Eric Rutherford Murray, as well as being one of the all-time greats, is one of the true characters of the bridge world. His 30-year partnership with Sami Kehela is acknowledged as one of Canada’s best ever.
A leading civil litigation lawyer in Toronto, Murray won one of the first $1M-plus civil-court judgements in Canada.
Murray is an ACBL Grand Life Master and a member of the ACBL Hall of Fame. He was born in 1928 and lived his early life in Hamilton, Ontario before leaving for Toronto to practice law and play bridge.
Eric Murray is the most successful Canadian bridge player ever, having won 14 North American titles including the Vanderbilt Knockout Teams (1961 and 1970), the Spingold Master Knockout Teams (1964, 1965 and 1968), the Von Zedtwitz Life Masters Pairs in
1969, the Men’s Board-A-Match Teams in 1962, the Life Masters Men’s Pairs in 1963, the Wernher Open Pairs (1954 and 1955), the Rockwell Mixed Pairs in 1963, the Freeman Mixed Board-A-Match Teams (1956 and 1962), and the Marcus Cup in 1959.
In winning the 1963 Rockwell Mixed Pairs, Murray and Agnes Gordon scored 506½ matchpoints in the final session, on a 325 average, for a record 78% game.
Murray also won the Lou Herman Trophy for best performance at the 1963 Fall Nationals, the Pairs Trials for the 1962 North American Bermuda Bowl team, the Canadian National Teams Championship three times (1980, 1981 and 1987), the Canadian Senior Teams Championship twice (2007 and 2010), and the Canadian Invitational Calcutta Pairs in 1993.
In addition, Murray had six 2nd place finishes in major North American championships including the Reisinger (1961, 1969 and 1972), the Freeman Mixed Board-A-Match Teams in 1955, the Wernher Open Pairs in 1965, and the Blue Ribbon Pairs in 1969.
Murray had considerable success in world championships. He won four silver medals as a member of the North American Bermuda Bowl team (1962, 1966, 1967 and 1974), finishing second on all four occasions to the Italian Blue Team. “I know the Italian National Anthem by heart,” says Murray.
With the exception of 1984, he represented Canada in every World Team Olympiad from 1960 to 1988, winning two bronze medals (1968 and 1972) and finishing 4th in 1964. He also represented Canada twice in the World Open Knockout Teams (Rosenblum Cup) winning a bronze medal in 1982 and finishing 5th in 1978.
Murray is known as a legendary raconteur and orator. At his, and Kehela’s, ACBL Hall of Fame induction ceremonies during the 2001 Summer North American Championships in Toronto, he proved that his oratory skills were at least a match for those he frequently displayed at the bridge table, if that were possible. When Murray came to the podium he offered some side-splitting comments on his partnership with Kehela, but he concentrated primarily on Larry Cohen (author of the book “Law of Total Tricks”), who had been the original bearer of the news of Murray’s impending induction into the Hall. “He wrote a book about some kind of law,” quipped Murray. “Somewhere it says you have to be aggressive at the 3-level whenever you hold 18 trumps. Must have been a typographical error; although Larry lives in Florida, maybe he had something to do with the counting in that election down there.”
Murray and Kehela were paid the ultimate compliment by having a book written about them, “Canada’s Bridge Warriors”, by Roy Hughes, which won the International Bridge Press Association’s Book of the Year award in 2007.
Eric Murray authored one convention, which bears his name, the “Murray Two Diamonds”, and co-authored the “Drury” convention with Doug Drury.
As a bridge administrator, Murray was the president of the Ontario Bridge League in its early days, engineering its union with the ACBL, and was District 2 representative to the ACBL Board of Directors. He was also the organizing chairman of the 1964 Summer North American Bridge Championships,
Murray, whose energy and drive are legendary, was the prime mastermind behind the creation of the Canadian Bridge Federation in 1967. In recognition of all his contributions to bridge in Canada and his leading role in the formation of the Canadian Bridge Federation, Eric Murray was named Honorary Life Member of the CBF in 2009.
Watch Murray’s ACBL Hall of Fame video below: