Joan Durran

Joan Durran dies, aged 83
Sandra Landy writes:

Joan Mary Sacker Phillips was born in Croydon in 1921. But as her father had tuberculosis the family moved down to Selsey in West Sussex for the sea air. Her father died when she was just six and t he family moved to Lincolnshire , where her mother died when she was 15. Joan matriculated aged 16. She was head girl of her school, was a championship swimmer and excellent tennis player. Two years later, she married George Durran, a dental surgeon, and they moved to Welwyn Garden City.

Joan had to decide which of her husband's hobby she would take up Golfing, Fishing or Bridge. She chose Bridge. Her bridge skills developed between 1948 and 1958 as she graduated from local to the Hamilton and Crockfords clubs where she honed her skills playing rubber bridge with first class players. Not only was Joan very attractive, her bridge improved dramatically and she was much in demand.

Joan first international appearance was playing with Marjorie Hiron, when the team won the 1961 European Women's Teams in Torquay. She played again in 1962 in Beirut and it was here that she and Jane Juan (later Priday) first considered forming a partnership, which first appeared in 1965, when the team came second in Ostend .

1966 was Joan and Jane's golden year, when they won European Women's Teams in Warsaw the World Women's Pairs in Amsterdam (it was here that I got to know Joan, who was charming and supportive to a new young player struggling to survive whilst playing with Fritzi Gordon). They came 2 nd in the Life Master Pairs, and playing with Maurice Weissberger, she came 2nd in the Mixed Pairs in Amsterdam . That splendid year earned Joan and Jane an invitation to play in the Sunday Times - performing well as the only women in a strong field. The pair were renowned not only for their stunning good looks but also for their impeccable behaviour at table.

Joan's last European Teams was in Oslo in 1969. The Women won the event, but an appeal by the French after the result was announced, about slow play by our Danish opponents in the last match, led to a 2VP fine and put the French in first place. I was there, very disappointed at failing to win my first title. But whilst Joan behaved with great dignity, the injustice of the decision, decided her to give up internationals. As one of the stars of the bridge world during a golden age of the game, she became a World Champion and a World Bridge Federation Life Master, but Oslo was her last representative appearance for Great Britain .

At home, Joan won the Women's teams eight times between 1956 and 1971, the Hubert Phillips in 1956 playing with husband George. With Maurice she won the Lederer in '66 and '67. Joan and Maurice played and won in many countries, Israel , St. Moritz , Juan Les Pins amongst others. They came a very close second to the Italian Blue Team in a Madeira tournament and this inspired them to take up the Roman Club, as played by the Blue Team.

Joan gave up bridge because of a loss of her central vision, which made it impossible to play seriously. She took the affliction with stoicism and never complained. She and Maurice remained constant companions after George's death some 15 years ago. Joan is survived by two children, six grandchildren and three great grandchildren, all of whom meant far more to her than her bridge successes.

Major International Appearances

Women's European Championships: 1961* 1962 1965 1966* and 1969
Women's World Olympiad: 1960

* = 1st place

Lady Milne selections: 1960 and 1966

The Hubert Phillips Bowl Winner: 1956