News Jan / Feb. 2014




Leslie Bell & Sue Pickering are on the left, Sue Baylis & Sheila Myers are behind Sue Pickering and Eunice & John Ferguson are front right.
Held on Saturday 1 February 2014
Morpeth Bridge for All teachers held their annual wine and cheese party, including a duplicate competition, for students past and present on 1 February at Storey Park Community Centre.

There were 78 students present this year as well as 12 beginners, who had only been learning since September, playing in a separate section alongside the more experienced players.

The bridge competition was again directed by Norman Gray in his usual calm and relaxed style. The students create a really friendly atmosphere every year which is a testament to the way the game of bridge is developing now.

The winners were Sue Baylis & Sheila Myers playing north/south and Eunice & John Ferguson playing east/west. The beginners’ group winners were Sue Pickering & Leslie Bell.

If you are interested in learning bridge details of our classes are on our website or contact Tessa Lee on 07773889597.

It's a game that requires stamina, concentration, teamwork and ruthlessness - as well as years of practice - to acquire any real proficiency. As far as the taxman is concerned, however, letting a mere card game be considered as a sport would be a bridge too far. How can something be a sport when you can hold a glass of whisky while playing it?

A tax tribunal yesterday dealt a losing hand to the English Bridge Union, which had wanted to be recognised as a sport so that members would not have to pay VAT on their competition entry fees, which amounted to pounds 631,000 in 2012-1

Although it is seen as a sport - a contract sport, as the joke goes - by other countries, the Charity Commission, the sector's watchdog, and even the International Olympic Committee, the Tax Chamber of the First-Tier Tribunal ruled that bridge does not involve enough physical activity to make it so.

Not even the fact that Martina Navratilova and Billie Jean King, the former Wimbledon tennis champions, are keen bridge players, swapping one sort of grand slam for another, would sway the panel.

The English Bridge Union (EBU) had argued that bridge is a healthy pursuit, pointing to studies showing that regular contests may benefit the immune system and reduce the risk of dementia. It also insisted that if activities such as croquet, darts and billiards qualify as sports, then the 50,000 members of the union should also be seen as sportsmen.

The EBU's barrister, David Ewart, QC, asked whether it was "really possible to draw a distinction between the mental skill needed in planning a snooker shot, or a croquet stroke, and the physical skill used in executing it". Alas, he was trumped. Dismissing the EBU's appeal, Judge Charles Hellier explained: "To our minds, sport normally connotes a game with an athletic element, rather than simply a game.

"Contract bridge involves some physical activity, but not a significant amount. The physical activity is not the aim of participation and physical skill is not particularly important to the outcome."

The tribunal decided that the interpretation of the tax exemption was clear and refused to refer the dispute to the European Court of Justice.

In passing judgment, Judge Hellier admitted qualms that failing to recognise bridge as a sport might discriminate against older people, who form the majority of players. The Australian

Like many many  others I was saddened to hear about the death of Bill Brumby. I first played against Bill in 1967 and last in 2013. Throughout that time he was always kind considerate encouraging but a tough opponent.

In his youth he enjoyed playing football and his desire to perform to the best of his ability never left him.

Indeed as little as 3 years ago he encouraged me to enter Senior Trials something I had  not really considered and when I won my first cap was one of the first to congratulate me. Bill became a good friend to three generations of my family and his example of table manners is a lesson to us all. He could not understand why so few people now enter NEBA events and even into his 90’s he was competitive at the table. He had a  number of charming partners including of course his dear wife who pre deceased him.

Like many others I will certainly miss him.

I can safely say the bridge world is a poorer place without him.

Doubtless he has already found old friends and is enjoying a game and hopefully looking down on us fondly.

Clive Owen

The Cumbria Bridge Association's 58th Annual Bridge Congress is to be held at the Windermere Hydro, Bowness on Windermere on the weekend of March 21st to 23rd, 2014..

The format of the Congress has reverted to pre-2013 timings.


Further information and all hotel & congress bookings from Janet Sheppard, Brougham House, 25 St Helens Street, Cockermouth Cumbria, CA13 9HX.

Telephone 01900 821421; email

We did not cover ourselves in glory as we were very rusty after 2 month leave of absence from the bridge scene but we totally enjoyed it. (Not as bad as the cricket mind - we took some ribbing over that) - and we bid and made 7NT.
Mary with Aileen Cunningham. (I'm envious of the bold building and signage).

Arrangements have been made to run TD Training sessions in the North East at Durham Bridge Club in 2014 on the following dates:-

26 April, 2014    Essentials

7 June, 2014    Book Rulings

17 July, 2014    Judgement Rulings

20 Sept, 2014   Assessment      

Booking should be made via the EBU.  There are 16 places per session and each session needs about 10 members to run on a viable basis.

Montage of players from the Bishop Auckland Club by John Dobson


It is with great sadness that I must inform both members and friends of Bill Brumby, that he passed away last Saturday, 4th January.
Bill was extemely well known by bridge players throughout the north east and will be greatly missed by all.
His son, Peter, has asked me to say that Bill's funeral will be held at South Shields Crematorium on Monday 13th January and, afterwards back at the house. - Gary Coupland
Read about Bill's memories of Newcastle Bridge Club

The team of Paul Hackett, Gunnar Hallberg, John Holland, David Mossop, David Price and Colin Simpson have won the Senior European Trials.

Playing in the final on 4th and 5th January at Richmond Bridge Club against Brian Senior, Clive Owen, David Kendrick and Brian Callaghan, the Hackett team were down 92-111 after the first day. They came storming back on the second day, however, to complete an emphatic victory 271-163 over the 96 boards.



I wonder if anyone can fill me in on the history of this event. It was run like the Kempson cup and I played in it in the late 70’s early 80’s then it seemed to fade away. It had a fine trophy – I presume it disappeared as the event is not in our archive. - Bill March

If the spelling is correct, I have no idea. There IS a Wightman Cup which is now played for by the Club Champion Teams. I wonder if Clive might know? - Neil

The Whiteman Cup used to be a men only teams knock out run on identical lines to the Kempson Cup. If my memory serves me correctly it was stopped due to falling numbers although they were still greater than our current Kempson numbers! - Clive Owen

Congratulations to Frank and Janet Springett who pulled in some very good results at Blackpool's Year End Congress. They were 6th in the Mixed Pairs event and in a large field of 79 pairs, they came 4th in the Swiss Pairs.

The Annual NEBA Congress for 2014 will be held in the Metrocentre Marriott Hotel over the weekend of 7-9 November.