In recognition of his successes in international and national bridge events, and his support of junior bridge, Bob was awarded the EBU's Diamond Award in 2016
Robert John Rowlands. Born Swansea, South Wales, 1942
Sister - Elizabeth, born 1944
Parents - Joan, born 1/4/21, died 5/5/13; Arthur, born 5/11/07, died 1/6/82.
Notice my mother's birthday is April Fool's Day and my father was born on Bonfire Night - no wonder I have several screws loose. My mother and sister call me Robert, everyone else calls me Bob.
In July 1954 my parents separated - actually my mother removed my sister and I from school, we caught the 10.00am train from Swansea to Paddington, then a train from Victoria to Lewes. When we were met on Lewes station by my mother's father, when my mother had earlier that day told my sister and I that he was dying, even I thought it was a bit strange. I went to school at Lewes County Grammar School and while waiting for my sister to complete her education and Lewes CGS for girls I learned to play bridge.
I taught myself using Bridge for Beginners by Victor Mollo and Nico Gardener. An aunt and uncle heard about my interest and I went to stay with them one weekend in December 1959. My first ever game comprised Georgette Heyer (a well known romantic novelist), here son Richard Rougier (a friend of Jeremy Flint and who later became a well know judge), my uncle, who was a judge, and myself. Aided by luck and good cards I was the only winner, but even then, aged 17, I realised that Richard Rougier was ten times better than the rest of us.
In 1961 my mother, sister and I moved to Queens Club Gardens, London W14 – I still live there. I got a job in local government in July 1961 and played rubber bridge , mostly at a club in Bayswater.
My first venture in to duplicate occurred in 1962. I entered the London Teams of Four with Marcus Wlodarczyk, Jack Rosse and Alan Jefferys (who I had met at rubber bridge). We won the final very easily, although Rosse/Jefferys carried us. In the quarter-final we beat a team including Boris Schapiro by over 100 IMPs (I only found out at half time who I had been playing against!)
In early 1964 (I was 21 years old), playing rubber bridge, this hand occurred:
West led 4, 3 from dummy, I quickly played 10, and declarer won with Q. Next declarer ran 9 to my Q and I returned K to dummy’s A. I won trick 4 with A and returned 5, expecting to look silly if declarer held J. My luck was in as partner cashed J86 to defeat the contract. Looking back it was an obvious defence since partner was marked with at best one point, although I suppose it was a pretty good effort for a twenty-one year old.
The declarer, a good player, was amazed. She said, “Not one player in a hundred would find that defence; no make that one in a thousand; no ten-thousand!” A few days later she took me to the London Duplicate Bridge Club and I was introduced to Dorothy Shanahan, Bob and Jim Sharples, and Jack Marx.
Later in 1964 I took part in two practice matches for the team about to play in the 1965 Bermuda Bowl in Buenos Aires (both matches were played for money, at approximately the equivalent of £25 an IMP today). Marius Wlodarczyk (age 23) and I played two sets against Harrison-Gray and impressed him. He wanted us to play in the next British trial, but Marius was Polish, and not yet a naturalised Briton, so he couldn’t play. Instead Gray asked me to play with him in the 1965 trials – we did well but just failed to make the team, losing a split-tie.
In 1966 I played in the trials with Brian Cowley and we made the team with Harrison-Gray/Tony Priday and Louis Tarlo/Claude Rodrigue. We finished a close fourth, 3 VPs behind the winners (France). In 1969 I played with Tony Philpott and we teamed up with Martin Hoffman and Joe Moskel. On one hand it was Hoffman’s lead to 3NT but because no card had been led after about three seconds Moskel led out of turn. The resulting penalty meant the opponents won the trials and our team was second, whereas Hoffman’s normal lead would have resulted in our team winning the trials and representing Great Britain in the European Championships.
After playing five Camrose matches (winning all of them), the last in February 1977, I retired from playing internationally – I was 34.
I joined the Laws & Ethics Committee 1979-1983 and the Selection Committee 1984-2005.
