September 2020 - 23

Play the Cards
You're Dealt

Mastering life means adapting for Tina Epstein
BY MICHAEL BERKOWITZ

2020 has been a good year for Tina Epstein. In February,
Tina and her husband, Leonard, became grandparents, and
in June, she reached another milestone: Life Master.
In April 2019, Tina was put on hospice with Stage 5
Parkinson's disease. "After nine months, I rallied to come
off of hospice," she said.
Even under hospice care, Tina continued to play regularly
at the club and attend tournaments. "I passed 300 points,
but still lacked the final 0.57 gold. The first online regional
came; no cigar. Then, on the second day of the June 2020
regional, Stuart Litwin of Round Rock TX and I finished
9th overall/1st overall in Flight C in a 550-table game for an
award of 16.68 gold/red points. I had not limped across the
line, but had run full speed through the tape!"
Born in Madrid to a Moroccan mother and New Yorker
father, Tina's family moved from place to place before ending up in Dallas when she was a teen. There, while playing
volleyball, she met Leonard Epstein. They married in 1986.
Leonard took up bridge in high school. "I've been playing long enough to have faced Oswald Jacoby," he said. He
quickly indoctrinated his new bride. Tina didn't pick up but
a few masterpoints before life got in the way in the form of
their three children: Benjamin, Sarah and Sam.
"I absolutely believe I was put on this earth to have and
nurture kids," said Tina. "I've been a wife and mother first,
but everything I do has my whole heart."
Her first health challenge was rheumatoid arthritis,
which caused severe pain in her hands. Tina later developed
tremors and was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, in
2010, after she deteriorated more in four months than most
patients do in 10-15 years.
She works hard to adapt. "I do my best to be the best wife,
mother, bubbe to my new 5-month-old perfect granddaughter, and bridge partner I can."
In 2012, she had a deep brain stimulator - a device with
wires running from a subcutaneous battery to electrodes in
her brain - implanted to help control her tremors. She uses
a feeding tube to eat. She can't use one hand at all and has
control of only a couple of fingers on the other. While the
details may seem graphic (and there are more and worse
symptoms), for Tina, they are an important part of her story.
Tina makes it her mission to educate her extended circle
about the disease. Her Facebook posts describe what it's
like for a 62-year-old woman to live with Parkinson's. The
details are comprehensive and not for the faint of heart, but

Tina doesn't care. She explains what life is like for her so
others will later understand if a family member or friend is
also beset by the disease.
To further display what life with Parkinson's looks like,
Tina starred in a short film called "The Art of Adapting,"
available on YouTube. In that movie, Leonard pauses her
deep brain stimulator to show how Tina shakes uncontrollably without it.
The title of that piece is based on Tina's biggest nonbridge/non-family passion: art.
"Most people don't know that I'm actually a professional
artist when I'm not playing bridge!" Tina said. She took up
art over 30 years ago, first using clay, then branching out
to other media. She now works mostly on canvas. Her art's
most distinctive feature is its bright, beautiful colors.
In the 2000s, her painting was often geometric, with many
straight lines and sharp angles. Now, without the use of her
dominant hand, and with no fine motor skills, it is more abstract. She applies the paint to the canvas straight from the
tube and smears it on, or shakes it off the paintbrush.
Leonard said it's her best work ever. "Her painting has
more depth and emotion than it ever did, and her ability to
put together the colors has only increased. It is clear that her
gift is in her head, and that you don't lose that with physical
challenges. She has just had to adapt to continue to express
her creativity."
Her cognitive bridge ability isn't affected, but physically
playing the hand is difficult. Because the use of her hands is
limited, even placing the cards in her card holder and pulling
them out to play is hard.
"She can't always be heard," Leonard said, "so when she's
declarer, she sometimes motions to dummy as to which card
to play."
continued on pg. 28
September 2020 Bridge Bulletin

