Judy Kay-Wolff


I received the following comment from an interested reader regarding the passing of Tobias Stone:

NS February 19th, 2012 at 12:08 am

Was Tobias Stone the last living member of the exclusive “First 100 Life Masters” club?

I couldn’t find info for only seven people (all seven earned the rank in 1947):

#63 Louis Newman
#66 Miss Florence Stratford
#67 Jules Bank
#68 William McGhee
#73 Dr. A. Steinberg
#86 Mark Hodges
#97 Linda Terry (Mrs. W. L.)

It was followed up with a verification that Jules Bank was deceased.   If you know of the whereabouts of any of the others above (Louis Newman, Florence Stratford, William McGhee, Dr. A Steinberg, Mark Hodges or Linda Terry), it would take some of the mystery out of the air.

I found the following on the internet and was amazed how many of the first 100 I knew personally or by sight (and even had the thrill of playing with six of them on occasion an eternity ago).

The rank of Life Master was once the highest rank any bridge player could achieve. The designation was created by the American Bridge League in 1936 and the selection of the first Life Masters was based on national tournament successes. Below is a list of the very first 100 bridge players, on whom the rank of Life Master was bestowed.

As early as 1934, each of the three competing Bridge Organizations in the United States had a system of Master Point Awards in effect. Points won in one organization event, however, were not recognized by another organization, and as a result there was no uniform Master Point Program until the merger of the three organizations in 1936, under the name of the American Contract Bridge League. These bridge organizations were United States Bridge Association (Ely Culbertson), American Bridge League (formerly the American Auction Bridge League), and American Contract Bridge League.

As an interesting side note, the one person who brought the game of bridge to the American and European bridge playing public, Mr. Ely Culberson never attained the level of an ACBL Life Master, but he was named Honorary Member in 1938. Source: Biography of Mr. Ely Culbertson by ACBL. Mr. Alan Truscott addresses this fact also in his bridge article appearing in The New York Times, July 14, 1991, where he states: This was partly because his tournament appearances were rare and his victories very rare, but also partly because he was the head of a rival organization, the United States Bridge Association. The two bodies merged a year later, becoming the American Contract Bridge League.

1936  1.  David Bruce

1936  2. Oswald Jacoby

1936  3. Howard Schenken

1936  4.  Waldemar K. von Zedtwitz

1936  5.  P. Hal Sims

1936  6.  B. Jay Becker

1936  7.  Theodore A. Lightner

1936  8. Richard L. Frey

1936  9.  Michael T. Gottlieb

1936  10.  Sam Fry Jr.

1936  11.   Merwin D. Maier

1937  12.  Charles S. Lochridge

1938  13.  Charles H. Goren

1938  14.  A. Mitchell Barnes

1939  15.  Harry J. Fishbein

1939  16.  Charles J. Solomon

1939  17.  Sally Young

1939  18.  Fred D. Kaplan

1939  19.  John R. Crawford

1939  20.  Walter Jacobs

1939  21.  Morrie Elis

1940 22.  Phil Abramsohn

1940 23.  Edward Hynes Jr.

1940 24.  Alvin Landy

1941 25.  Helen Sobel Smith

1941 26.  Sherman Stearns

1941 27.  Robert A. McPherran

1942 28.  Jeff Glick

1942 29.  Arthur Glatt

1942 30.  Dr. Richard Ecker Jr.

1942 31.  Albert Weiss

1942 32.  Lee Hazen

1942 33.  Peggy Solomon

1942 34.  Alvin Roth

1943 35.  Sidney Silodor

1943 36. Olive Peterson

1943 37.  Margaret Wagar

1943 38.  Peter A. Leventritt

1944 39.  Edson T. Wood

1944 40.  Ralph Kempner

1944 41.  Arthur S. Goldsmith

1944 42.  Simon Becker

1944 43.  Stanley O. Fenkel

1944 44.  George Rapee

1944 45.  Ruth Sherman

1945 46.  Robert Appleyard

1945 47.  Mr. A. Lightman

1945 48.  Samuel Stayman

1945 49.  Edward N. Marcus

1945 50.  Charles A. Hall

1946 51.  Emily Folline

1946 52.  Joseph E. Cain

1946 53.  Harry Feinberg

1946 54.  Ambrose Casner

1946 55.  Samuel Katz

1946 56.  Jack Ehrlenback

1946 57.  J. Van Brooks

1946 58.  Simon Rossant

1946 59.  Edward G. Ellenbogen

1946 60.  Sidney R. Fink

1946 61.  Bertram Lebhar Jr.

