Linda Lee — My personal bridge blog

We will miss you David

David Silver, (our friend since adolescence and that is many years!) died this winter. Recently  we visited his grave as his tombstone was unveiled.   I thought about how much I would miss David, his humour and also the wonderful bridge stories he told.

David would come over and sit in Ray’s office for most years conveniently located in our basement. I would listen from my next door office as he regaled Ray with the politics and events at his job and usually he managed to tell these events as humorous stories.

David was a fine writer and over time he started to write humorous books with a bridge setting.  In the early years many of his stories take place in a thinly disguised Seneca College, a community college in the north part of Toronto where David worked.

Many of David’s books starred his alter ego Professor Silver and were loosely based on his own experience as an English professor at Seneca College.  As in many such places there was a lot of politics, a lot of students who didn’t much care about English literature and just wanted a credit and a lot of experimenting with different approaches to teaching and running an institution like that.

One of my personal favourite Silver stories  (and one I often quote) is called A Board for the Board which from  David’s first book “Tales Out of School”. In this story, Professor Silver  is describing the play to board of directors members of a specific duplicate board as it makes its way around the room. As they watch Professor Silver describes how duplicate is scored.  Unfortunately, he explains to the board members the board they are watching is a “flat board” and he wouldn’t expect much variance in the results.

Of course it turns out to be exactly the opposite. The story ends with a funny punchline. But as I reread this classic Silver story I see how almost every paragraph is humorous in David’s special way.

I find that David Silver’s stories still make me smile or laugh out loud.  I remember being in a discussion with David when he brought up the idea for his last bridge book Canterbury Bridge Tales. David came up with the idea of using the format of the classic Canterbury Tales written in Middle English by Geoffrey Chaucer in the fourteenth century.  In Chaucer’s book the pilgrims held a story-telling contest as they made their way to visit Becket’s shrine in Canterbury. It was hard for me to understand how this was going to become a “bridge book”.

In David’s book the bridge “pilgrims” were driving from Toronto to a tournament in Canterbury Florida. David then treats us to a set of bridge stories told by fellow travelers to the tournament. The chapters have titles like “The Kibitzer’s Tale” and  “The Bridge Pro’s Tale”.

I have many other favourite stories and many other memories. I am grateful that I can still have a dose of David’s humour by reading his wonderful stories.


Judy Kay-WolffOctober 11th, 2017 at 3:38 am

What a beautiful tribute! I enjoyed hearing of his dedication and marvelous sense of humor.
Thanks for sharing!

JRGOctober 11th, 2017 at 2:34 pm

When I lived in Toronto, I remember playing both with and against David.

It wouldn't surprise me to learn he turned an ignominious failure by me, while partnering him, into an incident in one of his books.

In an uncontested auction, the opponents reached 3NT and David led a Queen (I seem to remember the Q). We played this as requesting an unblock or count. Dummy came down with 10x and I held AJx. Hmm, I said to myself, David is trying to hit my suit, so I played the A and switched.

We could have won the first 6 or 7 tricks. I will never, in my own mind, live that down. I console myself because, from that day forth, I trust partner, even if their play seems to make no sense to me!

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