Tuesday 1 September 2009

Peter Czerniewski (1949-2009)

Peter Czerniewski was one of the most successful English players of the last three decades. He died on August 29th 2009 at the age of just 60 after losing a two-year battle against cancer.

Peter was born in West Wales of Polish parents but, although he represented Wales as a junior at chess, did not start playing bridge seriously until he was at university in 1968-1970 (Jesus College, Oxford). He played in the ’Varsity Matches of 1969 and 1970 but this was just the start of a distinguished career in competitive bridge. He represented Great Britain in the Common Market Championships of 1987, winning a Gold Medal. He played for England in the Camrose in 1988 with his first regular partner (Barry Rigal) and subsequently in 1996 (with David Price) and most recently in 2009 with Ian Panto, winning the trophy for England.

He has won the Gold Cup, Crockfords Cup, The Spring Fours (three times), the Tollemache (three times), the Lederer (twice), the Brighton 4 Star Teams (twice) and the Grand Masters’ Pairs. He was also a successful rubber bridge player, respected (and feared) at TGRs and other London clubs.

These successes lay alongside his working life as a designer and implementer of computer systems for British Aerospace and other major international corporations.

Peter was a man of great charm who loved, and was loved by, his family and who naturally made friends throughout the bridge world. He had a great intellect and a mind which worked considerably faster than most people’s. Come to think of it, he also had a body which worked faster than most people’s! He was a keen marathon runner and completed an astonishing fifteen marathons during his lifetime, recording a best time of under three hours.

After his retirement in 2007, he had the time to start playing bridge seriously again. He represented England in the Senior Camrose in 2008 (winner) and 2009. He finished in third place in the first division of the EBU Premier League in 2008.

On a personal note, Peter has been my good friend for nearly thirty-five years. I learnt about his illness in the summer of 2008 and have been closely involved with his active bridge life of the past fifteen months. In June 2008 I was a member of the England Senior team in the European Championships in Pau, France, for which Peter was a dedicated NPC. In October 2008, Peter and I were both playing members of the English Seniors team which reached the quarter-final of the World Mind Sports Olympiad in Beijing. I was his NPC for his successful performance for England in the Camrose in January 2009 and we played together in the Schapiro Spring Foursomes in May of this year. Finally, as his swansong, he partnered me in the Brighton Pairs on August 14th until, racked with pain and the side effects of powerful medication, Peter was forced to withdraw. He died peacefully two weeks later surrounded by his family.

Peter lived in North London and is survived by his loving and devoted wife Pam and his two children, Alexandra (22) and Christof (20). He will be sorely missed by them and all in the bridge world who knew him.

Chris Dixon
31st August 2009


Peter Czerniewski’s Life will be remembered at:

St Marylebone Crematorium
East End Road
East Finchley
N2 0RZ

on Thursday September 10th at 3pm.

English Bridge Internationals are invited to wear England Team Uniform.

More memories will be shared afterwards at 9 Ella Road, London N8 9EL

There will be a collection for Marie Curie & St John’s Hospice and donations are welcome at this web address to donate for Peter’s daughter, Alexandra, who will be running a marathon in her father’s memory.



  1. That Peter Czerniewski was a fine bridge player is evidenced by his record, but he was far more than that. I am sure I speak for everyone who knew him (both in the bridge world and in other walks of life) when I say that he was a true gentleman. He always had a smile and a kind word, and the lives of those who knew him well were truly enriched for doing so.

    Peter and I played together more or less exclusively for the best part of a decade, and although of course we often disagreed, Peter always did so respectfully. He is also the only partner I ever had who could smile and shrug when some disaster occurred. That’s not to say that he was not seriously competitive (he certainly was), but he usually appreciated why you had done something that had worked out poorly. He was also the most ethical player I ever knew – more than once, I saw Peter call the Director on himself. He would rather have forfeited a whole match or event than gain what he considered an unfair advantage on a single deal. Sure, he always wanted to win, but he only wanted to do so in the ‘right way’.

    Peter was a devoted family man, and my thoughts are with Pam, Alexandra and Christof at this difficult time. For them, his loss must be unimaginably hard.

    Charlotte, my wife, says that she knows Peter was a good man, so he is now in a better place. Whilst I may not be quite so convinced, if you are looking down, Peter, I’d like to say ‘Goodbye, my friend, and Thank You. It was a real pleasure.’

    Marc Smith

  2. I have a recollection of him at the Eastbourne Congress, probably in the early 70's when quite late in the evening he banged on the door of a room which he believed to be occupied by a friend, only to see it answered by a lady in a frilly night-dress who was complete stranger. He had to to put up with quite a lot of ragging about that episode, certainly from me.

  3. Peter and I attended infants school and then primary and secondary school together and were "best friends" for a significant part of our early life. Sadly, we lost touch in the ensuing hurly burly.

    I learnt only this evening of his passing - and the opportunities lost to renew a youngest friendship - the ones that always endure. Reading the comments of his more recent and significant friends I am struck that he hadn't changed. Peter was always kind, polite and considerate: The best of friends. My belated best wishes to his family for their futures and friendships.