Three great players have been elected to the ACBL Hall of Fame: Peter Boyd, Bart Bramley and Judi Radin.
To be eligible for this honor, they must be North American residents at least 60 years old who have achieved prominence in the game and have an outstanding tournament record. The Hall of Fame Committee nominates candidates, and a pool of electors votes on them.
Boyd, 68, is a former systems analyst/programmer and bridge professional. His 17 North American titles include three Vanderbilts and a Reisinger. He won a gold medal in the 1986 World Open Teams, his first time playing in a world championship, and a silver in the 2011 d’Orsi Senior Teams.
Although his parents did not play bridge, he learned young – from a different family. “One of my best friends from grade school was an only child,” Boyd explains. “His parents wanted to teach their son to play bridge, and they needed a fourth. I learned to play at their kitchen table.”
He managed to find a Goren book around his house – even families who didn’t play might have one of those – and read up to learn more.
Boyd began working as a programmer after college and continued until 1995. He lives in Darnestown MD with wife Ellen Klosson and five Afghan hound show dogs.
Since 1980, Boyd has played with Steve Robinson, a Hall of Famer and the dean of the DC-area bridge scene. They have played in more than 100 NABCs since then, missing only two, and they also play in local tournaments.
“Whenever I want to rant about something, I talk it over with him and he tells me why I should be more reasonable,” Robinson said. “He is very easy to play with and very rarely forgets our agreements, which can be complicated.”
Another top player in the DC area, Beth Palmer finds much to praise in Boyd. “Peter is obviously an excellent bridge player and makes very few technical mistakes. Even more important, he is always a very pleasant partner, teammate and opponent. He is the rare bridge player who is nice not only when he is winning but also when he is losing.
“As a teammate, I can say that when a mistake is made, his first reaction is that his partner or teammate did what was right and was unlucky to have a bad result. … He also has set an example for honesty in District 6 and by setting the tone that this is how bridge should be played, and it has permeated to all levels of the district. … He frequently plays in local sectionals, regionals and Grand National events and is always willing to talk about bridge to less experienced players.”
His active participation in District 6 North American events has resulted in three wins each in the North American Pairs Flight A and the Grand National Teams Championship Flight.
In 2009 Boyd was honored with the Sidney H. Lazard Jr. Sportmasnship Award. He has served many terms on the boards of Unit 147 and District 6 and several other committees. He was recently elected chair of the Ethical Oversight Committee beginning in April.
Boyd names his Hall of Fame election, world championship and sportsmanship award as the most significant events of his bridge career. “I feel very honored to be elected to the Hall of Fame,” he said. “I believe that several of the women players on the ballot deserve to be elected, and I think they will be in the coming years.”
Bramley, 71, played in his first NABC in 1967 and hasn’t missed one since 1982. Along the way he’s won 17 titles – including a Vanderbilt, a Reisinger, two Blue Ribbon Pairs and a von Zedtwitz – and 14 second-place finishes. He has three world medals: gold in the 2007 d’Orsi Senior Teams, silver in the 2005 Transnational Open Teams and bronze in the 1998 Open Teams. He was the 1997 Player of the Year and placed second in the World Par Contest in 1998.
As a child in Connecticut, Bramley started learning bridge at 5 from his father, who died when Bart was 10. He attended the prestigious Choate School and began playing duplicate before starting MIT in 1966. There he met Ken Lebensold, a grad student and skilled player who shared his knowledge with fellow students, including Mark Feldman, Lou Reich and Chip Martel. Bramley considers Lebensold a key influence who helped his game take off.
Bramley worked for Boeing in Seattle and then as an options trader in Chicago before moving to Dallas to work as a risk management analyst. “I’ve had day jobs all my life, but they’ve all been to support my bridge habit,” Bramley said.
Bramley recently retired as chair of the Ethical Oversight Committee after leading it through its most challenging cases that emerged from the 2015 cheating scandals. He has been with wife Judy for over 40 years. He’s a big fan of baseball and classic rock.
