History of Bridge in Edmonton.
Organized Bridge started in Edmonton in the late 1950's with Brook & Margaret Tomlinson opening the Edmonton Bridge Studio . Dick McKinney & Alvin Baragar played their first game there in 1962 when the club was in operation just for a few years. The club had a healthy rubber Bridge contingent as well as scheduled duplicate games. The city vice squad had recently paid the club a visit in the early 1960's & contended playing rubber bridge for money was illegal. This went to court & with evidence from Charles Goren that Bridge is a game of skill rather than just chance , the judge ruled in favour of the Bridge club. The vice squad has not visited any Bridge club in Edmonton since that court ruling.
Rubber bridge was an addiction for some in those days. On weekends , all night rubber Bridge games were common. In fact entire week ends were devoted to rubber bridge where the 5th had to grab some sleep when not their turn to play. The early Edmonton experts all had a rubber Bridge background which came in handy when IMPS became popular for team games. Edmonton teams dominated the early days of GNT events with District 18, 19 & 20 in the 1970's. An Edmonton team captained by Barry Pritchard was the first Canadian team to make the semi-finals of the GNT event. Bob Hammon mentioned in his book playing against a tough Edmonton team in the GNT teams. This Edmonton team was captained by Lee Barton.
By 1970 , Edmonton had a grand total of 10 Life Masters. The 1st was Margaret Tomlinson , followed by Mrytle Rose , Bart Symons , Dick McKinney , John Balanko , Neil Sutherland , Bob Crosby , Alvin Baragar , Barry Pritchard & Lee Barton. The Standard Edmonton system , championed by Lee Barton was born in the 1970's & this bidding style is still popular today with many Edmonton players. Edmonton teans were strong nationally. In the very first CNTC event in Toronto in 1980 , an Edmonton team captained by Bob Crosby made the semi-finals of the event. Alberta teams have subsequently won the CNTC event a couple of times. Of the 10 Life Masters in Edmonton circa 1970 , five are still very active in the Edmonton Bridge scene 41 years later. Contrast this with 2011 where out of 923 ( active & inactive ) Unit members , 297 have reached Life Master status or above
The Edmonton Bridge Studio remained in business from 1959 to 1979 . During this time Bart Symons was in competition having his own club & both clubs continued to flourish . In 1980 , Peter Jones ran the primary Bridge Club in Edmonton until 1985. Rubber bridge was very popular in Peter's club also & Bridge continued to flourish. In 1985 , the Edmonton Bridge Society came into being.The Edmonton Bridge Society is a registered non-profit society created under the authority of the Societies Act of Alberta in 1985. The Society was initially funded through a series of debentures purchased by dedicated bridge players in the Edmonton area who wanted to ensure that a full time bridge club would continue to exist in Edmonton. The Society in 1985 hired a general manager , Steve Bates to run the Bridge Centre in a south side of Edmonton location. Steve ran the club until 1993 when his directing duties with the ACBL increased so he no longer wanted to handle both obligations. A new location was found ( the present location ) & Dann Krammer of Calgary was hired to manage the club. Dann returned to Calgary in 1994 so the board hired Mathew Greenways to start in Jan 1995 & he has been the General Manager ever since. The club recently held a 25 year anniversary celebration which was a well attended black tie affair. Money was raised to help the Edmonton Bridge Centre continue to be the focal point in Edmonton Bridge for a long time in the future.
The early years of the Edmonton Bridge Centre in its present location from 1995 to present , Mathew worked hard on developing a Bridge teaching program. ACBL accreditation was obtained for the instructers & lessons were an integral part of the daily happenings of the Bridge club. These lessons are still in effect today in an attempt to up the membership numbers from the grass roots level. Local Bridge experts also helped the process by being involved in mentoring programs. Increasing the competitive calibre of the field is an excellent objective as learning is just plain fun.
As the EBC is a non profit sociey , members are involved in Casinos to raise money for the club to sustain itself. The EBC is on sound financial footing due to these fund raising ventures. The EBC can concentrate on its primary mandate which is to provide a place where members can enjoy their hobby. A desirable spin off would be to have the game of Bridge grow again in Edmonton.
Around 2002 the Edmonton Bridge Centre obtained a Duplimate machine. This machine enabled the staff to have the boards & hand records ready to go before game time. The hand records were a boon for the post mortem & many players have improved their Bridge as a consequence. The EBC purchased their own Internet domain name around that time also. They have their own web site where the result of every game is posted on the Internet immediately upon conclusion of the scoring. Members can go home & continue the games post mortem in the comfort of being in front of their own computer .The Edmonton Bridge Centre was one of the first clubs in the ACBL to provide that service & even suggested a change to the ACBLscore program to facilitate the task for clubs . The ACBL implemented their suggestion. The Edmonton Bridge center have their own computer network where computers & printers are all tied together & reachable. A member bought the club a huge TV set which can be networked with the scoring process & members can watch the scoring as it happens. This scoring setup is something the members enjoy immensely. Perhaps in the future , the club will have wireless scoring so that scoring pickup slips will be a thing of the past.
Edmonton is known as the "City of Champions". In Bridge it is no different. Piot Klimowicz of Edmonton along with three ex Edmontonians residing in Calgary have won the CNTC & represented Canada internationally. Local Edmontonians Kiz Fung & Susan Culham have won the CWTC's multiple times & represented Canada internationally. Recently Kiz Fung won two silver medals in World events & Susan Culham one silver medal. They would admit that the Edmonton Bridge Centre played a large part in their success as the EBC is where they learned the game of Bridge.