Cam French

To Sir With Love

Oldies – Lulu – To Sir With Love 




I asked Peggy for permission to reprint her tribute. She readily agreed.


Farewell to Grant Baze

By: Peggy Kaplan



Michael Whitman and Tipton Golias, longtime partners and dear friends of Grant Baze, gathered a large contingent of partners, teammates and friends at the Spring 2009 NABC in Houston on Friday, March 13th, to say goodbye to a towering presence (literally!) in the bridge world. Chris and Donna Compton organized a warm and wonderful evening of memories, food and drink as the best and the brightest gave testimony to this one-of-a-kind player.

Tipton Golias, who won the 1997 Spingold with Grant and Poles Adam Zmudzinski, Marek Szymanowski, Marcin Lesniewski, Cezary Balicki, recalled Grant’s high standard of ethics. Reviewing Tipton’s declarer play on a hand, Grant realized that their score was in error. Finding a director, Grant had the score changed from making to down one – sending Grant and Tipton from first to sixth. Winning would be meaningless if it weren’t fairly earned.

Partner Gary Hayden marveled at Grant’s deep knowledge of history – and his ability to multi-task with ferocity. Alan Sontag, the only bridge player who might have played as rapidly as Grant did, recounted how their lightening speed saved the day. When only three players out of six showed up for a session of the Senior Bowl in 2001, the team worried they might be eliminated. No problem, when the world’s two quickest players paired up. Ultimately, Grant and Alan, along with Roger Bates, Bart Bramley, Rose Meltzer, and Lew Stansby captured their international title.

Other speakers, Mike Passell, Bob Hamman, Eric Rodwell, Alan Cokin, Gary Cohler, Peter Weichsel, Gary Cohler, Fred Gitelman and George Jacobs also spoke of Grant’s tremendous abilities, his creativity, his humor and infectious, booming laugh. They spoke of how Grant played through severe pain and fatigue, all because of his adoration of the game.

For those who knew Grant, it would be impossible not to have mention of his attachment to the ladies. Women loved Grant – and he loved them back. Indeed, Grant was such a ladies’ man; he put together a collection of at least nine wives! (Forgive me if I fail to get the final tally accurately; it was always a moving target.) Grant’s “last and best” wife, Cindy, listened good naturedly as tales of Grant and his many women were recounted.

Grant loved bridge, women, history and his friends with a passion. He gave them his all – and he will be sorely missed.



I will state up front that there is a fee you have to pay before further exploring this, and that it is not money. Read on at your peril unless you plan to stiff me. And no doubt some of you will…….

I have a confession.

Grant was one of the experts who contributed candidly and generously to Collateral Damage. He did not dispence platitues, he offerred insight, opinion and wisdom. For that I owe him a debt of gratitude. For the unenlightened please see:

It was obvious he was appalled at the state of the union in Memphis with regards to cheating. He was perplexed at the failure of leadership to ever come to grips with this issue.  I suspect that motivated him to be so forthcoming. Here was here is someone talking about it, writing about it and maybe (not bloody likely but maybe) something positive will emerge. So why not add to the discussion.

He certainly had no prior motive to answer my questions and point me to avenues of exploration. After all, I never met Grant in person; the closest I came was playing against him a few times on OK Bridge. Once I played with Dick Vission versus Grant and Tarek and we did 24 hands in less than an hour. We can’t play speed (a variant bridge game like goulie) at that pace.  

He wondered openly why this paradox where ACBL Presidents and pundits talk the talk, but can’t walk the walk?

In The Bulletin of August, 1979 ACBL President Leo Spivak writing about Sion and Cokin said:  “Prearranged Improper Communication. The gravest possible offence against propriety is for a partnership to exchange information through prearranged methods of communication other than those sanctioned by these Laws….… gets an important message to the members of the American Contract Bridge League, namely, that we shall vigorously pursue any breaches of the proprieties or instances of cheating that are brought to our attention.” 

 Lovely, and predictable and of course, nice parts bark, one sliver bite.

Cheating remains the bastard child who always rears his ugly head, empties your fridge and drains your liquor cabinet, apologizes for past transgressions and mooches money you know you’ll never see again. Then he slinks away, and you hope the silverware was hidden. When do we get off the merry-go-round and change our rules (or at least the policy) and start to get serious? Let me know when you find that out. Ask Kenny Gee.