Over 52 years Bramley has had several partners, including Lou Bluhm, Sidney Lazard, Lew Stansby, Bob Hamman and Kit Woolsey among others.
“Bart demonstrated an amazing versatility with many partners over the years,” said Bob Hamman. “He did well with practically anybody he ever played with. He’s a tough competitor who has a real ability to concentrate on just about every hand. There’s never an easy hand against Bart.”
Hamman recalls the first time he played with Bramley, in the 1990 Jacoby Open Swiss in Fort Worth. They spent about a half hour going over a card, and their team won the event.
“I felt he got his due when he got into the Hall of Fame,” Hamman said. “He’s a class act.”
Bramley was ecstatic to finally get elected on his 10th time on the ballot. “I’d heard no nine times before,” Bramley said. “I didn’t expect it to be different this time.”
Bramley’s favorite accomplishments are winning Player of the Year, his win in the 2002 Blue Ribbon Pairs with Sidney Lazard – his favorite partner of all time – and the Par Contest, where he won $17,000 for placing second. He had made a strategic decision to use the maximum amount of time per problem, where errors were 100-point deductions and time cost a point per minute. Bramley solved all 12 problems exactly the same as eventual winner Michael Rosenberg but lost on time.
“It takes me a while to get there,” Bramley said, explaining the time it took to get his first win in a sectional, regional and finally an NABC at 32. “Each step along the way took me a little longer than what I consider my peers.”
By the time Radin was 37 in 1994, she had four world championships and three silver medals – beginning with a gold in the Women’s Pairs with Kathie Wei-Sender on Radin’s first time at a world championship in 1978 – and has since added a bronze. In North American events, she has 16 wins and 17 seconds, including a Vanderbilt.
Growing up in Detroit, she began learning bridge at 7 when her family decided to take lessons together, the same year she started golf. By the time she was 17, she was a bridge professional with a scholarship to play golf at the University of Michigan. But she never arrived in Ann Arbor. When riots broke out there before her high school graduation, Radin’s mother decided Michigan wasn’t safe and forbid her from going. She had to scramble to find alternative college plans and managed to get into Barnard.
Moving to New York was a pivotal event. She had to give up golf because there weren’t any golf courses in the city, but it was a great place to start a bridge career. Though she initially became a stockbroker after college, she quit because she was getting paid more to play bridge. Still in New York with husband Michael, she has also built a reputation as one of the best theater critics in the city.
Outside of competition, Radin has also maintained a successful teaching practice and, as founder and co-chair of the Arthur Loeb Cup, an annual pro-am event, she has helped raise $500,000 for the Lenox Hill Neighborhood House.
“Judi is a natural,” says Stacy Jacobs, a frequent partner. “A pro’s pro. She is fierce competitor and a true champion. She plays fast, she sees situations, and she rarely makes mistakes.
“Bridge lives in Judi’s brain in a way that it doesn’t live in mine. … I’ve seen her play flawless championship bridge through illness and injury, minor and major. Regardless of what is happening around her, Judi Radin can always, always play.”
At the 2013 Fall NABC in Phoenix, Jacobs was playing with Radin on the first day of the Women’s Pairs. They were going over the hands that night when Radin fell ill. She was taken to the hospital and doctors determined she had suffered a stroke.
“She negotiated an early discharge from the hospital and was back in her chair playing her usual exemplary game when the board-a-match began 36 hours later,” Jacobs notes.
Radin explains she fought her way out of the hospital because she didn’t want to lose out on her fees for the events she was booked to play in. “I don’t remember anything about playing that day, but my teammates said I played good.”
In the five years since her stroke, Radin has added three second-place finishes in NABC events to her resume. But the substance of it, she says, has been in place for 25 years.
“I’m very excited,” Radin says about her election to the Hall of Fame. “It takes a lot of stress out of your life waiting all that time. I’m thrilled. All this wait, all this time, it’s still great to get in.”