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House of Cards

Bridge-playing family excels at world-class tournament

March 5, 1992 — Fort Lauderdale News & Sun-Sentinel

Boca Raton — The Pavlicek family took the all-star bridge championship by storm. Fort Lauderdale bridge teacher Richard Pavlicek won the Bridge Today All-Star Tournament, earning a $4,000 first prize. His son Rich Pavlicek Jr., 22, won the $600 fifth prize and the praise of world champions.

“It’s a case of being lucky and playing with the right partner at the right time,” the elder Pavlicek said. From the first session he was in the lead and never lost his edge. His winning score was 172 IMPs (international match points).

Pavlicek is the co-author of Modern Bridge Conventions, a book that was passed around among the spectators as a guide to the game.

He said he will advise his students that concentration is the key. “Even when it seems like you are playing an insignificant hand, you still have to pay attention. You never know when you will have to make a decision.”

The three-day tournament at the Crocker Center Marriott was sponsored by and held in conjunction with the Virginia Slims of Florida women’s tennis tournament. Sixteen players from around the world competed for $10,000 in prize money.

Top Finishers
RankNameLocationScorePrize
1Richard PavlicekFort Lauderdale1724000
2Zia MahmoodPakistan1482000
3Sabine ZenkelGermany1431000
4Benito GarozzoItaly128700
5Rich Pavlicek Jr.Fort Lauderdale125600
6Drew CasenBoca Raton112500
7Bob HammanDallas104400
8Danny RotmanMiami94300

“The dreaded Pavlicek clan was ganging up. It was awesome,” joked eight-time international bridge champion Bob Hamman. “It’s the home-court advantage rolling over everything in sight.”

Pavlicek Jr. was in 13th place after the first day of the tournament and at one time moved up to fourth. He said he was optimistic about his standing. “I can compete with them, but I am not necessarily as good as them,” he said of the world-class competition. He began playing the game at age 9.

“I’m very proud of him,” his father said.

Mabel Pavlicek said her son, a senior at Florida Atlantic University, has been an accomplished bridge player since he was 12.

The beaming wife and mother said she always has faith in her husband’s ability and is pleased his bridge teaching schedule allowed him to compete. “He nearly didn’t play. Nothing can interfere with our classes since it’s how we make our living,” she said. “It’s lucky the timing worked out.”

Her son teaches beginning bridge players. She teaches intermediate players, and her husband concentrates on the advanced classes.

Virginia Slims promoter Larry King called the tournament an historic event. He said he hopes to bring more sponsors and spectators into future competitions. “We want to bring bridge back to the preeminence it had in the ‘30s.”

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© 1992 Debra L. Wallace