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).
- ACBL Hall of Fame 1964
- ACBL Honorary Member of the Year 1959
- McKenney Trophy 1937, 1943, 1945, 1947, 1948, 1949, 1950, 1951
- Precision Award (Best Article or Series on a System or Convention) 1974
- Bermuda Bowl (1) 1950
- North American Bridge Championships (32)
- Vanderbilt (2) 1944, 1945
- Asbury Park Trophy (now Spingold) (1) 1937
- Spingold (5) 1943, 1947, 1951, 1956, 1960
- Chicago (now Reisinger) (8) 1937, 1938, 1939, 1942, 1943, 1950, 1957, 1963
- Men's Board-a-Match Teams (1) 1952
- Master Mixed Teams (6) 1938, 1941, 1943, 1944, 1948, 1954
- Life Master Pairs (2) 1942, 1958
- Fall National Open Pairs (1) 1940
- Men's Pairs (3) 1938, 1943, 1949
- Rockwell Mixed Pairs (1) 1947
- Hilliard Mixed Pairs (1) 1943
- Master Individual (1) 1945
- Bermuda Bowl (2) 1956, 1957
- North American Bridge Championships (21)
- Point Count Bidding in Contract Bridge. New York: Simon & Schuster. 1949. p. 150. First London edition published by Eyre & Spottiswoode in 1951. Title has been revised and reprinted numerous times to 1984.
- Contract Bridge for Beginners. New York: Simon & Schuster Inc. 1953. p. 152. OCLC 12428312.. First London edition published by Eyre & Spottiswoode in 1959. Title has been reprinted numerous times to 1972.
- with Jack Olsen: Bridge is My Game: Lessons of a Lifetime. Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Company, Inc. 1965. p. 190. LCCN 65-22040.. Paperback editions published by Cornerstone Library, NY in 1967 and 1970, pp. 190.
- 100 Challenging Bridge Hands
- An Entirely New Bridge Summary
- The A.B.C.'s of Contract Bridge
- Championship Bridge with Charles Goren
- Charles H. Goren's Bridge Quiz Book
- Contract Bridge Complete
- Contract Bridge Made Easy: A Self-Teacher
- Easy Steps: Eight Steps to Winning Bridge
- The Elements of Bridge
- The Fundamental of contract Bridge
- Goren on Play and Defense: All of Play: The Technique, the Logic, and the Challenge of Master Bridge
- Goren Presents the Italian Bridge System
- Goren Settles the Bridge Arguments
- Goren's Bridge Complete
- Goren's Bridge Quizzes
- Goren's Hoyle Encyclopedia of Bridge
- Goren's New Contract Bridge Complete
- Goren's Point Count Bidding Made Easy
- Goren's Winning Partnership Bridge
- Introduction to Bridge
- Introduction to Competitive Bidding
- Modern Backgammon Complete
- New Contract Bridge in a Nutshell
- Official Charles Goren Quick Reference to Winning Bridge
- Play and Defence
- Play As You Learn Bridge
- Play Bridge With Goren
- Play Winning Bridge With Any Partner: Even a Stranger
- Point Count Bidding In Contract Bridge
- Precision Bridge for Everyone
- The Precision System of Bidding
- Precision System of Contract Bridge Bidding: Charles H. Goren Presents
- Sports Illustrated Book of Bridge
- The Standard Book of Bidding
- The Standard Book of Play
- Winning Bridge Made Easy
- Goren and Olsen (1965), p. 10.
- Bourke and Sugden (2010), pp. 482-483.
- Bourke and Sugden (2010), p. 476.
- Bourke and Sugden (2010), p. 487.
- Goren, Charles; Olsen, Jack (1965). Bridge is My Life: Lessons of a Lifetime. Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Company, Inc. LCCN 65-22040.
- Tim, Bourke; Sugden, John (2010). Bridge Books in English from 1886-2010: an annotated bibliography. Cheltenham, England: Bridge Book Buffs. ISBN 978-0-9566576-0-2.
- Goren, Charles; Olsen, Jack (1965). Bridge is My Life: Lessons of a Lifetime. Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Company, Inc. p. 190. LCCN 65-22040.
- ACBL Hall of Fame
- Charles Goren international record at the World Bridge Federation.
- King of the Aces Time magazine (1958)
- Obituary by Alan Truscott in the New York Times
- Profile on bridgehands.com
- Turning Tricks: The Rise and Fall of Contract Bridge, by David Owen in The New Yorker
- Charles Goren, biography on bridgebum.com