Charles Goren

Copyright Michael D. Robbins 2005


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Charles Goren—World’s Foremost Expert on the Game of Bridge

March 4, 1901, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1:00 AM, EST (Approximately) (Source: LMR cites Church of Light which  quotes Drew for “approximate time.”) Died,

April 3, 1991.

(Ascendant, Sagittarius with Uranus in Sagittarius rising; MC, Virgo; Sun and Merucry in Pisces; Moon in Virgo; Venus in Aquarius; Mars in Leo; Jupiter loosely conjunct Saturn in Capricorn; Neptune and Pluto in Gemini)


remember so many people who all but live for bridge, Who would almost have curled up and withered away if they hadn`t been able to play. Most of them found it difficult even to express themselves in non - bridge terms away from the table. There was a young man who introduced himself to me and said he was from Sulligent, Alabama. "Sulligent, Alabama?" i said . "How big is Sulligent?" "oh," he said " about four tables".

And i remember a man who was playing in a tournament far from home when he received word that his wife had died. The next available train was six hours later, and if you don`t know what that man did for the next six hours, then you don`t know bridge players


Charles Henry Goren (March 4, 1901 – April 3, 1991) was a famous bridge player, writer and popularizer.
He was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Russian immigrants. He earned a law degree at McGill University in Montreal. It was at McGill that a girlfriend laughed at his ineptness at the game of bridge, after which he vowed never to be made fun of again. He began studying the game of bridge intensely, reading every book available at the time on bidding and playing strategies.
When he graduated, he briefly attempted a law career in Philadelphia. Meanwhile, Ely Culbertson was becoming rich and famous from the game of contract bridge, and Goren abandoned his original career choice to pursue bridge competitions, where he attracted the attention of Milton Work, who had developed the Work Point Count System. Goren began helping Work with his bridge articles and columns and, eventually, ghost-writing some of the material.
When Goren struck out on his own, his experience with Work's system and with writing about bridge allowed him to quickly become popular as an instructor and lecturer. In 1936, he published the first of what would be many books on playing bridge, Winning Bridge Made Easy.
In the course of his writing he made extensive use of Work's system. Previously, bridge players assessed their hands by counting 'honor tricks'. The high card point count system was a large step forward in bridge theory because it was easy to apply. Aces were assigned a value of four points; kings, three; queens, two and jacks, one point. A hand containing thirteen points was considered to be an opening bid.
Of course, hand distribution can add a great deal to a hand's value and so various systems to assess that have been applied over the years. Voids become very useful when there is trump agreement and so a void in the responding hand was counted as five points and a singleton as three.
Another feature of the Goren system was opening four card suits. An approach known as 'five card majors' has become very popular as a major feature of Standard American bidding. As the name suggests a bidder using that system promises five cards in the suit by bidding one Heart or one Spade.
There is much merit in Goren's four card opening approach, though, and many experts still use it. Any method that uncovers a four-four trump fit is very useful. 'Five card major' bidders sometimes use negative doubles to find four-four trump fits. The advantage of 'Five card majors' is when the opponents bid. Following the Law of Total Tricks is a lot easier in a 'Five card majors' system.
Bridge is an evolving game and many styles and new approaches have been developed over the years. Few people would say that they play 'Goren' now. That takes nothing away from the great skill and competitive spirit that made Charles Goren one of the foremost bridge players of his day.
Goren died in Encino, California, at the age of 90.

American contract bridge authority whose innovative system of point-count bidding and repeated successes in tournaments made him one of the world's most famous and influential players.

Goren studied law at McGill University in Montreal (LL.M., 1923) and practiced law in Philadelphia for 13 years. He had begun playing auction bridge while a student at McGill, and by the early 1930s he had become an expert on its successor, contract bridge. He developed point-count bidding, a simplified system of valuating one's hand in which points are assigned to both high cards and short suits. Goren's system, which improved on that of Milton Work, enabled even novices to evaluate their hands accurately and make realistic bids, thus revolutionizing the game. Goren elaborated his system in the book Winning Bridge Made Easy (1936), and his numerous tournament victories publicized it so much that he was able to give up practicing law. In the 1940s he became a popular syndicated bridge columnist, later in conjunction with Omar Sharif. Goren's activities and writings helped bring contract bridge to a peak of popularity beginning in the 1940s. His other books include Contract Bridge in a Nut Shell (1946, 1959), Point Count Bidding in Contract Bridge (1949), and Goren's Bridge Complete (1963), which was widely translated. Goren was the American bridge champion numerous times and also lectured and gave bridge commentaries on television.

Goren, Charles Henry , 1901–91, American expert on bridge, b. Philadelphia, grad. McGill Univ., 1922. Goren played bridge as a law student and by 1931 was competing in major tournaments. He wrote the first of his many books on bridge, Winning Bridge Made Easy, in 1936 and shortly thereafter gave up his law practice to teach bridge, write additional books, and play in tournaments. He won the world championship (1950) and 28 U.S. titles (including two ties) and became one of the nation's leading experts on the game. His books and syndicated articles made his point-count bidding system the most popular in bridge.


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