‘Very sadly the North East has lost one of its best ever players. Chris Owen has tragically died suddenly at his home at the tender age of 32.
He was a history graduate at Hull University and qualified as a chartered accountant with PricewaterhouseCoopers the largest firm in the UK before entering the family firm where he was a manager dealing mainly in Corporate Finance matters.
He was an outstanding athlete representing both the town at first team level in cricket and hockey with debuts at the age of 15.
However that all changed when he decided to take up bridge. He not only possessed a natural ability but was quick to learn. He was at his peak probably the best defender in the North East and his significant lateral thinking skills meant he was a formidable opponent in competitive auctions.
He represented England at junior level with three different partners but easily his top partnership was with another outstanding player John Atthey. With the possible exception of some Michael Byrne partnerships they were in my humble opinion the best under 30 partnership in the country.
When France won the European U25 championship their top player Tomas Bessis now considered one of the top 5 players in the world told them they were easily the best pair he had played.
Chris won so many competitions particularly in the North of England and Scotland with many different partners mainly John and myself but also Damian Hassan Malcolm Oliver Charles Outred and many others.
Amongst the highlights was winning the Major teams event at Peebles at four successive Peebles congresses in four different teams a truly remarkable feat.
When beating the top Scottish team in the Gold Cup as a teenager one of their team praised their performance saying ‘he had never played such a young partnership with such brilliant temperament.’
However in North East terms the top achievement was undoubtedly in the Tollemache the inter county team of eight competition which attracts the strongest field of bridge players of any event in the bridge calendar.
In two successive years we finished first and second having never before or since been close to winning the event. Without doubt he and John were the lynchpin of the team consistently bringing back top class cards against top class players.
Our family has been overwhelmed by the reaction of the bridge community on hearing of his untimely death.
‘One of the kindest and talented players I have ever met’
‘A real gentleman at the table’
‘So much ability and such a great temperament’
‘Someone you could always depend on both at and away from the table’
Chris was not only a fine son, but a great friend. Life will never be the same again.