classes , especially those taught by Dallas Moore -he is best instructor I have ever had in any subject!!!!!!!

                                                        #2 friendliness and helpfulness of nearly every member I have met and/or with whom I have played bridge.
                                                          #3 the physical facility is outstanding in every way imaginable.

Discovering your organization has enhanced my life immeasurably!  (And if you are in a position to do so, please extend my special appreciation to Dallas  and Donna Moore and Stu Peterson who seem to have gone far "beyond the call of duty" to make  Bridge the joy of my life.

Thank you for your time and interest.

Dawn Schiller

My Journey to Life Master

Cynthia Kluemper, Jasper, Indiana

Growing up in England, I learned how to play Whist (the fore-runner of bridge). Our little village even held whist games in the village hall. It was fun. I would have liked to have learned bridge, but my mother hated bridge because she had been forced to play with her grandmother and old aunts when they needed an extra player.

A few years after I came to America, my sister-in-law and I took bridge lessons. We loved the game and soon formed a social bridge club. We had heard of duplicate, but thought that was for the high-falutin players.

Fast forward twenty-five years, and I went from full time employment to part time. Mary Ann Seng, manager of the Jasper Duplicate Bridge Club, asked me to come to duplicate games. I was hesitant at first. I had heard horror stories about duplicate. I thought players were so serious and could get so emotionally upset that they might throw the cards at you. Mary Ann assured me that that kind of behavior was not allowed and that players were polite and friendly.

Mary Ann said they had mentors for the Monday night game. Mentors? Why would I need an mentor? I thought I knew how to play bridge. Gosh, I soon found out that I practically had to relearn everything. But, I loved it. I loved the new bidding system, and was so proud when I learned a new cue bid or something new. I soon became hooked on duplicate. I loved the discipline and the "post mortems". (Trying how to puzzle out how others made the contract). I took a little note book with me and wrote down any advice people gave me. I would re-read those notes every time I went to play.

I thought Life Master was out of my reach. But, slowly, slowly, I started earning some master points and then started going to tournaments. I loved the atmosphere of the tournaments. It's a whole different community. It's exciting to meet people from all over the county and other countries, too.

A few years ago, I started helping with bridge lessons. It's so rewarding to help people learn this incredible game. But I felt I wasn't really qualified to give lessons when I hadn't earned my Life Master. So that's when I started to kick it into high gear. It was at about that time that my husband and I started to go to The Villages in Florida for a couple of months in the winter. The Villages has a huge bridge club. This helped immensely. There were a lot of strong players. Strong players are more difficult to play against, of course, but those players have a wealth of knowledge and advice to give.

I believe going to larger clubs and playing against stronger competition will improve one's game. Obviously, strong players like to partner with an equally strong player, but let them know that you would like to play with them if they are ever without a partner. You'd be surprised. Good players just want to play the game and if they don't have a partner, they will call you. I'm sure playing with stronger partners always helped my playing.

Over the years, I have been with four people when they earned their Life Master. I started joking that I was always the bridesmaid and never the bride. I was envious of them and thought they were so lucky. But we know it's not all luck. You have to read bridge books and study conventions and plays. You have to be a good partner. Sometimes you may not like some of your partners bidding conventions, but at least you should try them if you want to be a good partner.

I have enjoyed my journey to Life Master. I have met so many interesting people--people from all walks of life. People with such varied careers and totally different backgrounds, people I probably never have met if I hadn't gone to bridge tournaments. I will continue to go to tournaments because my son now plays bridge and loves it. I've also met some rather eccentric individuals, and have some funny stories to tell. I may have to write a book!

Dear Beth,  How kind of you to send a congratulatory email for  my reaching the Junior Master "milestone"!   It has been a fun journey with Jo Anne Casen at the Country Club of Florida.  My goal has never been points as much as trying to hold my own with the many good players in our duplicate games.  I'm curious  to see if this will whet my competitive appetite to attain more and more.  Right now, I am a happy camper with

the progress my partner and I seem to be making and love, love, love the game!  Thanks again for your encouragement and welcome.

Sincerely,     Dani Kannapell

I just got over 20 MP's and you ask me to tell how I did it.  At first I thought you were kidding, after all, 20 MP's is not much compared to the hundreds and even thousands some people whom I have played against have.  Nevertheless, I will say that after starting to play duplicate last August or July, I went weeks without much result, then months, picking up a piece of a point here and a piece there.  Then I was pared with a young man who also did not have a regular partner and from there it was easy.  We played together 14 times (I think that's about right) and only once did we not get at least a piece of a master point.  While playing together we won 2 club championships, one with our 0-20 group and one with the 0-100 group.During that time he won rookie of the month and helped me win my rookie of the month.

Perhaps what made it work the best was that I told him to teach me how to bid the conventions he liked. There was no bickering or complaining about it, he said he wanted to play a certain convention, like Roman Key Card Blackwood (not 1430) and so that's what we bid. Responses to 2 club openers involved the conventions where 2 diamonds means partner has an ace or a king, 2 hearts is neither an ace nor a king, you know the drill.

So that's what we did.  In other words, I agreed with whatever he chose.  So I think that helped us pick a way to go and go that way.
Of course it also helped that this young man (in his 20's) attacked bridge with a fervor.  He wanted to learn and he wanted to win.

If I may say so, we both play a hand well.  More than likely, if it can be made, declarer will make it.
But mostly, I think it was my decision to let him decide the convention and we went from there.

The old expression "not the right way or the wrong way, but my partner's way" (paraphrased a little) is what we did, so we were consistent.

 Robert Dombrow


Responses to Rank-Change Letters—January 2015

Responses to Rank-Change Letters—December 2014/January 2015

Dear Beth,   Thanks so much for your congrats.  Never thought I would achieve this level in this lifetime (Am sure we will all be playing bridge still in heaven, don't you?).

My story is pretty standard for one of my generation - early on, no TV(or tech of any sort) so the whole family played lots of card games.  My parents had very little disposable money so their entertainment was to have friends over on Friday night to play bridge with - that's where I learned(not exactly the game we play today).  Ray and I first met when we were college students and again the 'cheap' date was a game of bridge with fellow students.  So after we married and moved around this country we always looked for bridge players to help us get acquainted with the city(usually through a Newcomers organization in the new city).  Contract bridge became Duplicate Bridge in New Jersey newcomers and then we were really hooked(no longer just the luck of the cards, usually).  This continued in Lexington with Newcomers of Lex. in 1973 but we didn't get into sanction games until kids were grown and we retired in 1999.  (Just as a side note-we got our Life Masters in a Louisville regional in a KO with Rae Ann Eastwood and Reva Bhrem as our partners in which we lost to you and Marsha in the finals but coming in 2nd gave us the red points we needed.) 

We celebrated our 50th Anniversary this year in Sept. and people asked all of the time what made this work for 50 years.  Maybe I should have said 'playing bridge together all these years was the glue'. 

Our club, our Unit and our District have been very good to us over the years and I have nothing to suggest for changes and I think you are doing a wonderful job as representative to the National.  I love your reports and read them all very carefully.  Thanks for all the time you spend on our behalf.

Again, thanks for letting me expound.  The memory trip was fun.

Kathy Linck

Dear Beth,

Thank you so much for taking the time to congratulate me.  I am a relatively new bridge player.  In 2009 I had to retire from teaching at age 52 because I was in end stage liver failure and needed a liver transplant.  I had an auto-immune disease that destroyed my liver.  My recovery was slow after the transplant with two rejections that required major steriods to control.  The first year I basically stayed home and away from everyone so I wouldn't catch anything, since I was so immune compromised.  The second year I was very lonely and bored at home all day when my friends were still working.  Daytime television is really bad!

A close friend of mine learned to play bridge and a few short months later decided that was what I needed to pull me out of my funk.  She came to my house on Sundays for several months and brought 2 other friends with her.  Although she was a beginner herself, she taught all three of us the basics at the same time.  That was in the spring of 2012.  In June of 2012, I played in my first ACBL sanctioned duplicate game.  I was hooked immediately.  I typically play 1 evening and 2 days a week.  I have developed a good partnership with a person I am happy to say is my friend named Tom Kempf.  I was luck enough to play in a mentor-mentee game with a very advanced player just a few months after I played in my first duplicate game.  Susan Christian taught me so much about duplicate.  I am very grateful.  Bridge has given me something to look forward to and I have made a whole new group of friends.  I still need about 75 points to reach the 500 level and Life Master.  I am sure working toward that goal will continue to be as much fun as the last 2 years have been.  Again thank you for being interested in a novice like me.