My domestic successes include:
Gold Cup: Won in 2003 with Peter Lee, Frances Hinden/Jeffrey Allerton, and Sean O’Neill/John Frosztega (substitute for Tony Lunn, who died about five weeks before the finals weekend).
Crockfords Cup: Won in 1975 with Bob Brinig, Chris Dixon/Terence Reese and Maria-Luce Dixon
Won in 1976 with Derek Rimington, Nicola Gardener (Smith)/Sandra Landy and Michael Dilks/Richard Butland.
Spring Foursomes: Won in 1975 with Derek Rimington, Ian Panto/Bill Pencharz and Peter Lester.
Won in 1987 with David Carlisle and Norman Selway/Richard Sampson
The Pachabo: Won in 1967 with Marius Wlodarczyk and Joe Amsbury/Carl Hille
Won in 1968 with Nicola Gardener, Tony Philpott/Jimmy Tait and Jack Lodge
Won in 1987 with Antonia Flood and Peter Lee/Margaret Lee
Hubert Phillips: Won in 1980 with Derek Rimington, Raymond Brock and Nicola Smith
Won in 1982 with Derek Rimington, Raymond Brock, Michael Dilks and Nicola Smith
Lederer Cup: Won in 1970 with GCH Fox, Betty Fox, Claude Lawson, Johnny Langiert, Phyllis Williams, and Nicola Gardener. Nicola and I played throughout, usually with Fox/Langiert next door.
Life Masters Pairs: Won in 1968 with Derek Rimington (Terence Reese/Jeremy Flint were 2nd)
Grandmasters Pairs: Won in 1983 with Brian Cowley
Won in 1998 with Peter Lee
National Pairs: Won in 1976 with Tony Philpott
Won in 2003, 2007, 2012 and 2014 with Peter Lee
The Corwen: Won in 1986 with Antonia Flood
Won in 1999 with Ting To
Won in 2011 with Peter Lee
Brighton Congress Pairs: Won in 1967 with Tony Philpott
Portland Pairs: Win in 1971 with Pat Gardener
In 1974 I was runner-up in the Gold Cup, Crockfords and Hubert Phillips (ouch!)
Somewhat oddly I got more pleasure from two congress wins than any of the above:
Stratford Congress Pairs in 1986 with David Carlisle. Judy Dench presented us with the trophy. The applause from over 200 people was deafening – they weren’t applauding David and I, they (and us) were applauding her!
National Swiss Teams in Leeds in 1988. Richard Coates and I teamed with Janice Phillips/Lynn Bell (Forrester/Brock and Armstrong/Kirby were 2nd – they were 2nd to USA in the World Championships three months earlier). I should have partnered David Carlisle, but he was taken ill the day before and Richard substituted (I had never even met him). A few days later at the Young Chelsea Club, Rixi Markus congratulated me (the first time she had spoken to me).
In 1989 I resigned from local government and have since earned a living from bridge, which led to me playing less and less.
What with incidents such as the recent cheating scandals bringing the game at the highest level in to disrepute, and a back problem from which I suffer, I no longer play much nowadays. I learnt to play in 1960 so I have played bridge for than 55 years.
In addition Bob was awarded with the John Armstrong Award, an award for those who play bridge in the best spirit. He received the award in 2010 - you can read his commendation in the Brighton Bulletin from that year.
In 1966 he won the Sunday Telegraph Salver, for the most Master Points won in the year.
Last updated: December 2015
Major International Appearances
European Championships: 1966
Camrose Trophy Selections: 1970 1971 1974 and 1977
Gold Cup Winner: 2003
Crockfords Winner: 1975 and 1976
Spring Foursomes Winner: 1975 and 1987
National Pairs winner: 1976 2003 2007 2012 and 2014
Hubert Phillips Bowl winner: 1980 and 1982
Brighton Pairs, Harold Poster Cup Winner: 1967
Tollemache Cup winner: 2001
National Teams Congress winner: 1988
Sunday Telegraph Salver winner: 1966