Mark Blumenthal, two-time silver medalist in the Bermuda Bowl and a former member of the Aces bridge team created by Ira Corn, died Sept. 2, in Portland OR.
Blumenthal started playing bridge as a student of the University of Pennsylvania and the bridge bug bit him bad. After college he worked in retail and played bridge with his boss. His boss decided that Mark should spend his time playing bridge rather than managing a retail store. That was the beginning of his life as a professional bridge player.
High-level success came early for the bridge prodigy. In 1965, he was on the winning Reisinger Knockout team. His reputation grew and he soon was invited to join the Aces. The team finished second to Italy in the 1973 Bermuda Bowl in Guaruja, Brazil. A year later in Venice, Italy, Blumenthal was again second in the Bermuda Bowl, playing with Bobby Goldman, Bob Hamman, Bobby Wolff, Sami Kehela and Eric Murray. Blumenthal won his first Vanderbilt Trophy in 1973 and his second in 1977. He married Kathy Evans in January 1976.
About two weeks after the 1977 summer nationals, Blumenthal had open-heart surgery. Complications resulted in some form of CVA, probably a stroke, putting an end to his career as a bridge professional. He and his wife Kate subsequently raised two children, Erik and Laura, in Chicago. After almost three decades he returned to competitive bridge in 2004 and won a secondary event at the 2004 Fall NABC. A subsequent fall caused additional brain damage and he never played competitive bridge again.
In 2006, he moved to Portland OR where he enjoyed being near his children and bridge blogging. After a serious fall and additional brain damage in 2009, he could no longer use his computer and his blogging ended. Shortly before his death, according to his wife, “he had the happiness of holding his first grandchild, Hugo George Anderson-Blumenthal.”
Said Kate Blumenthal: “For Mark, bridge was not a game. It was constant challenge as well as a way of life. He reveled in competition at the highest levels and his ability to focus on the game was amazing. One anecdote stands out in my mind. Mark was playing in a tournament in Milwaukee WI when two lovely young ladies in hot pants and very low-cut tops sat down at the table. When the round was over and the ladies moved on, Mark’s partner remarked, ‘Wow, did you get a load of that?’ Mark responded, ‘Yes, the way she butchered the second hand was unbelievable.’”
1973 Aces – (l to r) Bobby Goldman, Ira Corn, Bob Hamman, Mark Blumenthal, Bobby Wolff and Mike Lawrence