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John  ARMSTRONG

Nato nel 1952 a Ashbourne nel Derbyshire vi tornato a vivere quando si pensionato nel 2003.

 Dopo essersi laureato in matematica a Cambridge  ed averla insegnata, si trasferito a Liverpool dove ha lavorato per quasi trent'anni come attuario presso la Royal Sun Alliance. 

 Mai sposato, amante delle passeggiate di montagna e del pianoforte, ha imparato il bridge da autodidatta dopo aver deciso che era un gioco interessante leggendo un articolo su un giornale.

 Ha giocato per quasi venti anni con Graham Kirby con il quale ha rappresentato la Gran Bretagna in due Bermuda Bowls, vincendo l'argento a Ocho Rios nel 1987, in due Olimpiadi e in sette Campionati Europei, vincendo l'argento a Brighton nel 1987 e l'oro a Killarney nel 1991.

 Sempre in campo internazionale ha vinto 4 volte la NEC Cup (giocando due volte con Paul Hackett e due volte con Brian Callaghan) e, a dimostrazione del fatto di essere uno dei pi forti giocatori del suo Paese, ha vinto 6 volte la Gold Cup e 28 volte il Camrose su 31 partecipazioni.

Un emorragia cerebrale lo ha sottratto al bridge prematuramente nel luglio del 2008 a soli 56 anni.

John Armstrong was a mainstay of British bridge for 25 years. Just before his death he had competed for England in  the European Championships in Pau, southwest France, where, although the team achieved little, his partnership with John  Holland finished second in the individual rankings.

Armstrong was popular in the bridge world, but was not a  typical player: he did not drink or smoke and he played the  game for the pure love of it rather than for pecuniary gain. 

He also played the piano, went to church (he was a devout  Christian, and would need to be rested from play on Sunday  mornings), orienteered and climbed hills.

Andrew Robson, the Times bridge correspondent, recalled that  the day after Britain won the European Team Championships  (by a record margin) in Killarney, Co Kerry, in 1991, the  two of them did not sit back and bask in reflected glory at  their achievement but instead climbed up the long, arduous  mountain range of Macgilly cuddy's Reeks.

John Armstrong was born in 1952 and brought up in Ashbourne, Derbyshire. He did not come from a bridge-playing family,  and indeed learnt from library books, having been inspired  by newspaper columns. He went up to Cambridge to read  mathematics and there met such bridge luminaries (all  destined to become international players) as Richard Fleet,  Brian Callaghan and, most significantly, Graham Kirby.
In 1977 Armstrong formed a 20-year partnership with Kirby.  They represented Britain in two Bermuda Bowls (World  Championships), two Olympiads and seven European  Championships. The highlights were a silver medal in the  1987 Bermuda Bowl and a gold medal in the 1991 European  Championships. In domestic bridge they won six Gold Cups and  represented England in 31 Camrose matches (won 28, lost 3). 

After Kirby retired, Armstrong had success in partnerships  with Danny Davies, Paul Hackett and John Holland, finishing  in the top four of the English trials each year from 2005 until 2008, year of his death.

Armstrong will be remembered for his buccaneering bidding  style - where he usually stayed just the right side of the  bold-reckless divide - and his accurate and thoughtful  card-play. But perhaps most of all, bridge players worldwide  will remember him for his trademark loud belly-laugh. This  would dissipate any tension, such as when scoring up bad  results with  disappointing team-mates.

Armstrong's outward joviality belied great focus and  determination. In the 1991 Bermuda Bowl in Japan five of the  six British players were hopelessly jetlagged and  consequently underperformed. But not Armstrong, who had  prepared for the trip by going to bed immediately after  work. (He was an actuary in Liverpool before taking early  retirement in 2003.) 

In bed at 6pm and up at 2am (he had played the piano until  dawn) meant that he had no jetlag and played fine bridge.  Indeed, Japan was always kind to him, as a four-time winner  of the NEC Cup in Yokohama, twice with Paul Hackett and  twice with Brian Callaghan.

Armstrong never married.

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