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Charles Goren; Bridge Authority, Writer

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Charles Goren, who developed a point system that popularized the game of contract bridge and wrote a widely syndicated column on the game, has died. He was 90.

Goren, known to his legions of famous friends and fellow card players as Charlie, died of a heart attack April 3 in Encino, his nephew, Marvin R. Goren, announced Wednesday.

“By any standard he was one of the greatest bridge players and bridge authorities and bridge writers in the world, and a great friend of all bridge players. He will be sorely missed,” said Alfred Sheinwold, whose syndicated “On Bridge” column appears in the Los Angeles Times.

Goren, a Philadelphia native, learned to play auction bridge as a college student at Montreal’s McGill University. He first took a hand in a game organized by a girlfriend, and, by his description, “made an ass of myself.”

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He immediately found a book on bridge and memorized it from cover to cover, vowing never to be so humiliated again. Goren began writing about bridge for local Canadian newspapers during his student years.

As a young lawyer in Philadelphia, he became a serious tournament bridge player and developed his point-counting system that enabled even unsophisticated card players to enjoy the new game of contract bridge.

Goren became so enmeshed in playing and writing about bridge that he rejected a proffered judgeship, his nephew said, and abandoned his law practice in the mid-1930s.

The bridge champion wrote 26 books on bridge that have been translated into seven languages. He also wrote columns for his friend Henry K. Luce’s Time magazine empire and for the Chicago Tribune newspaper syndicate. His books about the card game, particularly “Goren’s Bridge Complete,” have been top sellers for 50 years. He also wrote books of instruction on canasta and backgammon.

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In 1965, Goren also began as host of a television program, “Championship Bridge,” organized bridge-learning cruises and marketed highball glasses, trays and cocktail napkins to put his name on bridge tables around the world.

At the peak of his popularity, Goren’s picture appeared on the covers of Time magazine and Sports Illustrated as the top authority on bridge.

Among Goren’s famous friends who regularly invited him for bridge games were President Dwight D. Eisenhower; Luce and his wife, Clare Booth Luce; the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Vice President Nelson Rockefeller and actor Humphrey Bogart.

Goren, an avid sports fan, frequently joined the late Dodgers manager Walter Alston and players such as Gil Hodges for a pregame hand of bridge in the Dodgers dugout.

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In 1974, Goren enlisted actor Omar Sharif as co-writer of his newspaper column, “Goren on Bridge,” which still bears the Goren name and was syndicated in 300 newspapers and magazines. Sharif, captain of the Egyptian bridge team in the Bridge Olympiads of the 1960s, said he had learned how to play bridge by reading Goren’s books.

Goren remained an active consultant on the column until his death, his nephew said, advising his staff on his voluminous files of handwritten yellow legal pads filled with possible bridge hands.

Goren never married, claiming no woman would have him because he was constantly traveling to bridge tournaments or speaking engagements. Since 1972, he had lived with his nephew in Beverly Hills and Encino.

He is also survived by another nephew, Norman T. Goren of Huntingdon Valley, Pa., and a niece, Carol Goren Weiner of Hobe Sound, Fla.

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Private services and burial were in Trevose, Pa.


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