Keith Sowerbutt’s funeral cortège passing the York Bridge Club on Monday the 3rd August where more than 30 members had gathered to pay their respects
It is with deep sadness I am letting you know that Keith passed away peacefully in hospital on Sunday evening 12th July.
Keith was a truly good and empathetic friend, and he will be sadly missed by all who knew him.
However, his generosity didn’t extend to those who played against him at the table – he was a formidable player, who actively and deliberately created tough situations for his opponents by his bidding and deceptive card play. I played with him for many years, and can testify that however much of a challenge it was to play with him, it was far, far harder to play against him.
For instance, in a recent intercity match, declarer had a trump suit of AK109xx opposite xxx. The lead was a small trump, which went round to the J and K. Declarer crossed to dummy and played a trump to the 9 – losing to Keith’s Q. Keith had led small from Qx, producing the only way declarer could lose a trump trick.
He brought his chess skills to the bridge table in his declarer play, using this ability to play through the consequences of various plans. But he married this analytical ability with his skill at deception and smoke screens, which so often induced defensive errors against him.
This exceptional ability at card reading and creating chances for opponents to make errors, was, in my opinion, second only to Tony Forrester’s. And Tony recognised this in Keith – forming a regular partnership with him in Waddington Shield and Yorkshire League matches.
Keith started playing in Yorkshire in 1969, whilst he was at York University. He was a regular winner of the York Club’s Championship Pairs events, and was in the winning Star Cup team on several occasions. As well as representing Yorkshire in the Tollemache Cup, he also played successfully nationally and on the continent.
His contribution to York Bridge Club was much more than bridge, however. In 1983 he was one of a small group who organised the move to new premises in Wilton Rise, then in 1996 and 1997, he made the case for another move, and was instrumental in raising the finance to enable the current premises to be bought.
He has been a Club Trustee since 1983, and when the club became a Company and a Registered Charity in 2012, Keith became Finance Director of the Company and a Trustee of the Charity.
His contribution has been huge. In the recent past, he has been a driving force behind the club’s next big change – moving to purpose built premises, and selling Holgate Villas.
Rest well Keith. Your contribution will not be forgotten, and your memory will live on.
Written by: Frank Dixon,
Friend and long-time bridge partner.