Terence Reese, bridge player, died on January 28 aged 82. He
was born on August 28, 1913.
A HIGHLY celebrated figure in the world of bridge, Terence
Reese was considered not only one of the finest players in the
history of the game but also generally acknowledged as the most
outstanding writer on the subject.
He won the first of many titles as a member of the victorious
British team in the 1948 European championships, a triumph he
was to repeat on three later occasions. He was Bermuda Bowl
champion (the world's top event) in 1955, World Pairs champion
in 1962 and World Par champion in 1961. He also won the Gold Cup
(Britain's senior challenge) eight times and the Master Pairs
His partnership with Boris Schapiro (now the bridge
correspondent of The Sunday Times) became truly
legendary, in part because of what happened at the 1964 Bermuda
Bowl in Buenos Aires. The pair were accused of cheating by
conveying information about the heart suit through finger
signals. They were convicted by the World Bridge Federation, and
later acquitted after a more exhaustive investigation by a
special inquiry set up by the British Bridge League. The whole
protracted affair was the card playing world's equivalent of
Bodyline. Neither player again took part in international team
competition, to Britain's undoubted loss.
Several experts dismissed the charges on the ground that they
were absurd: Reese was far too good a player to need to cheat.
But the Buenos Aires incident led to recrimination and
litigation on an epic scale. Reese himself wrote about it in Story
of an Accusation.
John Terence Reese played his first tournament at the age of
14. He was a top classical scholar at Bradfield College and then
at New College, Oxford, after which, somewhat unusually, he went
to work for two years in Harrods.
It may have been during a lull on the counters there that
Reese decided to start writing about as well as playing
bridge, for in 1938 he published his first book. He proved to be
an outstanding author and was still turning out excellent books
more than 50 years later. At least three of his titles The
Expert Game, Reese on Play and Play Bridge with Rees
are recognised as classics, as are the several titles in the
Master Bridge Series, co-authored with Roger Trézel in the
1970s and 1980s.
Reese was also a highly regarded bridge columnist, notably in
The Observer and the Evening Standard. In the
latter he pulled off the always difficult trick of illuminating
points of great subtlety with astonishing succinctness.
The criticism was sometimes voiced that a man with such a
fine mind should not have devoted his whole life to a card game.
But, most creditably, this former classical scholar discovered
many of the arithmetical inescapabilities contained within the
finite world of 52 playing cards.
Some of the concepts Reese identified and named the
"vice", the "winkle", the "principle of
restricted choice" are today common parlance among
rubber bridge players. "Terence says . . ." has been
the final arbiter of many a domestic bridge dispute.
Reese was both witty and sharp. He wrote of himself:
"One often hears a player say, almost as a boast, 'I've
never read a book on bridge'. I always answer agreeably, 'I can
see'." Partnering him required strong nerves and a thick
In later life increasing deafness made the bridge table an
uncomfortable arena for Reese, but he remained a keen golfer and
backgammon player, and even wrote a book about the latter. He
was also a lifelong supporter of Queens Park Rangers football
team, whom he always referred to as "our boys".
Terence Reese is survived by his wife Alwyn, whom he married