Mark Blumenthal

Bernie Chazen – revised

I guess I should write something about Bernie Chazen. I knew him pretty well, but  I had not been in contact with him  for quite a while. In 1969 when I first was in Toronto, I  played on a team with Dick Fleischmann, Bob Lipsitz, Bernie and Don Faskow. Except for Faskow all of us were about the same age. It now seems amazing that all four of us were two or three years shy of thirty. Not only that, soon the baby boomers led by Alan Sontag and Peter Weichsel were about to come on the scene, and they were a few years younger than we were.

We won, but what I remember about that event is Dick, who was sitting out the first session, went to a Chinese restaurant I think was called Tsey Wu though I have no idea of the correct spelling. Upon discovering their egg rolls were very inexpensive, though small, he bought a huge bag of them and brought them back to the tournament. Seeing he had brought more than we could eat our team started giving them to our opponents and the directors. Maybe that’s why we won. Soon after this Bernie started to play with Paul Heitner and other New York experts. Gloria Rabinowitz and I won a team with them in Easton, Pa. and I won another sectional team with him as a teammate the in New Jersey same year.  As he came from Fort Lee, New Jersey which is just to the west of New York City, he was considered a New York City player.

Many of the players from New York City around our age had nicknames, and Bernie seemed fascinated by them. Of those I remember Heitner was called the Whale, Norm Kurlander was the Ant and John Solodar was known as the Hopper. Bernie decided I should have a nickname also. Since I had just grown a beard, he called me the Rabbi.

Around that time I told either Bernie or John I was thinking of moving to New York City. They put my name on their New York City intercity team. As New York City is pretty close to Philadelphia, I agreed to play on it when I could so the team included a sponsor, Bernie, the Ant, the Hopper and the Rabbi.

One of my friends just told me a story about Bernie I had never heard. Some time in the seventies he was either in the south or west of the U.S.A. and was asked how many masterpoints he had. He gave the number and added, “Those are east coast points” which implied those gained from that area were a lot harder to obtain hence they were more valuable.

I just remembered a story about Bernie. During the initial team of which  I wrote a furrier from Toronto,named Harry Creed, kept asking Bernie questions about hands. Harry was not very good and what he  asked generally was pretty stupid so Bernie charged him a fee per question.  Even though the charge per question was something  only something like twenty five cents it ventually caused Harry to eventually stop. It could be that  Harry  ran out of change!


LindaApril 1st, 2009 at 3:23 pm

Thanks for the insights about Bernie. The restaurant is called Sai Woo’s. There are so many Chinese restaurants in Toronto these days that none stand out quite as much but back then Sai Woo’s was a big favorite.

M BlumenthalApril 1st, 2009 at 5:36 pm


I knew it was pronounced ‘ Say Woo’ but was sure it wasn’t spelled that way. I’ve been in Toronto fairly recently and know the city’s Chinatown really expanded when the British announced they were leaving Hong Kong.

Karen AllisonDecember 2nd, 2009 at 3:49 pm

Bernie was known in those days, if I recall correctly, as The Baby Rhino, not a bad description of him. He was a math teacher, apparently a very good one too.

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