Judy Kay-Wolff

TALES FROM THE BRIDGE CRYPT (NO. 4) (Remembering Edgar…)

Suffice it to say – Edgar requires no further identification. There was only one Edgar — who earned his reputation as the classic prototype: A Man for All Seasons.

The first time I met Edgar Kaplan was in 1964. Norman had played with him during the fifties but begged off when he was invited to partner Sidney Silodor on the ‘big team’ (Crawford, Becker, et al.) in 1960. It was a wonderful opportunity for Norman, and Edgar graciously released him but after Sidney’s sudden death in 1963, they were reunited and stayed married – for what seemed like an eternity.  Their subsequent record earned them a reputation as one of the most victorious partnerships of all time (spanning over forty-years) — ending when Edgar succumbed to cancer in 1997. However, when admirers would remark to Norman about their distinguished track record, he would modestly remind them that their partnership no doubt also laid claim to losing more events than any other twosome in history!

Edgar was a very private individual — adored and idolized by those whom he allowed into his own little world and respected by the rest (who knew him casually or from afar). He excelled equally with tongue and pen and captivated vu-graph audiences for decades. He had a charming, soft-spoken sophistication and was a maven on the finer things in life – travel, great cuisine and exceptional wine. His marriage to the former Betty Sheinwold in 1963 was tantamount to the icing on his cake. He had it all!  What I loved most about Edgar was his trigger-fast mind, unparalleled sense of humor and delightful wit. However, my fondest remembrance of Edgar was selfishly a personal one – a memory that I still savor over forty-one years later!

In 1967, I flew to the Montreal National in mid-week, preparing to play with Norman in a two-session secondary Mixed Pairs scheduled on back-to-back afternoons. When I arrived, I learned from my apologetic husband that he would not be able to play the following day as he shockingly qualified for the finals of a six-session event with a dear friend and client. That evening when we adjourned to Edgar’s suite for a nightcap, Norman explained his predicament, knowing I was crushed by my reversal of fortune. You must understand – I was practically a novice – enthusiastic but inexperienced — and it was a relatively new groom’s duty to play with his bride. Norman questioned if Edgar knew anyone who could fill the bill (qualifying quickly by adding … ‘they don’t have to be that good’). “I certainly do,” offered Edgar. Betty (his wife) already had a partner and he volunteered his services. Norman never anticipated Edgar’s altruism and was about to graciously decline his magnanimous offer, when (much to Norman’s chagrin and embarrassment) I jumped up and hugged Edgar, adding, “You’re On!” It was a done deal.

To give you an idea of the caliber of my rookie game – here were my ground rules (which I still find amusing): If Edgar led a suit, he strongly suggested I return it unless there was undisputable evidence to the contrary (huh?); if Edgar bid a suit, I had to raise as many levels as my hand dictated (whatever that meant); and if I could only count one suit, I was instructed to concentrate on trumps. We were leading at the halfway point and when the smoke cleared, we trounced the field by half a point. My scrapbook of congratulatory greetings bears the caption “Miracle in Montreal.”

Years later when interviewed for the ACBL archives by Dorothy Frances about bridge milestones and cherished moments, I can only paraphrase Edgar’s reference to our shocking victory: “ ….. Most events that I enter, I expect to win. This one, I just hoped to finish…” Indeed he did! Is it any wonder I will always love Edgar???


DaveSeptember 23rd, 2008 at 6:29 pm

This is great stuff. Thanks for sharing.

LindaSeptember 27th, 2008 at 12:47 pm

I second Dave’s comment. That is a lovely story. I wish I had a chance to know Edgar.

EvieOctober 2nd, 2008 at 2:51 pm

I have heard sooooo much about Edgar from you.Norman,and Bobby that I feel I did know him even though I never met him

Anna DiepFebruary 6th, 2012 at 2:50 pm

Really appreciate you sharing this article post. Want more.