by Ann Curtin & John Turner

On a chilly, but sunny, spring evening John and I went to play bridge at the Thursday Club. Its premises are in a brand new building, Adrian House, part of an extension to Trinity College, whose entrance is in Grange Road. The room in which the club plays could have been built especially for that purpose. It's a beautiful room with an immensely high ceiling and large picture windows looking out on to Trinity's private section of the Backs. In daylight the room is well lit, but the artificial lighting is perfect too. The room is perfectly air-conditioned so that the temperature is comfortably warm - a welcome change for those of us who either swelter at Shire Hall or freeze in the Trumpington Village Hall. The club has its own floor-to-ceiling built-in cupboard, made of beautiful wood, with many shelves so that all the paraphernalia required for a bridge club is neatly laid out and readily accessible. No need for scrabbling around in cardboard boxes. The lobby to the room has two large coat rails, well stocked with hangers. There is a large table as you go in where the person taking the money has space to lay out his/her equipment, and the stationery required for the evening's bridge can be laid out too. The floor is, of course, carpeted, and the chairs are cushioned and comfortable.

In case, after reading this, you think that you too would like to join the Thursday Club, I'm sorry to have to tell you that the club is full. Its membership is held at 70. The maximum number of tables the room can hold is 14 - it is crowded then and as most members turn out to play every week the club has to maintain a control of numbers.

The Thursday Club has acquired the use of this quite marvellous room through the influence of Denis Marrian, a fellow of Trinity. Denis, and his wife Biddy, have been long-standing members of the club and rarely miss their weekly bridge. The club has a long association with Trinity. The founder members met at Eric Warne's bridge class at Netherhall School between 1970 and 1973. Eric Warne gained a double first at Trinity and taught history at Cambridgeshire High School for Boys. He started his bridge classes after retiring as a full-time teacher. His pupils enjoyed the bridge so much they decided to form their own club which was held in Blinco Road, on Mondays, and was called the Blinco Club. This club grew so rapidly a second bridge evening for the keen players was started on Thursdays. Eric Warne himself was always a member of the Thursday Club and was its President until his death in 1978.

The Thursday Club's first premises, in 1975, were the Conservative Party's Headquarters in Hartington Grove. In 1983 the Club moved to the Constitutional Club in Cherry Hinton Road, and in 1988 to Addenbrooke's Hospital where it was fortunate to have the use at different times of several large rooms. This facility came to an end in 1995. It has since then been happily housed in Trinity College.

Members of the Thursday Club have made a big contribution to bridge in the County. Bernard Buckley and Sally Dempster have both served as County Secretary for long periods. Roger St John, Dick Fry and David Man have all been County Treasurer and Sue Oram has been County Membership Secretary. Another founder member of the Thursday Club, who, following Eric Warne's example, has probably made the greatest contribution to bridge in the county, is Gladys Gittins. Gladys has been both County Secretary and County Membership Secretary. She has been teaching for many years and is now a qualified EBU teacher. She started on her own, finding her own premises for her first classes. Her first class was so successful it formed itself into a club, the Priory. Gladys now teaches twice a week at Coleridge and Sawston Village Colleges. She runs other classes as well. Her pupils respond spontaneously to her enthusiasm for bridge and love of the game. More importantly, her sensitivity to the difficulties of beginners and the trouble she takes in preparing hands for particular classes, have meant that she has inspired no fewer than five operating bridge clubs. Her pupils invariably want to go on playing. The more confident of the players from these clubs have then moved on to the EBU affiliated clubs in the county.

Gladys is not the only teacher at the Thursday Club. Sue Oram, the club's President, and Brian Copping also run classes.


Lulled into a false sense of security by the pleasantness of the opposition and the cosiness of the room, I took a couple of poor views on this hand against Sheila and Ken Barker, and ended up with the minimum number of tricks:

NS Vul
S Axx
H Axx
D Qxx
C 98xx
Dealer S (John)
S KJxx
H 9
D K109xxx
W        E
S Qxxxx
H Kxx
D 2
C Jxxx
S x
H QJ10xxx
C K10x
John        Sheila        Ann        Ken      
1h 2d 2NT P
3h P P P

Sheila led a low diamond, which I won in hand with the 8, Ken's 2 looking every inch a singleton. I then led the hQ, getting a smooth 9 from my left. The danger of running this is huge and rather obvious but I let it run, as it seemed to me Sheila could easily have had the K. When this lost to Ken things began to look bad. He returned the obvious low club and I faced a second crisis - do I go for broke and put up the K, hoping to win the trick and draw the trumps, or do I play RHO for Q or J (or QJ) by playing low? Well, I put up the K, thereby losing all three clubs plus two further ruffs, for a pathetic -200. If I take better views I easily make the contract. Fortunately the traveller showed that some E/W pairs had got to the thin 4s, making, so we unjustly salvaged an average or so.

We also got taken to the cleaners by Margaret Clarke and Michael Soames on this hand:

S 10x
H QJxx
D AK9xx
C xx
Dealer E
S AJxx
H Kx
D QJ10x
C xxx
W        E
S KQxx
H xx
D 8
C KQJ10xx
S 9xx
H A10xxx
D xxx
C Ax
Michael        John        Margaret        Ann       
2c* P 2s X
3c(!) 4h P P
4s X all pass

East opened a Precision 2c and Ann's double showed the red suits. I bid 4h over Michael's subtle 3c and doubled the final contract with some confidence. However, dummy was amazingly strong and suitable for that auction and the contract was cold, -590. We were well and truly bamboozled by that 3c rebid. The sort of thing Zia might do?


Many members of the Thursday Club belong to other clubs in Cambridge but they all feel a great loyalty to this club and derive great pleasure from playing in its friendly atmosphere. I asked Denis Marrian, who clearly loves to play bridge, and has a great interest in the game, if he thought of joining the Cambridge Club. After a few seconds thought his reply was: "I don't want to take the game too seriously". The Thursday Club has certainly found the recipe for making bridge the enjoyable game it should be.