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Alabama writer builds bridges with columns on beloved game

March 17, 2019

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — An Alabama man’s 10,000th bylined column on the game of bridge has been published in The Tuscaloosa News and the more than 100 newspapers nationwide that carry it.

They include such publications as The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times and The Boston Globe.

Columnist Frank Stewart has also written 24 books about bridge, The Tuscaloosa News reported .

Stewart remains one of a handful of syndicated newspaper columnists nationwide who writes exclusively about bridge.

“It’s the type of game that will totally take over your life,” he said.

As many newspapers have faced financial head winds, many bridge columns have been cut.

However, bridge enthusiasts have often fought back against such changes. In 2011, The Los Angeles Times decided to discontinue Stewart’s column. His readers responded by leaving 400 phone calls and 600 emails with editors. The newspaper then brought the column back.

Stewart, 72, works out of a home office in Fayette, where notes litter the area around the word processor he has used since the 1980s.

On the walls, there are are framed copies of his first published articles. He recalls how small victories felt big early in his career, such as the time he was paid $40 for his first article in The Bridge World magazine in 1978.

“We danced around the house like we had just won the lottery,” he told the Tuscaloosa newspaper.

Bridge is a game he has obsessed over since 1967, when he played his first hand at the University Club at the University of Alabama.

Stewart later began playing in amateur tournaments and then becoming a professional player. In 1977, the first year he and his wife, Charlotte, were married, Stewart made a little less than $4,000. During their time living in Birmingham, Stewart would give lessons, normally $20 per lesson.

Now, as he looks back on 10,000 columns on the game, he feels blessed.

“I’m just such a lucky man,” Stewart said. “I feel like I’ve been doing something I was meant to do, and I’ve been lucky enough to maybe give some people a little pleasure each day through my column.”

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Information from: The Tuscaloosa News, http://www.tuscaloosanews.com