Fritzi Gordon

By Albert Dormer
The Times 1992

Fritzi Gordon formed part of the most famous and most tempestuous women’s partnership in the history of bridge. With Rixi Markus she won the World Mixed Teams event in 1962, the Women’s World Team Olympiad in 1964 (these being the only two bridge Olym­piad events Britain has ever won) and the World Women’s pairs in 1962 and, by a record margin, in 1974. She also won the women’s European Championship seven times, had numerous successes in British events and was the second woman to attain the rank of world grandmaster - Markus being the first.

Born in Vienna of middle-class Jewish parents, Fritzi Gordon became the buyer for a Salzburg department store but moved to Graz on marriage. After the Anschluss she fled with her husband Paul to London.

When the tournament bridge revived after the war she soon began to make her mark, but her partnership with the innately-talented Rixi Markus did not begin until 1951.

Markus, too, had fled the Nazis, yet despite this shared background the two never became friends: as persons, they had in common only their bridge skills and a tigerish appetite for success. Their bickering in bridge post-mortems, which they kept in check when representing Britain, could at other times make the rivalries of actresses and prima donnas seem bland, and although Gordon could not match Markus’s speed and accuracy of analysis, her barbs sometimes struck home.

Sometimes the two would break up their partnership and not speak to each other for months or longer; but although both could win with other partners, they recognised that the true magic worked only when they played together.

Their last big tournament was the Monte Carlo Olympiad in 1976. Gordon’s skill at bridge earned her an affluent old age. She is survived by her daughter.

Major International Appearances

Women's European Championships: 1949 1950* 1951* 1952* 1954 1955 1956 1957 1958 1959* 1961* 1963* 1966* 1967 1969 1970 1971 and 1975*
Venice Cup: 1976
Women's World Olympiad: 1960 1964* and 1976

* = 1st place

Camrose Trophy Selections: 1953 and 1961

Lady Milne selections: 1951 1953 1958 1959 1961 and 1962

Gold Cup Winner: 1957 and 1961

Spring Foursomes Winner: 1963

Autumn Congress Two Stars Pairs Winner: 1948 and 1961

The Hubert Phillips Bowl Winner: 1959 and 1964

National Pairs winner: 1946

Tollemache Cup winner: 1953