And guess who was sitting North!
Celebrities you might meet at the bridge table
by Alex J Coyne © 2019 Great Bridge Links
Just like in the world of poker, the bridge tables and tournaments of the world also have their selection of celebrities – people who are famous for playing bridge. But we thought we’d look at famous people who also happen to play bridge.
Bill Gates is an author, philanthropist, humanitarian and the principal founder of Microsoft Corporation. Gates is perhaps one of the most famous bridge personalities and his interest in the game has done a lot to further the game’s reknown. Gates is an honorary member of the American Contract Bridge League, and known for being a regular face at many bridge games and tournaments. His passion for bridge shows in his involvement in sponsoring programs that allow for the teaching of the game in schools. As well, the popular online bridge club, Bridge Base Online is part of Microsoft’s MSN Games and you’ll often find Gates there playing with his bridge partner Sharon Osberg.
Martina Navratilova is a professional tennis player and coach originally from Prague. She’s achieved incredible acclaim within the world of tennis – but also within the world of bridge, long-since attributing a lot of her success to the game, and often takes on bridge games with her tennis partner. It turns out that it’s the same quick-thinking skills that makes you stand out both at the table and on the court!
Thom Yorke is known as part of the band Radiohead – and is ranked 66th on the list of Rolling Stone’s Best 100 as well as, quite possibly, one of the best musicians in history. While the majority of people know him for his music, he’s also a keen bridge player – and while references to his bridge game are obscure, he’s a known and regular player. How about a game then, Thom?
Warren Buffett, an investor and philanthropist, is the 3rd wealthiest person in the world, and also an avid bridge player. Buffet once said, “Bridge is such a sensational game that I wouldn’t mind being in jail if I had three cellmates who were decent players and who were willing to keep the game going twenty-four hours a day.”
Often playing with partner Bill Gates, in 2006 he sponsored a bridge event called the Buffet Cup in which one female and five female teams were invited to compete.
Those who have left the table
Famous Players from history include George Burns, Winston Churchill, Gandhi, and Margaret Thatcher as well as:
Omar Sharif was a reknown Egyptian actor and perhaps the world’s most famous bridge player. At one time Sharif ranked in the world’s top 50 players. In 1967 Sharif formed the Omar Sharif Bridge Circus to showcase the game to the world and invited famous bridge players (including the Italian Blue Team) to tour and promote bridge through exhibition matches. We could write so much more about this great bridge personality and all he did for our favourite game. In 2000 Sharif stopped playing bridge, however you can read his stories in a book he co-authored with bridge writer David Bird, “Omar Sharif Talks Bridge“. which includes some of his most famous deals and bridge stories
Charles M. Schulz was the famous cartoonist behind Peanuts and was known to incorporate the game of bridge into his cartoon strips many times. In fact, there’s a book of Peanuts bridge cartoons called Bridge Mix which you can purchase on Amazon here.
Wilt Chamberlain was first known as a champion NBA player who achieved the record of the most points scored during a single game in NBA history, having scored 100 points during a March 2, 1962 game between the Philadelphia Warriors against the NY Knicks. While a lot of people have no idea that he played bridge, he was apparently pretty good at it – and, according to Jeff Goldsmith was, “the biggest, tallest bridge player I’ve ever seen.”
Benjamin Whitrow was an actor perhaps best known for his role as Mr. Bennet in the BBC-adaptation of Pride & Prejudice – but there were many more roles in-between, including the in Chicken Run, Bomber and Darkest Hour. In addition to his extensive career acting in radio plays, TV shows and movies, he was also a keen bridge player – and a more extended interview about his bridge playing can be seen at Two Minute Interviews by the EBU.
Buster Keaton was a great Hollywood actor, and one of many who happen to share a love of the game of bridge. Information on the bridge game of Buster Keaton is wonderfully obscure, except for this reference on InfoBridge. It tells the story of Keaton and his third partner Eleanor Ruth Norris, who would accompany him through both life and bridge games until his death in 1966.