Adam Meredith


Adam Meredith

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. ["The Official Encyclopedia of Bridge". ACBL, N.Y., various editions and dates.]

Life

Little is known of his early life and education, except that he did have a good school education. As a man, he was fearlessly honest. Long before WWII 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.

Much of the rest of his life is shrouded in mystery, but 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. [Ramsey, Guy 1955. "Aces All". Museum Press, London. p122 et seq.] [Mollo, Victor 1967. "The bridge immortals". Faber, London. p96 et seq.]

His bridge career

Meredith was a bridge professional: he played rubber bridge for a living, and 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 thought so, too, but had nevertheless played.

At bridge he liked to seize the initiative early in a match, and 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, and when he could he used a bidding system called 'Baron', and co-authored its text-book "The Baron System of Contract Bridge" with Leo Baron. Though now defunct, Baron had some historical significance. 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. However, 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

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." [Schapiro, Boris 1951. Knights of the square table. "Contract bridge journal", reprinted in Hasenson P. 2004. "British Bridge Almanack". 77, London. p63]

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" [Reese, Terence 1976. Adam Meredith 1913-1976. Reprinted in Hasenson P. "British Bridge Almanack". 77, London 2004. p208]

References


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