Rob Sassoon

Rob learnt bridge at Reading School at the age of 16, after his Maths teacher and mother conspired for many years, initially unsuccessfully, to get him to learn the game as they both felt he’d be good at it – his mother having been told so by Boris Schapiro, whom she befriended on a holiday to an overseas hotel which also happened to be hosting a bridge congress, after mediating a discussion between Boris and a waiter over the hotel restaurant’s mistranslation between the words “sausage” and “haddock”.

Despite stubbornly refusing to learn the game for several years, Rob made the fatal error of failing to hand in some A Level Maths homework at which point his teacher offered him two choices – detention or bridge club. Rob chose the latter and the rest, as they say, is history. Described by the same Maths teacher as her “second biggest bridge success story”, Rob does not begrudge her other former pupil David Gold for taking first place.

After playing at school and the nearby Reading Bridge Club for a year, Rob decided that trying his hand at tournament directing might be a way of making the game even more interesting than he already found it. He passed the Club TD course at the age of 17 (the youngest to do so at the time, but quickly beaten), the County TD course at the age of 18 and joined the EBU Panel as a Trainee in 2009 at the tender age of 19. His first event as a Trainee was the Seniors Congress, which meant that he was less than a third of the eligible age to play in the event at the time. He also has the distinction of being the youngest person to play in the Seniors Congress at the age of 20, when he was asked by another TD to sit in for a lady who was late back from a restart, on the grounds that “you won’t be able to play in this event again for another 40 years!”

Rob studied Business Management at the University of Birmingham and whilst many of his contemporaries worked in a bar or a shop to pay their way through university, Rob would instead travel across the country to direct at EBU events. On several occasions he would have to leave a Friday afternoon lecture early, suitcase in hand, to head off to direct a tournament and on apologising to a lecturer for doing so, was once told “your explanation is so ridiculous that I can’t help but believe it”.

Since then, Rob has progressed through the directing ranks and, still clinging by a thread to his 20s, is now a Senior Congress director. He is the Chief Tournament Director for Middlesex and also regularly directs events for Berks & Bucks, Essex, Hertfordshire and Suffolk.

In his spare time, Rob works in the Medical School at King’s College London, but still struggles to quite explain what he actually does there.