Bernard Goldenfield, a name that is known throughout the English Bridge world, and one that will live on for a very long time, passed away at 03:10 on Thursday 6th June 2019 aged 86.
Bernard was born in Manchester on November 22nd 1932, to a working class Jewish family. He was the middle child of three boys, Eric, the youngest and Frank, the eldest who passed away 3 years ago.
I first met Bernard early in 1944, as we both attended Manchester Jewish School in Cheetham Hill. At 11, Bernard being a much brighter than I was, went on to secondary school, while I languished on there until I was 14.
We became firm friends when I was 15, when we both joined the local Jewish Youth Club, it was then I witnessed one of the first of Bernard’s many talents - that of his lifelong love … Football - and especially Manchester City, whom he supported avidly throughout his life.
When Bernard played for our team at Outside Left or Right - I cannot truly remember, I languished in goal. While in the second division and as our team were such good players I had very little to do apart from the occasional goal kick, whereas Bernard shone in Mid Field.
When we were promoted, and at our first away match was against a really good opponent, we lost 0-5- that was the end of my football career, but Bernard continued playing on, and doing our team proud.
We continued our friendship into the early 1950’s when his next talent impressed me even more - his ability at the card table. We both joined the Jewish Working Man’s Club, where we met on Sunday afternoons to play Solo for pennies (the old ones) and found it to be a great source of additional income.
In 1951 I discovered a book on Bridge in the library and told Bernard about a new interesting card game called Bridge, and in no time whatsoever, we were playing this new fascinating game, albeit in a very rudimental fashion. Our first experiment with a System was the Hester System which baffled us more than it did our opponents.
In 1949 Bernard started work in a prominent firm of Manchester Accountants where, after many years of diligent work he eventually became a senior partner with another lifelong friend, Denis Robson.
Bernard and Denis use to spend their lunch time playing Bridge with two of the junior partners and they subsequently became a formidable Bridge partnership for over 25 years with many distinctions.
They represented England against Northern Ireland in 1976, and in 1983 they got to the Gold Cup Final, only to lose to a very strong team which included T. Forrester, R. Brock, G. Calderwood, G. Breskal (obituary - 26th September 2018) and G. Cooke.
Early in the 1970’s Bernard met his wife-to-be, Rhona, while playing Bridge at the Manchester Bridge Club, and I do believe it was love at first sight – well at least for Bernard it was.
They were married in 1975 and struck up a very successful Bridge partnership which lasted up to a few weeks before his sad passing.
They played in many events each year - winning most of them.
In 1993 they won a bronze medal playing for Great Britain in the Common Market Mixed Teams.
They won three Hubert Phillips Bowls, the NICKO twice, the Garden Cities three times and played regularly for Manchester in the Tollemache. Bernard also won the Higson Cup seven times.
Once in 1963, I watch him win, what was then called the Infirmary Cup, with a very young team including Denis, Brian Hinton, Don Heffer, Arthur Pounder and Denis’s Brother, Mike Robson - in a field that contained many top players of the day namely; Reuben and Danny Myers, Frank Farrington, John Meizes, Phil Topley, Eric Silverstone, Jack Numes, Archie Preston and Raymond Brock and many others all in their prime.
I honestly believe it was his greatest victory and I was so proud for him and I was determined then to join his team, which I did, when Don Heffer left to get married.
One of my earliest recollection of how great a player Bernard was in 1967 when we played my first Gold Cup match against Joe Bloomberg’s team consisting of; Rita Oldroyd, Alf Finley, Irvine Manning, Eric Newman and Joe Hochwald, Yorkshire’s top team.
We agreed a 32 board match, the scoring was the old type scoring, so when we were down 26 imps (I think that might be as much as 50 imps these days) after 16 boards everyone, including me, thought it was all over.
When we started scoring the penultimate 8 boards and the points kept rolling in, I was astounded at the final result, we had pulled back 24 points, (what I should say, is that Bernard pulled back 24 points).
It was like a blood transfusion and needless to say, that was enough to step up our game that extra notch, and we won that match by 4 imps.
In conclusion, I must add, Bernard was not only a great Bridge player, a good footballer, he was also a wonderful Ten Pin Bowler scoring a regular 220 - 250 in most of the matches we played in.
In the mid 1960’s we even manage to reach the local Regional Final which was televised when Ten Pin Bowling was the rage. He was also a talented Snooker player and although he was never a Hurricane Higgins, he made lots of money by goading his opponent into granting him starts they could ill afford to give, by playing on their ego.
Bernard was a gentle gentleman, a man of principle and of the highest integrity. In the 75 years we were friends, we never had a cross word – well maybe just once when we were lying second going into the final session of the National Pairs, and we were only 7 match points behind Rita Oldroyd and Kenneth Konstam, after opening a 12-14-point No-trump Bernard finish in 3NT - when I tremblingly put down my ……. AKQxxx, AQJxx, x, x - he was not at all pleased I could tell by what he said to me!
Like so many others, I shall miss him terribly.
Biography from Bernard in his own words:
I was born in 1932 in Manchester. Started playing bridge in 1949 the same year in which I became articled in a firm of chartered accountants.
In 1950 Denis Robson (current chairman of EBU) joined the same firm also as an articled clerk. We started playing bridge in the lunch hour(extended) and soon discovered duplicate.We became a regular bridge partnership for some 25 years and went on to represent Manchester, the old NWCBA and eventually England in a Camrose match in 1976.
Married Rhona in 1975 and we started playing bridge regularly together. Main wins include the Hubert Phillips (3 times). NICKO (twice), the Tollemache and a bronze medal in Common Market mixed teams (With Rhona, Michelle Brunner and John Holland )
Since retiring spend a lot of time doing crosswords and walking.
Contract 6 spades by S on club lead Won in dummy and cashed other 2 top clubs throwing low diamonds. Ruffed a heart in hand and led Q diamonds. This was covered by A and ruffed in dummy. Another heart was ruffed and after cashing K diamonds I ruffed a diamond with 10 spades East discarded a club. This was the 5 card ending with W being known to hold the J spades.
|J 7 6 5|
|J 9 2||
|W||E||Q 9 8|
|A Q 8 7|
I ruffed a heart with A spades, then ruffed a diamond with K spades. I ruffed a heart with 8 spades West overruffed but was then end played to lead away from J spades
Major International Appearances
Senior World Olympiad: 2000
Major Domestic Appearances
Brighton Four Stars Teams Winner: 1968
National Teams Congress winner: 1984
The Hubert Phillips Bowl Winner: 1984 1999 and 2003
Tollemache Cup winner: 1975