Ross Taylor

In the beginning

Many years ago I was on the cusp of a career as a professional bridge player. I had all the pre-requisites. I had taken up the game with a passion while still a teenager, and had even withdrawn from The University of Waterloo Math Program to pursue my hobby in earnest. (i.e. I was a University drop-out)

I was scratching together a living teaching bridge lessons, and playing semi pro dates – including one memorable experience with Bruce Ferguson and his #1 client Clarence Goppert, at a regional in Lake Placid some 30 years ago. I think I was 19 at the time.

Keith Balcombe and I were recruited to play on a team with Clarence’s lovely wife, while Bruce and Mark Lair and George Mittelman and George Keri played on Clarence’s “A Team”.

The results don’t matter much – but it was clear we were heading in a direction only a few players aspire to.

Anyway, life got in the way, and instead of becoming professional bridge bums, Keith and I decided to become “normal citizens” – bridge would remain a(n important) hobby, rather than our source of income.

I went back to University and completed my Math degree. While waiting for the MBA curriculum to begin at MacMaster, I eked out a living again working with and for a fine gentleman called Ted Horning and his then partner Bev Jones at their Bridge Studio in Don Mills.

I taught classes, directed his daily games; ghost wrote his bridge column occasionally, and played a lot of bridge. It was there I first met my very good friend Peter Kline. We have remained close ever since.

I also was (apparently) somewhat of an inspiration to an even younger bridge up and comer – Fred Gitelman – who we all know has gone onto deserved greatness in life and in bridge.

I also met many fine ladies and gentlemen at Ted’s club who still remain active in bridge to this day. Back then Hazel was pregnant with Gavin, and still came regularly to the bridge studio.

Over the next few years, I played rarely, since studies were pretty intensive. In first term MBA, I had to take off a couple of weeks to play for Canada in the Bermuda Bowl Trials held in Minneapolis that year. Keith and I had been augmented to play on Nick Gartaganis’s team – which included the boy wonders Gord Crispin, Zyg Marcinski, and Voyteck Pomykalski. George Retek was our NPC, and a youngish EOK made perhaps one his earliest coaching forays as the coach of our talented but outgunned team.

That was a glorious experience – we did make into the play offs but experience and skill won out and there was no Bermuda Bowl entry that year. (Back then Canada did not send a team to the Bermuda Bowl – we had to compete in the North American Team Trials for the right to represent North America.)

Anyway, I pretty much decided there could be no more bridge for me until I completed the MBA – no room for both ! So my bridge playing remained dormant until the Spring of 1984 when I graduated.

If anyone would like to contact me directly I can be reached at

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