Frank Vine once wrote a story for TBW about cheating. If I recall (and I do) he said it was the only piece he had ever rejected and he could only assume (as no one explained) that the reason was the inflammatory (litigious?) nature of the issue. On a more humourous note Frank also suggested once that the ACBL move itself to Canada, specifically for litigation purposes. Up here you don’t get 100K if your neighbour’s dog deposits on your lawn, spill your own coffee while driving or happen to be injured while committing a crime. You want to sue because a League has booted you for violating its laws and you can’t earn a living? Find a real job, punch the clock, move to a more amenable jurisdiction. Most of us see American justice as excruciatingly litigious and presumably Frank saw that Canada and other nations would pose a friendlier legal climate than the ACBL presently enjoys.

If I dare say so, it is the litigation and the fear of lawsuits – real or imaginary – that impairs the League(s) from solving this once and for all. We don’t do justice well.

I asked Grant about Sion/Colin and Katz/Cohen and this was his reply.

Hey Cam,

I am virtually certain that it was the winter of 83, effective 84, that we were to play*, but it might have been the winter of 84, effective 85.  In any case, it was the winter for sure; cold as hell in New England somewhere, when I met Sion for the first time.

Larry did not suffer from allergies; at the time he was a coke freak, which was the cause of the sniffles. 

 It seems important to note that Katz/Cohen sued for a trial (to establish their innocence), whereas Cokin/Sion sued for “deprivation of livelihood,” admitting guilt. 

 Of course I would relinquish a championship I won with teammates proved guilty of cheating.  I have lost championships against opponents proved guilty of cheating (most recently, the cars in the semi-finals in New York three or four years ago); I do not understand the inertia of the league in these situations, but I don’t want to know, as the answer would be unsatisfactory. 

 I am sure you know the story of the St. Louis Nationals years ago, when Cokin confessed the first night and Sion packed his bags and left immediately.  

Ron Andersen’s ethics were terrible, but he did state that he was sure Cokin/Sion were crooks before it was proved.  He also said the same thing about XXXXXXXXX (redacted by CF), which was never proved. I never had any respect for Andersen, and could not understand why he and Paul were so tight. 

The email address I have for XXXXXXXXXXX, (redacted by CF), but I do not know if it is still valid.  I have not asked his permission to give you his email, so I would prefer if you did not tell him I gave it to you, although I can live with it. 


Grant Baze

*In another email Grant noted:

……. I was approached to play on a National team with a two year commitment with Dr. Sternberg, Cokin, Sion, and Mike Passell.  I talked to the great players to find out exactly what the story was with Cokin/Sion; all the players said Cokin/Sion were crooks, so I refused the offer.  Mike had signed a contract to play on the team, but the contract stipulated that if I did not play, he was not bound to play; subsequently he did not play, and the team never happened. 


Two things caught my eye in Peggy’s tribute when I read it and the first was this:

Reviewing Tipton’s declarer play on a hand, Grant realized that their score was in error. Finding a director, Grant had the score changed from making to down one – sending Grant and Tipton from first to sixth. Grant’s words: Winning would be meaningless if it weren’t fairly earned. (Emphasis added) Why is that feeling not the norm? Or is it? It certainly is with the experts I chatted to, but saying it is one thing, stepping up is another. And besides, most of the elite dodge the dubious for obvious reasons – starting with self-preservation.

The second was this:

 Of course I would relinquish a championship I won with teammates proved guilty of cheating. it seemed patently obvious to Grant, which is clearly not so apparent to others.

I asked him pointed questions while researching Collateral Damage. To my delight he was very forthcoming. He provided insight, suggested people to talk to, and shared his own opinions openly. He was disdainful of cheaters, and saw them as blight upon the game.

Grant could not fathom how the League enabled cheaters to run amok let alone punished them so leniently. Note that: “winning would be meaningless if it weren’t fairly earned.” And I guess that brings me back to ground zero. That makes me wonder why Alan Sontag, Peter Weichsel, Dr. Sternberg or the now repentent Allan Cokin don’t toss back their ill-gotten gains of Norfolk.

Clearly they don’t share Grant’s perspective.

Pity. And that would be that an unlwfully obtained title should not rest upon one’s mantlepiece. If it does, it resonates shame. Cheaters, and team mates who accrue the benefits of their cheating team mates deserve to keep their spoils. To suggest otherwise is ……..Mr. Sontag……. you fill in the blank.

All the ACBL has is five expert eye-witnesses who broke the code at the 3/79 event, a legal appeal for committee that was never granted and signed confessions from the perpetrators. I guess that is insufficient to strip them of the title as they will not voluntarily renouce it. What sort of laws are those that allow such an injustice? But I digress, forgive me.

After all, it’s a new year and maybe time to start fresh. I plan to let this bone go, (Ok maybe just a little) got some new flesh and bones and skirts to chase. If you are female, hot, loaded and single please email me to discuss options.  🙂  As Peggy noted, Grant was quite the ladies man, ditched ex-wives at a rate that made Zsa Zsa look monogamous.