23



September 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of September 2020

In First Seat - Paul Linxwiler
Inbox -Letters to the Editor
A Message from the President
The Recruiter King
The Rise and Fall of the Precision Team
Eyes on the Street
BBO Helpdesk
NABC Robot Individual
Play the Cards You're Dealt
Endless Summer Results
Defensive Maneuvers – part 4
Ruling the Game
The Bidding Box
It's Your Call
Card Play 101 - by Phillip Alder
Parrish the Thought - Adam Parrish
Reasoning with Robert - Robert Todd
Startup Bridge by Lynn Berg
Lessons Learned by Michael Berkowitz
Bidding Basics by Larry Cohen
Ask Jerry - by Jerry Helms
Mike's Bridge Lesson - Mike Lawrence
Chalk Talk- Eddie Kantar
Boehm on Bridge
Better Bridge with Bergen-Marty Bergen
Challenge of the Month
The Real Deal - by Larry Cohen
West Hands -Bidding Box
Bidding Matters - by Karen Walker
East Hands -Bidding Box
Test Your Play
Mike's Advice - by Mike Lawrence
Solutions to Test Your Play
My Bridge and Yours - by Frank Stewart
Dear Billy - by Billy Miller
Bridge with the Abbot - by David Bird
George's World - by George Jacobs
Life Master Milestones
New Life Masters
Puzzle Page
In Memoriam
Obituary - Sue Erwin (1943-2020)
Obituary - Clint Wright (1944-2020)
Obituary - Norma Sands (1938-2020)
Obituary - Carol Aitken (190-2020)
Obituary - Carol Linch (1935-2020)
Obituary - Barbara Hamman (1937-2020)
Obituary - Maria Teresa Lavazza (1937-2020)
Obituary - janet P. Breed (1935-2020)
Tournament Directory
September 2020 - 1
September 2020 - 2
September 2020 - 3
September 2020 - 4
September 2020 - 5
September 2020 - In First Seat - Paul Linxwiler
September 2020 - Inbox -Letters to the Editor
September 2020 - 8
September 2020 - A Message from the President
September 2020 - The Recruiter King
September 2020 - 11
September 2020 - The Rise and Fall of the Precision Team
September 2020 - 13
September 2020 - 14
September 2020 - 15
September 2020 - 16
September 2020 - 17
September 2020 - Eyes on the Street
September 2020 - 19
September 2020 - BBO Helpdesk
September 2020 - 21
September 2020 - NABC Robot Individual
September 2020 - Play the Cards You're Dealt
September 2020 - Endless Summer Results
September 2020 - 25
September 2020 - 26
September 2020 - 27
September 2020 - 28
September 2020 - Defensive Maneuvers – part 4
September 2020 - Ruling the Game
September 2020 - 31
September 2020 - The Bidding Box
September 2020 - 33
September 2020 - 34
September 2020 - 35
September 2020 - It's Your Call
September 2020 - 37
September 2020 - 38
September 2020 - 39
September 2020 - Card Play 101 - by Phillip Alder
September 2020 - Parrish the Thought - Adam Parrish
September 2020 - Reasoning with Robert - Robert Todd
September 2020 - Startup Bridge by Lynn Berg
September 2020 - Lessons Learned by Michael Berkowitz
September 2020 - Bidding Basics by Larry Cohen
September 2020 - 46
September 2020 - Ask Jerry - by Jerry Helms
September 2020 - Mike's Bridge Lesson - Mike Lawrence
September 2020 - Chalk Talk- Eddie Kantar
September 2020 - Boehm on Bridge
September 2020 - Better Bridge with Bergen-Marty Bergen
September 2020 - Challenge of the Month
September 2020 - West Hands -Bidding Box
September 2020 - Bidding Matters - by Karen Walker
September 2020 - Test Your Play
September 2020 - Mike's Advice - by Mike Lawrence
September 2020 - Solutions to Test Your Play
September 2020 - My Bridge and Yours - by Frank Stewart
September 2020 - Dear Billy - by Billy Miller
September 2020 - Bridge with the Abbot - by David Bird
September 2020 - George's World - by George Jacobs
September 2020 - Life Master Milestones
September 2020 - 63
September 2020 - New Life Masters
September 2020 - Puzzle Page
September 2020 - Obituary - Clint Wright (1944-2020)
September 2020 - Obituary - Barbara Hamman (1937-2020)
September 2020 - 68
September 2020 - Obituary - janet P. Breed (1935-2020)
September 2020 - 70
September 2020 - Tournament Directory
September 2020 - 72
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