Linda Lee — My personal bridge blog

July 24 1947 … My Story

I was born on July 24 1947, exactly 65 years ago.  I was one of the first of the huge post-war baby boom.  My mom and dad had married on May 1st 1945 just before VE day (victory in Europe).  My dad was on leave from the air force where he was a radio operator instructor.  My sister Geraldine was born 20 months later and she and I grew up as almost twins.  She was a normal size for her age and I was a peanut so we were often mistaken for twins.  I have always been a story teller and I used to tell Geraldine stories when we were in bed supposed to be sleeping.  

Geraldine is now an Ontario judge.  She is a strong supporter of the hurt, the needy.  My parents had three more children, a brother and two sisters.  Most of my family have been overachievers one way or another.  There has been a lot of discussion today about upward mobility.  Why some families raise successful children and others don’t.  My parents were not always that involved with us.  For one thing, with five children there is only so much time and attention to go around.  But they were always very demanding.  I know that making them proud was always important to all of us.  I know that they were very proud of any success I had at bridge and in my technology career.

My dad and mom both played bridge and I started to play by reading a book by Charles Goren when I was in high school.  The year was 1964.  Charles Goren’s Championship Bridge was still on television that year (and many more in reruns).









My partner was the boy next door, Mark Cosman.   All the children on our street played together and grew up together.  Sometimes I miss those days.  We had no idea what we were doing but we did have fun.  Soon there was a regular game at Mark’s house.  I was the only girl.  I didn’t notice or care.  We played as late as we could until we were shooed out of the house. 

I went to the University of Toronto when I graduated from high school.  At our orientation I noticed a bunch of young men playing card games in the “refectory”.  It was a lounge cum cafeteria.  I started out working on the newspaper (the Varsity), bowling and actually going to classes.  It wasn’t long before I spent all my time in the refectory.  It took a while but I gradually got admitted to the bridge games.

I was not allowed to play bridge in the University bridge club at Hart House.  It was restricted to men.  I could however play at the major Toronto bridge club of the era, Kate Buckman’s.

Kate was our grandmother.  She took care of all of us.  She gave some of us jobs.  She made us dress nicely if we wanted to hand out at the club.  And we did.  There were a few young women, like Margaret Lerner who is still one of my best friends and still loves bridge.  But mostly it was young men.  There were middle aged or elderly ladies but the young people were mostly male.  I loved the competition, I loved the camaderie, I loved the game.  The evening game would end quite late and then we would all go to a nearby restaurant for a burger and a drink and a lot of discussion about that night’s game.  

I remember playing with my friend Andy Altay.  I knew Andy from high school.  I remember visiting his home and being impressed with the Rudyard Kipling poem “If’” which was posted on his wall.  Andy had come to Canada from Hungary in the turbulent times in that country.  Andy came to a birthday party I held five years ago with a newspaper picture of us (and others) when we graduated with special honors from high school.  

Andy was quite a wonderful partner.  One time I played in a grand slam missing the trump king.  I led a trump towards dummy planning to finesse and was upset when my left hand opponent showed out.  I shrugged my shoulders and played low from dummy.  What I failed to notice was that the only trump missing was the king.  I had twelve trump.  Andy just smiled and said not a word.  As it turned out the board was a push when our opponents did exactly the same thing!  I don’t think I fully appreciated just how special Andy was.

Ray Lee, a young university chemistry professor, showed up one day at Kate Buckman’s.  I already had a boyfriend but Ray let me know he wanted to date.  It was several years later that I took him up on that.  One of the first time we were together he had won a bottle of rum at a club game (yes, they did give alcohol prizes then).  I had a lot to drink and spent the night in Ray’s bathroom.  What bothered Ray more was that I then went and played the Women’s Pairs at the Toronto Regional with Irene Hodgson and won it.  While Ray struggled along, exhausted, in the Open.  

Ray was the bridge columnist for a major local paper, the Toronto Star.  There are many stories of my exploits (and our exploits) in those columns along with many other local players.  We have managed to collect many of these columns from the paper’s archives in recent years.  When I read them today it seems like another world entirely.

At the end of this period I played at Saint Agathe in the first Canada women’s team trials.  I think we might have won but my partner ran into some problems with medicine.  The rest is better left unsaid.  But it was a lot of fun and I still have a picture of the four of us in “uniform” enjoying the weather in Quebec.  One of my problems then and now was that competing in something that mattered made me very nervous.  I didn’t get nervous when I had to speak to several thousand people in a giant hall.  But I do get nervous when I play serious bridge.  I love being part of a team, I love solving the problems that each deal presents but I am not happy about how I feel especially in that time when you are waiting for it all to start. 

Not much after all of that I retired from bridge, more or less.  I had very demanding and interesting jobs with a lot of travel and two young children.  

I played an occasional game of bridge with a group of Toronto women.  There was 

Despina H. Georgas (modern picture) and Margaret Lerner but I can’t quite remember all of the group.  Anyway, they kicked me out because I missed games or forgot about them.  Once the game was at my house and I had completely forgotten.  I scrambled to look as if I was expecting them and the game went ahead without problems.  I managed to find enough refreshments – BUT THEY KNEW.

Eventually I did come back to bridge.  My kids were grown up.  I met a bridge player called Linda Waldman when we both were on a jury for an armed robbery trial.  I was rather surprised when they called Linda Waldman from the jury panel because that was my maiden name.  We became friends and I started to play bridge with her.  She also gave me a rather good recipe for Passover Gefilte Fish which I still use.

Ray and I started to play together again and we did rather well.  One highlight was coming in second in the National Mixed Pairs.  Ray, however, has retired.  I can’t even convince him to play with me online very often.  I miss playing with him.

My son Colin started to play Junior Bridge, really getting into bridge at the University of Waterloo.  It was a proud moment to watch him play on Vugraph at the Junior Championship in Hamilton.  (It was hard, too).

I have enjoyed many things in bridge.  The travel, winning the Canadin Women’s Team Championship with Irene Hodgson (a story of its own), being part of Master Point Press, working with the American Bridge Teachers Association, mentoring on BBO and so many many more things.  Bridge has certainly given me and Ray a lot and we do try to give a little back.

To celebrate Linda’s milestone we’re offering free downloads on until July 26th, 2012.


Judy Kay-WolffJuly 24th, 2012 at 1:32 am

Lovely story. Enjoyed getting to know you better.


MichaelJuly 24th, 2012 at 4:23 pm

Hi Linda,

Thanks for sharing your nice story. Happy Birthday and enjoy the pay raise:)

LIndaJuly 24th, 2012 at 5:14 pm

Thanks to both of you. You have been such good friends. I have heard from so many people today and I want to say thanks to all of you who phoned, sent ecards, emails and left messages on Facebook.

What wonderful friends!

norman BarronJuly 24th, 2012 at 6:55 pm

It is a stroke of good fortune that you became my mentor-
probably divine intervention.
I could not possibly have selected a better mentor.
I look forward to our weeekly meeting with enthusiam &
antication of always learning something new.
So have a wonderful & happy birthday and as we say
in Israel “up to 120”

Leave a comment

Your comment