When Eddie Kantar first learned bridge as a youngster in Minneapolis, he had no notion of turning that new-found knowledge into a job.
Today, the Californian is one of the best-known bridge writers in the world. He has more than 20 bridge books in print and is a regular contributor to the Bridge Bulletin, The Bridge World, Bridge Today and many foreign publications.
Although he doesn’t play as often as he used to, the two-time former world champion is still highly regarded as a player and is a regular at major tournaments. He is also known as a great ambassador for bridge. Matthew Granovetter, in a letter to the editor published in the Bridge Bulletin in 1992, said, “Eddie may genuinely be the nicest guy in bridge.”
Kantar learned bridge at 11. By the age of 17, he was teaching the game to his friends. Kantar was so enthusiastic about bridge that he often took his bridge books to school with him, hiding them behind his textbooks.
At the University of Minnesota, where Kantar studied foreign languages – he is still conversant in Spanish and French – he taught bridge to earn spending money. When he played, he sought out tough games and honed his skills.
Somewhere between the first bridge book he read and the first one he wrote (in 1965), Kantar developed his literary signature – the ability to inject humor into just about everything he writes or talks about.
Relating his experiences as a bridge teacher in Germany during a stint in the U.S. Army, Kantar recalled that he taught in German. “Even though the people spoke only German, by the end of the class they were begging me to teach in English.”
This kind of self-deprecating humor has made Kantar popular with readers around the world. Never afraid to laugh at himself, Kantar personalizes all his writing, transforming the dullest of lessons into lively, interesting reading.
“I never thought of myself as a bridge writer,” Kantar says, “ but now I don’t think I could write about anything else.”
He gained stature as a player by winning 13 North American championships and two world titles – the Bermuda Bowl in 1977 and 1979. He was second in the 1975 Bermuda Bowl, the championship which erupted in controversy when two members of the winning Italian team were caught giving foot signals. On one crucial deal, Kantar held the ?K 10 and heard the opponents bid to 7?. With declarer to his right, Kantar envisioned a huge swing. When dummy hit with the ?A Q, he recalls, “it was as close to shock as I’ve ever been.
There was speculation that the contract might have been defeated had Kantar played the ?K – feigning a singleton – when declarer first played trumps. “I never thought about playing the king.” Kantar recalls. “I wasn’t thinking about anything.”
Kantar is a Grand Master in World Bridge Federation rankings and an ACBL Grand Life Master. His North American titles include wins in the Spingold Knockout Teams (three times), the Reisinger B-A-M Teams (four), the Vanderbilt Knockout Teams (two) and the Grand National Teams (two).
Kantar today is best known as a writer – his favorite games to play are tennis and racquetball – and many of his books are considered classics. In a survey of bridge writers and players, Kantar’s Complete Defensive Play was listed in the top 10 of all-time favorite bridge books.