Sir Edward Rayne who, as Eddie Rayne, was a member of the British team which won the European Championships in 1948, died in a fire at his home, just five days after competing in the Portland Invitation with many of the world's leadlng brldge players.
Edward Rayne was born in America (his mother's native land) on August 19, 1922, but brought up in England. He was educated at Harrow, which he had to leave at age 16, when he developed cataracts in both eyes. A serles of operations saved his vision, but left him with thick pebble spectacles that became his trademark. At one stage he was unable to read, but, being just able to make out the markings on playing cards, he took up bridge. His sight recovered, Rayne played bridge for England at the age of 21 - a rare feat. By the age of 26 he was European Champion in the legendary team of Terence Reese, Boris Schapiro, Kenneth Konstam, Leslie Dodds, & "Skid" Simon with Maurice Harrison-Gray as non-playing captain. Reese says: "Eddie was a rarity amongst bridge-players, cheerful at every mornent of the game."
In l951 Eddie's father died and, at the aqe of 28, he became Chairman of the family shoe company, H&M Rayne, which had, and retained, the distinction of being shoe-maker to the Queen. Eddie transformed the company into an international concern. In 1975 he sold a controlling interest to the major British retailer, Debenhams, of which he became President from 1976-86. He was also President of the British Fashion Council from l985 to 1990, and received his knighthood from the Queen in 1988. He retired from business in 1987.
Rayne gave up tournament bridge soon after becoming chairman of H&M Rayne, but he continued to play rubber bridge at the Portland Club, the Club which retains an interest in the Laws of Bridge. Just five days before his death he competed in the Portland Invitation. His partner in the teams was Tommy Gullberg of Sweden. Rixi Markus, watching the pair, reported the next day that Rayne played exceptionally well. Without knowing of Rayne's death, Gullberg submitted this deal, published in Svenska Dagbladet, to IBPA. In it Rayne finds a deceptive defence that fooled Andrew Robson:
Partners in the Pro-Am teams rotated, and on this deal Rayne was the lone "amateur" at the table. Gullberg led the 5 of hearts to Robson's Ace, and a trump was led to the queen and ace. Left to his own devices Robson might well have used a dlamond entry to take a trump finesse, but Rayne used an old but effective trick - he at once played ace and another diamond himself, as if seeking a ruff. Robson, no doubt taking a 69 year old rubber bridge player as incapable of such deviousness, played a trump to the KING and had to ccncede the contract.
Rayne was killed five days later in a fire at his home in Bexhill. His wife, Lady Phillis, aged 73, who he married in 1952, escaped, but required hospital treatment. They had two sons.
Major International Appearances
European Championships: 1948* and 1949*
* = 1st place
Camrose Trophy Selections: 1948
Gold Cup Winner: 1949
Crockfords Winner: 1951 and 1955