MIT/DL Bridge Club - A Brief History

Bill Schmidt started the MIT/IL Bridge Club in 1962 with associates at the MIT Instrumentation Laboratory (now Draper Laboratory). He and George Lamantea worked hard to keep it going, lugging tables and chairs from one building to another on Memorial Drive, until a permanent playing space could be obtained. As the first president of the club, early in 1966, Bill drew up the bylaws (now known by MIT requirement as the constitution). Soon after, Bill had to leave Cambridge for the Manned Spacecraft Center in Seabrook, Texas, where he trained the NASA Apollo Flight Control Division on the Apollo Guidance, Navigation and Control System as built by MIT.

In April, 1966, Sam Smith became president of the club. Not long after, when home from college, I first played there with my father. By 1969, Arthur Boyce was the club manager. (For decades, I had a fractional masterpoint slip signed by him.) At one point, Sam told my father and several other stalwarts of the club that they were life members of the club. In the early days, people tended to rotate through the various duties, but by the 1980s, Arthur was doing almost everything. Then he passed away suddenly.

Gary Schwartz, my good friend and predecessor as Club Manager, said that Sam came around and started handing out the jobs: President, Secretary, ... he told Gary, Arthur died; you're the Club Manager. That excellent choice stuck for the next 22 years. I took over as Club Manager in 2006, when Gary transferred to the Marshall Space Flight Center to open a Draper office there.

In January 2015, I retired from Draper Lab. I continued as Club Manager for two more years, but after mid-2016, Shirley Dulcey directed most of the games. She became Club Manager in January, 2017.

My father gave me a packet of papers that he had from Sam Smith, with a note in Sam's writing, dated 1/21/95. The papers were not so readable, so I have entered them using BridgeComposer, but I scanned the note. [Neither Pete nor I remember the parallel happening Sam mentions. The starred name in the Bermuda Regional Bulletin of January 30, 1982, was Bob Felicetti, earning points for a 6-16 places Swiss Teams tie (clearly decided by matches, not the modern victory points).] Sam apparently passed away later in 1995, because the annual charity game in November took on the name "Sam Smith Memorial Charity Club Championship" for five years.

- Pete Matthews, Jr.


[Updated July 2018: I was pleased to hear from Bill Schmidt about how the club started.]


  A Tribute to Sam Smith
PDF Note from Sam Smith to Peter Matthews
PDF A Fine Feeling of Triumph When It's Least Expected, by Alan Truscott, New York Times - 1982 article about Sam
PDF Never Give Up Hope - 1982 Bermuda Regional Bulletin article by Sam Smith
PDF The President Is Outdone - 1982 Bermuda Regional Bulletin article about Sam


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