The fee I asked you to pay at the beginning is paltry enough. And remember, you concurred by reading on. If you have stories about Grant, not necessarily hands but anecdotes, please share at least one. I have very warm feelings for the man, and hope to share some of your insights, yarns, fables and anecdotes with the readers. If you have them, please post below in Comments or email me at

I will feel free to publish your personal emails. If you request not to be accredited; in such cases I will respect that too. 

I want to celebrate Grant’s life. Please help me do so. Without motive (known to me) he shared his insight, he deplored the cheaters and to my mind – is the consumate bridge professional.  Although he respected Alan and Peter as players he wondered in private why they chose not do the right thing?  He noted that he later became friends with Cokin but “could never forgive” Sion. A fair balance. It’s a new year and we should celebrate the opportunity that offers to all of us.

Everyone I talked to held this man in high esteem in bridge ethics. He rose above the throng, and that was recognized far and wide. He would never say so himself of course, he was far too connected and polite.

Virtues I am yet to enjoy. 🙂

 To Sir, with love,





george mittelmanJanuary 6th, 2011 at 7:20 am

hi cam.i played quite a bit with grant both as a team mate and partner.he was easily my all time favourite partner-both for his exceptional play and high ethical standards.he was by far the most ethical professional to ever play the a fellow smoker i loved the speed at which he played-we would almost have 7 or 8 minutes each round for a smoke break.1 time i remember playing with fred with grant and mike whitman as our team mates.they came out of the room arguing with mike asking him why he persisted in playing back a suit when he should have known it had to be wrong.grant told him that when he switched to the suit originally mike shook his head,he told him never to show his displeasure with bodily movements only his cards-or he would keep ramming that suit down his throat,he was truly one of a kind.the game will miss him.

Cam FrenchJanuary 7th, 2011 at 2:21 am

I just got off the phone with George and he retold that story and several others about Grant.

What does it say when a player (especially a top pro) makes a deliberately wrong play because of his partner’s inappropriate tempo or mannerisms?

It tells me he is a cut above. Let’s celebrate that.

Thanks George for sharing. Hopefully others can step up and share in like fashion.


PegJanuary 7th, 2011 at 4:12 pm

Though I never had the pleasure of sitting across from Grant, many times I did find myself at the table as his opponent. In addition to his high ethics and super-speed, I always appreciated Grant’s refreshing honesty. Once, a client of his said something about a “comeback” after we were delivering a fair trouncing. Grant replied with something to the effect that we were playing so well, “good luck” on that front! He definitely was up to giving the opponents compliments if he thought they were deserving of it.

Grant was a guy with super-sportsmanship, a love of the game and a love of people. I miss him to this day.

Cam FrenchJanuary 8th, 2011 at 12:52 am

Hi Peg,

Thirty years ago the rules of intimidation were in force. Today they still are of course, but there is a more focused eye on ethics, and that as Martha might say – “that is a good thing”.

I recall when we were young and hopeless (for a modest period of about 10 years) when we happenned to defeat superior teams.

On all of two occasions, which is probably why I recall it so well, an opponent came back to our table to say -“well done guys.”

Those two were Irving Litvak and Wayne Timms.

I always thought very highly of that gesture, and wish we might all do it more often.

Thanks for sharing your Grant story. I hope others will follow suit. 🙂


Cam FrenchJanuary 30th, 2011 at 11:54 pm

It’s a shame a few more experts didn’t weigh in this forum.

A few emailed me privately, and for various reasons (starting with I give my word if told something in confidence I will not betray that trust) but most looked at Grant’s personal life not his bridge successes.

Love to hear some bridge tales.


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mike whitmanNovember 19th, 2013 at 4:14 pm

George Mittelman’s comment (above) about me and Grant Baze is utter bullshit. Might have happened with someone else, but not me.

mike whitmanNovember 19th, 2013 at 4:34 pm

George Mittelman’s comment (above) about me and Grant Baze is utter bullshit. Might have happened (and probably did) with someone else, but not with me. Also, for the record, we never argued. Grant told me what to do/ not do and that was that.
While we are making corrections, Chris Compton had nothing to do with Cokin speaking at Grant’s memorial party (Houston Spring Nationals 2009). Alan called me and asked if he could speak for 30 seconds (there were a lot of speakers). He wanted to say how that when he was in disgrace and nobody would speak to him Grant took him aside and told him to buck up, everyone deserves a second chance, and treated him with great kindness, and how grateful he was for this at a terrible time in his life. I thought this would be a very touching tribute among the mostly fun Grant stories and told Alan he was on. Hi remarks were very brief and (contrary to your barf bag comment) were very well received.

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