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A Bridge to Glory

International competition is in the cards for Marty Fleisher ’80

Martin “Marty” Fleisher ’80, an employee-benefits attorney in Manhattan, started playing bridge at age 8. His mother had played since college, and his father wanted to learn, so the Fleisher men learned together.

At age 17, he was on a four-person team that won the district title and advanced to the national final, allowing Fleisher to snag the record for youngest player in a national championship final. They didn’t win, but he became a bridge Life Master, one of the youngest players to do so. His record still holds.

Fleisher followed his high-school bridge partner, Alan Heubert ’78, to Swarthmore. They won the 1977 Intercollegiate Championship and came in second in 1978. Fleisher took a long break from the game from the time he graduated from Swarthmore until the mid-1990s, when his professional career became less demanding.  

Nowadays, Fleisher is a better player than pretty much anyone in the country. Winning most points in open national bridge events, he became the 2013 American Contract Bridge League (ACBL) Player of the Year and made the February 2014 cover of ACBL’s Bridge Bulletin. A force to be reckoned with, Fleisher has represented the United States twice in world championships.

The game has quite a hold on him. “It’s a combination of being mentally challenging with a lot of social aspects. It’s also analytically interesting, with psychological factors involved. Quite fascinating,” Fleisher says.

Fleisher plays an average of about 50 days a year. He has competed in tournaments in France, the Netherlands, China, and Bali.

“I’ve met lots of interesting people from other countries and made many friends through bridge,” he says, as he prepared for a three-and-a-half-week trip to China in October. 

According to the Bridge Bulletin story, Fleisher is running second for Player of the Decade.