Capt. Ewart Kempson

(The first person in this country to broadcast on Contract Bridge, way back in the 'twenties, was Ewart Kempson. In the two years preceding the war he gave a fortnightly series of Bridge Half Hours on National and Regional programmes. As he represents the views of a great number of listeners, he is eminently fitted to submit this critical survey of the current series of bridge broadcasts.-ED.)

BRIDGE went on the air in a big way on Monday, 29th October, 1945. Starting with a listening audience of a few thousand, this weekly feature has grown steadily in popularity and is at present attracting an audience of more than one million ; throughout the country, bridge players (and many who have never played bridge in their lives) make a point of listening to "Bridge on the Air " at 11.3 every Monday night ; it is hardly an exaggeration to say that it has become part of their lives, and many a rubber is interrupted to listen to the experts, chief of whom are M. Harrison Gray and Terence Reese, who take it in turn to be master of ceremonies.

Before the war the B.B.C. gave occasional running commentaries on important bridge matches, and, more often than not, the commentator was a nationally known B.B.C. personality who, despite his charm of manner and excellent style of delivery, completely failed to convince listeners that he knew much about the game.

Ewart Kempson was selected to officiate as non-playing captain : at once a Good and a Bad thing. Good because, save for Selby Wraith, his favourite Newcastle partner, there is not a front ranker in England who can play Kempson adequately ; bad because, there are few finer card players in the country than the slim, smart, flippant Kempson.

Kempson, born at the close of the Naughty Nineties in Worcestershire, collected his commission in the Indian Army he served in a Rajput Regiment of Light Infantry. About him there clings an un mistakable trace of the pukka: a certain unconscious arrogance which his bonhomie saves from offence.

In his own area Northumbria and, to a great extent, Northern Ireland Kempson is the biggest bridge god there is.
His devastating psychics, his spectacular card play have won him golden opinions ; his sensational victories in the old days over various South teams of Internationals have gained him a niche in the hall of bridge fame which` only his absence from major tournaments prevents from becoming a full-size statue.

2014 ---- ESBU
2015 ---- ESBU
2016 ---- NEBA


Ian Rankin writes -"The solid silver cup is called the ‘Newcastle Journal Bridge Challenge Cup’ & matches appear to have been held every year since 1956 except for 1968 & 2008. Originally they were tripartite matches between NEBA and the Western & Eastern divisions of the SBU, but the Western District dropped out in the mid-eighties".

Clive Owen adds "Actually for many years there were four teams playing. The central District also participated but never won. It used to be a 2 day event with a dinner on the Saturday night. With the increased demands of a modern bridge calendar Central and West dropped out. It was the blue riband of the NEBA calendar and everyone played their strongest teams unlike now. I don’t know about 2008 but virtually certain that in 1968 the competition will have taken place but the winners will not have engraved the trophy".


The 1st local association to be created was the North Eastern with its H.Q. at Newcastle.

The guiding star of this body was, inevitably,
the phoenix of bridge. Ewart Kempson.


EBU 'Contract Bridge Journal' October 1948.