Thursday 3 July 2008

John Armstrong

23rd January 1952 - 3rd July 2008

John Armstrong of Derbyshire, who has died suddenly aged 56, was a member of the England Open Bridge team a week earlier at the European Bridge Championships. In the pair rankings for the championship Armstrong and his partner, John Holland of Manchester, were second to the Norwegian gold medallists.

Armstrong was England’s most capped player in the Home Internationals in a career that spanned four decades. In 1987 Armstrong was in the British team that won silver in both the European and World championship, and then gold at the European Championships in 1991.
Armstrong was born in Ashbourne, Derbyshire in 1952. Both his parents were school teachers and John learned bridge as a teenager. He obtained a First at Cambridge University in mathematics. After University he moved to the Liverpool area for a job with Royal Insurance.
His long-time bridge partner was Graham Kirby. Their first international was in 1978. They earned 31 Camrose appearances for England concluding in 1997 when Kirby retired from international bridge to look after a young family. Armstrong had six internationals partnering Danny Davies before Davies took up a job in the United States.

Armstrong then formed a partnership with Holland. Their first match for England in 2006 saw Armstrong overtake the record of 37 caps for England long held by Tony Forrester. Armstrong and Holland were also selected for a Home International weekend in 2007 and in March this year, before the Europeans.

Armstrong recorded six wins in the Gold Cup, the British knockout championship.

He had retired from his job in insurance and returned to his home town. Armstrong was keen on orienteering, a talented pianist and a devout catholic. He was both a gentle man and a gentleman, very well-liked and respected in the bridge world.

Armstrong never married. He predeceases his mother, two brothers and a sister.