Obituary: Dimmie Fleming

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The Independent Online
Dimmie Fleming was at the forefront of the women's bridge game in Britain for many years. She was first selected for the British team in 1939 but her bridge career, like everyone else's, was interrupted by the Second World War. When international competition was resumed in 1948 she was selected nine more times for the British Women's team in the European Championships, taking the Gold Medal in 1951, 1952, 1959 and 1963. She also played in two Women's Team Olympiads (1960 and 1964), her team winning in New York on the second occasion.

On the home front she was in the winning team in the Gold Cup (Britain's premier team event) in 1950 - when these were Open events. In women's events, she had an excellent record, winning the Whitelaw Cup (followed by victory in the Lady Milne Cup - the home internationals) five times.

Perhaps her best performance was to be selected for the British Open Team in the 1953 European Championships playing with Peter Swinnerton- Dyer (later Master of St Catharine's College, Cambridge). Not only was she the first woman to represent Britain in Open competition, but they took the Silver Medal. Other women have represented their countries in the Open, but this still remains a world record as the highest placing that any has achieved.

People often asked how she had acquired the nickname "Dimmie". Her father was the headmaster of a boys' preparatory school and it was convenient for her to be educated there where, mysteriously, she was called Jimmy - which became transmuted to Dimmie.

In 1934 she married Arthur Fleming and, after the war, they set up a business supplying bridge material (tables, cards, stationery, and so on). When Arthur died in 1980, she expanded her bridge partnership with Vida Bingham into a business partnership as well.

Dimmie Fleming was better known to many players as the secretary of the English Bridge Union - a post that she held from 1956 until 1975. In those days the secretaryship was more or less a cottage industry, run from home, whereas now the EBU has its own premises and a large permanent staff.

What helped Fleming in her administrative work was her complete calm and unflappability; perhaps this was of especial assistance in coping with one or two of the prima donnas who, over the years, played for the British Women. Believe me, as ex-non-playing captain, this required almost superhuman powers.

Phyllis Irene Hill (Dimmie Fleming), bridge player and administrator: born 27 October 1911; married 1934 Arthur Fleming (died 1980; one daughter); died 5 September 1996.

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