Marianne Thomas


Dear Beth 

I have been playing bridge with my husband for over 45 years.  Until about four years ago, we played party bridge and our bidding  was based on the Goren system.  Then we joined the Terre Haute Bridge Club and began taking lessons in the newer bidding systems.  With time and patience on both our instructors and our part, we began to feel confident enough to play in the more competitive local games.  The challenge of competing against the many Life Masters in our club encouraged us to compete in near-by sectionals and regionals.  All of the local club directors and Life Masters have been very supportive and have continued   to give us valuable aid.  We look forward to playing several times a week at the local club and attending sectionals and regionals when possible.

Mary Lynn Siefert

Dear Ms. Reid - Thank you very much for your congratulatory e mail.  I began my bridge career here in Indianapolis in 1979.  One of my more memorable experiences in the bridge world was the opportunity to play with the legendary Easley Blackwood.  (This had nothing to do with my bridge prowess!)  I am a physician and helped care for his wife.  Being a very intellectually curious individual Mr. Blackwood had many questions about his wife's medical situation.  He wanted to know all about the results of her blood tests, x-rays, EKGs etc. etc.  I was only too happy to give him in depth explanations.  So each day I would stop by her room to answer all of his questions.  Then I would have a bridge hand that I needed some help with.  This symbiotic relationship continued for several weeks.  One day he invited me to play with him at the club. Naturally I accepted.  After we had played a few games, he invited me to go to the National Bridge Tournament in Niagara Falls.  I think that was in  1980 or 1981.  I think I had about 5 master points!

This was a memorable occasion.  He introduced me to many greats in the bridge world - I distinctly remember meeting Mike Lawrence, Amalya Kearse, Paul Soloway, and Eddie Kantar among others.  The first evening we were playing east-west.  As we came to one table Mr. Blackwood shook hands with North - saying "Ozzie I'd like you to meet my partner Gil Herod."  Oswald Jacoby of course.  His partner was Alan Sontag.  And so it went.  As we would walk down the halls, players would come up to him saying, "Mr. Blackwood I want to shake your hand!"  And he would say -"And this is my partner Gil Herod."

Mr. Blackwood (he insisted that I call him Easley) did have one bad habit.  As dummy he was prone to facial expressions indicating disapproval if I made a bad play.  He had what I would describe as a large "mournful" face.  So if I made a bad play, it was like the wrath of God was coming at me across the table!  When I made the occasional good play, I was greeted with a distinct wink from Mr. Blackwood.  I had to stop and think - "Am I dreaming or is Easley Blackwood winking at me at the National Bridge Tournament?"  We didn't do very well, but I think we did come in fifth one afternoon.  I remember getting a couple of good boards against Paul Soloway and Malcom Brachman.

Everyone who play with or against Mr. Blackwood remembers him as being a wonderful teacher.  As a frequent partner I was indeed fortunate to have been treated to many helpful comments.  I have become a teacher now.  Hardly a lesson goes by that I don't invoke Mr. Blackwood.  (Some might accuse me of name dropping!)  But to this day I can hear hime saying, "Gil, keep length with dummy!"  or  "if the opponents have a fit, so do we."  On one occasion I can remember that it was clear that I could not let RHO get the lead.  So I finessed the 8 or some middle card so that LHO would get the lead.  Mr. Blackwood said, "Nice avoidance play Gil!"  To which I said, "What is an avoidance play?"  He then said - "The play you just made - keeping RHO from getting the lead."

Later I was fortunate to have Dennis Clerkin as a partner.  We wracked up 315 gold points playing in Kalamazoo, Gatlinburg, and Indianapolis.  Dennis was an excellent partner and teacher. 

Due to extraordinary demands on my time from my practice of medicine I dropped out of bridge from 1997 until 2004.  There came a time when I "retired" from the daily practice of medicine but remained on call "24-7" as they say.  I continued to fly around the country to "harvest" hearts and lungs and bring them back to Methodist Hospital to be transplanted.  

So back to bridge I went. I was the only bridge player that was allowed to have my i phone "on" all the time so I could respond quickly when needed. All directors and fellow players went along with this plan. On several occasions I had to leave in the middle of a game and a director or other player would complete the game.  (Incidentally according to the president of the International Heart and Lung Transplant Association, I performed this procedure, i.e. the extraction of hearts and lungs, more than anyone in history.)

When I returned to bridge, I contacted my old friend Sharon Austin who was now assistant manager of the club.  She and I had started as rookies at the same time back in the late 70s and early 80s.  She helped me find appropriate partners.  Bob Harding and I developed a regular partnership and traveled to several regionals.  We played several times in Gatlinburg, Louisville, Indianapolis, and Detroit winning or placing high in several events.

Several years ago due to dwindling attendance at our Monday evening game, Sharon (who has become manager as you know), called me up and invited me to play with her regularly on Monday evenings and try to increase attendance.  So we have played virtually every Monday evening for 5 or 6 years.  She is an excellent partner and is especially adept at teaching me in a very low key manner so that I am not embarrassed.  Many of my master points have been achieved with this Monday evening partnership.

Under Sharon Austin's leadership, the Indianapolis Bridge Center has developed a very active teaching program.  Sharon encouraged me to take the ACBL training course and I have become an active teacher.  In addition to teaching formal classes, I have participated in our mentoring program.  A few years ago Sharon asked me to mentor one of our rookie players - Dee Dee Watson.  I was happy to do so.  She progressed nicely and became one of the only 2 rookies to ever have achieved "Player of the Month" status.  Several months later after I had a change in marital status, I called Dee Dee up to see if she wanted to play bridge - and also have dinner.  One thing led to another and we were married in May of 2010.  She had several friends who wanted to improve their bridge.  So we started a Friday evening gathering know in some circles as "Gil's Bridge Salon".  We would have dinner and then play several hands.  From that group 4 have become life masters and 2 more are close.

Here is a list of the significant events in which I won or placed:




Open Pairs






 Swiss Teams






 Swiss Teams






KO Teams






 Swiss Teams




3/9/2014INDIANARegional Swiss Team    Gold       11.42

3/7/2014INDIANARegional KO Teams        Gold      11.19




KO Teams



I really can't think of any improvements I would make.  There are so many tournaments available with a wide variety of events.  About the only thing I can think of - and I doubt the practicability of this - would events for teachers and students to play together.  Sort of like a pro am event.

Gilbert Herod

Dear Beth,

I do apologize for taking so long to reply to your kind message! My “story” about getting my Life Master status is one I shall never forget. A former partner, Cy Long, invited me to go with him to play in the Ft. Wayne Regional Tournament in September. I agreed a bit reluctantly because of the 5-1/2 hour drive to get there AND because he wanted to play in a Swiss team game for which we had no partners. But he said he’d call the partnership desk and see if we could team with another pair looking to complete their team. We were set up with the most wonderful Ken Bisson and his partner Chet (last name???) from Angola. Cy and I played in three pairs games before we it came time for our Swiss game—and I recall that our scores on those three games were a high of 44%! But we didn’t lose hope, and something just clicked in the Swiss; plus, Ken was SO optimistic that his enthusiasm and encouragement just buoyed us all the way to our first place over 28 other teams. It was one incredible experience! The four of us hope to reunite in Gatlinburg come April 2015. 

Thank you for asking!

Warm regards and Merry Christmas!

Patti Lodato





I have found the Lexington Bridge Club extremely welcoming, and it is the encouragement and mentoring of more seasoned players that keeps me playing. The group makes a special effort to reach out to newcomers and novices, and provides a positive and sociable experience (even when we're being crushed by the skill of expert players!). I can't say enough good things about the leadership of the group. I know they have intentionally worked to build this atmosphere, and it is paying off with the new players who keep coming back.

You are welcome to share my comments.

--Eve Podet


My wife, Kathleen, also just achieved the same rank (we have < 1 MP difference). Here's our story: I discovered bridge as a child, when browsing library books on games. I played duplicate for a while, then more or less forgot about it until just after Kathleen and I were married, over 6 years ago. We saw a sign for a duplicate club at a mall, and inspiration struck: we could learn bridge together! So we did, and I taught some of our friends at the University of Nebraska---Lincoln as well. Virtually all of our masterpoints were earned through our partnership. We now live in Kathleen's hometown, Lexington, and are gunning for Life Master. Picture attached (Kathleen knit my scarf)

Jonathan Crosmer





Thank you for recognizing this.

