By Christine Duckworth
Phyllis Williams, who died on December 16th 2002 at the age of 95, was one of the great women players in the post-war golden age of British bridge. She won the European Women’s Teams three years running in 1950, 51 and 52, the pinnacle of achievement in those days when there were no World Championships to go on to.
Phyllis only took up the game in 1936 when she was living in Wales. Two years later she won the Welsh Individual Championship and she played for Wales in the Camrose in 1938 and 1939. During the war, when bridge took a back seat, she was attached to American Head Quarters in Cheltenham, driving trucks and staff cars. This was perhaps not surprising as, in her younger days she had taken up motor racing, competing in the “London-Lands End,” the Alpine Trials and at Brooklands.
Phyllis continued to play top level bridge throughout the 1950s and 60s. Now representing England, she was a member of the victorious Lady Milne teams in 1952, 1963, 1964 and 1966 and she won the Whitelaw Cup, the British Women’s Teams, in 1952, 56, 64, 66 and 67 and the Hubert Phillips Bowl in 1954. She combined steadiness in bidding and accuracy in card play with an icy cool temperament - she never allowed herself to be rattled at the table. But Phyllis was also kind and sensitive. Dorothy Shanahan, who played her first European Championship in partnership with Phyllis in 1955, recalled appreciatively how kind and helpful she was with her nervousness at her debut.
Major International Appearances
Women's European Championships: 1949 1950* 1951* 1952* 1953 1955 1956 1965 and 1967
* = 1st place
Lady Milne selections: 1952 1963 1964 and 1966
The Hubert Phillips Bowl Winner: 1954 and 1976