Captain Ewart Kempson

By Bernard Westall
BM June 1966

The sad news of the death of our dear Editor, Ewart Kempson, has been received with deepest sorrow not only in England but in all parts of the world where Bridge is played.

Ewart was one of the last personalities left of that small band of distin­guished Auction Bridge players who in the early thirties transferred their allegiance to the new game of Contract. I first met Ewart when I was running the British Bridge World Team with the late Hubert Phillips, and played many matches with him and against him in those early days when teams of four matches were only beginning to emerge.

Walter Buller, the enemy of conventions, fought a noble but doomed battle for what he called British Bridge. His earliest and strongest supporter was Ewart Kempson. All the members of Walter Buller’s team were fine Bridge players but, as the modern generation will understand, they were gravely handicapped by the announcement that they were playing no system of any kind. Ewart was man enough to admit that, whatever his personal prejudice, Contract Bridge could only flourish providing that some basis of understanding could be agreed upon by strange partners before play com­menced.

What distinguished Ewart more than anything else as a player was his modesty in victory and his cheerfulness in defeat. His sense of humour, too, was one that was all his own and these qualities combined to make him a grand companion as well as a wonderful partner.

Ewart’s pre-war predecessor was Manning-Foster, himself a great name in the world of Bridge. Ewart, however, as Editor of the Bridge Magazine, while carrying on the Foster tradition, introduced something new into the journal. His “Animal Crackers” showed his love of animals combined with dexterity in giving the photographs some bridge relevance. It also caused the magazine to be printed upon expensive art paper.

It is little more than a year since the Bridge Magazine and the British Bridge World amalgamated. This union was particularly welcome to both Ewart and me for it gave us an opportunity once more of collaborating and resuming a warm friendship that had been interrupted for all too long. In the early thirties I played some of the first bridge matches against Ewart in North versus South matches as well as in the Walter Buller series. These were the great days of emergent Contract and the North of England in particular was lucky in its champion.

Ewart knew for some months that his tenure of life was short. It was typical of the man that not only did he carry on his work as Editor with his usual enthusiasm but maintained until the last his wonted gaiety of spirit. A very gallant gentleman has passed away.