Gordon Rainsford

I was born in Kenya in 1960, where until recently all my immediate family still lived – I was the only one who was not a Kenyan citizen. I first played rubber bridge at home with my family when I was a teenager, and remember supplementing my pocket-money playing with my grand-mother against her friends. I also used to play at the Visa Oshwal community centre in Mombasa, where they played "Stern" - a variant of the Vienna system using the 7-5-3-1 point count! Then I played at school for a few years, and we used to play in the Daily Mail Schools competition. The first game of duplicate I played was at Stamford Bridge Club, where they made schoolboys very welcome and offered us much-reduced table money. We were often standby pairs when there was a Simultaneous Pairs or other important event for which they wanted to avoid a half table.

When I left school I came to London with the intention of becoming an accountant, but quickly changed my mind and took a degree in Sociology at the LSE. Later I worked in catering for a while before becoming a freelance photographer for twenty years. After school I didn't play bridge for fifteen years, knowing that when I started again it would be bound to take over my life - which indeed it did!

I live in West London just near to Portobello Road market with Arnaud, my (non-bridge-playing) partner of twenty years, who is a video director and editor. He directed and edited the series of TD training videos that the EBU produced entitled “How can I help you” and has recently been working for EBED on a video promoting “Fast-track bridge”.

We travel quite a lot: in the past we've been to South Africa, Cambodia, Thailand, Morocco, Istanbul, Rome, and all over the South of India by train, with frequent visits to the South of France where Arnaud is from. More recently we went to Mexico, where we travelled all over the Yucatan, tried surfing in the Pacific and spent a great few days in Miami Beach on the way back. A couple of years ago we spent a month in Kenya, seeing my family and learning to kite-surf in the Indian Ocean, spending a magical week in Ethiopia on the way back – including being in Lalibela, the town of rock-hewn churches, for Ethiopian Christmas on January 7th. I also spent a lot of time in Kenya in the last couple of years, with my mother in the last few months of her life, and we spent last Christmas in Cuba, travelling all over by bus and shared taxis.

I read a lot when I'm on holiday but after work I'm often too tired to read more than a few pages at night before I fall asleep. I frequently have several books on the go at one time, many of them travel writing. I also love going to the movies – often foreign-language art films, but the occasional thriller too. Being able to record on TV also means we often watch complete series, such as those of the “Nordic Noir” genre, often all in one go.

My highlights as a bridge player were winning the Guardian Trophy with Paul Martin, and winning the Premier Life Masters Pairs three times in a row with Dom Goodwin. Dom & I were also in a Young Chelsea team that won the Garden Cities trophy a few years ago. They have been my two main regular partners, although nowadays I play more with Lorne Anderson, with whom I play regularly in the London Super League in Brian McGuire’s team.

During the six years I was manager of the Young Chelsea Bridge Club, most of my bridge was played filling in with irregular partners to make up the numbers in the duplicates. Since then I’ve played rather less, but more of it is with partners of my own choice! I hope I may have the opportunity to play a bit more now that I will be directing less. Like most tournament directors, I started by accident out of necessity, because in small clubs someone needs to make sure the games happen. Later I planned that being a TD would make a nice little retirement job for the future, but I soon discovered how much more hard work was involved than I had realised, and I was advised to make a start on it sooner rather than waiting. From there things progressed faster and further than I anticipated, and I became Chief TD of the EBU as well as an EBL and WBF director, before becoming General Manager and now Chief Executive of the EBU. I’ve always been able to rely on the support and advice of my senior TD colleagues, and I can similarly get any advice I need from the board and from my GM predecessor Barry Capal, who was in the job for more than a decade. I’m looking forward to this next stage of my work at the EBU, which I hope will be as rewarding as the previous five years.

Last updated: July 2017

Easter Congress Guardian Trophy winner : 2004