The members of this elite society are a Who’s Who of bridge. The list represents both expert players and famous bridge advocates. The American Bridge League inaugurated the list in 1927.
You probably recognize some of the members: Ely Culbertson (1938), Harold S. Vanderbilt (1941), Charles Goren (1959), Oswald Jacoby (1967), Easley Blackwood (1980), Alfred Sheinwold (1983) and Fred Gitelman (2005). In the past few years, Warren Buffett, Bill Gates and Larry Cohen have been added.
Gregory H. Johnson, widely known as the bridge-playing astronaut, has had a distinguished career. He has received many honors, including NASA Space Medals, the Lieutenant General Bobby Bond Award as the top U.S. Air Force test pilot, military service medals and military air medals. He was the pilot on the penultimate mission of NASA’s Space Shuttle Program, from May 16 to June 1, 2011. As a young man, he attained the rank of Eagle Scout.
His recreational interests include traveling, biking, golfing, music, woodworking...and duplicate bridge. At the 2011 Summer North American Bridge Championships in Toronto, he spent a lot of time at the youth program, thrilling young players with stories of space flight and letting them know how much he enjoys bridge.
At a recent national tournament in Houston, he arrived with a framed certificate of authenticity for the ace of spades, which he took with him on a Shuttle Endeavor mission. The ace orbited the earth 250 times, logging 6.6 million miles on the trip.
He’s positive about bridge and plans to become more active when he no longer has such a busy schedule. “I just love the people and the competition,” he says. “There are so many positives to the organization in so many ways,” he continues. “I want to get better so I deserve the honor. I want to get to the next level.”
Ely Culbertson was the first great bridge teacher. Next came the genius of Charles Goren. For the last 25 years, Audrey Grant has been Number One.
After serving as a teacher and consultant for the Toronto School Board, she became interested in teaching bridge in the 1980s. She developed a bridge-teaching program and she travelled to Memphis, at the time the headquarters of the American Contract Bridge League. There, she demonstrated her ideas to top officials. They were impressed. That was just the beginning.
Along with her husband, David Lindop, Audrey wrote several books in cooperation with Eric Rodwell, a prominent theorist and many-time world champion. She and David developed the Club, Diamond, Heart, and Spade Series. Audrey incorporated her unique teaching ideas into teaching manuals and wrote the ACBL Teacher Accreditation Program.
Julie Greenberg, the ACBL’s Director of Education, was instrumental in the success of the program. Meanwhile, Audrey trained accomplished teachers like Jerry Helms, Val Covalciuc and Pat Harrington. The group promoted and delivered the Audrey Grant program all over the United States. The result was thousands of teachers, tens of thousands of students and a vibrant teacher organization.
With experience in multi-media, Audrey developed six 13-week television shows, some in cooperation with the League, for PBS. Players still ask when the next series of TV shows will air. But over time, Audrey and David saw many reasons to adapt their programs."Players wanted shorter lesson series. Instead of ten-week or longer courses, they were looking for four- week courses or one-day festivals that could accommodate busy travel schedules,” Audrey said.
“There was a need for multi-level material appropriate for groups with wide levels of experience. The game has proven, taught in the right way, to be capable of promoting mental fitness. Material had to be developed to take advantage of this potential. Two-Over-One Game Force, an adaptation of Standard Methods, was firmly on the horizon. The Internet provided new opportunities, and players wanted to know the reasons behind making one play over another. The game was becoming much more international."
It’s not surprising that one of the most noteworthy developments in software, the Interactive Daily Bridge Column, was introduced early in 2013 by BETTER BRIDGE, in cooperation with GREAT GAME PRODUCTS. This is probably going to be one of Audrey’s most significant contributions.
Whatever the future, thousands and thousands of players throughout the world are better bridge players today because of Audrey Grant.
She is a most worthy addition to the list of Honorary Members of the American Contract Bridge League.