Edgar Kaplan did virtually everything in bridge. The New Yorker established himself as a player, writer, analyst, commentator and administrator. He won NABC titles in each of the last five decades of his life. Even with those shining credentials, he considered bridge a great leveler.
"Bridge is one of my pleasures," commented Kaplan, former editor and publisher of The Bridge World, "but bridge teaches you how to endure misery."
Kaplan won his first Vanderbilt title in 1953. "I started to get up, but my knees were weak. I realized then that I had been under pressure after all."
His greatest thrill was the 1983 Reisinger victory with Oswald Jacoby — plus regular teammates Norman Kay, Bill Root and Richard Pavlicek.
Kaplan, Kay, Root and Pavlicek had played always as a foursome, but they invited Jacoby, a man they admired for his past feats and for his strength and courage in battling cancer, to join their team.
"When I was a young man he played a lot with me. Jake was very good to me when I was a kid. We’d been friends a long time and I’d played on teams with him before, but I hadn’t played as a partner with Ozzie in 30 years."
Kaplan and Jacoby, along with Root and Pavlicek, played the first final session and led the field with 23 wins out of a possible 33. Jacoby sat out the second final session and his teammates scored 18 wins — and claimed the victory. Jacoby died the following year.
Kaplan served as chief commentator for World Bridge Federation championships for more than a decade and was well-known for his wit. Here are some samples of his sometimes-biting commentary as a vugraph panelist.
4*H* is a very good bid — but on some other hand.
North doubled 4*H* to tell himself what to lead.
Mahmood gave himself some very good advice when he said STOP, but he paid no attention.
He may bid and he may not. I believe that covers all possibilities.
Kaplan was perhaps the world’s greatest authority on the laws of duplicate and rubber bridge. He served as co-chairman of the ACBL Laws Commission for many years and was a member of the WBF Laws Commission.
In 1979 Kaplan was named Bridge Personality of the Year, a worldwide honor presented by the International Bridge Press Association. He was selected the ACBL Honorary Member for 1993.
He represented District 24 (the New York City area) on the ACBL Board of Directors for many years.
He was a former partner of the Card School of New York and the co-inventor of the Kaplan-Sheinwold system — Kaplan and frequent partner Norman Kay listed "Timid K-S" as their general approach on their convention cards.
Their results belie the "timid" designation — they won six Vanderbilts, two Spingolds and eight Reisingers. In addition, Kaplan and Kay won the Life Master Men’s Pairs in 1973 and the Blue Ribbon Pairs in 1974.
Kaplan was a Grand Life Master with more than 13,500 masterpoints. He won the McKenney Trophy (now the Barry Crane Top 500) in 1957.