British bridge star, 80, collapses and dies at the table moments after a top-scoring hand

March 26, 2014 | by | 0 Comments
Top bridge player Wendy Brown who died shortly after playing a winning hand

Top bridge player Wendy Brown who died shortly after playing a winning hand

One of Britain’s leading bridge players collapsed and died at the table as she claimed victory with a rare high-scoring hand.

A friend said veteran Wendy Brown, 80, may have been overcome by excitement at playing the remarkable 29-point game.

Frail Wendy, who had 12 grandchildren, had played bridge for five decades and achieved the hallowed status of Premier Life Master.

Ill-health and old age had limited her appearances in recent years but she had accumulated enough prize points in her life to remain undisputed number one in her native Cornwall.

The wily doyenne showed she had lost none of her competitive edge by winning her final tournament last month and was still playing twice a week.

But she died last week during her regular Tuesday night session with friends at the John Betjeman Centre in Wadebridge.

Her partner Maureen Brinton and fellow players surrounded her and attempted to revive her but she is thought to have been dead by the time paramedics arrived.

Son Charlie said she suffered a sudden failure of one of the major blood vessels near her heart.

But he said he took enormous comfort knowing she had died while indulging her lifelong passion.

Charlie said: “The other members of the bridge club responded magnificently and tried everything to revive her.

“But when all is said and done, it was a lovely way to go.

“I can imagine the smile on her face when she looked at her cards and she knew she had a winning hand. She died doing what she loved to do.”

The maximum points total for a bridge hand is 37 and friend Barrie Benfield, of the Cornwall Contract Bridge Association, said Wendy had just played a rare 29-point one.

He said: “An hour and a half in there was this cry from her partner ‘get an ambulance’.

“There seems to be some dispute as to whether Wendy died instantly or whether there were some flickers of life. Certainly the paramedics were trying to bring her around.

“In effect she played this remarkable hand and collapsed and died immediately afterwards.

“Wendy had 29 points in her hand. I haven’t seen a 29 point hand, if ever, or certainly not for a very long time.

“I can’t remember seeing one with more points than that in the past 18 years or so.

“Wendy will no doubt have been extremely excited by getting such a hand. My theory is that she couldn’t take the excitement.”

He added: “She was an elderly lady and she wasn’t in good health so her death did not come as too much of a shock.

“It’s very sad but what a way to go. It’s the perfect bridge player’s death.

“Wendy did things in style and this was her way of reminding us that she still played a terrific game.”

Fellow members described Wendy as a “doyenne” of bridge and said she had arrived at the weekly club night “in good shape and in good spirits.”

Wendy, who leaves four children, previously ran a guesthouse with her late husband Arthur before moving into a retirement flat in Wadebridge.

A report of her death on the website of the Cornwall Contract Bridge Association said: “Ill health caused her to play in less county events recently, but in her last appearance last month, she and Maureen Brinton won the County Swiss Pairs Championship by a big margin.

“She had just bid and made 6 No Trumps with an overtrick at the John Betjeman Centre on Tuesday evening when she was suddenly taken ill, dying at the club. Pretty much the perfect scenario to go!

“She was Cornwall’s highest ranked player – a Premier Life Master with nearly 350 green points.”

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