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Let's start at the very beginning

I was first taught to play cards by my father who played a wide variety of card games but not bridge.  His favourite games were cribbage and nine card brag which weren't at all bridge-like.  Later, two aunts started to visit our house on a Friday night to play cards with my mother and my grandmother (who lived with us) and from quite a young age I was called upon to fill in when one of them was absent or late.  They played games such as rummy, canasta and Newmarket but they also played whist and variants such as knockout whist or nomination whist.  This was my real introduction to the card play skills required for bridge.  

I can't remember the exact details but at around 14 or 15 (late 1950's) a group of us boys at West Bromwich Grammar School decided that we would like to learn bridge. We persuaded the headmaster that bridge would be a 'social asset' and so we were allowed to stay indoors at breaks to play bridge.  I think that teachers that helped us out taught us Acol but parents of some of the lads must have played Goren or Culbertson because we were often confused about what we should be doing.  We persevered, however, and eventually I began to play duplicate bridge at the local bridge club.

In 1963 I went to Bristol University to study physics and started playing in the university club and  also at the Bristol Bridge Club which was then up in Clifton.  I remember that I was actually playing bridge when someone announced that President Kennedy had been shot.  

 

As a physicist, I was taught the Fortran computing language during my university course and my lifelong interest in computing started.  When I finished my first degree I did an external Ph.D. from Bristol University but working in I.C.I. Petrochemical and Polymers Laboratory in Runcorn.  During this period I lived in Chester, sharing a flat with an I.C.I. colleague who also played bridge and we played at the Deva Bridge Club in Chester.

After obtaining my Ph.D. I became a lecturer in physics at Leeds University in 1972 and started to play at the Bradford Bridge Club with a colleague from the computing department at Leeds.  When he ultimately left to further his career I was a married man with two young children and a career to develop so I gave up playing bridge.  On the computing side, however, I built an Acorn Atom, one of the early home computers and eventually bought a BBC model B computer.  I started teaching physics students Visual Basic and eventually started learning html when, as an academic, I was exposed to the wonders of the world wide web well before it became known to everyone.

After I retired from Leeds University, where I had become a Professor of Polymer Physics, my wife and I moved to North Yorkshire to run The Apothecary's House B and B in Askrigg.  Surprisingly, I found an outlet for my computing talents in Garsdale, just over the Pennines from Askrigg, where I took over developing Lucid's LaserBee laser safety software, rewriting it in Java and extensively developing it.  I returned to bridge, playing at the Wensleydale Bridge Club and the Richmond Bridge Club but, despite knowing my EBU number and having my written master points record, I was treated by the EBU as a new member with no masterpoints!  Luckily, the NGS system tracks current performance rather than length of service.

Eventually, we gave up running The Apothecary's House and moved to Wells in Somerset to be closer to our children and grandchildren.  I am currently chairman of the Cheddar Bridge Club and write occasional articles for the Somerset Contract Bridge Association newsletter, many of which appear here also.

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