Tue | May 22, 2018

Gordon Robinson | Nothing cheesy about 'Cheddar'

Published:Tuesday | January 2, 2018 | 12:00 AM

As if this Christmas wasn't difficult enough, I learned of the passing of my friend Trevor 'Cheddar' Jones on December 23.

Trevor Jones isn't a household name, but there was nothing cheesy about 'Cheddar'. He was an old-fashioned, values-oriented Jamaican for whom 'principle' was never inconvenient. I knew him for decades through bridge. It's a national tragedy that this beautiful game, a victim of Jamaica Bridge Association malaise, is dying a slow, agonising death despite its unlimited potential to teach youth discipline, team spirit and peaceful dispute resolution.

Yet, government promotes populist sports like track and field from which very few Usains will ever emerge; cricket, a forlorn hope for almost every schoolboy participant; and football, which has become a haven for second-class overseas players. As useful as these sports are, none have the potential to produce a multitude of developed minds and peaceful, productive citizens as does chess or bridge. These sports (yes, they ARE sports) build character; promote problem solving, critical thinking, mental and physical fitness. Yes, PHYSICAL fitness. Play an international bridge tournament over three weeks and then tell me about physical demands of Test cricket.

 

EMBRACED AS EQUALS

 

Anyhoo, enough preaching. Gene Autry and I met 'Cheddar' Jones over 40 years ago when we began attending bridge tournaments. By then, the partnership of Vaughn Theobalds and Trevor Jones was cemented as contenders at every tournament. But they embraced us as equals and helped us along the way until we were recognised as players. 'Tibbo' and 'Cheddar' became a staple at our bridge social circle that operated like a weekly round-robin at a different home each week. It was at one of those late 1970s round robin sessions that my Uncle, the late, great J.D. Hall, gave 'Cheddar' his bridge nickname. Shortages in the 1970s included even cheese, but Trevor used work connections to source the scarce commodity for friends.

'Cheddar' was playing bridge long before. The following report appeared in The Gleaner of Monday, September 11, 1967:

"Bam Dabadgbav and Quintin Thomas, with a total of 191 points, won the Summer Handicap pairs bridge tournament played ... on Friday, September 1 and Sunday, September 3. Second was Dr Ralph St Luce and Dr David Levy with half-a-point less. Ronnie Holness and Harold Alexander [took] third place with 180 points, while Mrs Eric Brown and Vaughn Theobalds totaled 178 points to take fourth .... In the weekly tournament played.... on Tuesday, September 5, Dudley Boxer and Nigel Henriques won with 87 points, with Ronnie Holness and Pascal Wong Ken, second with 85 points, and Trevor Jones and Quintin Thomas third....."

Kindly note, 55 years ago, The Gleaner acknowledged bridge as a sport and coverage regularly appeared on its sports pages. Second, a huge number of persons from all walks of life played bridge at home. Many were high-class players and tournaments provided opportunities to meet and network with these persons on equal footing in an atmosphere of camaraderie. In that regard, the bridge table frequently reminded me of the racetrack.

 

HIGH CLASS PLAYERS

 

Gene Autry and I were still considered 'juniors' in 1978 (although we had created somewhat of a stir by winning three consecutive weekly tournaments and enthusiastically invented our own original bidding system, which we patriotically named 'The Rasta Club') when an international Caribbean event was hosted by Jamaica. Jamaica boasted so many high-class players that it entered two teams of six players each. Based on the results of extensive 'trials', the Theobalds-Jones partnership qualified to lead Jamaica's 'B' team with top-class pair Dudley Boxer and B.K. Frankson.

Selection policy mandated that, two pairs having qualified automatically for each team, a third pair was selected from participants in the trials. 'A' team selection was already completed when Vaughn Theobalds, after consultation with 'Cheddar', rose to his full height and announced to a packed room, "We want the Rastas!" which was a shocker since many established pairs were ahead of us in the pecking order.

To cut a longer story long, Jamaica 'B' won the tournament, beating top-ranked Guadeloupe in the finals. The Rastas played the entire finals against one of the Caribbean's best pairs, Jean-Louis Derivery (became CACBF president in 1983 and again in 2009; sadly passed away in 2013, like 'Cheddar', on December 23) and Andre Rimbaud. So it was I had the pleasure of helping my great friend Trevor 'Cheddar' Jones to take home an international trophy which I know he treasured always.

Trevor Jones, born May 20, 1938; died December 23, 2017, RIP.

Peace and Love

- Gordon Robinson is an attorney-at-law. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com.