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Times is bringing back Bridge column

January 7, 2011 | 11:38 am

Frank.Stewart Good news for Bridge fans: The daily Bridge column is coming back.

Starting Monday, it will be back in its old home, on the first Comics page.

The Times has been bombarded with e-mails, letters and calls from disappointed readers since the column was discontinued Nov. 29.

Many of those were longtime subscribers like Doreen Schlesinger of Santa Ana, who wrote, "For 55 years I have started each morning with the Bridge column and found it a perfect mechanism to activate my brain and prepare it to face the day.  Without warning, the column was removed from the paper, and I have been miserable ever since."

Editors made the decision to remove the column after subscriber surveys showed that only 3% of respondents read it. However, that 3% is a devoted and loyal group.

As of Tuesday, The Times had received nearly 600 e-mails and 400 phone calls regarding Bridge.

"The outcry from our readers compelled us to reconsider our decision," said Sallie Hofmeister, assistant managing editor for arts and entertainment. "While readership surveys showed that Bridge was the least popular of our offerings of puzzles and games, we discovered from this outpouring of response that its fans are engaged readers and some of our most loyal subscribers."

The demise of the column resulted in relatively few subscription cancellations. However, that impressed editors as well: Despite the large outcry, Bridge fans kept the paper even after losing one of their favorite features.

The column is a cornerstone of many readers' days.

George Doane of Rancho Palos Verdes wrote, "I am dismayed at your decision to discontinue the Bridge column.  I went the week without it, and I clearly am showing withdrawal symptoms. I always, ALWAYS do mine at lunchtime and look forward to reading the column all morning.  I plead for you to bring it back."

Several readers noted that the column was often discussed at their regular bridge games.

Charlene Carnachan of Glendale wrote that the Bridge column "has been a standby for me and my friends and the basis for discussion for many years.  'Have you seen the latest Bridge column in the L.A. Times?' would be a frequent conversation topic."

Many readers said Bridge was one of the things they liked most about the print edition.

Barbara Glabman of Newport Beach wrote from her iPad, "We have subscribed to the Los Angeles Times for over 40 years. In an era when we can get our news streaming live on computer, it is the extras like the Bridge column that keep us subscribing."

--Deirdre Edgar

Photo: Bridge column writer Frank Stewart. Credit: Tribune Media Services