This is a personal insight into the bridge life of Bill Innes, I make no apology for that.
I first met him in 1975, I was a brash 17 year old school boy playing with my mother in the Press and Journal Tournament. It was probably the largest event in Scotland, well over 200 pairs with only two qualifying from each section to the final night. We played the same way as Bill and Charles Outred the defending champions. After the bridge finished we waited for the results, no computer scoring then, so we had plenty of time. Bill introduced himself to me and we discussed the hands, we found out that we had both bid one hand exactly the same way to a joint top. We had bid 5 hearts over the opponents 4 spades, I was delighted that he said we both could have done better, a bid of 5 diamonds on the way to 5 hearts was the key. It would give partner the lead if they bid 5 spades. It was astounding, this was bridge on a whole new level for me, I never forgot that moment, the scores came out, we were second and he was third, it made the Press and Journal headline “Insch Mum and son beat defending champs”. He was the first to congratulate me.
Over the years I learnt that Bill was the finest bridge system expert. He was light years ahead of anyone else. He was certainly the best bridge player ever to come from the north east of Scotland. He was also one of the finest players in Scotland. He was a great partner and team mate above all else he was a winner. He won every tournament in Scotland, many several times. He represented Scotland at Camrose and in the senior Europeans. He was also the non- playing captain of the Scottish team.
In 1991 he played my partner and I into the Scotland team for our first caps.
He was highly principled even when it cost him personally. But was full of integrity for the beauty of the game. He was not always on side even with his closest friends, but when he was, he was loyal to a fault. The highest compliment I can pay him is that if I had to opt for a player to play a hand of bridge for my life, he would be the only choice I could ever make.
Farewell Bill the world will be a duller place now. You taught me and so many others so much and I will miss you. You simply cannot be replaced.