By Nico Gardener
BM November 1987
First, the dull facts that do not begin to convey the personality and charisma of one of Britain’s better known bridge writers. Born in Russia in 1909, he and his family escaped in adventurous style from the Revolution in 1917 - among other things, his mother bought a train to expedite their departure.
After settling in England he was educated at Brighton College and the London School of Economics. With fluent French and Russian (as well as English) Victor worked as a proof reader before joining the BBC as sub-editor and later editor in its European Services. He retired in 1969, but immediately became bridge correspondent of the Evening Standard and, since 1982, he had held a similar position with The Mail on Sunday.
Bridge for Beginners which I wrote with him in 1956 has sold about half a million copies and our other joint venture Card Play Technique still sells well.
However, in his own right, he was one of the most prolific writers in the history of bridge. And he was much more than that for with his controversial personality he displayed a great array of other talents - he was a wine connoisseur, a gourmet and a conversationalist. To dine with him at his home, with food cooked to perfection by his wife Jeanne (universally known as ‘Squirrel’) was an unforgettable experience.
A great player, he was not however interested in the competitive side of the game, devoting his time to the more lucrative pursuit of rubber bridge rather than collecting master points.
Victor and I, in our lifelong relationship, had a great deal in common. Our origins were in Russia, our professions, our collaboration in writing two books, playing (and winning!) for the RAC in the Devonshire Cup, and cruising on luxury liners. Last but not least I married his former wife, Pat. How much more in common can two people have?
I shall never forget a lady asking me to autograph her copy of Card Play Technique.
“You are Mr Mollo?” she enquired anxiously.
“No,” I replied. “I am the other one.”
“Oh well,” she said “that will do. Sign!”
Victor will be remembered all over the bridge world for his pungent wit and as creator of his famous characters - who will ever forget the Hog, the Rabbit and the others?
It would certainly have appealed to Victor’s sense of humour if he knew that he would die while preparing his very favourite fruit salad.
Crockfords winner: 1948