The Home Internationals: A brief history
Last updated 20 April 2021
The Home Bridge Internationals for England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland (then called the Irish Free State) was launched in 1937. Lord Camrose, at that time proprietor of the Daily Telegraph, donated the trophy in 1938. The original trophy has been lost, but a replacement is competed for annually.
The 1939 series was not completed due to war. The Camrose re-started in 1946. The 2016 series was the 73rd which makes the Camrose the most-played international bridge series in the world, for the European Championships that began in 1932 has recently only been played in alternate years.
The South of Ireland dropped out in 1951 but re-joined as the Republic of Ireland in December 1998. The format from then until 2005 was head-to-head matches played over five weekends, with a different country sitting out each weekend, as in the former Five Nations Rugby. Each weekend was divided into three stanzas of 30 boards victory-pointed separately. From January 2005 the format was changed to match the Lady Milne but over two weekends. All five countries met at the same venue playing a full round robin each weekend with two matches in play at a time and one country sitting out each stanza.
The Republic of Ireland won the first match under the new format in 2005.
The sit-out combined with six-player teams meant some players sat out half the weekend and led to calls for a sixth team to be added. This was done for the first time in January 2007. The sixth team was called “The holders” which meant the Federation winning in 2006 fielded two teams in 2007. The holders (by chance, the same six players who represented Republic of Ireland throughout 2006) won again for the Republic of Ireland. So the Republic again fielded two teams in 2008. This time the trophy went to England who thereby would have two teams in 2009, when by chance England was host for the second weekend. The idea for the sixth team was changed to be “the host for the second weekend fields two teams on both weekends”. One team is called by the name of the country and the other by the name of the Federation (e.g. England and EBU). As the right to have two horses in the race would rotate round the countries in a five-year cycle both could be given the right to win the trophy for their Federation. And, in 2009, it was the EBU team that won the trophy. In 2011 Wales fielded two teams and it was the “A” team called Wales that won the trophy for the first time for the Principality.
The totals over 78 years are as follows:
· England has won the trophy 55 times (of which two were wins for the EBU, in 2009 and 2019) ;
· Scotland has won 12 times (most recently in 1998);
· England and Scotland have drawn three times (in 1961, 1972 and 1973).
· The Republic of Ireland has won 7 times (most recently in 2017)
· Wales has won once (in 2011)
· Northern Ireland has yet to win the trophy.
The Camrose Trophy is awarded to the country with the most victory points over the 10 matches played.
All head-to-head encounters have their own individual trophy. Where a country is fielding two teams it is the aggregate score over the four matches (two each weekend) that determines the trophy winner.
The Lady Milne Trophy Home Internationals for Womens Teams
In 1934 the Lady Milne started as the Ladies Team championship of the National Bridge Association run by Hubert Phillips. Then in 1950 it became the trophy for the Ladies Home Internationals with one team eligible from each country. In 1949 entry was still open to many teams. In 1950 the winner is recorded as “Scotland”. It is assumed that in 1950 it became the Home Internationals with only one team from each country. In the early years England fielded the winner of the Whitelaw Cup, its Womens teams championship.
The event is now played over one weekend for Womens
teams from England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of
Ireland. Since 2009 the host fields a sixth team called by the name of the
Federation. This team can also win the trophy for the country and did so for
England in 2010. Teams play a head-to-head match of 32 boards against each of
the other five, each being victory-pointed.
In 2011 for the first time in 62 years the series ended in a tie, the trophy being shared between Scotland and England. The regulations for a tie were subsequently changed making one a lot less likely
England has won outright on 51 occasions (one being its second team in 2010). Scotland has won outright 14 times: in 1950, 1956, 1980, 1984, 1986, 1992, 1994, 2004, 2007, 2009, 2012, 2014, 2016 & 2018; Wales won in 1967, 1968, 1988 and 2015 Northern Ireland won in 1981 and 1985; the Republic of Ireland, joining the series in 1998, has yet to win.
The Senior Home Internationals for the Teltscher Trophy
The first Senior Home International was played in Oxford 30th May- 1st June 2008. The national teams of the five countries were joined by a Patron’s team led by Bernard Teltscher, who agreed to support the event for its first five-year cycle. The Patron’s team could win the event but not the trophy. The winning team was England (Paul Hackett & Ross Harper, Gunnar Hallberg & John Holland, Ian Panto & Tony Waterlow, npc John Williams). The first four of these subsequently became the World Senior Champions the following year in Sao Paulo.
As of 2021 England have won six times, Scotland four times, Republic of Ireland three times and Wales once. Northern Ireland are yet to win.
The Junior Camrose Home Internationals for players aged under 26 years
The series, initially for those under 27, but now for those under 26, was launched on 18/19th September 1971 in Glasgow. Scotland won. Members of that team Sandy Duncan, Barnet Shenkin, George Cuthbertson, and Derek Diamond all went to represent Scotland in the Camrose. The other team members were David Shenkin and Cameron McLatchie.
Scotland have won in 1973, 1975 1976 2010 and 2012. In 1972 and 1978 Scotland tied with England.
England won outright for the first time in 1974 and again in 1977 (the event that year was actually played in December 1976). Since 1979 England has dominated the event, tying with Scotland in 1998 but winning every year since except 2010 in Porthcawl when Scotland won both age groups (in the Juniors overtaking the Republic of Ireland by a single point in the final round),2012 and 2020. Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland (who joined in January 1999 when the event was played in Dublin) have yet to win the trophy.
The Peggy Bayer Trophy for players aged under 21
The Under 19 Home Internationals was launched on 3/4th February 1990 in Cheltenham with a trophy donated by the late Palmer Bayer (also the founder of the Educational Trust for British Bridge) in honour of his wife Peggy. Later it became the U20 and then U21 championship in line with European age limits. Only Scotland and England in 1990 took part with Scotland winning. The Scottish team contained Geoff Bateman, 13 (the older of the Bateman brothers who subsequently played many Junior events for Scotland) and his partner Caldwell, 14. Scotland won again in 1995 and 1997 but England has won the rest except 2010 and 2016. Wales and Northern Ireland have yet to win. The Republic of Ireland (who joined in January 1999) won for the first time in 2016.
The youngest-ever competitor was Claire Evans of Wales who competed aged 9 on 30/31 January 1999 in Dublin having been born on 2nd May 1989.
With thanks to the late Patrick Jourdain for the original data