Standish Booker

Standish Booker, my dear friend and bridge partner for many years, did suddenyl on 30th November; and no wlies in the beautiful old churchyard in the small sussex village of West Firle.

In the world of bridge - a field not renowned for its fragrance - Standish was the epitome of all a bridge player should be. his manners and ethics were an example to all. Everyone appreciated his kindness and graciousness at the table. To our weaker brethren he was especially kind and understanding.

It was always a pleasure to look across the table and see his smiling face with that extra special, freshly scrubbed look; and know that here was a man without a scrap of deviousness.

Yet, all who played against him, realied that he was a tough opponent, ruthless in his will to win, but always fair.

He may well have been the most underrated of all the top class players. he was a great reader of the game, capable of all the advanced plays, and few can match his record of successes. These included the Masters Individuals, the Master Pairs, the National Pairs, the Mixed Pairs, all the national team events more than once, the Gold Cup, Crockfords Cup, the Hubert Phillips Bowl and the Melville Smith Cup. He played internationally on many occasions - never losing - and was the best bridge ambassador possible. For twenty years he showed his ability to hold his own against the best in the world.

Standish came to the forefront of bridge playing the Vienna system. Most top class players derided its artificiality, but the sucess of the Italian systems (which grew out of the Vienna system) has shown that bidding systems must be able to describe shape as well as strength.

To me, of course, he was a wonderful partner - always pleasant, always understanding, always forgiving. Whenever he achieved a good result he would say 'Could I have done better'. It is so nice to be flattered. If I were critical of a play he would smile and say 'I look like a horse. I play like a horse - but I do my best'.

He was modest in the extreme, and if he had a fault it was a reluctance to claim penalties under the laws. on one occasion, in a Gold Cup semi-final, his determination noe to claim a penalty cost us the match - but he never regretted it.

He never spoke of himself or his achievements. Even I, until after his feath, never knew he had received a war time decoration for his work on antimagnetic mine devices, and on Pluto (seamless piping that carried fuel across the Channel on 'D' Day).

His other great love was Rugger. He played for the Wasps, and when his playing days were over, became a vice-president of the club.

So many of us are two different people - depending on whether or not we are at the bridge table. Standish was always the same - an intensely modest and kind person, generous in spirit and without a hint of meanness. I am sure many, with me, will miss the warmth he brought to the game. This may sound sentimental; but to me this is that sort of an occasion. He was, truly, a man for all seasons.

by Sidney Lee, reproduced from Peter Hasenson's 'British Bridge Almanack'

Standish Booker was truly my oldest friend in the bridge world, for he belonged to the same tennis club as my mother and used to come to our home in Surrey long before either of us had been heard of as a bridge player. He was known then as YB (young Booker) and, as ever afterwards, was the most modest and likeable person you could imagine.

by Terence Reese, reproduced from Peter Hasenson's 'British Bridge Almanack'

Camrose Trophy Selections: 1948 1949 1950 and 1957

Gold Cup Winner: 1952 1953 and 1957

Crockfords Winner: 1962

The Hubert Phillips Bowl Winner: 1959

Tollemache Cup winner: 1951 1952 1953 1959 and 1961