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Fritzi Gordon

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Fritzi Gordon

Fritzi Gordon (1905 or 1916 – 8 February, 1992)[1][2] was one half of the most famous and tempestuous female partnership in bridge. She was the second woman to attain the rank of World Grand Master, her partner Rixi Markus being the first. She won four world titles, eight European championships and numerous other tournament victories. Her brothers Hans and Paul Leist became, respectively, British and Argentinian international bridge players.

Life

Gordon was born Frederika Leist in Vienna to middle-class Jewish parents. After school, she became the buyer for a Salzburg store, married Paul Gordon and moved to Graz. The Nazi Anschluss in 1938 disrupted her life, as it did to so many others. She fled to London with her husband, though the details of this abrupt transition are not known. Her brother, Dr. Hans Leist, also came to Britain. (Also a fine bridge player, he was a member of five Gold Cup-winning teams between 1946 and 1953.[3]

According to Rixi Markus, published in the magazine English Bridge in April, 1992, at the time of Gordon's leaving Austria she "was not known in the bridge world while I was already a world champion. But she made up for it soon after arriving in Britain... Paul served in the war with the Pioneer Corps so Fritzi was freed of all restrictions imposed on aliens."[4]

Despite their shared cultural heritage and experiences, Gordon and Markus were not personal friends. Success tied them together, but they were often at odds despite their success. Their 'discussions' at the table were quite famous, and earned them the soubriquets Frisky and Bitchy. Mrs Gordon was not a bridge author, and her private life remained private. She is consequently the less well known of the pair. [5]

The actress Tara Summers is her granddaughter.[6]

Bridge career

Gordon's tournament bridge career began after World War II, and her first partnership with Markus began half-way through the European Championships of 1950. In 1955 they agreed to form a regular partnership,[7] which became one of the most successful women's pairs in bridge history.[8] The partnership lasted until 1975.

Gordon won the World Women's teams 1964; World Mixed teams 1962; World Women's pairs 1962 and 1974 (placed second in 1970). She won the European Women's teams in 1950, 1951, 1952, 1959, 1961, 1963, 1966 and 1975. These were Britain's first eight wins in the tournament, the 1975 win coming in her final appearance in the event.[9] She represented Britain on nine other occasions and toured the USA in 1953 as part of the British women's team. Her national successes include the Gold Cup in 1957 and 1961. [10]

Ewart Kempson thought she was

"Our own greatest woman player, [able] to play on equal terms with the greatest men players".[11]

Victor Mollo agreed that she played like a man:

"Few men play as well as Fritzi Gordon. No woman plays better. But it is with the men... that she should be compared for Fritzi's bridge is intensely masculine and he-man stuff at that."
"Where Rixi Markus is fiery, Fritzi Gordon is icy cold. Where Rixi takes her contracts by storm, Fritzi makes hers through merciless efficiency..." [12]

Terence Reese thought she was at least as good as her more famous partner:

"Fritzi played like a top-class man – like her brother Hans Leist, in fact. To tell the truth – and why not? – Rixi was not quite the equal of Fritzi as an all round player." [13]

Rixi Markus herself wrote:

"Fritzi Gordon was a wonderful player. She may even have had a slight advantage over me in that she was more controlled and less impetuous."[4]

References

External links

  • World Bridge Federation —with biography

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