The home of Scottish Bridge

We are saddened to hear that one of our greatest bridge players - Victor Silverstone - passed away this morning.  Our thoughts are with Linda and their family.  His partner and friend Barnet Shenkin has written the obituary below which allows you to see what a legend he was in Scottish Bridge.

Victor Silverstone 1941 - 2021

Victor was born in Glasgow and lived there until 1975.  An Accountant, he moved with his family to North London for business, and worked right up till his last day.  It was as a bridge player that he was world renowned.  Andrew Robson one of the leading players and journalists in bridge for many years wrote of Victor “The legendary Victor won the Gold Cup in the sixties. He has lifted countless trophies in the decades that followed. A more modest self-deprecating person you’ll be hard pressed to find.”  

After starting the Bridge club at Glasgow University Victor went on to represent Scotland from 1965 to 1975 partnering Willie Coyle. In this period they played almost 28 consecutive matches for Scotland winning 5 Camrose series and tying 2. This broke the total English monopoly of the event and gave encouragement to the Scottish game. Together Silverstone -Coyle were Scotland’s most famous ever partnership and were honoured by being selected for 6 Sunday Times Invitationals, at the time the World’s leading pairs tournament.  He also played for England in two years before returning to play for his home country.  He played a further 11 matches for Scotland with the Barnet Shenkin, winning the Trophy in 1988-89. 

His bridge victories are too numerous to mention but the other highlights are -In partnership with Chris Dixon he won his third Gold Cup and playing for the Great Britain Open Team a gold medal in the Common Market Championships in 1981. He had won bronze in 1973. He won a silver medal in the Maccabiah Games in Israel representing Great Britain, and representing Scotland won a bronze medal in Dublin for the Scottish seniors in 2012 playing with Derek Diamond, before playing in the World Championships in Bali and also for Scotland a bronze medal at the Commonwealth Bridge Championships in Australia in 2018.  Along with Coyle they were selected twice for the European Championships Great Britain Open team in 1969 and 1971, which was quite an achievement for Scottish players. Never had a Scot been selected before.  He also won 7 Lederer Memorials which was an invitational for top teams and played in it a record 31 occasions.  In spite of having both substandard health and connectivity , he competed well for Scotland this year in the home senior Internationals held online. He was a professor of bridge and the top players would ask him for advice on bridge hands.

While his bridge success was enormous it will not be for that that his friends will most remember Victor.  He was married for 56 years to Linda and they were tied as one. She was always by his side at every tournament.  Their love for each other was clear to all.  He joked his greatest bridge achievement was a 79 percent game at the Acol club with Linda.   He also was a loving, caring, and helpful father to Jeremy, Sarah, Lara and Rochel.  He had a quick sense of humour for all that went wrong in life that was a settling influence.   He had 6 grandchildren and enjoyed his time with them. He always had a good word for everybody.  I have known him since 1965 and never heard him say any harsh words even to an errant bridge partner – unique! 

Last year his old friend Michael Rosenberg, one of the games most respected players, posted on the site Bridgewinners.  The title was Nobituary- Victor Silverstone.  An original idea, it was a live recognition of an unusual character in the bridge world -  a great player who was also a great person. There were 100 favourable comments from around the world.  He will be remembered not just with love but with pride by those who had the chance to know him.

Barnet Shenkin

I would like to add a few comments to Barnet Shenkin’s eloquent obituary.   There will not be many in Scottish bridge now who remember how formidable a partnership Victor Silverstone and Willie Coyle were.  

In recent years I often played in the same senior team as Victor.   However, my fondest memory dates back to early 1973.   Victor Silverstone and Willie Coyle, Victor Goldberg and John Matheson, Sam Leckie and Barnet Shenkin won the Gold Cup in Central London.   On a Friday, Saturday and Sunday we played ¼ final, ½ final and final each of 64 boards.  Victor and Willie were the spearhead and played throughout the final.  My most vivid memory was of the calming influence Victor had on the team, and his wife Linda even more so.   He had wonderful bidding judgement and a great knowledge of bidding theory.   He was very flexible and could play any system.

John Matheson