My story is simple. I have been a member of the LBA for over 40 years. However, I have been too busy with work and family to play duplicate bridge on a regular basis. In my earlier bridge years, I primarily partnered with Nelly Coleman.

Later, I partnered with Nelly’s son in law, Jimmy Johnson.  With Jimmy’s  help, I made Life Master. Recently, I semi-retired and began partnering with the Professor, Dorsey Brown, who has the patience of Job.

With his tutoring, I made Bronze Life Master. In the future, I hope to play  often enough to make Silver Life Master. I hope it does not take me another 40 years.

Dennis O’Brien

Thanks for the update Beth. 

I made my first attempt into duplicate while living in the east. I would play a game and it would take weeks to get up the courage to try again. This was long before zero tolerance. I moved to Cincinnati and took many lessons from Nancy Sachs, who became a good friend. 


Everyone in the Midwest was so welcoming, encouraging, and kind partners. I was on my way and encourage friends, family, coworkers, to give this game a try. See you at the table.


Margaret Young


This is a highlight of some of the most exciting moments in my quest for becoming a life master.  You can delete items as you wish.

I will try to send a picture later this week. Please acknowledge receipt of this note.

 Thanks so much for your compliments on my achieving the life member status.
Per your request, I will talk about several significant events that helped me achieve this goal.  The first is my first ever  bridge lesson was ( Jan 2011) with Noel Helmick,  a very patient and knowledgeable teacher that put up with what probably seemed like an endless series of questions at all of her classes.
After this class, my partner and I decided to enter the Indy regional in June (2011).  We tried to play in the 0 to 5 Master point strata but there were not enough teams in that group so they put us into the 299 strata.  To our surprise we won that event and earned 3.06 red points.  WOW, what a turn on that turned out to be.
After several more classes and some practice time at the Indy Bridge center  we entered the Nashville regional and had a 75.3% game and won 11.3 gold points.  More practice and then the Fort Wayne Regional and our team won the Swiss team event and 12+ gold points

To me, the basic challenge turned out to be that each hand we played or talked about was like a puzzle where you needed to bid properly and play the hand properly to make all the parts fit together to make a winning combination. The game of bridge is very unique in that way because there are so many possible hand combinations.  It is almost impossible to see to identical hands.

This is what keeps me studying and learning the game.  It has been said that the more you learn, the more you realize that there is so much more to learn.

As a very pleasant side benefit is the fact that you get to meet so many interesting people all with stories of there own and desire to learn the game.
It would be remiss of me not that thank all my teachers, Lois Scott , John Fosnaught, Jamie Hodge and Sharon Austin for putting up with me in their classes.
I look forward to the next step in the bridge world, the silver level life master.

Perry Olsen


Hi Beth,

Belated thanks for this email. I meant to respond earlier but life ran away with me. I wish I had a story worth sharing - but the truth of the matter is that I earned the points in spite of myself - not for particularly trying! I don't think that's going to inspire anyone! :-)

I work full time and therefore don't get too many opportunities to play. I can play only on Wed. evenings as the Northern KY center has only one evening game. My partner travels a lot and I've been away some too, so I get to play perhaps two weeks in a month. I recently found out that there are players on standby for when I don't have a partner, so I've taken advantage of that a couple of times. I used to forget to take my ABCL number with me. I've added it to my phone, and now always have it at hand. I thought these two points were worth mentioning.

I'm waiting to retire so that I can play more bridge!

Thanks for your interest and your lovely email.

Swarna Mohan


Thank you, Beth.  

A high school teacher taught me when I was in high school.   I played for awhile through college then didn't play for 30 years.  I'm in my 50s now so - not much of a story!

I'm happy with the ACBL.  No complaints!

Best regards,
Will LaRu

Thanks for the congrats email. Sorry I didn't respond sooner. I feel fortunate to have reached this level. Thanks again. 

Ray Tolston

Responses to Rank-Change Letters—October/November 2014


I learned to play bridge in the early 1950’s by watching my widowed mother playing rubber bridge with other ladies.  From age 8 into college, I was a 4th in those games on many weekends.  Our small town did have a weekly duplicate game, but I did not play there too much.  In college I reunited with a friend from junior high and we began playing regularly (but not to the point of cutting classes).  In 1967 I went to the Student Recreation Committee to seek permission to start a campus duplicate bridge club in order to be able to compete in the Intercollegiate Bridge tournament.   They approved and I subsequently became a certified club director.  (The real significance of that meeting, however, was meeting my future wife of 43 years.)  My partner and I did qualify for and play in the Intercollegiate finals, but subsequently, I didn’t play much bridge (mostly rubber when with my family, with occasional club play), although I kept up my ACBL membership.

My bridge playing increased significantly in two ways in 2011.  In the first, with my wife in hospice, my college partner, now a life master, asked if I would be interested in playing with him in team games at the 2012 nationals in Philadelphia where he lived.  When we last played, it had been Schenken (a strong club system), so he sent me many pages of notes on 2/1.  We practiced by playing on BBO, including some ACBL speedball pairs.  I did play in Philly, my first tournament in decades, then in the next 18 months, played with his team at another national and three Regionals around the country.  In the second, I began teaching bridge to my oldest grandchild, using the ACBL on-line materials.  After his family moved to my hometown, we continued twice-weekly lessons via Skype until he entered college this fall, and we even played in the weekly duplicate game several times when I visited.  

Although my Philadelphia partner’s bridge-playing wife’s retirement has ended our playing together, at the Atlanta nationals he had asked Bob Fisk, a successful Cincinnati player, to get me involved in this area.  Bob lined me up with several folks to play at the Cincinnati Bridge Center where I have averaged several plays a month over the past year.  It was play with two of them in 3 area Sectional events, the last being in August at Hebron, KY, where I earned the silver points needed to achieve the rank of NABC Master.  Mostly, however, I play on BBO, either solitaire or the 8-hand imp individual instant tournament.


John Williams


Thank you for your congratulations! As a new player I'm still getting used to it all. I feel I'm under false pretenses because I have retired to NC and all the points are from playing here. The trick was finding people to play with steadily and who are interested in improving. We have a four-way team here and meet weekly to discuss conventions and playing strategies. ACBL has been great although it won't let me on the site to register.  (When I put the http etc. in the browser, it tells me no such site exists.) My goals are simply to have fun and continue honing my skills! Thanks again!!

Lane Wood

Beth, Thank you for the notice and congratulations.  My story is not very exciting, but here goes:

I learned to play bridge almost 45 years ago.  Friends of my husband and me taught us and I fell in love with the game from the get-go.  My husband didn't have the same love of the game, so I got involved with monthly "kitchen" games with friends or got involved with Newcomers Club groups when we moved to new areas.  I moved to Ohio over 30 years ago and got away from the game for a few years until I made friends with a co-worker who also loved to play bridge.  She go me involved in a couple of bridge groups that she was part of.  After I retired, she also encouraged me to join the local Senior Center, where she and I started playing duplicate together.  Over a year ao, they started a sanctioned game a couple of times a month.  That was when I joined the ACBL and started collecting points.  It hasn't been hard-I am playing a game that I love and the points are a bonus. 

As I mentioned before, I am now retired from the insurance industry.  I am single; I have a grown daughter and son, both married.  I have 4 grandkids-ages 23, 21, 16 and 12-who I totally enjoy. 

Beth, I hope this is what you are looking for.  I don't have a picture to share.  Thank you.

Mary Jo Hudson




Thanks for your e-mail. I appreciated it. Never have I received an e-mail like it from an ABCL official. I am responding as follows:

I am 66 years old. My parents learned to play bridge at the YMCA in the early 1960’s. They loved the game and to assure they could play often, they taught my older brother and me to play when we were in our early teens. It became a regular pastime at the Drennen’s house. Some of my friends even took up the game to hang out with me and my family. There wasn’t a lot to do in Pike County, Ohio in the 1960’s. It was strictly Goren bridge in those days.

I went off to OSU and played no bridge for 4 years. After graduation,  I returned to my home town to find a number of former high school friends had come back to look for work and live with their parents until they could launch themselves. There was not a lot to do in a small town. You could party, play tennis and water ski (in the summer). We decided to play bridge. There were 6 or 7 of us. One fellow was the valedictorian of my high school class. He attended MIT and dropped out in his last year to go kibbutz the spring National bridge tournament in Boston. I am not sure if he ever finished his degree.

