Ramnik Samani arrived in this country in 1978 settling in Leicester. With drive, energy and a natural business sense he soon established a profitable business.
As an experienced bridge player he spotted a niche for a spacious, comfortable, modern centre able to house major events in a style beyond the scope of the existing clubs. With some help from the LCBA, and support from others in a variety of ways, Ramnik was very much the prime mover in the establishment of the Leicester Bridge Centre - opened by Rixi Markus in December 1983. Sadly his dream of a ‘London-style’ club, open almost round the clock, was too far ahead of its time for a provincial city in which most players have always seemed to prefer to play in their own backyards.
Although this must have been a disappointment to him, Ramnik always went out of his way to provide services for and help to his fellow county members. He was the first to provide computer services; served on the LCBA committee as Tournament Sec for a time; effectively running the major LCBA events – Josephs & Gimson – for many more years. He made the Bridge Centre premises freely available for our AGMs and committee meetings, never refusing a request to house LCBA events.
For many years, the Centre provided the main teaching base in the city, and was the only place in the county running more than the occasional Simultaneous Pairs – always open to member and non-member alike. It also hosted EBU TD training courses.
In 2005 for all his work in promoting bridge in Leicestershire in a truly selfless way, he was made Life Member of the LCBA and the EBU endorsed the Committee’s nomination for the most prestigious Dimmie Fleming Award. Ramnik thus became only the second person ever to be awarded both of the two highest honours available to our members.
Ramnik was already no longer enjoying the best of health, and then most sadly his wife Mangala died that September before the Dimmie Fleming presentation.
Mangala is still fondly remembered as a most charming and gracious lady, a generous host who always put the welfare of family, friends and acquaintances alike before her own.
Ramnik and Mangala were winners of the County Mixed Pairs title and Ramnik’s other local successes including winning the Joseph’s and our men’s pairs championship.
Ramnik did return to Bridge in Leicester for a while, but ultimately accepted the counsel of his family and moved away to be closer to them in his last years. He died on 22 August 2008.
From Leicestershire CBA