Zia Mahmood (born January 7, 1946) is a Pakistani professional bridge player. He is a World Bridge Federation and American Contract Bridge League Grand Life Master. As of April 2011 he was the 10th-ranked World Grand Master.
Zia was born in Karachi. Zia was educated in England from the age of six to twenty-one. He qualified as a Chartered Accountant of the Institute of England and Wales and spent three years running the family newspaper chain in Pakistan. He also spent eighteen months in Abu Dhabi developing business interests.
Mahmood is married to Lady Emma, his wife since February 2001. She is the daughter of Neil Primrose, 7th Earl of Rosebery. They have two sons: Zain and Rafi.
Mahmood achieved international bridge fame, almost overnight, during one fortnight in 1981 when he led Pakistan to a second-place finish in the Bermuda Bowl tournament. The Bermuda Bowl is the most important open world championship, and that was the first participation by anyone from the World Bridge Federation geographic zone "Asia and the Middle East". It also tied Taiwan for the best finish by anyone from outside Europe and the United States. It is now the second best finish from outside Europe and the United States, after Brazil won the tournament in 1989.
Five years later, Zia led a short-handed team from Pakistan to second place in the 1986 Rosenblum Cup tournament, which is the open world championship in even-number non-Olympic years. That remains tied for best finish by anyone from outside Europe and the United States. The event is transnational, but none of the nine winning teams has included a single player from outside Europe and the United States.
Zia Mahmood is the author of Bridge My Way, an autobiography, and has hosted many TV shows. For many years his regular partner was Masood Salim (deceased), followed by Michael Rosenberg, and now Bob Hamman - as members of Nick Nickell's professional team through spring 2012.
Zia has represented the United States in world competition, and thus he won his first major world championship, the 2009 Bermuda Bowl. Although he won the quadrennial Mixed Teams in 2004 with Sabine Auken and a French pair. He still considers himself Pakistani, however: "I am proud and happy to be representing America, but my Pakistani identity is in no way submerged. I feel like a Pakistani who is living in America and playing for America." To prove his point, Zia and his American teammates once played their opening match in Pakistani dress.
Mahmood spends much of his time in Great Britain and the United States and is very much part of the London bridge scene. He wrote a weekly column for The Guardian newspaper until January 2012, when the paper stopped covering bridge.
The ACBL Hall of Fame inducted Zia in 2007. According to the citation sometime that year, he was a London resident.
Zia won the ACBL's 3-day Life Master Pairs championship in 2000, 2004, and 2007 with three different partners. After placing second in the 85th rendition, July 2014, he is a 3-time winner and 5-time runner-up with seven different partners.