Tony Priday: Bridge expert who went on to win numerous titles at home and internationally

He was renowned for his courtesy at the table, quick to congratulate an opponent on a good play or defence, even if it was to his detriment

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The Independent Online

Tony Priday’s bridge achievements are too numerous to list; notable among them was winning the European Bridge Championship Teams in 1961.

He won the bronze medal in the World Championship Teams in 1962 and bronze again in the World Teams Olympiad of 1976. He won most of the English and British tournaments, some several times, the most important being the Gold Cup, which he won seven times and was runner-up four times.

Priday learned to play bridge at Seaford Preparatory School when he was 11, and continued playing enthusiastically, reluctantly acting as a caddy at his father’s golf club, where he joined the bridge section. After Winchester School he joined the King’s Royal Rifle Corps, rising to the rank of major.  

After the war ended he discovered that London’s Jewish community was teeming with top-class players, and he partnered many of them. In 1947 he joined the family timber business and would spend his mornings at the docks, looking at and selling timber. In the afternoons he frequently attended English Bridge Union meetings before returning to work at the office. Evenings were mostly reserved for bridge.

In 1966 Priday married Jane Juan, who won the World Women’s Teams Olympiad in 1964 and the World Women’s Pairs in 1966, as well as the European Women’s Teams three times. Jane died in 1994 and Priday married Vivian the following year. He was Bridge Correspondent of the Sunday Telegraph from 1961-97, the year he was made a Life Member of the EBU.

Among his many achievements, Priday gained 30 Camrose Caps (given for home internationals), the first in 1955 and the last in 2002, partnering Nick Sandqvist. He also took on the role of non-playing captain to several British teams, gaining a silver medal in 1987 when Britain finished as runners-up to the US.  

I remember there being a certain amount of friction between two members of the British Ladies team one year, and Tony enjoined me with the task of sliding off down a side street with one of the team while the rest ploughed on to their intended restaurant. My husband Alan, former bridge correspondent to The Independent, had the task of keeping the other member of the partnership engaged in deep conversation at the appropriate moment.

At various times he was chairman of the British Bridge League and vice-president and vice-chairman of the EBU. He was renowned for his courtesy at the table, quick to congratulate an opponent on a good play or defence, even if it was to his detriment. In recent years he had lived in Marbella, whose climate suited his tastes rather more than London. He played regularly at Desmond Deery’s Marbella Internacional Bridge Club (Deery, arguably Ireland’s best player for many years, died earlier this year) almost until his death.

Richard Anthony Priday, bridge player: born 13 August 1922; married 1966 Jane Juan (died 1994), secondly Vivian; died Marbella 9 October 2014.