After 65 years of playing bridge, resident Art Bloomer recently achieved one of the game’s highest honors by earning the title of “Life Master.” Art reached the milestone during a tournament held on a cruise ship in December.
“The pro that ran the tournament had a post-tournament celebration where they give out awards to people who achieved a new level, and I got a trophy,” said Art.
The title of Life Master is reserved for those who play a specific form of the game called “duplicate bridge” in which everyone in a group plays the same hand—a version Art himself began playing in 2012. Going into the cruise, Art was only 6.1 points away from meeting the 500-point Life Master threshold.
“It took me six years almost to receive Life Master,” said Art. “In addition to 500 points you also have to get silver and gold points and you only get those points playing in tournaments.”
Art began playing bridge while in college at Emporia State mainly because it just seemed like the thing to do at the time.
“In those days, 1951-55, everybody played bridge. They played it in the student union before class and they might have even been playing it during class,” said Art.
His education in the game continued after college playing alongside his wife’s uncles and grandfather, however when it came to duplicate bridge, he found that he needed a little extra instruction.
“You can’t learn it overnight. To learn it well, you should take lessons,” said Art.
Recently, bridge has once again become a family affair for Art when his wife, Sue, became his partner.
“I had a partner that quit and I had to find a new partner,” said Art. “She said she’d play with me until the summer was over and she continues to play with me today.”
However, according to Sue, her ongoing partnership came with a stipulation.
“When I said I would be his partner for the summer, I said, ‘but you have to play my way.’ It hasn’t really worked out that way,” said Sue. “I still do not agree with all of his reasoning even though they came out of a book.”
Despite the occasional disagreements, the Bloomers feel blessed to have bridge in common.
“It’s something we can do together in our old age,” said Art. “Not everybody has something that both partners are interested in.”
PHOTO: Art Bloomer receives his "Life Master" trophy from Barbara Seagram, a bridge writer, teacher and administrator.