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Robbie Van Riel passed away June 17, 2018.

An obituary for Robbie appears on the VBA website.

Sara Tishler  passed away March 20 peacefully in hospital surrounded by her family.

An obituary for Sara appears on the VBA website.

Blaine Howe 1949-2012

It is with great sadness that we report the passing of Blaine Howe this morning, November 29, 2012.

Blaine, a member of the team which won the recent Bobby Evans Seniors Teams, suffered a massive stroke just over ten days ago.

The webmaster, in particular, will remember him for his passion for matters relating to the web and will miss the technical conversations with him as well as the support he provided in recent years.

An obituary for Blaine appears on the VBA website.

Max Hitter a member of the team that won the inaugural National Open Teams in 1973 passed away late in 2011. A tribute to him appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald on April 30, 2012.
Writing wrongs of the holocaust.

Wally Scott passed away on August 9, 2009 after a long battle with cancer. Wally Scott’s Obituary.

Brian O’Hara  passed away on October 1, 2008.

Alan Woods, Professional punter and bridge philanthropist passed away in Hong Kong on January 26, 2008, aged 62.
Obituary, The Australian
Article by Tony Wilson, December 2005

Leigh Barnier (21) died tragically in an avalanche in Canada on January 8, 2008. An obituary, written by Nick Rodwell, is available on the NSWBA website .

Charlie Snashall passed away tragically on Friday, December 28, 2007. Our sympathy goes out to Helen and all of Charlie’s family and friends.

Three leading NSW bridge players passed away recently.


John Arkinstall 1954 – 2007

Reproduced from the July-August 2007 NSWBA Newsletter

John was born 28/12/54, and spent all his life in Bondi. He attended Bondi Public School, and continued his secondary education at Cranbrook. He studied commerce/law at University of NSW and was admitted to the bar in 1982. He established his own law firm, “Arkinstalls” because his illness with cystic fibrosis made it very difficult to work normal hours.

John was a very strong chess player in his school and university days, and won the City of Sydney chess tournament. He than discovered bridge and was hooked. Not only did he play; but he became very involved with the administration of the game. He was on the NSWBA council from 1983-2004, serving as a Councillor, Secretary and for 11 years Chairman. His leadership of the bridge association was instrumental in placing it in the position it is today.

John and the late Bobby Evans worked tirelessly to purchase the current NSWBA premises, which all our members enjoy. John was a representative for NSW on the ABF from 1987-2007 as a Councillor, member of the Management Committee and Secretary. He was also a trustee of the James O’Sullivan Foundation. His ill health in his final years, forced him to step down from his role, and spend his time at home. He died in hospital on the 15/7/2007. All NSW bridge players owe him a great debt.

Thanks to Judy Mott and David Currie for compiling this information.

John Arkinstall’s team won the 1983 NSW State Teams Championships. John was non-playing captain for the NSW Youth Team in both 1988 and 1989. He was granted life membership of NSWBA in 1995.

Reprinted with permission of Australian Bridge Magazine.


On 15 July 2007, John Harold Arkinstall’s all too short life concluded in Sydney’s St Vincent’s Hospital, a venue at which he had been spending an increasing portion of his time in recent years.

I lost a dear friend, a stoic patient, and an indefatigable legal counsel; the NSWBA and ABF a tireless and hardworking servant. John, an only child, was born on 28 December 1954, and educated at Cranbrook, where he was regarded as a chess prodigy and promising swimmer – prior to obtaining his legal qualifications and succumbing to the temptations of contract bridge at the nearby University of NSW.

It was during his adolescence that John was told that he had cystic fibrosis. In the 1960s this diagnosis was invariably associated with decreased life expectancy, and progressive deterioration in quality of life. Undaunted, John maintained his interest in high-level chess (serving as Hon. Secretary to NSW Chess Association in mid-1970s), went on to become a representative table-tennis player, competitive rifle-shooter and, as we remember him, bridge player (amongst his achievements he has won both the City of Sydney Teams, and the NSW State Teams Championship).

