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Guess who visited the Acol Club in London ?

Guess  who visited the Acol Club in London ?

The Acol Club is world famous for introducing the Acol bidding system.

Acol is not an acronym, but a village in Kent that gave its name to Acol Road in West Hampstead, London.

The club was founded in the early 1930’s at No.15 Acol Road. Instrumental were a group of distinguished bridge players including Jack Marx and S.J. 'Skid' Simon.  During this time, Marx and Simon developed a new bidding system that brought them immediate success and domestic domination. They called their new system Acol, after the road in which the club was.

Other players associated with the development of the Acol system include Maurice Harrison-Gray, Iain Macleod (who went on to become Chancellor of the Exchequer) and Terence Reese. Terence Reese became one of bridge's most prolific authors and certainly has a claim to be its greatest.

Some of the games greatest bridge books were written by this group including ‘Why You Lose at Bridge’ (Skid Simon) and ‘Bridge is an Easy Game’ (Iain Macleod).

In the early 1950s the club was relocated to its current premises - a large three-storey detached Victorian house at 86 West End Lane, just a stone’s throw away from the club’s original home in Acol Road.

Kate and Karen took a taxi on Friday the 16th October to play their most expensive session of bridge ever !  We just had to visit this club given it's history and is the system we play.  Table money was about $25 per visitor (and about $19 per member).  Although described as a friendly club, we can safely say that Tauranga runs rings around them 10 fold !  We arrived and found our way into the building (not obvious) and no one greeted us, made us feel welcome or introduced us to the players.  It was not even clear who was running the night and which part of the room we were playing in.  We figured it out and sat at a table then play started without announcements or introductions of any kind.  It was IMPs pairs (ie not Match Points) and there were only 6 tables.  We discovered the EBU (English Bridge Union) does not like awarding master points to small fields running a Mitchell movement and make clubs do an arrow switch for one set of boards, so the results for NS and EW are combined as one field.  Why they never just play a Howell to acheive the same thing was beyond us.  Anyway, the evening went well and we played a good round against a mixed standard of players.  They use Bridgemates for scoring and run the results through a bit of software called Pianola.  Something that is also being looked at in NZ.  We could not access it, as you had to be registered with Pianola which does in depth anaylisis of your play and results.  We played against some very nice people and the results went up on a screen immediately at the end of play.  Results also went on their website.  We also played a game at Exeter the week before (table money more sensible there at $8) and neither club record the leads, so it was frustrating to not be able to understand how some made unmakeable contracts and can only summise the lead was the difference.

We were very chuffed to win the session at this famous club and we were subsequently invited to play at another club if we have time, where the standard is apparently stronger.  We are in London because Kate has to speak at a Conference, Sadly we can't attend any Rugby World Cup matches here, but we are soaking up the atmosphere.  We were able to meet up with Matthew Smith (Amanda's son) and his girlfriend Cara and watch the All Blacks fry the French in a pub, while eating pub grub a few beeers and having a very enjoyable evening with two young and happy people.  See photos below...

Click here to go to the Acol Bridge Club website


Matthew Smith, Karen M and Cara St John in a typical English pub to watch the rugby

Posted: Mon 19 Oct 2015


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