DATELINE July 1962 — Solitary
At the tender age of 14, I was
sentenced to a hospital for removal of a terrible set of tonsils. On
her way to visit, my mother picked up a few books, to help the nurses
and me survive each other. (For a healthy teenager, a three-day
confinement in the hospital certainly qualifies as cruel and unusual
punishment.) One book was a 50¢ paperback, 5 Weeks to Winning
Bridge by Alfred Sheinwold. I knew nothing about bridge, but had
always enjoyed card games, starting with pinochle at my dad's knee as
a precocious six-year old.
During my hospital stay, I devoured
Sheinwold's book. Luckily for me, my non-bridge-playing mother had
stumbled upon an absolute gem. I borrowed a deck of cards from the
nurses, who were delighted with my new pacifier.
- Classes No, Bridge Yes
Then came college, and what a
revelation! Attendance in class was not mandatory. Bridge games were
never-ending. Let me see, should I go to Accounting 101 or play some
bridge? Not a tough decision.
My bridge game improved overnight.
Unfortunately, my professors were unable to appreciate my skipping
classes in pursuit of endplays and slams. When I went home for
Christmas break, I was the not-so-proud possessor of a 1.0 GPA.
Meanwhile, I had been introduced to
duplicate bridge. Winning masterpoints was much easier than passing
exams. However, the following was now definitely in question: Would I
graduate? If I did, which would come first, the required 120 credits
or the 300 masterpoints needed to become a life master? Amazingly,
the diploma preceded my gold card by almost six months.
June 1976 — Goodbye Nine-to-Five
My first published material, “That's
No Bridge Player, That's My Wife,” had previously appeared in The
Contract Bridge Bulletin. In June 1976, I began writing monthly
columns for that publication.
Ever since I decided to make bridge
my life's work, I’ve had three goals. One was to win a national
championship. On March 22, 1981, I finally broke through. The second was
to win a world championship. Although I’ve been on the verge several
times, that one still eludes me.
Goal number three was actually a
dream. I’ve always wanted to write a practical, entertaining bridge
book, the likes of which the world has never seen. What happened to my
dream? I don’t know; I always seemed to be busy with something else.
However, I never forgot.
March 1994 —
The phone rings. It is my long-time
friend and bridge partner, Larry Cohen. “Great news, Marty. Remember
your idea for a classic bridge book? I just came across a book exactly
“What's so great about that? I
wanted to be the one to write that book. Nobody cares about who is
second with a great idea!”
“No, Marty, you don't understand.
It’s a golf book. It represents the easy-to-read yet informative book
that you've always talked about. Pick up a copy. It’s called Harvey
Penick's Little Red Book.”
I viewed the wonderful Penick book as
my sign from Above: “The time has come, Marty, to stop procrastinating.”
It had taken 18 years, but finally, I was on my way.
Fortunately, I didn’t have to start
from scratch. Like Penick, I have accumulated material from 20 years of
teaching and playing. Many topics are a direct result of students'
questions. Others are a product of their mistakes and confusion. I am
very grateful; without them I could not possibly have written this book.
If you have only half as much fun
reading this book as I’ve had writing it, my efforts will not have been
in vain. Is there more to come? You better believe it. Am I interested
in hearing your thoughts and questions? Absolutely!