Interview with Bob Hamman Bob Hamman of Dallas Texas is ranked #8 in the world by the World Bridge Federation. A Grand Life Master with more than 32,000 masterpoints, he is one of the world’s greatest players. A member of the world-famous Dallas Aces, Bob was inducted into the ACBL Bridge Hall of Fame in 1999. He is the current President of the Foundation for the Preservation and Advancement of Bridge and has innumerable ACBL and World championships to his credit.
How old were you when you learned to play? 18
What drew you to learn bridge? A friend called me on a Saturday morning and asked, “Do you play bridge?”’ I answered, “No, but after seeing you play other games, I don’t think that beating you at bridge will be difficult. Give me the rules and by game time, I’ll be ready. I’ll learn how and I’m sure I’ll do just fine.” He gave me the rules and some instruction, I played and got beat. That was the start, and I was convinced that I had to learn the game to get revenge.
Did your parents play? No
Why do you still play? I love it. It’s a game where you can cross swords with the best in the world.
Have you played continuously? Yes. I’ve only missed one Nationals (in ’63) since I started.
What is your best bridge memory? One always has fond memories of first success, but they all feel good. The wine used for the victory toast is always vintage.
What do you look for in a partner and/or teammates? In the modern era, the hill is steep to develop partnerships. I look for intensity, desire to win, and people who want to compete. At the end of the day, someone with talent who will put up with me is a very good start.
How did you balance bridge-school-dating- other activities? There is no doubt that bridge can get in the way of other endeavors that you may wish to pursue. But this is no different from any area of strong interest. You have to scramble to make choices when you are offered other opportunities. This is not unique to bridge…this comes with any passions you develop.
Words of advice to young players? Recognize this is a competitive game. Would you prefer to leave the opponents smiling because they beat you, or grumpy because you beat them? What’s your choice? You should strive to keep your cool, but sometimes the old maxim, “if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen,” applies.
Any other thoughts? Bridge is a self contained universe, with rules and regulations; where everything won’t always go your way. A bad ruling can cause you to lose (just as in any other sporting events), but the mental discipline you develop has some salutatory effects.
Bob Hamman Interview (Boston NABC, Fall 2008) by Patty Tucker
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