During this brief period in my life, a friend of my father became a bridge mentor. He introduced me to duplicate bridge. My parents only played socially and rubber bridge, so this was a whole different aspect of the game of which I was unaware. What I remember about it was we would drive to Portsmouth, Ohio to a restaurant called Harold’s Club where there was a sanctioned ACBL game. Howard, my mentor, would usually buy me dinner and we would drink Scotch whiskey and play against what I perceived to be these really ancient people. I was 22 years old. Howard and I won some rounds – enough that I joined the ABCL and recorded my first master points.

In the meantime, my friends and I were playing bridge hours on end – every chance we had. Some were real students of the game and freely shared strategies, which I picked up by assimilation. I did not study bridge.  I learned the odds of playing for a “stiff” king to drop, distributional splits, end plays, some popular conventions of the time. One buddy was learning squeeze plays, which to this day I do not know how to pull off. A girlfriend and I started playing duplicate games in Chillicothe, Ohio at the YMCA where my parents learned to play. We were playing well and trying some of the modern conventions of those times.

Then life took a turn and I left my hometown for good.  I did not play bridge again for nearly 40 years.  I seemed always to be in a place where card playing did not happen or was not part of the culture. I always missed the game and wished I could find people who wanted to play.  It was not to be.

I moved from the South back to Ohio in 2012. Friends here invited me to start playing again. One friend had recently learned the game and was totally “hooked”.  She invited me to attend lessons and play at the Bridge  Center in Kettering. I was nervous, especially when I realized the game had changed so much! I had a lot to learn and some of what I had learned in the past was going to have to be revised! I checked with ACBL to see if the few Master points I had earned back in the early 1970’s were still recorded and, by golly, they were!

The last two years have been great fun! I retired from social work, which gives me more time to devote to being a bridge student. I found a great bridge partner who puts up with me and a mentor who is teaching me a lot. I want to thank Steve and Sandy Forsythe for directing and teaching the Monday NLM game. I reached Sectional Master because they are so supportive and positive with beginners. Mostly, I appreciate my mom and dad for teaching me the greatest card game ever invented and passing along the love of the game and the competitive spirit required to win and lose graciously.

A couple of things District 11 or MVBA Unit could do to improve my experience would be first and foremost is directors enforcing the behavioral code regarding disrespectful behavior to partner and opponents at the table. I have been the target of rude, even ugly, behavior at the hands of competitors during play. I have witnessed partners abuse each other. As a relative beginner, I have not been taught the best way to address these incidents. I believe directors know who these badly behaved people are, but they have not confronted or sanctioned them.  Maybe they are waiting for people to complain or report problems to them, but I doubt that is reasonable to expect of beginners and especially people who play each other week after week. Frankly, I have pretty thick skin so I can let a lot roll off. Even so, there are certain games I avoid because nasty people play on that particular day and time.

I would like to see beginner game teachers include more instruction on protocols such as alerts, stop cards, convention cards, when to call a director, etc. Generally, I have found most life masters and veteran players very helpful in explaining the rules when it is obvious I don’t know them. But I think it is best to be taught rather than learn during play that I have done something wrong or should have done something different.


Sheila Drennen

My interest in Bridge began when I was around 13 years old when I used to watch my parents entertain their friends and play bridge.  I would fill in once in a while when someone needed to leave the table. I learned the basics, about the thirteen points needed to open a hand and how to take tricks.

In the 1970’s when my children were infants my in laws would come over several nights a week and we would play kitchen bridge. I will never forget my father in law Murray with his love of three no trump.

In the 1980’s I started playing duplicate at the Clintonville bridge club in Columbus  with my friend Ann Kay.It was challenging playing duplicate but I won a sectional and received a bridge trophy. Upon the arrival of my third child I decided to forgo the duplicate bridge games. I decided social party bridge had to be it.

A few years ago, thanks to my friends Betty Ann and Sandy, I started playing duplicate at the Jewish Center. I got hooked and was soon playing several times a week and travelling to tournaments until I became a Life Master.

I couldn’t have done it without the support o f my wonderful husband, children, sister, partners, friends and directors. They helped me accomplish my goal. My 92 year old mother patiently sat waiting to hear if I had finally received enough points to be a Life Master. It took me away from visiting her but I know she is very proud of my achievement.

Ricki Rosen

Dear Beth,

Thank You for your kind note congratulating me on my attaining Advanced NABC Master status!  I remember doing an "all-nighter" playing bridge in college and watching the sunrise!  I partnered with a girlfriend in graduate school but we'd often got into heated arguments and had to quit.  Then came the move to a new career and raising a family so bridge took a back burner.  Four years ago during retirement, I downloaded Fred Gitelman's bridge course from the ACBL website and my enthusiasm for bridge was rekindled.  I located my local bridge club here in Lexington, asked for and got a Mentor during our Tuesday 299er games.  Kristi stuck with me for over a year and a half until I got 50 Masterpoints!  I think I only transferred her into a four card major maybe two or three times!  My excitement, enthusiasm and desire to learn bridge has been increasing these past few years.  I did make a vow to myself, however, and that was if I ever got into a heated argument about bridge with anyone, that I would quit the game.  So far, my promise to myself has served me, and I'm sure my many partners, well. Being a former teacher, I will give back to bridge by getting accredited to teach the game.  I enjoy participating in our Learn Bridge in A Day program and our Mentor-Mentee games.  Us retirees need a lot of socializing, and bridge more than provides a great arena for it.

Cordially yours,

Edgar Iwamoto

Retired professor

Lexington KY



Seven years ago, 3 months after my Mother died, my Father began playing duplicate bridge. He is 86 yrs old.  Two years ago, 3 months after my husband died, my Father said, "You need to learn to play duplicate Bridge".  He began teaching me and was very patient.  He had taught me to play pinochle and black jack.  

As a retired Dept. of Defense employee with 31 yrs of service and 5 deployments to the middle east, I've never faced such a challenge as learning to play bridge.  I play mostly with my Father and he is very patient.  I play online and read books about Bridge.  I enjoy playing with my Father and learning the game. I realize I have a long way to go.  I'm learning to enjoy it but I have had to overcome many obstacles.  I've learned from making mistakes and making right plays as well.

On the personal side, as a new player,  I believe players should check their egos at the door.  In other words, do not condemn other players for their misplays, if they are in a learning status.  Be patient and helpful when you can.  It will only make a better player.      

Linda Parker

Dear Beth,


What delight to receive your message.  I have been trying to become a better player, and am so pleased to have you recognize my success.

Danny Wood

Hi Beth, Thank you for your high praise of my minor accompaniment. The people at  the Indianapolis Bridge Center who would know, tell me you are doing a great job, and I want to thank you for your part in making the ACBL such a fine organization. My story is simple and some of the names you will know. My friend and mentor, Maribeth Ransel, had been trying to get me to play at the IBC for years and one day last Fall Ray Battey , a golf buddy of mine, invited me to play and I took him up on it. I was surprised on how much I enjoyed the experience. Bob Smith, a friend and long time party bridge partner, played at the IBC in the days before computers. I invited him to play and we play on Mondays. Ray and I play every other Thursday and I just started to play on Fridays with Maureen Clerkin. Maureen has just started to play duplicate bridge – She has two Brothers who play a little bridge who you would know. As you know, we have great members and teachers at the IBC and next year when i retire completely I am going to try to take more classes and go to a few tournaments. I enjoy the monthly Bridge Bulletin and being part of the ACBL.

Bernie Shepard

Responses to Rank Change Letters: July & Aug 2014

Dear Beth:

Hi Beth,

 Thanks for the kind words.

 My story is brief with just several interesting points. My parents taught myself and my older brother to play when we were in the third (8 yrs old) and fifth grades, so we could play with them. Although I was a decent social player, I played almost no duplicate until about 18 months ago. I had retired shortly before that.

 I started to play duplicate at our Cincinnati club and in Naples, Florida (1-2 months in winter), and really enjoyed it! Both clubs have been very inviting and helpful. Cincinnati is my home club and the directors (especially Kay Mulford) and members have been especially welcoming. I played in my first tournaments this summer and did fine scoring wise. I even travelled to Crystal Lake, Ill to play in a tournament with a friend from Wisconsin that I had met in Naples. We played in 4 NLM sessions and scored well in all four for a total of about 4.8 points!

 I don't know what else District 11 can do to help, but thanks for the kind words and support!


