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Géza Ottlik

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Géza Ottlik

Géza Ottlik on a 2012 Hungarian stamp

Géza Ottlik (9 May 1912 – 9 October 1990) was a Hungarian writer, translator, mathematician, and bridge theorist. According to an American obituary bridge column, he was known in Hungary as "the ultimate authority on Hungarian prose".[1]


  • Biography 1
  • Awards 2
  • Publications 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5


Ottlik was born and died in John Osborne, Evelyn Waugh); and German (Thomas Mann, G. Keller, Stefan Zweig).

He was a passionate bridge player and advanced theoretician. In a bridge column three month's after Ottlik's death, Alan Truscott placed him "among the strongest candidates" for "the bridge writer with the greatest creativity in terms of card-play theory".[1] His 1979 book Adventures in Card Play, written with Hugh Kelsey, introduced and developed many new concepts[2] (such as Backwash squeeze and Entry-shifting squeeze). According to Truscott it "opened new frontiers" in defence as well as declarer play.[1] In his 1995 obituary of Kelsey, Truscott wrote that it "broke new ground in many technical areas and is still considered the most advanced book on the play of the cards."[3] An American survey of bridge experts in 2007 ranked it third on a list of their all-time favourites, nearly thirty years after its first publication.[4]

From October 1944 to February 1945, Ottlik and his wife Gyöngyi hid the writer István Vas, a Jew, in their apartment and shared their food rations with him. Géza personally intervened to obtain the release of Vas' mother from arrest; if he had not done so, she would have been sent on a death march towards Germany. Gyöngyi faced down a group of Arrow Cross Party members who had broken into the apartment to search for the Jew allegedly hiding there; they left without discovering Vas, who survived World War II. For this, the couple were honoured on 4 June 1998 by Yad Vashem as people Righteous Among the Nations.[5]


  • Ottlik received a grant from the British Government for his translations, 1960
  • József Attila Prize (1981)
  • Kossuth Prize for Literature (1985) [1]
  • Righteous Among the Nations (1998)


  • Hamisjátékosok (Swindlers; stories) (1941)
  • Hajnali háztetők (Rooftops at Dawn; novella) (1957)
  • Iskola a határon (School at the Frontier; novel) (1959)
  • Minden megvan (Nothing's Lost; short stories) (1969, revised and enlarged 1991)
  • Adventures in Card Play, Ottlik and Hugh Kelsey (Victor Gollancz Ltd, 1979), 285 pp., OCLC 16423055 – on declarer play and defence in bridge
  • Próza (Prose; essays, interviews) (1980)
  • A Valencia-rejtély (The Valencia Enigma; novel) (1989)
  • Hajónapló (Logbook; novel) (1989)
  • Buda (novel) (1993)


  1. ^ a b c d "Bridge: Two thoughtful Hungarian writers showed their greatest creativity in card-playing theory". Alan Truscott. The New York Times. 13 January 1991. Page 45. Quote: "died on Oct. 9 at the age of 78".
      The other Hungarian is Robert Darvas, co-author of Right Through the Pack, who died in 1957.
  2. ^ Francis, Henry G., Editor-in-Chief;  
  3. ^ "Hugh Kelsey, 69, Famed Bridge Writer And Expert Player". Alan Truscott. The New York Times. 21 March 1995. Page D20. Retrieved 14 November 2014.
  4. ^ American Contract Bridge League, Bridge Bulletin, June 2007, pp. 20–22.
  5. ^ "The Righteous Among The Nations". Retrieved 2 July 2015. 

External links

  • Hungarian Literature database
  • Biography at Frankfurt '99 with linked "Publications"
  • Géza Ottlik on
  • Géza Ottlik international record at the World Bridge Federation.
  • Géza Ottlik at Library of Congress Authorities, with 14 catalogue records (chiefly linked as 'Ottlik, Géza, 1912–': select "LC Online Catalog", then "Previous")
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