I've received the very sad news that George Martin died peacefully on Tuesday, 28 September, just a month after his 90th birthday.
George receiving the George Martin Trophy from President Christine McCreath (2019)
For all my time at the club, and I expect for most of his time there, George has been a fearsome competitor. His desire to win was never diminished by age or by his worsening hearing, as everyone in the club could attest whenever his partner did anything that he did not agree with.
George often wrote to me with contributions to the club's history. He said, "I joined the Club in 1974/5. Val joined the Club before me and said that I should go to David Elder’s bridge classes, which I would enjoy, which I did! In those early days we played a lot of friendly bridge at different houses on the weekend. Also many members went to the Aviemore Congress. I was the member who first directed the Individual Competition of the Club for the Lindsay Trophy. The scoring of this was a nightmare, doing it manually! I took the Advanced Directors Course and ran the No Fear at Peebles for many years.”
In September 1981, George proposed holding a mini-congress in Berwick and it was held the following April with 38 pairs participating at the Headland Ballroom. He explained, "I was the member of the Club who proposed and directed the very first Berwick Bridge Congress. We had to manually score up from the travelling score sheets from 3 sections.
"I can remember that certain members took on the task of scoring each section and then pulling them all together! If they didn’t balance we had to go over them again!"
George was the club's Press Officer for many years. I believe many thought that these reports focused a little too much on his own achievements but, to be fair, he was a prodigious winner.
George was Secretary of the club in the early 1980s and President from 1998-2000.
In 2001 George started the first website for the club and this continued until we switched to BridgeWebs. He also started running the summer bridge at the U3A at The Maltings in 2005.
After Robin Pearson's death, George became the regular partner of Brian Thomas and they dominated the club's events in the 21st century. They won the Royal Bank Trophy ten times together and the Scott Cup eleven times: George also won the Scott Cup four times with David Elder.
Many pairs in the Borders will be pleased that they will stand some chance of winning the Border Pairs in the future. I can see that Thomas and Martin won the trophy at least nine times and, if you did manage to finish above them, then you probably won.
In 2017 I made the mistake of telling him that he won the most master points at the club over the previous season. This clearly appealed to his competitive instincts and an offer to buy a trophy for such a competition was quickly made. He lost the battle to win the George Martin Trophy to Colin Edney in the first year, but made no mistake over the 2018-19 season: there were 66 sessions at the club and George played in 62 of them.
Unsurprisingly for someone who created a website, he adapted well to playing online bridge during the pandemic and it provided him with a lifeline as his health started to fail. He knew that he would not be able to return to the club but was keen that online competitions should be run so that he could continue to compete. During September he played in our Open Swiss Teams, my Saturday morning event, the Wilf White pairs and the Tom Woodman teams: like any true bridge player wants, he played until the end.
It has occurred to me that I know nothing non-bridge-related about George, aside from his long marriage to Val. I didn’t even know he had a bridge-playing daughter until he wanted to organise an online match against her club during the pandemic. I think this is typical of bridge players.
The bridge club will be a quieter place without George, but we’ll all miss him.
Our thoughts are with Val, Rossie and their families.