Nadine Wood, 76, a championship contract bridge player who was a relentless promoter of the card game and an energetic organizer of bridge tournaments throughout the Washington area, died Aug. 9 at Holy Cross Hospital near her home in Silver Spring. She had heart disease.
To hundreds of bridge enthusiasts in the region, Mrs. Wood was “Ms. Bridge.” A fierce competitor, she won a national title in 1989 and finished third in international competition in 1998.
She loved numbers and counted cards accurately and easily. It seemed to her friends that in every hand, she could always remember which cards had been played, how many and which trumps were unaccounted for, and she had an uncanny knack for figuring out which players were mostly likely to be holding them.
She generally avoided the more elaborate and complex conventions that bridge players often employ in bidding or selecting which cards to lead when they want to telegraph information to their partners. Instead, Mrs. Wood simply played the hands she was dealt without complicated stratagems.
Mrs. Wood played bridge informally about twice a week. She also participated in North American Bridge Championship matches three times a year, most recently in Toronto, less than two weeks before her death.
She was a grand life master, with almost 12,000 master points. Master points are awarded whenever a player wins or places in an event sponsored by the American Contract Bridge League. To become a grand life master, a player must have more than 10,000 points and must have won a national title. Of the more than 165,000 members of the American Contract Bridge League, there are 279 grand life masters.
Mrs. Wood won her national title at the North American Bridge Championships in Reno, Nev. She finished second in three other championship matches and won a bronze medal in 1998 at the World Championships in Lille, France.
For 18 years she served on the board of directors of the American Contract Bridge League, and she was a former president of the Washington Bridge League.
Nadine Nourse Wood was born in Des Moines on June 13, 1935. She began her bridge-playing career as a young woman.
For one year she attended the University of Iowa, where she sometimes played bridge on the dormitory roof at night. In college she was known to have roamed the dormitory hallways shouting “Fourth for bridge?” to round up players.
Before moving to the Washington area from Florida in 1974, Mrs. Wood was a personnel specialist and administrative assistant for the Veterans Administration in Iowa and Los Angeles.
In the Washington area, Mrs. Wood was an energetic supporter of efforts to teach bridge in public schools, and she tried — with limited success — to boost the popularity of bridge games over video games on computers.
She helped organize a “Good Will Committee” to promote civil manners, courtesy and respect among bridge players, the more aggressive of whom have been known to speak sarcastically and with sharp tongues to partners and opponents when cards are misplayed and hands lost.
“She was a kind person at the table and away from the table,” said Mari McColl, a veteran bridge player who had played with and against Mrs. Wood.
McColl recalled a specific incident when Mrs. Wood, as the silent partner known as the “dummy,” sat by silently while Mrs. Wood’s partner misplayed a hand. When the hand was lost, she only “smiled across the table,” McColl said.
At local tournaments Mrs. Wood cooked meals, booked hotel accommodations, set up card-playing venues and helped revamp rules. She operated under the slogan “Never run out of food,” and she never did.
Away from the bridge table, her love for numbers and detail manifested themselves in a talent for trivia games and a fondness for playing slot machines at Las Vegas casinos.
Survivors include her husband of 54 years, Roland G. Wood, and two sons, Gregory Wood and Dana Wood, all of Silver Spring; and five grandchildren.
Wood said he did not play bridge with his wife, and she never importuned him to do so. “She didn’t want to embarrass me,” he said.