miles_ marshall1926 – 2013

Marshall Miles was born in Loma Linda CA in 1926. He received a B.A. in economics from Claremont Men’s College (now Claremont McKenna College) in 1948 and a law degree from UCLA in 1954. He practiced law from 1955 until 1992. He was married to Betty Barnett from 1972 until her death in 2000.

Ever since a friend of his mother’s taught Marshall the game when he was 15, bridge has been Marshall’s major hobby. At first he had no one to play with, so he read newspaper columns and books. Today, his favorite part of the game is bidding, and he thinks the biggest challenge is to visualize everyone’s hands and plan the best way to describe his own.

Marshall has won five North American events, most of them in partnership with Eddie Kantar: the Spingold in 1961 and 1962, the Reisinger in 1962 and 1965 and the Life Master Pairs in 1961. He also won the World Senior Teams in 2004 playing with Leo Bell.

Marshall has been an important, if sometimes idiosyncratic, theorist of the game. He was one of the first experts to espouse overcalls on four-card suits — “Our most likely game is in spades,” he often would comment in the Master Solvers’ Club — choosing to bid 2*S* over an opponent’s 2*H* opening on, say, A-Q-10-x. At one time, he was famous for bidding 3NT holding tenuous stoppers in an opponent’s suit.

His approach to the play also was occasionally outside the mainstream. Years ago, an up-and-coming young expert was playing with his wife in her first real North American event. Before they sat down against Marshall, he told her: “That’s Marshall Miles. He likes to underlead aces.” Sure enough, on the first board, dummy bid spades, but the young wife ended up in 4. The opening lead from Marshall was the *S*2, dummy held *S*K-J-9-x, and third hand held *S*Q-10-8 — perfect! Only the young wife played the *S*K, drew trumps, and pitched her second spade on another suit. Marshall looked puzzled, and the up-and-coming expert said, “Sorry, Marshall. Your reputation has begun to precede you.”

But Marshall will always be remembered as a bridge writer. One of his earliest books, All Fifty-two Cards, is still required reading to move up from the intermediate level. He is the author of 10 other books, many written while he was still practicing law. The most recent, More Accurate Bidding, was published in 2011.