|Maurice HARRISON GRAY|
Nato il 13 novembre del 1899 a Londra da madre americana; Maurice Charles Harrison Gray è stato uno dei più forti giocatori inglesi della prima metà dello scorso secolo ed uno dei massimi propugnatori dell'ACOL, contribuendo non poco al suo sviluppo.
Nella sua gioventù visse spesso a Parigi, educato alla Haileybury School, partecipò alla I Guerra Mondiale ed in gioventù praticò un gran numero di sport, dalla boxe, al rugby, al tennis e al motociclismo.
Incredibilmente spericolato, dopo essersi fratturato il naso alla boxe ed una gamba al rugby, si dedicò al bridge dopo aver riportato una serie di fratture ed una lunga degenza per un incidente di moto a 160 Km l'ora.
In soli tre anni era già in Nazionale!
Il Conteggio delle Perdenti, lo vide grande protagonista in un tempo nel quale questa tecnica era altamente innovativa.
Eminente entomologo, sposato senza figli con la russa Stella Sonia Soltz, anche lei ottima giocatrice che scomparve nel 1982, parlava correntemente francese e spagnolo ed è stato autore di pregevoli articoli e redattore di famose rubriche specialistiche su alcune delle più famose riviste inglesi come London Evening Standards e Country Life.
Tre volte consecutive Campione d'Europa a Squadre negli anni dal 1948 al 1950 e poi una quarta volta nel 1963, è stato uno degli alfieri della squadra britannica che sul piano nazionale nell'arco di 31 anni ha vinto, tra l'altro, ben 7 volte la prestigiosa Gold Cup.
Maurice ha anche scritto in collaborazione con Norman Squire un paio di libri di grande successo ed è stato eletto nella ristretta cerchia della "Hall of Fame" britannica.
Si spense il 24 novembre 1968 a causa di un'insufficienza cardiaca ad Hampstead dove viveva con la moglie e con il fratello di lei.
Maurice Harrison-Gray (1900 – 24 November 1968), known always as 'Gray', was an English professional contract bridge player. For about thirty years from the mid-thirties to the mid sixties he was one of the top players, and won the European Championship four times.
Gray was the child of an English father and an American mother. Much of his childhood was spent in Paris, and he became bilingual. He was educated at Haileybury School and served in the British Army at the end of World War I. In his younger days he boxed, played rugby and tennis, rode motorcycles, but leg injuries stopped his sporting activities. During World War II he was a Flight Lieutenant in the RAF. Later, he became an ardent lepidopterist, breeding tropical moths at his Hampstead home.
Gray turned to bridge at 30 after a series of accidents at sports, including a motor-bike accident at 100mph. Within three years he was bidding for Britain in radio matches against the US and Australia.
Gray participated in the development of the Acol System of bidding, He was captain of the winning Acol team in the years before World War II, the other team members being his partner, S.J. (Skid) Simon, Jack Marx, Iain Macleod and Colin Harding: a stellar group indeed. Gray was also instrumental in helping, in 1938, to unite the two warring bridge organizations (The British Bridge League, f.1931, and the National Bridge Association, f.1933) into one.
After the war the line-up of the British teams generally included Boris Schapiro, Terence Reese, Kenneth Konstam, Leslie Dodds, and Edward Rayne, initially with Gray as captain. These teams won the European title three times running. In London, 1949, the England team of Gray, Konstam, Reese and Schapiro defeated the American team of Crawford, Rapee, Stayman and Leventritt by 2,950 points over 96 boards for the Crowninshield trophy. A British team captained by Gray, but without Reese and Schapiro, were defeated by the USA in the first Bermuda Bowl.
To summarise, Gray was European champion in 1948, 1949, 1950 and 1963. He led Britain in the Bermuda Bowl in 1950, and played in the World Pairs 1962, World Team Olympiad 1964 and the European Championships in 1958. He won the Gold Cup seven times, and many other national events. The first time, in 1937, was with the original Acol team; the last time in 1968 was with Tony Priday, Nico Gardener, Albert Rose and the Sharples brothers: also a star-studded team.
Like many other players of his day, Gray played rubber bridge on an almost daily basis. He used his bridge columns to champion the losing trick method of evaluating hands for suit contracts. Gray was bridge editor of the Evening Standard and Country Life for many years.
Gray's career as an international was interrupted for about seven years after a strange incident in 1951. He withdrew from the trials at an early stage, leaving his partner high and dry, and announced his retirement from international competition, without giving reasons. Thus he did not play in the 1951 European championship, but he gave a lengthy account of it in a press report, which attacked the performance of the British team (who came third to Italy and Austria). An editorial in the English Bridge Union's official medium gave an unforgettable response:"One article in particular makes us very hot under the collar and that is the one in the European Bridge Review under the name of Harrison Gray... We have searched closely for one single word of praise, but in vain... Surely he could have brought out the fact that they finished joint second on VPs [Victory Points], and scored more IMPs [International Match Points] and lost fewer than any other country, and that had the result been decided on IMPs they would have been easy winners. "Perhaps everything is accounted for by the statements of Mr Gray himself: 'Although unable to make more than token appearances in the playing room [he admitted he saw only one hand out of 3,460 played through to the end]... my impressions are gleaned from a number of reliable judges.' "
This was a strange performance from Gray, especially given his motto for playing at the table, which was "Keep icy calm". The response from the British Bridge League, responsible for team selection at European and World events, was: "The British Bridge League have decided that Mr Harrison Gray will not be considered for selection in the team to represent Great Britain in the European Championship in 1952." He did not play again for Britain until Oslo 1958.
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