Colin Simpson, who has died after a long illness at the age of 69, was a star both at the bridge table and away from it. I vividly remember first meeting him when I started playing rubber bridge at TGRs about 20 years ago. He was tall, with a commanding presence, and despite playing for very high stakes, unusually even-tempered.
He was also a rarity among bridge professionals for having a proper job — and what a job! For more than 30 years, Colin was a special branch detective in counterterrorism. In 1982, he was assigned to protect Shlomo Argov, the Israeli ambassador in London. One evening in June, as Argov was leaving the Dorchester, a terrorist opened fire. Argov fell, and Colin began chasing the gunman. When he had closed the gap to a few yards, the man turned round and opened fire; luckily he missed and Colin managed to shoot him in the head. He was the first policeman ever to shoot dead a terrorist on English soil. (Argov survived but was paralysed.)
As you can imagine, Colin never lost his nerve or cool during bridge. He often represented England, and after retiring went on to become a Senior World and European Champion. But he always said it was high-stake rubber bridge that taught him, the hard way, never to give up. This was one of his favourite hands:
West led the ♣Q. Colin won with the ace, cashed the ♠A, and ruffed a spade. He then cashed the ♦A — and got the bad news. How could this possibly make? But he found a way. He crossed to the ♥A and ruffed a third spade, then crossed to the ♥K and ruffed a heart. He now held ♦KQ9, ♣43. West held ♦J10876. Colin exited with a club; West had to ruff and play a trump into Colin’s tenace; Colin won and exited with another club: West had to do the same again. Contract made with aplomb — by a man who will be much missed.