Jane Priday

By Patrick Jourdain
EB December 1994

Jane Priday, one of only three British players ever to hold an Olympiad Team and Pairs title at the same time, has died aged 58 after a short illness. For two decades Mrs Priday, the wife of Tony Priday, a leading figure in the bridge world, was a member of the British women’s teams which achieved major success, including three wins in the European Championships.

Mrs Priday was born in Nottingham, daughter of England cricket player Dennis Bland.

An early marriage to Geoffrey Garrett produced a daughter, Alison. In 1960 she married England internation­al Pedro Juan, and formed a bridge partnership with Dorothy Shanahan.

Jane and Dorothy were in the British team which won the 1961 Women’s Europeans in Torquay, winning again two years later in Baden ­Baden. The following year they won the Olympiad team title in New York City. In 1965 Pedro Juan died and Jane’s bridge partnership with Dorothy broke up. The following year, showing con­siderable resilience of charac­ter, Jane won the Women’s World Pairs title with her new partner, Joan Durran. They were in the British women’s team which won the European title in Warsaw in 1966, and later that year Jane married Tony Priday. Tony and Jane Priday became Britain’s most suc­cessful married couple at the bridge table, winning the Gold Cup, Britain’s premier event, and the Open and Mixed Teams Championship of England (Crockford’s and Hubert Phillips).

In 1973 Jane’s daughter, Alison Garrett, was killed in a motor accident, and for sometime she gave up bridge. Mrs Priday recovered from a brain haemorrhage in 1983, but suffered occasional ill-health for the rest of her life.

She will be remembered as an attractive personality - with an impish wit.

Terence Reese wrote:

Jane died quite suddenly, after a short illness, towards the end of October. I won’t say a lot about her career in bridge, because others have written about that. She and I, and later my wife, Alwyn, were close friends for many years.

Oddly enough, I knew the name of her father, Denis Bland, before I had ever heard of Jane. R F D Bland, he was a slow left-arm bowler for Nottinghamshire. He had a photograph of the occasion when he bowled the great Jack Hobbs.

Soon after she came to live in London Jane ‘married’ (well, it a church affair) a prominent bridge player and old friend of mine, Pedro Juan. It was an odd association in some ways because Pedro was - what shall I say? – Bohemian (Boris called him the sockless wonder), whereas Jane was always perfectly presented. Pedro adored her, and his con­stant phrase ‘my little Janie’, became her appellation through­out the London bridge community.

Pedro, who was diabetic, died in 1965. Soon after, Jane married Tony Priday, a rather different cup of tea, for Tony is a Wykehamist of impeccable appearance, manners and business life (the timber trade).

Jane became a big star in the 1960s. She played at first with Fritzi Gordon, who had been Rixi Markus’s partner on many occasions. To play with Rixi was an honour and a pleasure, but nobody’s idea of a peaceful life. Jane proved an excellent partner for Fritzi and no doubt learned a lot. Later, she played in several championships with Joan Durran, again with much success. One thing is certain: they were the best-looking women’s pair in the game!

Jane was clever, beautiful and amusing. Everyone who knew her will remember her always.

Major International Appearances

Women's European Championships: 1961* 1962 1963* 1965 1966* 1969 and1971
Women's World Olympiad: 1964*

* = 1st place

Camrose Trophy Selections: 1971 and 1976

Lady Milne selections: 1966

Gold Cup Winner: 1972

Crockfords winner: 1981

Spring Foursomes Winner: 1976

Autumn Congress Two Stars Pairs Winner: 1968

The Hubert Phillips Bowl Winner: 1970

Tollemache Cup winner: 1963