As a result of some excellent investment decisions and a Spartan lifestyle, John did not rely upon his legal practice for sustenance, instead performing many services for friends and bridge acquaintances pro bono, and conveyancing and some casework at a small margin above his own costs.

His generosity with his time extended firstly to the NSWBA, where he served as Councillor (1983-2007), Secretary, and President (1989-2000). It was largely through John’s farsighted management that in 1992 amid a volatile real-estate market that the NSWBA obtained its current premises, and in 2007 enjoys its present equity. Then to the ABF, where he was a NSW delegate from 1989 to 2007. In March 1994 he was appointed Secretary of the ABF (a post he held for two years), Trustee of the James O’Sullivan Foundation, and Member of the ABF Management Committee. John, his overnight bag, and portable oxygen cylinder were a familiar sight at transit lounges around Australia.

The remorseless progression of his disease firstly saw him withdraw from regular competition at NSWBA, then, with lengthening episodes of hospitalisation, he was obliged to relinquish his remaining ABF offices in March 2004, and finally step down as NSW delegate early this year.

Bridge partners and opponents alike, and protagonists at the Appeals Committees on which he served, will remember his wry sense of irony, unimpeachable ethical standards and self-deprecating humour. John has no immediate family, but leaves a wide circle of friends to whom his benevolence in establishing a series of Trusts to distribute his wealth to the disadvantaged will come as no surprise.


Linda Stern 1949-2007

Ron Klinger’s Article (reproduced from the Sydney Morning Herald)


Reproduced from the July-August 2007 NSWBA Newsletter

Linda was born in London in 1949 to Sybil and the late Joseph Cornell and sister to her big brother Michael. The family migrated to New Zealand in 1957 settling in Auckland where Sybil and Michael still live. After finishing school Linda completed her Diploma of Education and then did some travelling. She spent some time teaching in London, then settled in Australia. She met David Stern in 1975 and they married in 1979. Soon after their son Justin was born followed a little later by their daughter Danielle. Linda was a skilled tournament bridge player- her tournament successes include

  • Representing nine times in NSW Women’s Teams at the Interstate Championships between 1978 and 2003 (notching up three wins).
  • Won NSW Women’s pairs championship in 1993 with her mother-in-law Gerda Stern
  • Runner up National Open Teams 2006
  • Won National Open Teams 2007 partnered by Peter Gill with teammates David Stern – Robert Grynberg plus Boye Brogeland – Espen Erichsen.

Linda and David owned and operated the Double Bay Bridge Centre, of which Linda was the proprietor. The Bridge Centre continues to operate. Linda always had a warm and sunny disposition and she will be very much missed by her family as well as all her friends within and outside of the bridge community.


Olek Minc

Ron Klinger’s Article (reproduced from the Sydney Morning Herald)


Reproduced from the July-August 2007 NSWBA Newsletter

Olek Minc died Wednesday August 1, 2007 aged 82. Olek Minc was a fine bridge player who lived in Sydney. He was famous for bidding his hands to the max – and then playing the cards well. He had a successful bridge partnership in the 1970’s with Gabriel Lorentz. In 1973 they and their teammates Egon Auerbach and Max Hitter won the inaugural National Open Teams Championship in convincing fashion.

Olek Minc was often featured in Sydney newspaper bridge column reports of action in the famous rubber bridge ‘big game’ in Double Bay. In 1976 Minc-Lorentz finished first in the NSW Open Team trials. Here is a 1972 quote from Don Evans in his column ” Olek Minc is a dangerous and unpredictable opponent”. In 1978 Minc- Lorentz made the Australian Open Team in company with Tim Seres-Dick Cummings and Paul Lavings-Mary McMahon. In 1979 Minc-Lorenz won the Victor Champion Cup teamed with Auerbach- Seamus Browne (see team photo page 235 in History of Australian Bridge by Cathy Chua).

He won the Open Interstate Teams representing NSW in 1975 and 1976. His team won the 1980 NSW State Teams Championships.

Ed* — I remember that whenever I came up against Olek Minc at the table, the atmosphere always seemed to be electric. Playing 10 boards against Minc was exhausting- it was like playing 20 boards against most other players.

* Peter Jamieson