Maurice Blank

EBUQ February 1984

It is with great sadness that we have to announce the death, at the age of 54, of Maurice Blank on 5th January, 1984. He had been Chairman of the EBU from October, 1981, until the date of his death. Previously he had been Vice-Chairman for six years.

Maurice Blank started playing bridge in the late 1940’s. His greatest achievement was to win Crockfords Cup in 1965. His favourite event - the event he most wanted to win - was the Life Masters Pairs. He never quite achieved victory in this event; his best performance being third in 1983. During his whole bridge playing career he had only one regular partner - Monty Lipworth.

Maurice Blank was a leading member of the Jewish and commercial communities of his home City, Manchester. He was a practising Solicitor, but always regarded himself more as a man of commerce than a lawyer. His interests extended well beyond bridge. He had a passion for and deep knowledge of opera. He had an equal knowledge and appreciation of good food and wine. Indeed he was a fully rounded man with an enormous zest for life.

For five of the six years he was Vice-Chairman, Maurice Blank was also Chairman of the Tournament Committee. During this time he presided over the substantial increase in the Union's tournament calendar. But his greatest contribution to the Union was during his period of Chairmanship. He brought to this post charm, tact and quiet authority. Under his influence the Union’s officials and Committee members worked as a happy, cohesive team.

It is an indication of his courage that less than four weeks before his death - and knowing the seriousness of his illness - he played throughout in a Crockfords Cup match against strong local opposition. That he won that match by 2 IMP gave him the greatest possible pleasure.

Our sincere condolences go to his widow, Hilary, and their three children - a kind and loving family.

Maurice Blank was a diplomat, a gentleman and very good company. His death is a great loss to the Union. He will be sadly missed by his many friends in and out of the Union.

Gerard Faulkner wrote:

I first met Maurice when we were delegates to the Council, he for the North West and I for Essex, when I remember we had a mild disagreement over the progress (or lack of it) that had been made in connection with finding a permanent home for the Union.

We next crossed swords when we both stood for the Vice-Chairmanship in 1974 which I was fortunate enough to achieve. Typically, Maurice bounced back later that year to become a Director of the English Bridge Union Ltd for the first time and successfully stood for Vice-Chairman in another contested election when I succeeded Reg Corwen as Chairman in 1975.

Throughout the next six years Maurice devoted an immense amount of his time and his undoubted skills as a lawyer, negotiator and perhaps most of all conciliator in the service of the Union. There were times when without his support I would have found it difficult if not impossible to continue. During this time Maurice was for five years Chairman of the North West Association and an active ex-officio member of all the Union’s sub-committees including the Laws and Ethics which he was never bashful about admitting to be his least favourite!

He chaired the Tournament Committee for five years and played a full part in the deliberations of the Board and the Council. Indeed, I would have resigned a year earlier had not Maurice been committed to be Chairman of his Masonic Lodge for 1980/81. This is not to suggest that there is anything automatic about a Vice-Chairman succeeding a Chairman, within the Union, but in Maurice’s case it seemed to me so obviously a foregone conclusion and indeed it came to pass.

I believe the Union was extremely fortunate in harnessing his energy, interest and ability over all these years. We shall all miss him for a variety of reasons but most of us I believe will miss him because he was a kindly man who was our friend.

Crockfords winner: 1965

Tollemache Cup winner: 1975