Adam Meredith

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Meredith in his early twenties c. 1935

Adam (Plum) Meredith (1913–1976) was a British professional bridge player. His origin was in County Down, Ireland. He was a key member of the British team which won the Bermuda Bowl in 1955. He won the European Championship in 1949 and 1954, and also played in 1955, 1957 and 1959. He won the Gold Cup five times, and the Master Pairs in 1960.[1]

Life[edit]

Little is known of Plum's early life, except that he did have a good school education. As a man, he was fearlessly honest. Long before World War II he was a convinced pacifist. Although unfit for military service in WWII, he declined to plead ill-health, and registered as a conscientious objector: he felt it would not be honest to put secondary reasons forward. Instead, he was allocated work as an ambulance driver in London, and also an ARP warden during the blitz. It did not last, because his ambulance section petitioned against the use of "conchies" (conscientious objectors) and secured his dismissal to farm work: the worst possible outcome for an asthmatic.

The rest of his life is shrouded in some mystery, though one glimpse is given by his enthusiasm for ballet. When the Ballet Nègre (a creation of Katherine Dunham) came to London he was one of its financial backers.

Unfortunately, the latter part of his life was limited by ill-health, some of which was self-inflicted. Plum was a severe and chronic asthmatic and also a diabetic. Whilst resident in Britain, he spent months each year in the south of France where the dry climate helped his lungs. Later resident in America, alcoholism further reduced his vitality and shortened his life. He was always a charming man and a courteous opponent, and his death was widely mourned. [2][3]

Bridge career[edit]

Meredith was a bridge professional: he played rubber bridge for a living. He was not a writer, journalist or teacher of bridge as so many other players were.

Plum was not only good-looking and intelligent, but had a highly original turn of mind. His personal honesty extended to his bridge career. He created a precedent when he withdrew from a British team on the grounds that a pair from a continental team were cheats. Others also thought so but had nevertheless played.

At bridge he liked to seize the initiative early in a match, some of his bidding manoevres (which often centred round the spade suit) became legendary. He was also a remarkable dummy player. He was a strong and regular rubber-bridge player, who used the Baron bidding system when he could, and co-wrote its text-book with Leo Baron, The Baron System of Contract Bridge (1948).

Leo Baron brought new concepts to bidding, and was one of the first to apply the losing trick count, instead of honor tricks or the Milton Work point count. A 2S response to a 1NT opening asked for the shape of the hand. Baron extended the principles of the LTC by using the 2NT and 3NT bid to show a fit with a flat raise: 2NT = 6 losers or better, flat (typically a very good 14+); 3NT = 7 losers flat (typically an 11–16 HCP). The system put more emphasis on constructive bidding than did Acol, and extended the "change of suit forcing" idea. This influenced the development of later versions of the Acol system. Also, the system incorporated a one no-trump overcall as a weak distributional take-out bid.

Plum did not play the Baron system in the Bermuda Bowl victory. He was one of the four players who played CAB, the system favoured by Konstam, Dodds and Pavlides. Meredith was also quite au fait with Acol.

Opinions of Reese and Schapiro[edit]

In 1951 Boris Schapiro gave his opinion of Plum in a bridge magazine article:

"At times rightly described as a genius, definitely the best player of difficult hands in the country, very good bidder (when not indulging in some particular idiocy), superb dummy player and defender. Concentration medium, easy to play against, mainly owing to slowness." [4]

In his obituary of Plum, Terence Reese said

"When I first played at Lederer's in the mid-1930s, Meredith was a handsome youth of 22, though he looked about 17 ... He was a marvellous player and did as much as anyone else to win the 1955 world championship match ... He spent his last fifteen years or so in America, having formed a friendship with Ruth Sherman, [who] left him well provided for ... It was not, perhaps, a satisfactory life for so brilliant and charming a person; but certainly it possessed colour, warmth and humour" [5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ The Official Encyclopedia of Bridge. ACBL, N.Y., various editions and dates.
  2. ^ Ramsey, Guy. 1955. Aces All. Museum Press, London. p122 et seq.
  3. ^ Mollo, Victor. 1967. The Bridge Immortals. Faber, London. p96 et seq.
  4. ^ Schapiro, Boris. 1951. "Knights of the square table". Contract bridge journal, reprinted in Hasenson P. 2004. British Bridge Almanack. 77 Publishing, London. p63
  5. ^ Reese, Terence. 1976. "Adam Meredith 1913-1976". Reprinted in Hasenson P. British Bridge Almanack. 77, London 2004. p208

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