Zia is one of the most colorful and recognizable personalities in the bridge world. He is a 14-time North American champion and four-time ACBL Player of the Year. As of October 2006, Zia was ranked 21st among all World Open Grand Masters.
Zia first came to the attention of the bridge world when he led his team from Pakistan to a silver medal in the most prestigious bridge event on the schedule — the Bermuda Bowl. The lightly regarded team came from nowhere to make the championship round of the tournament in Port Chester NY. Zia’s flair attracted immediate attention, and he was back in the limelight five years later in the Rosenblum Cup in Miami Beach. Playing four-handed and led again by Zia, the Pakistani team earned another silver medal in a world championship.
His reputation solidified, Zia started winning championships in North America. Playing with a wide variety of partners, he has earned an unprecedented four ACBL Player of the Year awards. The title is given to the ACBL member who earns the most masterpoints in national championships during a calendar year. Zia earned the accolade in 1991, 1996, 2000 and 2005. He has more than a dozen North American championships to his credit, including two victories in the Spingold Knockout Teams and the Vanderbilt Knockout Teams. He is a three-time winner of the Reisinger B-A-M Teams, one of the toughest events on the bridge calendar.
The ACBL Board of Directors selected Zia as Honorary Member of the Year in 2005. This top award is given to recognize a player’s long and meritorious service to the organization.
He is the author of “Bridge My Way,” an autobiography written in 1999. He has also hosted many television shows.
In recent years, Zia has settled down as a family man. He and Emma, his wife of five years (2007), have two sons. It doesn’t take much prodding to get Zia to talk at length about the pleasures of fatherhood and his life at home in London.
In late 2005, Zia turned his attention to his native Pakistan, which was devastated by an earthquake in October of that year. He spent much of the next 18 months or so in a fund-raising effort aimed at producing enough cash to build a school in one of the hardest-hit areas. He announced at the 2007 Spring NABC in St. Louis that sufficient funds had been raised to build that school.