Retired Doctor Rediscovers Bridge

Dr. Padmanabh Kamath, a retired Rochester pathologist, was surprised to learn recently that he was in the top 25 bridge players in 2016 in the ACBL Helen Shanbrom Ace of Clubs contest in the 5-20 point category. The top 25 scorers were listed in the Bridge Bulletin earlier this year, but Dr. Kamath did not see it. Only masterpoints at clubs are counted for these races and do not include points won at STaCs.

While Dr. Kamath has been playing bridge off and on since his early years growing up in India, it has only been since he retired that he has increased the frequency of his play….now up to 5 times a week at clubs in the Rochester Area Bridge Association.

“I started playing bridge in my childhood (age 11 or so) in India. It was one of the card games we played. We were not familiar with or followed any conventions. After I started college, I could not play anymore except during holidays.

“My wife and I immigrated to the USA in 1971. During my professional career, I could only play some weekends with friends. I joined the ACBL In 1995 and played at clubs a few times. However, I could not pursue this seriously due to time constraints and lack of regular partners.”

He has regular partners now… four in fact! They play together Monday through Thursday and then he has another set of partners for Fridays.

“I am very surprised to hear that I was in the top 25 in my masterpoint level,” Dr. Kamath remarked on learning of his achievement. “I consider myself a good player but not a very good one. Every day, I make a few dumb mistakes in spite of knowing the theory.”

“Dumb mistakes” not withstanding, Dr. Kamath racked up 62 masterpoints and ranked 21st in the top 25 in his category.

So what’s the key to his success at the bridge table?

“For the past 2 years, I have been reading books and seriously studying the conventions. Books by Max Hardy (bidding), Eddie Kantar (defense) and Marty Bergen are my favorites the evenings,” says Dr. Kamath.

“The examples in the books are very exciting. With analysis, I can solve many of them. However, during actual games, we do not have much time to analyze. That quick analysis is what distinguishes the great players from the ordinary ones,” he adds.

And what part of the game does he consider the toughest? “Defense…it is the most difficult aspect of the game to master.”

Playing bridge 5 times a week has also helped Dr. Kamath organize his daily routine.

“Bridge has given me good structure to my days. I study in the mornings, play and practice in the afternoons and watch TV in evening. I like to play to the best of my ability but I do not have any specific targets. It is my hope that I can continually improve,” says Dr. Kamath.

If he does, we just may see his name among the Helen Shanbrom Ace of Clubs winners soon again.

(Editor’s note: Mark Tevelow, who plays at The Bridge Studio in Vestal, NY, was also 21st in the 0-5 category with 55 masterpoints but declined to be interviewed.)

-DeWitt Henricks-

Leave a Reply