A close friend of Mark’s once wrote to him that “he lived life with a warm, caring heart, an open mind, and a sincere interest in the happiness and well being of others.” This sums up well this wonderful man who will no longer be in our lives.
Mark died on November 18, after having suffered a massive stroke on October 17. For weeks we hoped and prayed for his recovery, but this was not to be.
Mark’s mother was a bridge player. He was curious about the game and started accompanying her to the Bridge Center in Richmond as a teenager. He wanted to watch. He watched the greatest players in Richmond at the time play and soaked up the strategy and logic of the game instinctively. He ultimately became one of the finest players in Richmond or anywhere.
He and Steve Shapiro played together when they were young novices. There is still a trophy awarded yearly called the Rosenbloom-Shapiro trophy for players with 0-20 masterpoints.
He was also a good teacher, sometimes showing impatience with partners who could not grasp a concept that seemed so easy to him. Unlike some other players who helped newer players learn, he would not take money from anyone; he would not even let his partner pay for his entry.
Outside of the bridge world, there is nothing that he would not do for anyone. If he knew someone needed help, he was there.
Mark’s friend Martha shared a story that illustrates who he was as a bridge player and a person.
“We were playing in a local tournament and this guy comes to the table that we didn’t know. He hands us this piece of paper with all this weird bidding stuff on it and includes suggested defenses. Mark glances at it and puts it to the side. The bidding starts and they alert every single bid. Mark passes in tempo but I ask for explanations. The guy says to me, ‘Sorry, I assumed you could read.’ Mark’s eyebrows went up. Then he starts bidding and doubling and interfering. They finally end up in a contract of 4 clubs, doubled. Mark leads and the dummy comes down. He studies the dummy, and I can see his mind whirring. I swear I also saw a smile tug at his lips. As I struggled just to follow suit, Mark had a plan.
“He underled aces, held up taking tricks, and even threw his king under the guy’s ace. When the dust settled, the guy was down 3. Afterward, I asked Mark about the king under the ace thing. He explained to me, it was the only way to endplay him. ‘But,’ I asked, ‘doesn’t he always go down three?’ Mark said, ‘Yes, but this was better because there is nothing more annoying than being endplayed.’
Then, with that twinkle in his eye he said ‘Did you really think I would let him get away with saying that to you?’
Mark was a shining star in the Richmond bridge community. He was loved by many, and he will be missed by so many people.