Source: ACBL Dictionary
Charles Goren was the world’s foremost bridge authority for most of the last half of the 20th century. Known to millions as “Mr. Bridge.” They bought his books, attended his lectures, took lessons from his accredited teachers, “traveled with Goren” on bridge cruise ships, collected cards and game accessories imprinted with his logo, read his columns and the articles he wrote for Sports Illustrated and McCall’s and for bridge magazines throughout the world.
Born in Philadelphia, Goren was a law student at McGill University when he learned to play bridge in a casual game. He earned an LLB in 1922 and a Masters degree in 1923, the year he was admitted to the Pennsylvania Bar. In his spare time he boned up on Milton Work’s classics and laid out and studied hand after hand. When he felt he was ready he entered his first duplicate. He won his direction and was hooked.
Goren attracted the attention of Milton Work, also a Philadelphian. He took a job as his technical assistant, helping to prepare books, lectures and columns. By 1931, Goren was playing tournament bridge. He won his first major events in 1933 – the United States Bridge Association Open Teams and the American Bridge League’s Open Teams.
He began to do some teaching on his own and in 1936 he published his first book, Winning Bridge Made Easy. The Chicago Tribune and New York Daily News chose to syndicate his daily newspaper articles as a replacement for Ely Culbertson, who had moved to another syndicate.
After 13 years as a member of the bar, Goren turned to bridge full time. Though still a member of the bar, he never practiced again. Goren was a fine writer and analyst, an excellent speaker and a tireless worker. Starting in 1937 he won so many tournaments that he captured the “McKenney Trophy” (now the Crane Top 500) for best performance on 8 occasions – a record that still stands. Soon he took over the top spot of the masterpoint winners list and held that without interruption from 1944-62. His introduction of point-count valuation, adding points for distribution to high-card values of 4, 3, 2, one for ace, king queen, jack, quickly became the norm, and made his methods into what came to be called Standard American. More important, because this valuation method proved much easier to learn, it helped make millions of new bridge players, giving the game a life it had not enjoyed since the first boom of the early Culbertson years.
The name of Goren became synonymous with bridge to millions. His importance as a world figure was recognized when he was on the front cover of Time magazine. His classic Contract Bridge Complete ran to 12 editions. His Point Count Bidding revolutionized bidding to the extent that “Goren” became a standard recognized world-wide. Culberton’s honor-trick valuation died overnight. It is estimated that Goren books have sold more than 10 million copies. His writings have been translated into a dozen languages. His books include: Better Bridge for Better Players, Standard Book of Bidding, Contract Bridge Made Easy, A Self-Teacher, Point-Count Bidding in Contract Bridge, Goren Presents the Italian Bridge System, New Contract Bridge in a Nutshell; Sports Illustrated Book of Bridge, Goren’s Winning Partnership Bridge, Charles Goren’s Bridge Complete, and Goren on Play and Defense.
Goren became a world champion in Bermuda in 1950 when the first Bermuda Bowl World Championship was staged. Placed 2nd 1956 and 1957 Bermuda Bowls, member of U.S. team that finished 4th in first World Team Olympiad in Turin in 1960. Won equivalent of 34 NABC championships and was runner-up on 21 occasions. His television show, Championship Bridge with Charles Goren, ran from 1959 to 1964. It was called the first successful bridge program on television and won an award as one of the best new television features. A lifelong bachelor, Goren may genuinely have been married to the game. In spite of his work as writer, lecturer, promoter, TV personality (unlike Culbertson, who grew bored with the game when he became successful), Goren was devoted to tournament play.
He seldom played rubber bridge, and never for high stakes. He considered his playing status amateur and once turned over to the Damon Runyon Cancer Fund the full amount of a $1,500 purse which he won in a charity tournament played in Las Vegas. Before his retirement from active competition in 1966, he captured virtually every major bridge trophy in U.S. tournament play. ACBL Honorary Member 1959, one of first 3 elected to ACBL Hall of Fame (then of The Bridge World) in 1963. Member ACBL Laws Commission from 1956, contributing editor of The Bridge World, member of Editorial Advisory Board of Bridge Encyclopedia. Awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws by McGill University 1963.
After retiring from the tournament scene in the late Sixties, Goren lived quietly at his home in Miami Beach. For the last 19 years of his life he lived with his nephew, Marvin Goren, in Southern California. Because of poor eyesight and failing health, he was seldom seen in the Seventies. There were rare appearances on the According to Goren panel shows at North American Bridge Championships and in 1972 he hosted a party for the press at his Miami Beach home during the Fourth World Bridge Olympiad.