 Terry Raulin

Thank you for your kind words.  Hoping to achieve the next status soon.  Amy Gerowitz

My husband David and I had played a little duplicate bridge when we lived in Jasper Indiana, 30 years ago and getting back into duplicate was on my bucket list for when we retired.  So when we retired a couple of years ago we tried playing one evening at the bridge center but David didn't enjoy it and felt intimidated by the superior players (a lot had changed in the bridge world in 30 years, who ever heard of opening with 12 points?). When a good friend also retired 2 years ago she wanted to try duplicate, we had been playing party bridge together for several years.  We played on Tuesday morning in the under 299's group and had a little success but mostly we were enjoying the people and having a great time.  When my husband saw how much fun we were having and I finally convinced him that it was a great learning experience, he decided to play with me in the 299's on Friday morning.  Verna oversees both Tuesday and Friday sessions and was delighted to have new people in attendance.  We took an 8 week lesson Verna offered on Friday afternoons and have made a lot of changes in our original system of playing.  Recently we played in Cincinnati Flying Pigs Sectional and had a great time, and even earned a few points.  We look forward to playing more bridge thru our retirement years.

De Ann Kurtz

I achieved the NABC Master milestone because of the Indianapolis Bridge Center. I had last played duplicate in the 1980's.

One day in 2011 I had an impulse to play duplicate again.  I called the IBC and partnership leader Deanna Nesbit arranged for me to

play with Miles Muhlada.  We hit it off and started regularly playing in the Monday and Friday Mornings NLM games. When Miles was

not available , I often played with Mike Suit and with Harley Hoyt. Once in a Swiss Teams event , I even got to partner with the IBC

Manager Sharon Austin !  In April 2012 I made Rookie of the Month and in May , Miles made Rookie of the month. The IBC threw

big parties for us on both occasions !  The photo I enclose is of Miles and me ( I'm in the blue striped shirt)  front of the Rookie of the

Month plaque at IBC.  Miles and I and Mike and Harley went to Sectionals and Regionals in Indiana and in Ohio. Eventually I got 

enough points of the required colors to Make NABC . I continue to play regularly IBC. With IBC's encouragement and help, I

feel I feel I will get to the next rank of Life Master.


John M. Burns


Dear Beth,   


Thank you for your kind acknowledgement of my rather modest achievement in attaining ACBL Sectional Master Status.  From my perspective I have thoroughly enjoyed my experiences in playing duplicate bridge at the Evansville club and on occasion in Owensboro.  While your kind note is more than I expected in this regard, I am not comfortable talking me.   As between us, my duplicate bridge experience goes back over fifty years to when I was learning to play duplicate with John Groven, Julie Rose Weaver, Gene Cain and others at the duplicate bridge club at the old McCurdy Hotel in Evansville.  I then took a fifty plus year hiatus from the game and only returned to playing sporadically in the last few years.  Thank you again for your note.


Dennis Dewey

Thank you Ruth. I’m delighted to have reached another goal.


I am 84 yrs old and have played “fun” bridge since I was in college. My parents used to play. In fact, I came across a pin recently that was in a small box that my father kept on his dresser along with cuff links. I looked at it and it had in scripted on it “American Duplicate Bridge 1933 First Place”. I had no idea that my father, who has been deceased for many years, played duplicate bridge.


3 years ago I decided that I wanted to bring myself into this century re bridge and bidding so I took an “Easy Bridge” session. I loved it and met so many nice people. I was invited by many to be their partner and found that this was such a good way to keep my mind active and continue learning. Currently I am still working. I run professional tennis tournaments and assign officials to top level events. In fact, this year I will once again be Chief Umpire of the US Open, a Grand Slam event and one of the 4 largest tennis tournaments in the world. It will be my last year as I’ve been doing it for 45 years.


I have found that duplicate bridge uses my mind in a different way than just sitting at the computer. It also involves logical thinking which I love. My goal is very simple. I want to continue to play and learn. You at ACBL just continue to do the good work you’re doing and continue caring for those who play this marvelous game. I really enjoy the bridge players in our local group. They do a fantastic job and work hard to make things fun and pleasant for everyone. I couldn’t ask for a nicer group to spend time with.


Thanks for caring. I look forward to many more years of fun and bridge.


Woodie (real name Phyllis) Walker


P.S. Obviously this isn’t a recent picture. I could give you a recent one later



Thanks you for your kind words. Not much story here; just plugging along enjoying the company of new friends, great teachers and patient partners.

Art Western


Thank You Beth but nothing unique in reaching this milestone other than routine bridge playing, with lots of luck!



Thank you for your nice note.  I had no idea I was even close to that.


Jim Hill


Thank you, Beth.

Its taken me too long to get this far....hopefully the next level will come more quickly!

Judy Lubow

I have played bridge for 40+ years, but very little duplicate until the last few years. The decisions with every new hand have always exciting. I try to make the most logical choice in my play but many times I am surprised at the unusual distribution, then I have to rethink for the next play. The game is fascinating. The bidding gets more complicated the more you learn, especially with better competition.

I am driven to play twice per week ,at least, and to attend an occasional out of town tournament.

After 50 years of marriage, I got my wife to play duplicate with me (not always easy). She now has 27 MPs , 13 of which are colored/ 6.3G,5R.1.4S.

The wonderful people at the Indianapolis Bridge Center have made our bridge experience especially rewarding.

Thanks for the opportunity to share my thoughts.

Miles Muhlada


FYI – and you said it was impossible!!!!  Whoopee Doo – I’m now over 5 master points!  Next level 20 pts = club master.  I’m rolling now!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Judy Bratton


Thank you for your kindness.  I would prefer to wait for further accolades if, and when, I attain life master status.  This milestone is minor compared to most of my bridge colleagues here in Dayton.

Again, many thanks.


Joann Findlay

I began playing bridge with my parents in the late fifties and  still play. My first MP was in 1959 I continued sanctioned play until 1978. After that I only played rubber and unsanctioned games. In 2004 I was retired and moved to  Amelia Island/Fernandina Beach, FL.  and played in an  unsanctioned game there with several partners. My partner in 2013 was Patt Corbin an excellent player who encouraged  me to play in the local duplicate games. With Patt and  Betty Nielsen I attained  enough MPs to become a Club Master. Patt and Betty along with the Fernandina Beach bridge community have helped improve my game. So after 35 years between Master Points I am back. Stuart Billington


Dear Beth: Thank You for your kind words. I have a couple of suggestions for myself and all players. Since we want more people to play bridge and earn their lifetime masters it would be nice to see more opportunities for people to get silver and gold points closer to home. Many people still work, so it is harder to take several days off to travel for tournaments. Also involved with extended travel is the cost. These are comments hear often from fellow players. 


Lynn Earl Huddleston

Louisville Ky


MY Response:

Thanks Lynn Earl…the desire for players to earn silver points closer to home is why the ACBL introduced STaCs several years ago.  I hope you are able to participate in STaC games at your clubs---our District runs 3 each year for a week each.  Please check the ACBL or District website for the schedule.


As for gold points, the reason they are only earned at regionals is to recognize the stiffer competition derived from a larger number of players.  That really can only be achieved by an in-person tournament.  Our District has 4 regionals a year and we’re fortunate that all of them are within a few hours’ drive for all of us—Indianapolis, Louisville, Cincinnati and Dayton.  And next year, Evansville will be splitting the Cincinnati regional.


I hope to see you at one of these events!






My partner and I having playing duplicate for 18 months.  We benefited by playing in two sectionals and one regional.  We have now earned over 5 gold points which we will need for future levels.  I am a 73 year-old retired administrator of Cedarville University, but stay active teaching in their MBA and MEd programs as well as doing new academic program feasibility studies on a consulting basis.  I am active in my church and serve on the Board of Trustees of Jerusalem University College.  My wife enjoys playing cards socially, but not competitively.  One son is a high school principal and another son is a college professor and has his own management consulting business. We have six grandchildren.  We have been very pleased with everything about the Miami Valley Bridge Club.  We do not have a specific goal other than to have fun and to place as high as we can each time we play.


Duane Wood





First and foremost thanks for your kind note of congratulations. I really don't have a great story to tell but do want you to know that there were a lot of people who helped achieve whatever success I have achieved. The most important of those that really should get the recognition is Sharon Austin and the Directors and teachers at the IBC. Sharon as manager of the club has engendered a culture of learning, understanding and teaching that is rare in any situation let alone a competitive game like bridge. She makes bridge at IBC a wonderful experience. She never forgets the mission of our club and was and is and inspiration to all our members who love this fascinating game. Secord is the great cadre of Directors at IBC who as a group direct, teach and control a positive approach at our club. They are truly a wonderful group of players and people. Also included is a large group of wonderful experienced players that are willing to share their knowledge with relatively new players like me. Our veteran players are the greatest. Last but certainly not least is a long list of wonderful partners who have made the game a positive and pleasant experience. My biggest thanks goes tomy 2 main partners John Peer and Linda Cronkleton. They have and continue to be not only good partners who tolerate an occasional bad bid and poor play but have become great friends who continue to be understanding, supportive and willing to learn.  I could not have picked two better people to take on this wonderful trip we started just over four years ago. I appreciate your congratulations but the real ones that should be congratulated on these people not me.

