Boris Schapiro è nato a Riga in Lettonia nel 1909 e si è spento a Long Crendon, una cittadina a metà strada tra Oxford e Aylesbury, alla fine del 2002, dopo essere stato uno dei più forti giocatori britannici di ogni tempo ed uno straordinario esempio di longevità bridgistica.
Seguendo la sua che era una famiglia di mercanti si spostò prima a San Pietroburgo e poi in Europa dove frequentò varie Università fin quando in Inghilterra, alla fine della seconda guerra mondiale, si laureò in ingegneria meccanica.
Grazie alla conoscenza delle molte lingue apprese durante il suo peregrinare per l'Europa, durante la guerra servì nell'Army Intelligence Corps.
Alla fine della guerra si dedicò alle attività commerciali della sua famiglia, fin quando, arrivato ai quaranta, non decise di ritirarsi per dedicarsi appieno all'amore della sua vita: il Bridge. L'altro amore, l'ippica lo aveva cullato negli anni della gioventù quando vinceva molte più gare ad ostacoli che tornei di bridge.
Si sposò due volte, prima con Genia Slutzkin nel 1935 e, poi nel 1969, due anni dopo il divorzio, con Helen Johnson (nella foto a dx), anche lei esperta bridgista.
Boris aveva imparato a giocare quando aveva solo una decina di anni e per il primo successo di un certo rilievo dovette aspettare il 1932 quando, in coppia con un altro grande del tempo: Oswald Jacoby, vince il l'Olimpiade a Coppie. Nel 1938 conquistò il Campionato del Mondo a Squadre organizzato in forma ufficiosa a causa dello scioglimento della Lega Internazionale dovuto all'inizio del conflitto bellico.
Vincitore di 4 Campionati Europei (1948, 49, 54, 63), di una Bermuda Bowl (1955), di 11 Gold Cup e del Campionato del Mondo a Squadre Miste (1962), è arrivato secondo nel primo Campionato Mondiale a Coppie Open (1962) ed ha conquistato il titolo di World Grand Master della WBF ed ha a lungo veleggiato nella parte alta delle sue classifiche.
A testimonianza della sua incredibile longevità bridgistica, nel 1998 ha vinto sia il Campionato del Mondo a Coppie Seniores che la sua 11ª Gold Cup alla veneranda età di 89 anni. Tra la sua prima affermazione (1938) e l'ultima, erano passati 61 anni!
Negli anni che vanno dal 1948 al 1965 formò una mitica coppia con Terence Reese con il quale collezionò una portentosa serie di successi, fin quando, ai Campionati Mondiali di Buenos Aires furono accusati di segnalarsi con la posizione delle dita il numero delle carte di cuori. Più tardi la British Bridge League li riabilitò ma, questa accusa determinò la fine del sodalizio con Reese e la sua assenza dalle gare per lungo tempo.
Boris che è stato membro onorario della English Bridge Union e corrispondente del Sunday Times dal 1968 fino alla sua morte, ha anche scritto due bei libri di bridge ed è uno dei pochi eletti nella "Hall of Fame" britannica.
Boris Schapiro (1909 - 2002) was a British international bridge player. He was a Grandmaster of the World Bridge Federation, and the only player to have won both the Bermuda Bowl (the world championship for teams) and the World Senior Pairs championship. He won the European teams championship on four occasions as part of the British team.
Schapiro was born in Riga, Latvia (part of Imperial Russia at that time) into a prosperous family of Jewish traders which left at the time of the Russian Revolution when he was eight years old, and soon settled in England. He was educated at Clifton College in England and at various universities, including the Sorbonne in Paris.
After graduating, Boris joined the family horse trading and meat business. He worked there until, in his forties, he decided to retire and capitalize on his love of gambling by becoming the banker of a baccarat syndicate at Crockford's, the gaming club in London. During World War II Schapiro, who was fluent in Russian, German and French, put these linguistic skills to use in the Army Intelligence Corps.
Schapiro had an early marriage to a Russian woman. He later married a second time, to Helen, in 1970.
At ten, Schapiro started playing bridge for money at school. His first major tournament was in 1929, when he went to the USA to partner Oswald Jacoby in the World Auction Bridge Pairs Championship. The two players were destined to have great and lengthy careers in the coming world of contract bridge. Schapiro's first recorded victory at contract bridge was in the World Pairs Championship of 1932, also with Jacoby. This was before the foundation of the present World Bridge Federation.
Schapiro's entry into serious competitive bridge in Britain was delayed until the end of World War II. His partnership with Terence Reese, which started in 1944, was the basis of his most outstanding period as a player. He was also successful with other partners, the last of which was Irving 'Haggis' Gordon. His bidding in competitive situations was quite outstanding, and his comments featured in bidding competitions in bridge magazines round the world. Bidding judgment and card-play in defense were the strengths of his game. "The characters of Reese and Schapiro were very different. At the bridge table Reese was the cold calculating machine, driven by logic, but witty and good-natured away from it, though with an acerbic phrase when needed. Schapiro was the player of flair; excitable, always on the move, irascible at the table and often grumpy away from it. He did not mellow with old age. At the 1999 European Senior Teams, opponents who called the referee in a vain attempt to protect Schapiro's partner from verbal abuse were told there were special dispensations in standards of behavior for any competitor over the age of 90." Obituary in The Daily Telegraph 02.12.2002.
Schapiro won many tournaments; his first major win being Britain's Gold Cup in 1945-6, partnered by Iain Macleod. He won the Gold Cup eleven times in all, a record. His last victory was in 1997-8 at the age of 88, a remarkable 52 years after his first win and 33 years after his penultimate success.
In 1955 Britain, with Reese and Schapiro, Konstam and Dodds, Meredith and Pavlides, won the Bermuda Bowl, beating the USA in the world championship for teams. It is the only occasion a British team has won this event.
Schapiro also won the World Mixed Teams in 1962. At the age of 89, he won the World Senior Pairs title (partnered by Irving Gordon) at the World Bridge Championships in 1998. He was second in the World Olympiad of 1960, and the World Open Pairs 1962. He also represented Britain in the World Olympiad 1964, and the Bermuda Bowl of the same year (which was played at the start of 1965). He played in ten European Championships, winning in 1948, 1949, 1954 and 1963.
Although the British team had won the Bermuda Bowl in 1955, Schapiro's 1965 experience was altogether different.
The Buenos Aires affair and its consequences disrupted Schapiro's life for a number of years. It removed at a stroke the central activity of his life. It took time for Boris to be rehabilitated into the world bridge scene, but he was always held in high esteem in Europe. Unlike Reese, he eventually re-entered international bridge, and did so with considerable success. His 90th birthday party in London was attended by Jaime Ortiz-Patino, the President Emeritus of the WBF and owner of Valderrama Golf Club, who had been a witness for Reese and Schapiro at the BBL enquiry; Omar Sharif, the Egyptian film star and bridge player; Prince Khalid Abudullah of Saudi Arabia (a family friend), and many personalities from the bridge and casino worlds.
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