RECOLLECTIONS from MICHAEL ESTHER
I have only lately lifted details of the Association's Archive from the website for the benefit of children and grandchildren!! and was intrigued by the unidentified band dating from 1937 to 1980 on which Father (Harry) features several times. I'm sorry I can't help despite looking through all their (Harry & Maimie's) replicas, although many of them got misplaced over the years, as you can imagine. The Sunday Sun (which paper I remember vividly!) rings a faint bell in trophy terms, but that might just be auto-suggestion and I have no evidence sadly.
I see Ewart Kempson's was the first name on that band; he was a great family friend - in fact he introduced Harry to Bridge in the early '30's and taught both Father & Mother the game. I think he later itched to teach me as well, but (until falling into evil ways at College) I resisted strenuously because of loud and vituperative 'discussions' in the house, amounting almost to open warfare at times!, over the bidding and play of the hands of the night before.
However, whenever stuck for a present at Christmas, I used to get Ewart (Captain Kempson to me in those days) to inscribe his latest book for Father. I still have one such stating on the flyleaf: "This is for my old friend and Master Player Harry Esther whose son has had the great wisdom to purchase this book". As well as a wag he was a charming and comfortable gentleman redolent of his days in India.
They played together for a while until Father saw the advantage of Acol while Ewart remained committed to a system-less (natural) style of bidding which only Selby Wraith could cope with. Ewart more often than not, of course, was redeemed by his peerless cardplay.
Harry & Maimie would have been fascinated by the technology !
I suppose from the single names on our 'unknown' it looks like an individual, but I'm not sure they had such as early as that?
I knew many of the characters appearing on the prize lists, of course, but that's not a lot of help - I'm 85 . . . . The only one of my era I've spotted is Michael Foulds in 1958 (Chronicle Cup). He's not still around by any chance?
No, we're no longer in the North, but Yes, my wife and I do play, but only in a friendly duplicate weekly tournament (non-league).
One final note about the Gazette Cup and your 'black &blue' names; the ashtrays that were given to the winners in those days and which the family still have are engraved "N.E.G. Pairs 1939" so perhaps Ma & Pa won the TEAMS (with Drs N & I) in 1938 and the PAIRS the following year for which I can't find any replicas? I can't tell, sorry to say. There ARE a couple of slightly fancier ashtrays carrying a hand of four coloured cards, one from each suit, and bearing the inscription "N.E.C.B.A. 1937" - Niman Israel perhaps