1947 62.  Meyer Schleifer

1947 63.  Louis Newman

1947 64.  Elinor Murdoch

1947 65.  Paula Bacher

1947 66.  Florence Stratford

1947 67.  Jules Bank

1947 68.  William McGhee

1947 69.  Maynard Adams

1947 70.  Edith Kemp

1947 71.  David Carter

1947 72.  Jack Cushing

1947 73.  Dr. A. Steinberg

1947 74.  Jane Jaeger

1947 75.  Cecil Head

1947 76.  S. Garton Churchill

1947 77.  Edward S. Cohn

1947 78.  John Carlin

1947 79.  Lawrence Welch

1947 80.  Frank Weisbach

1947 81.  Charlton Wallace

1947 82.  Dr. Louis Mark

1947 83.  Edward Taylor

1947 84.  Dan Westerfield

1947 85.  Tobias Stone

1947 86.  Mark Hodges

1947 87.  Leo Roet

1947 88.  Sol Mogal

1947 89.  Herbert Gerst

1947 90.  Lewis Mathe

1947 91.  Ludwig Kabakjian

1947 92. Gratian Goldstein

1947 93.  Allen P. Harvey

1947 94.  Lewis Jaeger

1947 95.  Mildred Cunningham

1947 96.  Elmer J. Schwartz

1947 97.  Linda Terry

1948 98. Maurice Levin

1948 99. Dave Warner

1948 100. Ernest Rovere


Jordan CohenFebruary 21st, 2012 at 12:19 am

What was the criteria to play in the von Zedwitz (LM) pairs at that time, as there certainly weren’t enough Life Masters around in the early days it seems to play a 4 let alone 6-session event?

I note no Canadians on this list, but Shorty Sheardown and Sam Gold, must have followed soon after. My father was approx. #350 in 1951.

Judy Kay-WolffFebruary 21st, 2012 at 3:03 am


I have no idea about the criteria, but the ACBL encyclopedia explains about the von Zedtwitz Gold Cup and talks about ‘master players’ who were used to fill the event until life masters became more plentiful.

Jordan CohenFebruary 21st, 2012 at 4:31 am

By the way, I think Linda Terry [#97] was a Memphian, who won the Women’s BAM in 1941 and I found a Goren article about her from 1954. I met and played against her when we moved to Memphis in 1972 and she was a fine player. I’m fairly sure she’s passed on, but I’m sure some Memphians can confirm.

Bill CubleyFebruary 23rd, 2012 at 2:43 am

J Van Brooks #57 ran the first bridge club I played. It was in the YWCA on Woodward Ave in Highland Park {think middle of Detroit} and the lease required we all join the YWCA.

Made for an interesting discussion with a first sergeant on my background check form to get my commission after ROTC. I showed him my card. He said, “Only you.” I said, “My partner across the room has one, too.”

NSFebruary 25th, 2012 at 1:30 am

I was able to find info on two more people from the list:

William McGhee (1897-1966)


Linda Terry (1916-1995)



However, I discovered I had wrong info for Edward G. Ellenbogen who earned his title in 1946. That brings the list to five people with unknown whereabouts.

#59 Edward G. Ellenbogen
#63 Louis Newman
#66 Miss Florence Stratford
#73 Dr. A. Steinberg
#86 Mark Hodges

NSFebruary 25th, 2012 at 3:07 am

@ Jordan Cohen

According to the June 4, 1930 New York Times, the requirements were:

First or second in a general tournament of the American Bridge League, the American Whist League, the Vanderbilt Cup or the Eastern tournament.

Then, according to the September 20, 1934 New York Times, the American Bridge League created a “Bridge Master” title. It was earned by winning at least three master points in any of a number of events recognized by the league. The point system of rating had been made retroactive to 1930, according to the following tentative schedule:

Event 1st 2nd 3rd

Masters’ individual and pair 30 12 6
Masters’ team 24 9 3
A.B.L. pair 18 5 2
A.B.L. team 15 3 –
A.B.L. mixed team 6 2 –
A.B.L. men’s pair 6 2 –
A.B.L. women’s pair 3 1 –
A.W.L. pair 15 3 1
A.W.L. team 12 2 –
Eastern open pair 15 3 1
Eastern open team 12 3 –
Vanderbilt Cup team 9 2 –
Western pair 12 3 –
Western team 12 2 –
A.B.L. President’s Cup pair 3 1 –

Deductions of three points each year were taken from each master’s score.

The league had 105 masters at the time, with David Burnstine (later Bruce) leading the list with 242 points. He was followed by Howard Schenken (201), P. Hal Sims (166), Waldemar von Zedtwitz (141), and Oswald Jacoby (129).

Miss Elinor Murdoch led the woman players with 59 points, followed by Josephine Culbertson with 36.

NSFebruary 25th, 2012 at 3:13 am

@ Bill Cubley

Interesting story. Do you know what was the first name of J. Van Brooks and the date of his passing?

Judy Kay-WolffFebruary 25th, 2012 at 5:16 pm

According to Paul Linxwiler, Managing Editor of the Monthly ACBL Bulletin, all of the six in question are gone, making Stoney the last of the first 100 to join the big bridge game in the sky.

Bill CubleyMarch 2nd, 2012 at 2:38 am

Dear NS,

His first name was Jacob and he was called Van by everyone. He died in 1971, possibly 1970. There was an obit the the Detroit News and it is still publishing.

They had a very small elavator. It held 3 people. So we usually stayed for the scores because we could not leave anyway. You had to sit at the table closest to the door to leave first. 😉

Steven GaynorMarch 2nd, 2012 at 8:03 pm

Re: J Van Brooks. I started playing duplicate in the Detroit area (mainly at Russell Roosen’s Metro Bridge Club @ 9 Mile & Coolidge) in late summer 1971 and I remember seeing Van Brooks either there or at a local tournament. Ancestry.com lists Jacob V. Brooks of Oakland County, Michigan passing away in 1980.