By Bob Rowlands
BM November 1985
Jim Sharples died on October 3, 1985 after a short illness.
James Watson Sharples was born in London in May 1908, the elder of twins, the younger being his brother Robert. He was educated at Tonbridge School. At the outbreak of the Second World War he joined the Royal Navy whilst brother Bob served in the Royal Marines. They did not meet during the war but unusually for brothers they wrote to each other weekly, always including a bridge problem or discussion in their letters.
In the twenties, as children, he and Bob learnt Auction Bridge, before turning to Contract Bridge when it became established in the early thirties. Shortly after the war, however, they abandoned their original Culbertson for Acol, of which Jim and Bob became the leading exponents for more than thirty years. They demonstrated their superiority when in 1970 they were invited to take part in Bidding Challenge for Bridge Magazine. After monopolising this for a whole year, the Sharples graciously retired undefeated, having consistently scored over ninety percent each month! Jim and Bob won every major bridge event in the calendar, including the Gold Cup six times, the last occasion in 1979 in a team of only four players, at the age of seventy-one.
The Sharples represented England and Great Britain on countless occasions and were one of the greatest, if not the greatest, partnerships ever produced in England. The boys, as they were universally known, were the first to achieve the rank of Life Master and also were the first Grand Masters in 1966. Jim and Bob were the first to devise a two club defence to one no trump, which was later expanded to include two diamonds. With Jack Marx and Bob, Jim made an incalculable contribution to bidding theory. Sharples-Marx Transfers and Byzantine Blackwood are, with many other of their innovations, widely used. In latter years, Jim limited his bridge to his weekly duplicate at the London Club, with an occasional EBU event. Those privileged to partner him always benefited from his dry humour and serene confidence, while his opponents appreciated his impeccable ethics.
He and Bob shared a love of cricket and music. They accumulated a collection of old records which is renowned worldwide. He loved his home and however successful his bridge weekend might have been, he was always glad to return to their house and lovely garden at Caterham. Jim Sharples was highly regarded throughout English bridge circles and far beyond, he will be sadly missed. He is survived by his brother Bob and his sister Morna, to whom we offer our sincerest sympathy.
Major International Appearances
European Championships: 1956 and 1958
Camrose Trophy Selections: 1949 1950 1951 1953 1955 1958 1960 1963 1966 1967 1968 1969 1971 and 1972
Gold Cup Winner: 1962 1966 1967 1968 1970 and 1979
Crockfords Winner: 1952 1963 and 1978
Spring Foursomes Winner: 1962 and 1968
Brighton Pairs, Harold Poster Cup Winner: 1968
Brighton Four Stars Teams Winner: 1967 and 1971
Autumn Congress Two Stars Pairs Winner: 1949 1953 1957 1958 and 1965
The Hubert Phillips Bowl Winner: 1951 1957 1967 and 1971
National Pairs winner: 1954
Tollemache Cup winner: 1954 1957 1958 1963 1967 1970 1977 and 1978