As far as District 11 and the ACBL are concerned I really don't have any suggestion on how to better serve the bridge community. Your support of our club and players has really be nice. We continue to play in some of the National and Regional events and they have all been well run. Thanks for all you do to support this wonderful game and the players who love it.

Thanks again for the congratulations but it really does "take a village" to make someone a decent player and no one could have a better bridge family than myself and the staff at IBC.

Jim Rowen


Thank you very much for the recognition.

I have been very fortunate to have played at Regionals with quality partners, and at the local level many experienced players have helped my game through lessons or playing against them. Ironically, I got back into bridge after a 20+ year hiatus at my wife’s encouragement since I am nearing retirement. I had forgotten almost everything, and the bidding cards and computers were all new to me. I didn’t even know there were 0-20 and 0-50 games as I played almost exclusively in open or NLM games, not knowing the difference. And they say we bridge players are smart?

Since I still work, keeping a balance between home and bridge has been difficult, and recently I have intentionally reduced my bridge playing. I tend to put too much pressure on myself, expecting success all the time, when I know that is unrealistic. I have talked to experience players about my challenge and they have offered sound advice, but it is easier said than done. I truly love the game, but get too caught up in the competitive nature of the sport, when I would prefer to play, learn, improve and most of all enjoy.

Maybe this isn’t what you were expecting, but it is how I got to where I am and my struggles so to speak along the way.

Since I am still employed, it is difficult to play during the day, when attendance is higher, and at night, I am often exhausted from work and there are fewer players making it less fun. My club offers many classes and features several speaker over the course of the year, but again because of work I seldom am able to attend. I wish neither was not the case. Lastly, though I have read several bridge books, I come up empty on a strategy to progress as a player. Read more books, but which ones and in what order and which authors. Or play with better players to learn from my mistakes, which I am trying to do more this year. I seem directionally challenged at times in trying to improve my game.

Fortunately, I have already achieved enough Silver, Gold and Red, so when I reach 300 points I have already qualified for the next level. However, the daunting task of playing and playing to get more of each color to reach my goal of Life Master seems too time consuming. I guess I am impatient and want it now.

Anyway, I have met and made many new friends, and find bridge to be one of great games to have the privilege to play.

Thanks you for your interest and recognition. It is greatly appreciated.

Bill Bockstahler


I learned to play bridge as a young teenager to be able to play with the adults on family vacation.  Later I introduced the game to my high school friends and it became the game of choice on Friday and Saturday nights.  Over the years it has been all too infrequent that I have been able to find someone to play with.  I have been able to play some online and with the family of current bridge partner when they needed a fourth.  I retired November of 2013 and have been very happy to find a place to play bridge on a regular basis.  The Lexington Bridget Club is a great place to play. The people have been tolerant of my learning to play in the duplicate setting.  As best I can tell, at the entry level just try to play solid bridge you will do fine.  I have a great partner who has a great ability to remember what has been played and is forgiving of the fact that I'm not able to do that.  I feel as if this first achievement is so small compared to what has been achieved by others.  Still it feels good.

 David Middleton



 Thank you.  You are very kind.  My secret, of course, is longevity.  I have played bridge over a period of 45 years with many wonderful and memorable partners, with gaps of 20 and 4 years.  So, I don't really have a story.


Best regards,
Jim Myers

Hi Beth.  Thanks!
Sorry this took so long.  Feel free to edit however if it's too long.
When I became a Life Master in 2011, there was an elated rush, fireworks in the mind! Pictures taken, my beautiful engraved plaque received at a Unit gathering and much congratulations.  I knew my next step was Bronze Life Master, and only a couple of hundred points away, but no more seeking the gold or silver! I relaxed. I concentrated more on just playing and traveling with my partners, most of whom still needed some of their colors, and we cheered each time some of the elusive gold or silver they needed was obtained. One of my partners made Life Master last year; two of my partners have all their gold, and lack a small amount of silver. (I know I helped a bit, it’s a good feeling!). I also was busy as Unit President and still working part time. Seeking my own bronze status faded into the background until I suddenly realized I had 490+ points.  Wait!  Bronze is only 500! I can do this!  I soon went over the 500 mark quietly, at a local game. No plaques, no fanfare, just self-satisfaction.  My husband, a retired golf professional and non-bridge player, will finally have his first bridge lesson at our local club this weekend.  I like to think I have been something of an example to him, enjoying myself while moving up the “ranks”!
Jan Stafford Gimbrone
Unit 136, Dayton, OH

My name is Patrick Hoffman. I just made Bronze Life Master as of April 30, 2014. I have been playing duplicate bridge within the ACBL during the last 7 years. I had not played social bridge for the previous 20 years. IN late 2001 and early 2002  I had several strokes that put me in a nursing home for almost all of 2002. In 2007 I had lunch with a member of the Cincinnati Bridge Club and that got me interested in playing again.
I have enjoyed the mental exercise as well as the experience of all the people I have played with as well as against. I have served on the board of the CBC for 3 years. I help with our Saturday morning supervised play for newer players. I was part of a pair that represented our district in Dallas this past March in the NAP flight c. We made the finals but had a disappointing last round. I have played with people from other units (Dayton, Lexington, Louisville, Indianapolis, and Columbus)  as well as my partners at the CBC.
My main reason for resuming play is that both my father and his brother had full blown dementia as they grew older. I wanted to keep my brain mentally active.
The main thing I see the district and the clubs need to do is be more receptive and open to newer players. Most beginners are intimidated to play against life masters, It is an ongoing process to try and find ways to accomplish this.
 Over ten years ago I decided to play Bridge.  I knew a little about Bridge from my parents trying to teach me as a teenager.  I called the Indianapolis Bridge Center and inquired about lessons.  I took the clubs class and from there it is all history. I met my partner Mary in the clubs class and we are still playing together.
For a long time we only played once a week (work got in the way of playing Bridge).  IBC offers many classes which we took and slowly our Bridge game improved.  After about five years we started going to tournaments.  We played in many tournaments before we realized what games to play in to get Gold points.
     Once a year our local CIBA members provide a lunch and learn seminar about tournaments which includes a team game in the afternoon.  This helped educate us on which games to play and how to get the different color points.  Thanks to CIBA the path to Life Master became clear.
     I currently play 2-3 time a week and I am a board member of Unit 130.  Being on the board is an honor and I enjoy helping with our local tournaments.  For me becoming a Life Master was a journey.  Making a lot of friends along the way.  Bridge has become a big part of my life and I plan to play for many years.  The game provides many hours a week of fun.  The IBC is a wonderful club and has become my second family.
New Life Master,
Judy Drejer

Hello Beth, Thanks for the interest. Play with better players. Have a good day. Phil Shafer

Thank you for your kind words. Just resumed playing bridge
after a 40+ year gap. Same game I've always admired. Best
thing now is that duplicate players seem more congenial. That
is most important in everyone's obligation to spread this "game".
Selby Litton


Dear Beth,
You are very kind to send me congratulations on my slow climb of masters points.  With so many having thousands of masters points, my small achievement seems small indeed!  I have really enjoyed playing duplicate more regularly.  I went to the Indianapolis Sectional with a friend in March and was impressed with how kind the organizers were to us neophytes from out of town—even sending us a card thanking us for coming.  The Columbus Bridge Center and the Columbus sectionals are also welcoming to newcomers.  All three have non life master games.  I don’t know if all tournaments are as welcoming, but my experience has been very positive and I would encourage others to try going to a sectional even if they are relatively new at duplicate.
Thank you for your interest.   
Nancy Donaldson 

