When Omar Sharif introduced me into the glamorous world of international contract bridge in 1969, little did I suspect that he had set into motion a chain reaction which would culminate 40 years later in my developing THE 35 STEPS.
I knew nothing about bridge when I met Omar. But he was very kind and allowed me access to the private gaming room at London’s Dorchester Hotel during major tournaments with international masters like Terence Reese et al. I was very privileged, for this was the hallowed ground where mortals did not tread! Other journalists and the public were in a separate viewing room. These were exciting, inspirational days and having caught the bug, the London School of Bridge – then London’s largest bridge club – became my second home, with bridge icon, Nicola Gardener, becoming my instructor.
Featured Image(above): With Omar Sharif
As a freelance journalist, I would often finish work at noon and play both afternoon and evening sessions five days a week. Later through family and business commitments, I neglected the bridge for many years, but the addiction held fast and I always returned. It was not until 2009, however, after I opened my social CAFÉ BRIDGE CLUB on Lake Tinaroo on the Atherton Tablelands, that I colour coded and handwrote THE 35 STEPS on my huge club whiteboard to help my senior members get a quicker and firmer grip on this intricate and exciting game – ALZHEIMERS’ NUMBER ONE ENEMY!!
And even intermediate players’ reactions were so positive that I decided to print the steps commercially. Soon the word spread to other clubs and players, making the SINGLE PAGE LAMINATE, of THE 35 STEPS with its 4-PAGE INSTRUCTION MANUAL a sought after teaching and memory aid. Bridge clubs in EASTERN SUBURBS CLEVELAND, CAIRNS, ROCKHAMPTON, BUNDABERG, NOOSA, HAMPTON and SALE in VICTORIA bought the huge club boards and the laminates went globally, mostly Australia, the States and Europe, but even Abu Dhabi and South Africa. I was extremely lucky to have the inspiring encouragement and support of Australia’s Contract Bridge guru, Paul Marston, who even displayed it on the wall of his Sydney Grand Slam Bridge Centre, while the world’s most respected bridge publication, THE BRIDGE WORLD reviewed it in 2010.
As Paul Marston approves of and has at times advertised his TEACHING BOOKS together with The 35 Steps, you may wish to have a quick look at this contract bridge tool for teachers and beginners eBay Listing: 231148491712. I have received many feedbacks over the years, even people stopping me in the street thanking me for the ease it has given them playing Contract Bridge with The 35 Steps. But the one that made me laugh out loud, was English bridge player, Ivan Hallworth, when his email compared my little achievement to world events:
“….The brilliant thing about THE 35 STEPS is that the concept was there all the time. It’s just that you were the first, person to do it and that counts for a lot…That you may capture (just about everything about playing a basic game of contract bridge) and display it essentially ALL ON ONE PAGE IS THE GREAT BEAUTY OF ITS ELEGANCE.” “Many of the World’s most historically important and critical at the time documents are just a single page e.g. Declaration of Independence, Magna Carta, Apollo Moon Landing, Ending of WW2, Announcement of a future King…”