Zia was born in Karachi, but was educated in England from the age of six to twenty-one. He qualified as a Chartered Accountant of the Institute of England and Wales and spent three years running the family newspaper chain in Pakistan. He also spent eighteen months in Abu Dhabi developing business interests. He has played bridge professionally for the majority of his life, basing himself primarily in the UK and USA. Such is his status in world bridge he is one of the few players referred to almost exclusively by his first name.
Zia achieved international bridge fame, almost overnight, during one fortnight in 1981 when he led Pakistan to a second-place finish in the Bermuda Bowl tournament. That was the first participation by anyone from the World Bridge Federation geographic zone "Asia and the Middle East", and at the time it tied Taiwan for the best finish by anyone from outside Europe and the United States. It is now the second best finish from outside Europe and the United States, after Brazil won the tournament in 1989.
Five years later, Zia led a short-handed team from Pakistan to second place in the 1986 Rosenblum Cup tournament, which is the open world championship in even-number non-Olympic years. That remains tied for best finish by anyone from outside Europe and the United States. The event is transnational, but none of the nine winning teams has included a single player from outside Europe and the United States.
Zia has since represented the United States in world competition, and thus he won his first major world championship, the 2009 Bermuda Bowl. Although he won the quadrennial Mixed Teams in 2004 with Sabine Auken and a French pair. He still considers himself Pakistani, however: "I am proud and happy to be representing America, but my Pakistani identity is in no way submerged. I feel like a Pakistani who is living in America and playing for America." To prove his point, Zia and his American teammates once played their opening match in Pakistani dress.
His major successes in English bridge include victories in the Gold Cup (three times), Spring Foursomes (three times), Crockfords Cup, and in key events at the Summer Meeting, and London Year End and Easter Congresses. He was also a member of the EBU team, captained by Simon Gillis, in the 2015 Champions Cup which was held in Milton Keynes.
He has written a number of books, and newspaper articles for the Guardian - often with David Burn.
He was inducted in to the ACBL Hall of Fame in 2007.
Zia is married to Lady Emma, his wife since February 2001. She is the daughter of Neil Primrose, 7th Earl of Rosebery. They have two sons: Zain and Rafi.
Last updated October 2018
European Champions’ Cup: 2015
Gold Cup Winner: 2010 2016 and 2018
Crockfords Cup winner: 2017
Spring Foursomes Winner: 1976 1982 and 2014
Summer Meeting Four Stars Teams Winner: 2013 and 2018
Easter Congress Guardian Trophy winner: 1983
Player of the Year Championship: 2016/17 - 7th; 2018/19 - 2nd=
Some of this biography comes from Wikipedia