Responses to Rank Change Letters:  April 2014
It's a pretty good story. Checking on in early March, I have 998.3 master points including pending February master points, so Gloria Bridges and I traveled over the river from Evansville,IN to a special Wednesday night game in Henderson, KY (March 5th -- 1st time we made it over there in about a year due to illnesses). It was a five table game that night against a number of excellent pairs (including a diamond life master, gold life masters and several silver life masters), so I knew we needed to first overall to make it that night. We played great bridge except for one bad 3 board round but still finished 1st overall against great competition for an 1.75 master point award. That gave me exactly 1000.05 master points to get my silver life masters in style against great competition!
I had been ill during the summer and fall of 2013 and basically stopped playing bridge for about 5 months while Gloria had been ill off and on after I started getting better.
Thanks for your email!
Steven A. Early
Thank you for the nice email.  I have come to bridge later in life, as is true of many retired people.  I taught AP and IB English Lit. for 44 years, so some of the skills needed to become a good player were definitely lacking.
I love the game which has required me to move beyond my expertise in literature to learn new ways of thinking.
My progress is due to three things:  kind partners, excellent lessons from Marsha Sanderson, and an outstanding mentor, Fritz Hadley, whose patience over the last two years, his knowledge of the game, and skillful instruction have taught me the subtleties of bidding, defending, and playing a hand.
Judith Libby
Thank you for the kind email. 
I had originally learned to play bridge over 15 years ago, and subsequently tried to pass my enthusiasm for my new game on to some colleagues at work. Several of us began to play in the ‘beginners’ game, where a local teacher would provide a lesson once a week, followed by a sanctioned club game.  I may have accumulated a smidgeon over 3 points doing this, before family and job duties forced me to give up my beloved Thursday night games….
Then, almost two years ago, another friend of mine retired from full-time employment, and took up playing bridge.  He invited me to be his partner occasionally at the weekly ‘friendly’ game at our local bridge club.  My passion for the game, long dormant, was rekindled!  
Eventually, the occasional fill-in role graduated to finding a regular partner, and we stumbled and stuttered our way to earn a few points by placing in that  weekly friendly game.  Then, a little before last Christmas, I discovered BBO – a way to play bridge on-line in ACBL-sanctioned tournaments!  This was a wonderful way to accelerate my learning-curve.  Instead of one sanctioned game a week, I could play several sanctioned games a day. 
Playing BBO tournaments became an obsession over the holidays… and I began to greatly improve my bidding, and my play of the hand.  Accordingly, I began earning points.  Quickly I passed Junior Master status, and then drove on to the 20-point threshold for Club Master.  
I steamrolled past the 20-point level, but then realized that these on-line games only earned ‘colorless’ points… and I needed to reach 5 black points to officially obtain the rank of Club Master.  My partner and I still played in the weekly ‘friendly’ game, and I occasionally would venture out and play as a fill-in partner for other club games.  But my success was slow in coming… I was hovering just short of the 5 black points necessary.   Finally, my partner and I broke clear into a solid 68% game, earning the last fraction of a black point to push me above 5, thus triggering my recognition as a Club Master.
Our local club is a real treasure.  The members are warm and welcoming, and the directors work tirelessly to serve the needs of the players.  But, overwhelmingly, those players are retirees.  I think that the one problem facing the game today is the time required to really become competitive can be quite daunting.  For those of us still employed, and with families, devoting an evening a week, or more, to playing bridge can be nearly impossible.  Travelling to tournaments is an even more difficult goal.  This is why the on-line ACBL tournaments were such a blessing to me.  I could play when I got the opportunity, from my home, and not have to set aside time on a fixed schedule.  I think that having on-line tournaments that could yield color points would be a tremendous evolution of the game that might allow younger players the chance to continue to develop their game.   
I also work at a college.  I plan on starting up a bridge club on campus, devoted primarily to teaching contract bridge to interested students.  Our local club has promised to help by providing teachers and directors for our meetings.  I think this is a vital outreach for the continued development of future stars – so few younger people have heard of bridge these days!  I would love for the ACBL to develop a model for building such partnerships between established bridge clubs and colleges. 
So, those are the two things that come to my mind as ways the district and unit could improve not only my experience, but the experience of others:  Continue to develop on-line ACBL tournaments to include color points, and work diligently to help clubs reach out to younger players and establish the pipeline of new players necessary to ensure the survival of our game. 
Thanks again for reaching out to me, Beth.  You have my permission to use any of these comments to help spread the good word about bridge.
James Kirtley
Thank you and many thanks to Doris Mills who led many of us to successful achievements in bridge.  It has been exciting and rewarding.
Polly McCubbins

Thanks for the congratulatory message.  Just out of curiosity how many points does it take to earn a Junior Master status?.  Never heard of it before.
Everything I know about bridge today relates to the excellent lessons provided at the Indianapolis Bridge Center-  particularly, Sharon, John and Janie.
Bridge has provided me with a retirement activity which I find most challenging.  It also keeps me humble.
Terry Jones
Thanks for the recognition. We appreciate having so many games available at the Indianapolis Bridge Center. We play in the 0-100 game Sunday evenings twice a month. We attended our first Regional last fall in Ft. Wayne and enjoyed it, and try to get to one sectional a year. We also catch a game here and there as we travel, and have played in Austin, Little Rock, Ft. Walton Beach, Cincinnati and Barren River KY.
We have played bridge all our adult life, but only joined ACBL in 2010 when my husband retired at 65. It has taken a bit over four years to accumulate the first 50 points, and is likely to take another 3 for the next goal, Regional Master. The arithmetic makes it impossible to become life masters. We joined after the bar was raised to 500 points. Assuming we continue to enjoy good physical and mental health, he would have to live to 100. And I am three years older….
--Ann Borger
When we played in Swiss Team recently in regional in Indianapolis, our partners were NOT members of ACBL. They are life long bridge players, quite good, but just play for fun.

We expected there to be a small charge for each of them because they are not members, but were more than shocked when they were socked for I think it was $16 EACH surcharge to play.

That is just way, way too much. If this is a recent change, I am not sure it is a good change. Playing with them, even though we are C players with just 100 - 150 pts each, we placed tied for 15th in B stratum, and 3rd in C. This was a very good outcome, and we were pleased.

But I am doubting they will play with us again because they were NOT happy with the shocking high surcharge for non-ACBL members in the Swiss Team.

P.S. One of the players who is a big shot master, and in fact was on one of the winning teams, talks continuously, and it is obvious it is a tactic to distract opponents. He needs to be called on it, but players are shy to call the director. They should not be, but frankly, directors need to reinforce the prohibition against unnecessary chatter and talking during play. It is crystal clear this player is using it unethically to distract and influence the play of the hand.

This was discussed at our local club the next day, and we have resolved that in the next even this happens we are going to 1) politely ask the player to not talk, and 2) then call the director every time it happens.

Ron Edge
            My response to Ron:  Thanks for your email, Ron.  The surcharge for your friends was $4 per person per session so, as a Swiss game is two sessions, that was a TOTAL surcharge of $16—not $16 a head.  When we apply these fees we always remind players that it would really be less expensive to just join the organization if they plan on playing more than just a couple of session once-a-year.  If assessed early in the tournament we also remind them that, should they choose to join later in the week, earlier assessments would accrue to their new member fee.  Members are subsided on the very real infrastructure costs of running a tournament that far exceed the entry fees, so it is not unreasonable to ask non-members to pay a higher fee.  This is common in all sorts of endeavors and clubs.  Indeed, I support making membership a requirement to play in our tournaments—though of course not in our clubs.  Membership in the ACBL is, I hope you will agree, a great value and trust you’ll continue to play and urge others to join.
Continued luck at the tables!
Dear Beth,
Thank you for the nice letter to my Mother. What percentage of bride player make it to Gold Life Master Status? Our family has watched my mother and her friends play bridge for the last 50 years?
Thanks Clay Krout
It was a welcome surprise to receive your congratulatory email upon reaching my Regional Master status.
I am not sure there were any specific items that any district helped me with during my 2 years of joining the ACBL.    I joined at the encouragement of my sister who became a member of the ACBl in 2007. Unfortunately I did not join until April 2012; after the new requirements were put into place.
I have been encouraged by several bridge players in Ohio and Florida to attend tournaments as much as possible when I didn't have any awareness of what to expect.  My first exciting memory was attending the Dayton Regional in 2012 (my first regional along with my husband whoi was able to play for free as he didn't have 5 points.)  In our first session we earned gold! I didn't appreciate how rare that was but now I do. 
That first summer one of the owners of the Columbus Bridge Center (Tom Fletcher) kept telling us we didn't play we have tried to add more games. We started playing only 1-2 x a week. Now we play 2-4 x a week and go to 4-5 regionals a year.  I also have tried to branch out and play with other players. I do think that has helped to broaden my approach and understanding of the current style of bridge. 
I enjoy reading the ACBL monthly magazine and other used books my husband keeps buying on Amazon! 
We are both retired and split our time between Ohio and Florida and are fortunate to have opportunities to attend regional tournaments.
My goal was to try to earn 6 points a month in 2013. I am hopeful to increase that to 8 points a month.
I just returned from the Mesa AZ Senior Regional where I played with my sister. 
I have found my new passion.  I enjoy learning and trying to improve my game. I think I am improving in counting, implementing new conventions and playing better defense.
My only issue so far has been a discrepancy in the points I believe I earned in Feb. 2014 and what was recorded with the ACBL. I have sent 2 emails to the club where I played and to the email address for the ACBL. I hope it will be addressed sometime soon. I keep a record on my calendar of the points I earn and then compare it to what is recorded on the ACBL website.
I would appreciate any suggestions you might have as to how to improve my game. I would like to find ways to find a partnership to play in knockouts as I read that is where one might earn more points quickly. Still, there are  many gold points I have to earn. 
Thanks again for your email.
I will look forward to playing again in Cincinnati
Christy Coupland

Responses to ACBL Rank-Change Letters—March 2014

Hi Beth,

There's not much of a story, really.  My dad has been trying to get me into Bridge forever, and I finally got hooked late last year.
My goal for this year is to make Club Master, so I'm going to be playing a lot more in person - so far we've been playing mostly online.  Wish me luck!

