Rodwell grew up in West Lafayette IN, where his dad was a professor of biochemistry. Rodwell’s parents, Victor and Meredith, played bridge once a week, so it was natural that Eric would become interested.
Eric had been playing chess, but found it too dry. That combined with a little boredom led him to the club with his father. They were under average their first time out. This wasn’t acceptable to Eric, he wanted to win, so he began studying the game at the age of 14.
Rodwell continued playing at the local club in West Lafayette and ran into some fine players. In 1972, Rodwell recalls, he started playing with Sudhakar Kunte, “the first good player who would play with me.” Rodwell learned that “playing with someone better than you is a good way to get the wheels moving” in your mind.
Another partner of Eric’s from that time was responsible for the partnership now known as Meckwell. Eric’s first encounter with Jeff Meckstroth was as a teammate at a regional in Springfield IL. Impressed by his prowess at the table, their partnership was soon formed.
They won their first big championship in 1979, the four-session Open Pairs in Norfolk VA. They went on to win two more big titles that year — the Life Master Men’s Pairs (now the Nail LM Pairs) and the Reisinger Board-a- Match Teams.
Rodwell has amassed 62 NABC wins, seven world titles (five Bermuda Bowls, one World Team Olympiad, one Open Pairs), four silver medals, one Barry Crane Top 500 race and 2008 Player of the Year. He and Meckstroth have won virtually every major title in the game, most of them more than once. They are renowned not only as great players, but also as brilliant theorists.
When he and Meckstroth started out, Rodwell recalls, “We played total cave-man Precision.” To fix that, Rodwell began to amend the system, testing theories with computer simulations and adding new agreements.
Rodwell’s development included a lot of thought about bidding, and he is credited with the invention of the support double (showing three-card support for a major in a competitive auction) and Serious 3NT, a slam-try device.
For nearly 25 years, Rodwell and Meckstroth have been the anchor pair for teams captained by Nick Nickell. Many of Meckwell’s titles have been earned as members of the Nickell squad as they have dominated both the U.S. and world stage. Eric considers himself “blessed” to be part of this team.
Eric’s proudest moment, however, was the 1981 Bermuda Bowl title. The U.S. Team (Rodwell, Meckstroth, Bobby Levin, Russ Arnold, John Solodar and Bud Reinhold) defeated an unknown squad from Pakistan that featured Zia Mahmood. Eric has myriad stories that feature Zia, and he is always happy to tell you one.
Away from the table, Eric has authored a number of books, including the IBPA’s 2011 Book of the Year, “The Rodwell Files” and “Eric Rodwell’s Bidding Topics,” the 2017 ABTA Book of the Year.
Married to Donna since 1995, Eric has twin boy/girl Jeff and Sara and stepsons Chris and Guy. He holds a master’s degree in corporate financial analysis from Purdue University, and is an accomplished pianist. He particularly likes ragtime.