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Not all of his contributions to this magazine will be as technical. Mr. Goren is no professorial graybeard. His sense of humor is as sharp as his mind. In our issue of October 14 he will discuss his philosophy of bridge. Thereafter, he will write every week for Sports Illustrated in an intimate, instructive and entertaining vein.
Charles Henry Goren (pictured at right) was born in Philadelphia on March 4, 1901. He was introduced to bridge while he was studying law at McGill University. His first session was disastrous. He was thoroughly trounced by his opponents and laughed at by his girl. By 1931, though, he was competing in tournaments and when, in 1936, he published his first book on the subject, "Winning Bridge Made Easy," Goren decided to abandon his legal career and devote his life to teaching and playing bridge.
Although Goren had moderate success during the next 13 years, it was not until 1919, with the publication of his book on point count bidding, that his name became a household adjective. Goren's point count system made him world famous. It also made him rich.
At 56, Goren is still a bachelor. Once a chain cigar smoker, he now refrains. He rarely drinks. When he plays bridge, which is now limited almost strictly to tournaments, he wears glasses. He enjoys golf, but rarely breaks 100. He hasn't missed a Broadway play in 25 years. But most of fill, he is a bridge player, the only player in history who has won every major championship now in play.
I have really no business to write a preface to these contributions of Charles Goren's to SPORTS ILLUSTRATED. My only excuse is that the little I know of bridge I learnt from him. But I remain a very indifferent player. The only thing on which I can, perhaps, flatter myself is that though I never get any better, I never get any worse. For one reason and another it has been my good fortune to play now and then with pretty well all the best players in the world, and though I have invariably lost my money to them I have enjoyed it. I have found them easier to play with than with players of my own humble class, and nicer; for they expect you to make mistakes and, though they don't like it (you can't expect them to do that), they take it in their stride. Once Charles Goren told me in a casual sort of way that if I played an easy hand as well as I played a difficult one, I wouldn't be a bad second-class player. I accepted the mild criticism with proper modesty. I know very well what he meant. When I'm playing a hand I'm satisfied to make my contract and don't bother by a neat finesse, say, to make the extra trick or two which at the end of the session may result in a pleasant financial difference.
I am an ardent reader of the books that are written on this fascinating game. They make excellent bedside reading. They are both exciting and soothing. They enable you to bear a bad cold in the head with patience and a peremptory demand for income tax with fortitude. When I study a hand played by experts at an international tournament I am filled with envious admiration of a subtlety that I cannot hope to emulate. For instance, when North deals and after two or three rounds of bidding realizes that West is void of clubs and consequently bids a small slam, I gasp. How did the expert know? He will tell you that it was only a matter of counting, and you are just as much at a loss as you were before.