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Post 8 “Bridge Whist” Tuesday, 5th September 2017.

Good Morning.

On several of my posts, the early phase of Bridge has been discussed by others, and more precisely, how did the term “Bridge Whist” arise ?  May I put in my twopenny worth.

i. Many people would agree that the finest bibliography of card games was made by Mr. Frederic Jessel (1905). You can download the pdf of his book, and it will be an education.  His final entry was added late, as an addenda - “John Doe, Auction Bridge, [1904]” published in India.  There’s only one known copy of that John Doe book, in the Bodleian Library - thank goodness for that.  It’s undated and Jessel gives a date [1904], but it must have taken a while to travel from Allahabad, India to England - I suspect it was printed a little earlier.

ii. Mr Jessel had an article published in “Notes And Queries, Saturday, 26th March 1904” :

                                                      “BRIDGE” : ITS DERIVATION.

  "This game is said to have been brought to England from Constantinople, where it had been introduced by Russian members of the Corps Diplomatique. … When I played it for the first time in London in 1892, it had already gained some popularity. M. Jean Boussac says that the game was introduced into Paris from London in 1893, and quotes a paragraph from Figaro of 26 November of that year, which gives a notice of the game.  I think it is as well to mention these dates as the author of ‘Badsworth On Bridge’ gives a circumstantial account of the first introduction of bridge into England in the year 1894".

iii. His bibliography covers all books on card games, but fortunately Mr. William Dalton summarised those on Bridge.  This he did in his “Saturday Bridge, Reproduced With Revisions From The “Saturday Review, 1906, West Strand Publishing Co. Ltd”.  Mr. William Dalton was, perhaps, the major authority at that time - I believe chairman of the Portland Card Committee.  On one of my books, someone has written - “Also very religious (Anglo-Catholic). Used to go into retreat with my father at Pleshy, etc.”.  Sadly, on page 37, Mr. Dalton acknowledges Mr. Frederick Jessel for much of the information, which must have upset the correct Mr. Frederic Jessel !  A very unusual lapse by the very particular doyen of the Portland Club.

iv. I counted 87 books on Bridge in Mr. Dalton’s list, and only three use the term “Bridge Whist” ( I hope I’ve counted correctly) - most just use the term “Bridge”.  But even Mr. Jessel missed a few books, especially those published by the U.S. Playing Card company and inserted into their Duplicate Whist Tray sets.  Early ones sometimes mention the game of Bridge Whist in their latter pages.  Very few of these crossed the Atlantic, I bought mine 100 years or so later.

v. And by the way C. J. Melrose’s book on Bridge Whist was mentioned in an earlier post - that’s another fascinating story - who was C. J. Melrose - you won’t find the answer in any Bridge Magazine methink ?

vi. One of the books that Mr. Dalton includes is “Bridge Whist” by Professor Hoffmann.  My copy has the collation - “Bridge Whist, Chas. Goodall & Son Ltd., London, 1900, 6.7x9.5 cm, 15+(1) pages”.  It’s very scarce, but I should think some collectors do have copies.  Mr. Jessel’s copy is dated 1899 and that was regarded as the first edition with just a single known copy in the Bodleian.

vii. Professor Hoffmann was a man apart, a giant in the area of conjuring and legerdemain.  His books are avidly collected, and I believe he has a whole society to his name.  It turns out he was a giant in Bridge too, and sits very near the top of the Bridge high table.  He gave his profession as - “Barrister (not now practising) and Litterateur”, age 71 years on the 1911 Census.  I’m not sure what “Litterateur” means but it seems to allude to his book writing.  It’s a lovely word.

viii. Everyone has come to recognise the term “shock & awe”.  Imagine mine, when the cover & title page of the Professor Hoffmann Bridge Whist book was uploaded to the internet, but this one with the date 1895 on it's title page.  It’s an interesting website that discusses Goodall rule books, you should be able to find it via Google - I hope it’s still there.  And there it is, Bridge Whist but with the word “Bridge” in larger type and "1895" on the front cover.  That book sits right at the genesis of Bridge books, only Boaz comes before. Sadly, there appears to be no copy in any British library.

ix.  At the rear of a scarce little pocket rule book by Captain Crawley, “Whist For All Players, 1895, 10th edition”, a book called ““Bridge” Whist” by Professor Hoffmann is cited.  The word “Bridge” is in quotes in the title, which seems to imply to me that Bridge was regarded as a variant of Whist when that book was published.  I wonder whether the Captain Crawley Whist book actually preceded the publication of Professor Hoffmann’s book - just a thought !  If so, then that Whist book sits on a pedestal too.

x. I’m unable to conclude that the period that came with the demise of Whist and the start of Auction Bridge should just be referred to as Bridge, because one of the earliest books uses the term “Bridge Whist”.  For me though, I will always refer to that period as Bridge - what about you ?

Best Wishes, Ken in Bournemouth.

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