Ed Schultz was one of the good guys. He and I grew up in Illinois and met through bridge. There was a group of good young players who gravitated towards each other. When we were at tournaments, we'd often go out to dinner together and "run the boards." That means we'd go over each deal, usually card by card, and discuss them. There were lots of questions asked: "How did you make 3NT?" or "How did you bid to the 6♥ slam?" Besides the camaraderie, interactions like this elevated our games. We played together, both as partners and teammates. Besides being a terrific player, Ed was a fun guy who kept things on an even keel.
After a few years, I moved to Raleigh NC and didn't see Ed very much. We were both starting careers and only traveled to play bridge in local tournaments. Later, however, when I began going to the national tournaments again, I would run into him. It seemed like every time I went, he was there with another friend of mine, his regular partner Mark Kessler. They frequently won their District's North American Pairs and would go and play. I loved meeting Ed at NABCs. Besides being an old friend, he always had a good bridge story. Although a tough competitor at the table, Ed loved to laugh and see the joy in life.
One year when I saw him at an NABC, he said, "Dave, Dave, come here. I want you to meet Beth Fay." Ed had gotten married! After that, I still saw him at NABCs, but he usually came only for a few days, then returned to his home in Chesterfield MO, a St. Louis suburb. He had a family now, you see.
Some more years went by and I ran into him, again at an NABC. There was bad news -- he had cancer. In the following years, the cancer treatments and surgeries were hell, but Ed never complained. The cancer turned into brain cancer and it is a tough one, but Ed was tough, too. The cancer destroyed his body, but it couldn't destroy his spirit -- he remained cheerful and positive with lots of energy. Even though Ed battled, cancer had the final say in the matter -- Ed died last Friday, Jan. 30.
Ed finished with nearly 7300 masterpoints, but masterpoints were not what motivated him. His love of the game is what drove him. Ed was a University of Illinois alum. He played on the U. of I. football team while in college and was a rabid Illini sports fan.
Here is a bridge deal that Karen Walker gave me permission to use. It involves a deal she played with Ed. I like it because it not only shows the kind of player Ed was, it also shows the kind of person he was.
♠ A 8 5
♥ 9 8 7
♦ J 9 7 4 2
♣ Q 5
♠ J 6 4 ♠ 10 9 7 3
♥ K 6 5 ♥ 3 2
♦ 6 5 ♦ Q 10 8 3
♣ J 9 8 4 2 ♣ A K 3
♠ K Q 2
♥ A Q J 10 4
♦ A K
♣ 10 7 6
South was the declarer in 4♥. Ed was West and led a low club and East, Karen Walker, won the ♣K and shifted to a low heart. The declarer played low as Ed ducked in tempo -- the ♥7 in dummy won. Declarer advanced the ♣Q won by Karen with the ace. She led another heart and South played the ♥Q. Ed won the king and led a third round, eliminating her chance to ruff a club in dummy. Now, instead of 10 tricks, she only had nine, and the contract failed by one.
The lady who was declarer now began slapping her cards on the table and glaring at Ed. After the deal was over, she snapped, "How could you do that?" She then began telling Ed how his play could have been wrong. Instead of being put off by her rudeness, Ed just smiled and said, "Well, then, I would have looked pretty silly, wouldn't I?"
Somehow, I just know that Ed is looking down and still smiling.
You can read Karen Walker's tribute to Ed if you click here and then click on "Rembering Ed Schultz" (in the upper left-hand corner).
You can read what his Unit's web site said about him if you click here.