These two are the only bridge personalities I know of today in the Culbertson/Goren tradition (known beyond the world of duplicate bridge) and I’m not sure I would have heard of them except for writing my book. Neither are Americans. Audrey Grant is Canadian; Andrew Robson is British. Both Grant and Robson appear to have that combination of stature in the competitive bridge world, personal appeal and style to achieve celebrity status.
It was a first for the ACBL–designating Audrey Grant in the 80s to write their official guidebook series for American Standard Bridge. She must already have had a reputation as a particularly gifted bridge teacher.
Choosing a Canadian was perfectly proper because that word American in the ACBL had always meant American in its geographic sense (including Canada and Mexico). My impression is that bridge never took the dive in Canada that it did here in the States during the 70s. Perhaps there were more ACBL bridge players in Canada than the States by the 80s?
Whatever its reasoning, by selecting Audrey the ACBL made a public relations statement on feminism (there always have been more women players than men at all levels), globalism and bridge. It was part of the ACBL’s public relations campaign in the 80s to restore the popularity of bridge–dessimated during the 70s. A new era.
I’m not clear as to how it happened, but sometime in the 90s the Grant/ACBL partnership ended. PBS-TV produced a series for their audience of bridge lessons featuring Audrey Grant that are still widely available in public libraries. She then started her own bridge teaching series and a magazine under the label Better Bridge.
Grant is now widely known as a teacher at seminars, festivals and hosts hugely popular bridge cruises. Having seen Grant at one of her bravura teaching sessions, I wonder if she’d “done her own thing” from the beginning (as Culbertson and Goren did) would we be asking today “Do you play Grant” or “Do you play Audrey’s system” as we used to ask back in the 50s, “Do you play Goren?”
As it is now–in my world of bridge–the questions are “Do you play a five-card major?” Or “Do you play the better of two minors?” No one ever asks, “Do you play American Standard?” in the world of sociable bridge. It lacks that name-ID the general public needs.
Under Archives (in sidebar) click on Issue #1 for background on Andrew Robson, and how I happened to hear about him. I don’t ever expect to learn ACOL or British Standard Bridge (if there is such a thing), but if I could afford it and weren’t almost too old to travel, I sure would love to see the inside of Robson’s Bridge Club in London! He is so on my wavelength!
When I recently sent him an e-mail to check out my new blog, he responded quickly and succinctly. Caps are his, bold face type is mine: “I think it’s EXCELLENT Maggy, and spot on as well re the untapped market of social players (that’s my main focus over here).”