- Category : Bridge Player
- Type : MGE
- Profile : 2/4 - Hermit / Opportunist
- Definition : Split - Small (57)
- Incarnation Cross : RAX Consciousness 1
Charles Henry Goren (March 4, 1901 – April 3, 1991) was a world champion American bridge player and bestselling author who contributed significantly to the development and popularization of the game following upon the heels of Ely Culbertson in the 1940s and rising to prominence in the 1950s to the early 1960s.
Goren was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Russian Jewish immigrants. He earned a law degree at McGill University in Montreal. While he was attending McGill, a girlfriend laughed at his ineptness at the game of bridge, motivating him to immerse himself in a study of existing bridge materials.
When he graduated, he briefly attempted a law career in Philadelphia. The growing fame of Ely Culbertson, however, prompted Goren to abandon his original career choice to pursue bridge competitions, where he attracted the attention of Milton Work, who had developed the Work Point Count system. Goren began helping Work with his bridge articles and columns, and eventually began ghostwriting some of his material.
By 1936 Goren had begun his own bridge career and published the first of his many books on playing bridge, Winning Bridge Made Easy. Drawing on his experience with Work's system, Goren quickly became popular as an instructor and lecturer. His subsequent lifetime of contributions to the game have made him one of the most important figures in the history of bridge.
Goren became world champion at the Bermuda Bowl in 1950. Goren's books have sold millions of copies (especially Winning Bridge Made Easy and Contract Bridge Complete); by 1958 his daily bridge column was appearing in 194 American newspapers. He also had a monthly column in McCall's and a weekly column in Sports Illustrated.
His television program, Championship Bridge with Charles Goren, was broadcast from 1959 to 1964 on the ABC network, and, in addition to numerous appearances by top players, included segments with celebrity guests such as Chico Marx, Alfred Drake and Forest Evashevski, among others.
Goren's longest partnership was with Helen Sobel, but he also famously partnered actor Omar Sharif. Sharif also wrote introductions to or co-authored several of Goren's bridge books, and was also co-author of Goren's newspaper column, eventually taking it over in collaboration with Tannah Hirsch.
Point count system
As he continued writing, Goren began to develop his point count system, based on the Milton Work point count, as an improvement over the existing system of counting "honor tricks." Goren, with assistance, formulated a method of combining the Work count, which was based entirely on high cards, and various distributional features. This may well have improved the bidding of intermediate players and beginners almost immediately.
Goren also worked to continue the practice of opening four-card suits, with an occasional three-card club suit when the only four-card suit was a weak major. In this, he was following the almost universal practice in early contract bridge. Later on, he continued this practice, resisting the well-known five-card majors approach that has become a major feature of modern Standard American bidding.
Opening a four-card suit can improve the chances of the partnership identifying a four-four trump fit, and the four-card approach is still used by some experts today and notably by most Acol players. It is claimed that the drawback of the four-card approach is that the Law of Total Tricks is more difficult to apply in cases where it is used. However, the five-card majors approach became popular before the Law of Total Tricks was propounded.
In addition to his pioneering work in bringing simple and effective bridge to everyday players, Goren also worked to popularize the Precision bidding method, which is one of many variants of so-called big club or strong club systems (which use an opening bid of one club to indicate a strong hand).
Goren died in 1991 in Encino, California, at the age of 90. While few players "play Goren" exactly today, the point-count approach he popularized remains the foundation for most bidding systems.