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The Mysterious "Sunday Times" Article

Just before the Sharif Bridge Circus tour that took on the Dallas Aces, Jeremy Flint and Jonathon Cansino played a challenge match of 80 rubbers against Omar Sharif, Claude Delmouly, Benito Garozzo and Giorgio Belladonna from the 6th to the 11th Jan, 1970.

This was held at the Piccadilly Hotel, London. The match was sponsored by Crockford's Club. After 80 rubbers the Sharif side was ahead by 5,470 points.

Terence Reese writes:

Most of the play was presented on bridgerama and the idea was that episodes should be filmed and offered as a television series in America.

As an entertainment for the home audience it was a great success, but I must say I thought from the first that the idea of a fortune from television rights was pie in the sky. It would probably be a year before the estimated 12 episodes could be trimmed into shape and offered to the public, and by that time who would be interested in a rubber bridge match played between British and Continental players, most of them not well known to the American public at large?

As things turned out, this issue was not put to the test. Just one pilot programme was prepared, and Omar was not pleased with that. The Sunday Times, some months after the match, printed a very frank article indeed about the young men who promoted the venture.

 

Lousville Courier-Journal, 7 January, 1970:

The sessions are being filmed for a television series to be shown in the United States and Britain.

 

WBF obituary:

[Sharif] won £7,000 but lost £100,000 on a film of the match, which was never shown to the public.

 

Now, that video tape is the only known video of Blue Team players in action. It (like the "missing" Burgay Tape, of which there were once no end of copies) is of interest to me. So my first effort was an attempt to find that Sunday Times "frank article".

 

In 2016 I wrote to the Sunday Times to see if it was held in their archives. Laura Moore, from Online Customer Services, replied:

Dear Mr Wilsmore,

Thank you for contacting us regarding The Times Archive and I can confirm that we do have coverage of this specific article.

For older articles dated from 1785 - 1985 try searching The Times Archive...

You must have a subscription to access this service...

I hope you enjoy the rest of your week. If you have any other queries, please do not hesitate to contact our team at The Times and The Sunday Times member services and we will be happy to help.

 

I subscribed and attempted to find the article. I did not "enjoy the rest of [my] week."

Again I wrote again to the Sunday Times, this time drawing their attention to the above:

... I can confirm that we do have coverage of this specific article

 

Lauren Taylor, from Online Customer Services, was most helpful.

Not.

I guess that, having paid for a service, expecting delivery from a Murdoch* outlet is the sign of an optimist.

 

Regardless, I am not giving up. Some questions:

- Is anyone able to find the Sunday Times article?

- Does anyone know anything about the "young men who promoted the venture"?

- The Holy Grail is, of course, the video of Belladonna and Garozzo in action. I have been in contact with Shireen Mohandes, Robert Sheehan and Chris Dixon... they were courteous and as helpful as they could be, but investigations went nowhere.

So, is anyone able to provide further guidance?

 

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* My father was a friend of Dame Elizabeth, mother of Rupert Murdoch. I recall answering her occasional phone calls and passing them to him when of primary-school age.  Of Rupert, my father would say no more than, "Bad egg!"

Edit: typo

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