Sapphire Life Master Robert Rosenblum is living proof that "bridge is aerobics for the mind." A spry ninety-two year old, full of stories and good cheer, Rosenblum delights in talking about a bridge career that spanned nearly six decades.
"I doubt that anyone else in San Diego has played against the first three bridge Life Masters," Rosenblum says, referring to David Bruce, Oswald Jacoby and Howard Schenken. "I also played on teams with Eddie Kantar and Life Master number nine, Mike Gottleib.
Other luminaries in Rosenblum's colorful past include actor/author/bridge afficianado Omar Sharif and the former San Diego Symphony conductor Walter Herbert (nee Seligmann). Herbert was a member of the Austrian team that won the world championship in 1937, and he devised the eponymous "Herbert negative," an artificial negative response to a strong 2♣ opening bid.
Rosenblum is a native of Manhattan and attended the University of Wisconsin as an undergraduate. In 1954 one of his college friends persuaded him to come to San Diego to work at American Housing Guild, a construction firm the friend had started. "AHG built many thousands of homes in Rolando, South and North Clairemont, Mission Village and San Carlos, among other places," Rosenblum says. AHG is no longer in business, but its financing arm-Guild Mortgage-remains as an independent mortgage lender, specializing in residential home loans.
"I left AHG in 1966, studied computers at Coleman College, and worked for several years in that field before becoming a travel agent with Cabrillo Travel in 1969. I opened my own travel agency, Travel-On Cruises and Tours in 1987."
"Travel-On" became a natural tie-in with bridge because Rosenblum and his late wife, Mary Ann, arranged some sixty bridge cruises throughout the world. They handled inquiries, chose the cruise lines, and arranged the bookings. They then accompanied the various groups at sea, with Robert teaching in the morning and Mary Ann running games in the afternoon. "What a wonderful life we had together!" he reflects.
In Rosenblum's Serra Mesa home one finds a trove of San Diego bridge memorabilia. For example, he has copies of the weekly bridge column he wrote for the San Diego Union newspaper from 1968 to 1988 and his articles for the ACBL Bulletin. His columns also appeared as a feature in the Copley News Service from 1975 to 1981 for newspapers around the country.
In 1981 Mary Ann founded the popular club Adventures in Bridge, named for Robert's newspaper column. "Adventures" grew to be the 14th largest U.S. bridge club but was forced to vacate its two most recent locations, Mission Gorge Road and Balboa Avenue.
"At one point we looked into buying a building for Adventures," Rosenblum says, "but the expensive local real estate market makes it hard to find a reasonably priced venue that has enough parking. It shouldn't be this hard, but it is."
Rosenblum's efforts on behalf of the local bridge community are myriad, and they include teaching extensively at various locations throughout the county in the 1960s, serving numerous terms on the board of San Diego Unit 539, and being president of the Unit "at least three times," he says.