Tim Kington
Dear Beth, thanks for the congratulations.  Actually I got junior master status some time ago but the ABCL record keeping was such that my partner had to tell me when and where I earned the points that had not been recorded as mine. Luckily she had a record of them. 
There is one thing that I cannot understand and that is why lower level people earn such a small amount of points for playing.  The higher-ups seem to get lots of points for everything that they do.  It's very discouraging.  
Wendy Rowland 
            My response:
            Dear Wendy,
Thanks so much for replying.  Sounds like you’re on your way to many great times and accomplishments.
Higher ranked players, indeed ANY ranked players, get more points for playing in games where the competition is stiffer.  Thus, if you choose to play in an “open” game and win, your award will be higher than if you play in a game restricted to players with fewer points or if you win the “C” stratum of an open game.  I hope you see that this makes sense---it’s like giving a greater award for playing Wimbledon champs than for playing average country club players.
In the “olden” days, there WERE no stratifications  (and no knockouts) so every new player had to wade in and play against better players in order to win points.  Now, of course, it is possible to win “C” in an open club game and get points with a lower-scoring game than the lowest “A” award---indeed with a less than 50% game.  Believe me, bridge being what it is, I get lots of complaints from higher-ranked players that novices have it TOO easy and are racking up points far more quickly than they should.
We try to find somewhere in the middle where newer players can have the thrill of getting points (that’s what the Gold Rush Pairs are aimed at, as well as lower-bracket knockouts) while preserving the integrity of good bridge and rewarding fine play.
Hope this helps.
Thank you for your email.  My bridge story is short and semi-sweet.  I live in Yorktown, IN.  I am an Air Force Veteran and retired with 31 yrs with Dept of Defense, logistics tech rep.  Supported the Army Aviation & Missile Command with 5 deployments to Kuwait and Iraq.  Retired 2008.  Specialized in Air to Ground Missiles on the Blackhawk and Apache Helicopters.  
My father taught me all I know about Bridge which began 3 months after my husband died in May of 2013.  He began playing Bridge 3 months after my Mother died 6 yrs ago when I was in Iraq and couldn't come home for her funeral.  I retired and moved just down the street from him.  I believe he thought I ought to follow in his footsteps and learn to play Bridge.  It has brought our relationship to a different level and I enjoy spending time with him.  He is 85 yrs old and has a great memory when it comes to any game of cards.  He is patient with me and still is during my learning process.  Prior to learning Bridge my only card games were Pinochle and Blackjack which Dad also taught me.
I remain amazed, surprised and challenged at every game we play.  During the early days, Dad would correct me on miss-plays I didn't realize.  Lately I've began to realize the mistakes as soon as I've played them.  The bidding is still the most important challenge.  
As far as comments about our local Muncie Bridge club, we have the greatest leader in Tom Charles.  His knowledge is unsurpassed.  I would hope that time could be taken in the future to schedule a few minutes before playing, to stress checking your individual EGO at the door.  In other words, don't play the past hand over again, don't discuss strategy at the table when playing and refrain from negative comments.  I realize that can only be done at the local level. 
I am committed to learning the game and will continue to challenge myself in the future and hopefully my Dad and I can continue to enjoy many games of Bridge.  I owe all I know to him.
Linda Parker
Dear Beth,
Thank you for your congratulatory email.  I have adored every game of bridge ( well almost every one!) in the 11th district and especially at the Lexington Bridge Center.  My 30-something daughter asked me recently if I were ADDICTED to bridge.  I replied certainly not...but then I said with mock horror! maybe I am!!  We are very fortunate to have what everybody says is one of the nicest bridge clubs anywhere.  Thank you for your service in helping to make it that way. Sincerely, Ginny May

What makes one a Junior Master?  We just love to play bridge so we took classes while in CA.  Left bridge for about 10 years to have kids.  Have very much enjoyed the Saturday morning teaching class when we can make it.  Like the Saturday afternoonh and Tuesday night groups - our goal is just to NOT come in last.  We can usually manage that.  We love bridge but are limited on time so we learn new conventions slowly.  Our goal is to come away from each game with one new convention to use.  Better players always kindly give us feedback, but not too much to overwhelm us.
Sue Sivertson
Thank you very much.  It’s taken two years to get to this level along with lots of help with from instructors, mentors, directors, partners, and the friends I’ve made.  Everyone is willing to share their knowledge, a smiling face, and the setting trick!
Marcia Zack
Dear Beth,
Thank you for acknowledging my new status, I appreciate it very much.  After a forty year hiatus from bridge to do career and family, I downloaded Fred Gitelman's program, started learning the "new" bridge, and, unbeknownst to me, joined the ACBL on December 27, 2010, just four days before the requirements for Life Master increased!
Bridge keeps my brain exercised, and has greatly broadened my social interactions.  Through bridge, I've made new friends and bridge partners in other cites within District 11.  Bridge is a wonderfully rewarding game, and I especially like the ACBL's zero tolerance policies and their efforts to expand the game.
The main reason to play bridge is to have fun.
To be sure, getting points makes it even more fun.
However, even if we get no points today,

We will still cherish our partners,
And know that there's always tomorrow!

I'll be at your Cincinnati Regional, am partnering with Patrick Hoffman, Bill Cook and Joe Kammer!

Cordially yours,

Edgar Iwamoto

My story is not very exciting.  I play bridge once a week with my sister.  We have been doing this for about
eight years now.  We enjoy the company of the other players (at least most of them) and play only on Tues.
The game is a very friendly game with a great mix of very experienced players and some relatively new ones.
This game happens to be the biggest game at our center.  My sister had a brain tumor removed 13 years ago.  
The side effect  of the tumor removal was to take away my sister's short-term memory.  She cannot remember
any of the cards, the bidding, or the opponents names for more than a few seconds.  As you might imagine, 
that condition makes playing bridge a bit tedious.  She is a better than average  player of the cards, but has a
great deal of difficulty with no trump contracts.  Further, she has a great deal of trouble concentrating for more
than a few hours.  This makes playing in tournaments nearly impossible.  At any rate, we have managed
to accumulate a few master point each year when we have a good game.  We are happy to get to 50%, but
are content when we have 45%.  We have played in the Flying Pig Regional  in Dayton most years. 
It is at the Flying Pig that we earned our first silver and first red points.  We both realize that we will probably
never get to Life Master, so this is probably my last level of achievement.  We don't play in tournaments outside
of Dayton because my schedule will not permit the travel.  My wife and I run a cat shelter which houses around
500 cats.  We have been doing this for nearly 30 years.  The Shelter demands our attention every day. 
That makes travel to tournaments impossible.   Finally, we play in STACs at our club and normally don't do too
well because all the "pros" are allowed to play in our STACs.  I have had the requisite 50 master points for nearly
two years but could never get the silver points because of the level of completion in the STACs.  In the last two
STACs at our club, we had two really good game for us.  We had a 53% late in 2013 and a 58% in February
which finally got me the silver points I needed.  What an awesome feeling to finally get there.
It is a pleasure to be a member of ACBL, our local chapter, and District 11.  We will continue to play as long
as we are able.  I appreciate your recognition of this accomplishment.
Thank You,
Jerry Kerns 
Hi Beth,
Thanks.  Most of my points have come playing with the same partner, my father John Bowen.  It helps to have a good partner and to have your bidding in sync.
 Frank Bowen