Origins of Leverstock Green Bridge Club
In the early 1970’s several friends started meeting at the home of Carole Brose who with her friend Stella Quinn taught us the rudiments of bridge. The standard could only be described as kitchen sink level as we were all beginners, but very enthusiastic.
Forty years ago when the Leverstock Green Village Hall was opened we were keen to start duplicate bridge and were able to arrange usage of the Small Hall. The original players formed the first committee. We carried out a leaflet drop throughout the village, Longdean Park and Kodak and from the outset were able to have seven or eight tables each Wednesday evening.
Two very experienced duplicate bridge players Harold Sutcliffe and Bernard Byron joined the club and offered a great deal of help to most of the members who had previously only played rubber bridge.
Of the original founding committee only Andrew Blakesley and Maureen Harrold still remain as members, but among the first players when the club was formed Pat Hogger and Jane Farndon remain loyal members to this day. The club has also benefited from the hard work and dedication of several members, notably Brian Jordan, Gordon Harris and Alan Poole who all served as chairmen and always maintained the original aspiration of Leverstock Green Bridge Club being friendly and welcoming to all.
The club grew quickly and tables regularly had to be set up in the kitchen as well as the hall and because of this growth which now included popular Tuesday morning bridge it was decided to move to larger premises at The Catholic Church Hall twenty years ago.
As the club grew and evolved into the competitive – but still friendly – club we enjoy today, several trophies were donated by respected figures from the club’s past. These trophies are awarded annually for various forms of the duplicate game, as described below.
Trophies presented annually
Andrew Blakesley Cup for random teams of four
A founder member of Leverstock Green in 1971 along with his wife Maureen, Andrew played consistently over many years. He served as Treasurer in the early days, and donated the cup that bears his name when there was no trophy already in existence for teams of four, a form of the game which Andrew particularly enjoyed. The ‘random’ formation of teams from the pairs available on the night was intended to give all abilities the opportunity to win the competition.
Bryan Elkington Cup for teams of four
Bryan was a past chairman, who has now moved away from the area. This is a random teams of four competition run on a Tuesday morning.
Alan Grace Shield for duplicate pairs, single winner
This is the club’s principal duplicate pairs competition. Alan - who died suddenly towards the end of 2016 - was one half of a long-term successful partnership with Mike Read. Alan met Mike at Oxford University where they both studied Chemistry, and taught Mike to play bridge. Subsequently Alan worked for Esso whilst Mike joined Kodak. They played together in the Business Houses league, then at Leverstock Green - with notable success - when Alan moved to Hemel Hempstead in the early 1970’s. Alan did much of the directing and scoring (manually in those days, of course!). In 1990 Alan retired to Pickering in Yorkshire.
Gordon Harris Trophy for duplicate pairs, single winner
Gordon was the driving force and most active member of the club for a long period, starting in the 1970’s. Nothing was too much trouble to him and the club would not have survived, or grown to its current size, without Gordon’s tireless efforts. The Tuesday morning sessions would have been a rare opportunity in those days for inexperienced players to move onwards without feeling intimidated at evening clubs. Gordon served as chairman and also gave twenty-five years’ service as Treasurer, retiring from that post in 2004, and passing away in 2006.
Mike Read Shield for Swiss pairs
Mike Read served as a director, then as chairman during the 1980’s. From the early 1970’s Mike formed a very successful partnership with Alan Grace, his university friend. Both retired to Pickering in Yorkshire in the early 1990’s.
Mike loved the social side of the game and the shield that bears his name was originally awarded for rubber bridge, where the later rounds were contested in people’s homes, sometimes until the early hours!
Maureen Roberts Cup for mixed pairs
Maureen Roberts – now Maureen Harrold – was one of the founders of the club and is still a regular player. The cup bearing her name was originally presented to an individual but is now awarded for mixed pairs.
Sutcliffe Bowl for teams of four
Harold and Joan Sutcliffe donated the Sutcliffe Bowl for Teams of Four, with the previous year's winning team not allowed to enter again as a team in the following year. Harold is no longer with us, but Joan Sutcliffe is still a member.
LGVA Festival Cup, single winner
Since our formation as a bridge club we have had close ties with the Leverstock Green Village Association through our use of the same premises originally, and the fact that some of our founding members were also active in the LGVA. In recognition of that special relationship we still compete annually for LGVA Festival Trophy during the Village Association's Festival week. This is a single-winner pairs event, and uniquely is open to all comers, not just club members.
David Blasebalk cup for less experienced pairs
In 2016 David Blasebalk presented a cup to the club in memory of his brother in law Kenneth Shenderey. David stipulated this trophy should recognise an outstanding performance by a less experienced pair, and accordingly this cup is awarded to the pair with the highest percentage score at a single Tuesday pairs session over the year, provided that both players have an NGS rating of less than ten on the final day of the competition year. Should this pair also have won another club trophy for that session, the David Blasebalk cup will be awarded to the qualifying pair with the second-best percentage score over the year.