00:13 15 February 2014 by GS Jade Barrett, CsbNews correspondent
«Look, I don’t want to wax philosophic, but I will say that if you’re alive you’ve got to flap your arms and legs, you’ve got to jump around a lot, for life is the very opposite of death, and therefore you must at very least think noisy and colorfully, or you’re not alive»! – Mel Brooks
The 14th of February 2014 was a terribly sad day for the bridge world as one of our finest players and a very close personal friend of mine, Barry C Harper passed away.
A fixture in the smoking area at every North American Bridge Championships for years, Barry was quick with a smoke, a light, a story and a question whenever I appeared. His stories were long, funny and engaging, and many a sleepless night would find Barry and I discussing everything from bridge theory to politics to film to food to literature and back. He could speak intelligently and thoughtfully on virtually anything and his sense of humor turned many a tough moment to joy. As a member of the Great American Bridge Tour staff, he performed brilliantly and kept us on the edge of our seats, for you never knew what he was going to say, play or do next. He was delightfully unpredictable.
At the time of his demise, Barry sat second on the Canadian all time list with over 20,000 ACBL Masterpoints, and a Grand Lifemaster. His aggressive, attacking style was something to behold and as his partner I won my first major pair event way back when dinosaurs roamed the Earth. Our 75 – 72.5 game that claimed that championship would be unmatched for many years and it was the beginning of a twenty plus year friendship that helped define me both as a player and a person. His encouragement assisted me – and countless others – to become the professional I am today.
We had not had much opportunity to play together the last few years as we both had fulltime gigs on different teams, but we competed constantly against each other and every one of these matches were an intellectual war so entertaining that we frequently had kibitzers that would tell the tales of these storied battles for years. My personal favorite moment came after the Harpoon (my nickname for the gentle giant) spent nearly seven minutes considering his options, resulting in a spectacularly unsuccessful decision. Earl Knipfel, another long time partner of his, reflected on the dreadful outcome he had just witnessed by commenting: «Don’t think, it ruins the team».
He had fought Crohn’s Disease for decades, and many times he had to detour to the hospital on his way from one tournament to another. Each stop provided him the opportunity to rest, recover and go stir crazy. He could not get to the table fast enough – though always fashionably late, never arriving until just before penalties were assessed.
After all, he knew his limits.
Every athlete he came in contact with will have a Barry tale, so I shall leave it to them to relate their favorite moments. Suffice it to say, he not only will be missed, he will never be replaced in the arena of bridge or in the hearts of my family.