48-4. Nonagenarian Notions: D.J. Cook as nonagenarian, bridge teacher & tournament player

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Usually I blog about living nonagenarians in this space–I’m making an exception for D.J.  She passed away at 95 of natural causes, in Asheville, North Carolina on March 21, 2011 according to the Asheville Citizen-Times. 

In addition to being a collectible cookbook, D.J.’s Cook & Deal  bridge hands are a time capsule of what it was like to learn to play bridge–and to teach it–before the 90s. Illuminating both for today’s bridge teachers and struggling newcomers to the game. In the book’s introductory Note, the author describes her selection of bridge hands this way:

“From the thousands of bridge hands that I have used in teaching for many years, these hands”illustrate the basic principles of Standard American Bridge. The Goren principles of bidding and play presented here should make it possible for anyone to play acceptable bridge in any company. Serious study of these hands could well improve your game and make you a welcome partner in any foursome.”

Dorothy Jane earned bridge Life Master #236 in 1952, was elected president of ABTA (American Bridge Teachers Association) in 1964, and had been partner to bridge greats including Culbertson, Stayman and Goren. She retired from tournament play and teaching in the 1980s,

In an item found under her son and daughter-in-law’s website on Vocabulary University, D.J.  was still “playing rigorous duplicate bridge at least three days a week” in 2004.

Cook & Deal, is itself illuminating on D.J.’s early life as a tournament competitor. The book includes eight articles from the New York Times, Chicago Daily Tribune, Los Angeles Times by bridge luminaries like Alfred Sheinwold and Albert Morehead about notable bridge hands she played. One article is by the master himself, Charles Goren, May 8, 1962 in the Chicago Tribune, “‘D.J.’ Gets 12 Tricks by Astute Play.”

Goren writes: “Coming from the Chicago area and ranking high both as a bridge teacher and tournament player is my good friend D.J. Cook, a lady of great charm. . . . D.J. has carved out a very successful record of her own. In today’s hand, she was the only player to score 12 tricks.”

I swore this would be one bridge blog with no bridge hands.  I’m going to break that commitment this one time and include the details of the tournament hand Goren wrote about so that I can end this blog with a question. Here are the hands for you to lay out and play:

South deals; neither side vulnerable

South:  Spades A9874; Hearts 6; Diamonds AK1093; Clubs 62
West:    Spades 106; Hearts J853; Diamonds J82; Clubs QJ103
North: Spades J53; Hearts AKQ2; Diamonds 74; Clubs A954
East:     Spades KQ2; Hearts 10974; Diamonds Q65; Clubs K87

The bidding:  South 1 Spade; West Pass; North 2 Hearts; East Pass;
South 2 Spades; West Pass; North 4 Spades — all Pass

Opening Lead: Q of Clubs

Can you figure out how D.J. made 12 tricks?  Comments welcome!




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