Linda Lee — My personal bridge blog

Playing with a legend

I am going to be playing with Marshal Miles on BBO tomorrow at 2PM Est.  Am I nervous?  Of course.  But I am excited too.  Here is a little bit about Marshal.


(reprinted from the Daily Bulletin of the 12th World Bridge Olympiad, issue #10, Brent Manley editor)

Marshall Miles

Many, many years ago, Marshall Miles and Eddie Kantar were on an airplane heading for a tournament, and Kantar was giving Miles a bit of a hard time. Kantar knew Miles favored weak 1NT openers, so Kantar asked Miles a question: “If you had a weak notrump opener but you knew that if you opened 1NT it would cost you a world championship, what would you do it?”

Miles, going along with the joke, said,”Open 1NT.” Now that he has won a world championship, does that change his view?

“I guess it does,” said Miles shortly after receiving his medal as part of the USA team that rallied on the final round of the 2nd International Senior Cup to edge the Netherlands for the championship.

At 77, Miles is one of the oldest players ever to win a world title. He is also highly respected and well known in the USA as a player and author, contributing regularly to the ACBL Bridge Bulletin. He has also written 10 bridge books.

Miles took an unusual route to his bridge expertise. His interest was piqued as a youngster

when he overheard his mother discussing the game with a friend. He went to the local library where he lived in California and retrieved old newspapers so that he could read the bridge columns, learning how to play without reading a book. He earned a law degree in 1954 and practiced in Southern California until he retired about 10 years ago.

He played a lot of bridge with his wife, Betty, until her death about four years ago. When he first got married, Miles said, he was afraid his bridge playing would be curtailed, “but Betty actually pushed me out the door to play with her.”

Miles considers bidding his strong point as a player, “although my partners might not agree with me.” Interestingly, Miles brought along one of his books – Reisinger Challenge – to read while at the tournament, “and I found the problems very difficult.”

Miles isn’t all that impressed with being one of the oldest players ever to win a world title. “I would rather be the youngest,” he said. “I would like to have another 50 years to play bridge.”

Master Point Press is proud that we have published Marshall’s recent books including:

Competitive Bidding in the 21st Century

Inferences at Bridge

Modern Constructive Bidding

My System: The Unbalanced Diamond

But I wanted to mention another book.  It is called

All Fifty-Two Cards: How to Reconstruct the Concealed Hands at the Bridge Table

The ability to visualize all 52 cards, and not simply the 26 displayed, is a mark of distinction which divides the expert player from the novice in the game of bridge. In this book, the author shows readers how to place the cards in the two concealed hands. This book is now out of print and the used ones I found on the web were going in the fifty dollar range.  Fortunately we have a copy  Its a beautiful hard copy book (the 4th edition).  The first printing was in 1963.  Reading from the jacket I learned: Marshall a lawyer by trade apparently learned to play bridge by reading books and playing autobridge (for those who remember that lovely solo game).  He first played duplicate while in the Navy and published his first bridge article in Bridge World at the age of 22.  This book is very nostalgic for me.  I read this book when I first learned to play bridge in the middle 60’s.  I was still in high school and I played with my next door neighbor Mark Cosman (who I recently ran into at the Toronto Regional).  This book was one of my favorites.

I still think that I am an intuitive player.  When I am playing well I try to visualize my opponents hand and think about what they did in bidding, play or defense and place the cards.  It is probably my greatest strength as a card player and I suspect that reading this book in my formative days may have helped me to develop these skills.  So thank you Marshall.

While you can no longer get a copy of All Fifty-Two Cards, Marshall’s newer book Inferences at Bridge covers the same ground.

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