RIP Al Lochli
Yesterday I found out that “Big Al” Lochli died on Monday. He wasn’t terribly old or in apparent poor health; he played a day or two in the sectional Friday, so this is a surprise and shock. I hadn’t played much with him recently, but he was a fixture of the San Antonio Bridge scene for years, being the owner (until a few years ago) of the Turtle Creek club, and winning the District 16 Jacoby Award (for work to promote Bridge, mentor new players, and other services).
In many ways, Al was a stereotypical grognard, except that he played bridge instead of wargames. (And that includes the relative lack of social graces … at a gaming convention you wouldn’t bat an eye but he raised hackles at the bridge club with blunt talk from time to time. However, he was insanely protective of new players. I heard several echoes of this sentiment last night). I’ll miss him.
Al is the 2nd semi-irregular bridge partner I’ve lost since moving back to San Antonio (the other was Darlene Riely). At some point it will be too depressing to go back to the bridge club as the empty chairs before game time become burdened with memories.
I told my favorite story in Judy’s blog, but I’ll copy it here. (The reference is to the Italian Blue club that Al and Robert played that “nobody else understood”).
I played a few games with Al when I moved back to San Antonio, he loaned me the [Blue Club] system notes and I found a copy of the Terence Reese book [describing the system]. So we played Blue Club (maybe 5 or 10 times). One day (a year later) he and Robert had an auction with a bunch of alerts. Since I knew the system, before the lead I just asked Al “Same as we play?” and he said “No” and then turned to Robert.
“Even he’s read the book! Why can’t you read it?!” and then proceeded to explain their auction.