Bridge luminary going strong at 95

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Robert Price mastered the game of bridge, revolutionizing strategies still used today. (WLS)

The game of bridge challenges the mind.

"It takes a few minutes to learn the basic rules, it takes years to get good at it," explained Charles Price after playing a few hands with his father, Robert Price.

The elder Price, who recently turned 95 years old, went so far as to master the game, racking up the second highest Masterpoint total of all time in the American Bridge Association, or ABA. That feat earned him the rank of Grand Life Master.

Denise LaMonte-Smith is president of the ABA's Midwest Bridge Unit. She said Price's ranking reflects both passion and skill.

"One, he played a lot. Two, he won a lot," she explained with a laugh.

Three of Price's children, Charles Price, Michael Price and Carol Byrd, added that their father revolutionized strategy by not just going "to the national tournaments to win points but he also went to each of the regional tournaments to win points," said Charles Price.

With a partner in each category where he was eligible, Robert Price was able to amass a staggering 39,515 Masterpoints; his children said the previous leader had just 900.

"I liked the idea of going all over the country," remarked Robert Price, who worked as a real estate broker when not playing bridge.

He competed across the nation in the ABA and the American Contract Bridge League, or ACBL, which his daughter Carol Byrd says was a predominantly white organization. According to the ACBL, the league wasn't officially integrated until 1968. Despite this challenge, Robert Price achieved the status of Sapphire Life Master in the ACBL, with more than 13,000 points, according to the ACBL. Byrd is inspired by her father's tenacity to follow the game of bridge as far as he did.

"I think that gave us all confidence that we could do anything."

Price gave back too, serving as ABA president and helping spread love for the game.

"He's legendary. He has taught many of the excellent bridge players that are playing today," said LaMonte-Smith.

"He not only blazed a trail, but he was an example of what you can become if you really work at it," added Price's son Michael Price, reminding us that you can make a difference when you play your cards right.
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