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In 1978, Eric Kokish and Peter Nagy came second in the World Open Pairs; the winners were Marcelo Branco and Gabino Cintra of Brazil. The Canadians and the Brazilians became very good friends. A few years later, the Brazilians remembered the friendly Canadians and invited them to come to Brazil and Argentina on a bridge tour. The tour was a success and in 1985, when Brazil was hosting the Bermuda Bowl, they again invited Kokish to come and coach them in the weeks preceding the championship. Brazil lost in the semifinal to the USA when Bob Hamman bid and made a tricky three no trump contract on the last board. However, a career was born.
In the 26 years since then, Kokish has become the top bridge coach in the world. His teams have won gold, silver and bronze medals in World Championship play – the list of winners includes Brazil, the Netherlands and the USA. His main gig these days is with the Nickell team, current holders of the Bermuda Bowl. In Women’s World Championships, his clients have included the USA and Russia, both recent winners. This year, he will also be inducted into the ACBL Hall of Fame.
Kokish is no slouch as a player either. In addition to the second in the World Open Pairs, he came second in the 1995 Bermuda Bowl to none other than Nickell (for the USA). He was part of a group of young Montréal players who burst upon the scene in the early 1970s – with partner Joey Silver and teammates the Crossley brothers, Kokish won the 1974 Vanderbilt on home soil, in Vancouver.
There is a third prong to Kokish’s bridge pitchfork: writing and editing. For years he was the Chief Editor of the World Championship books, transforming them from mere fact reportage to detailed analysis. He is currently editor of WBF News, the official news organ of the World Bridge Federation. Before moving to Toronto some ten years ago, while still in Montréal, Kokish edited Mélange de Bridge, the Montréal Bridge League’s annual publication. He has been the bridge columnist for both the Montréal Gazette and the Toronto Star and has edited Daily Bulletins all over the world.
Kokish is also well-known as a top bidding theorist, so it is fitting that the following deal presents that aspect of his talent. It won the 1978 Romex Award for Best Bid Hand of the Year from the International Bridge Press Association.