Penguin Evans

By Victor Mollo
BM September 1977

The sudden death of Mrs H R (Penguin) Evans robs bridge of a great and colourful personality who remained before the footlights for more than forty years.

As chatelaine at the Riviera Hotel in Bournemouth, Britain’s bridge hotel par excellence, she made many, many friends, young and old, who always felt at home when Penguin was around to congratulate and commiserate and, yes, to listen to hard luck stories. She liked people and the bores didn’t bore her.

As an international her greatest performance was in bringing off the hat-trick as a member of the winning women's teams, in the European Championships of 1950, ‘51 and ‘52. The following year, with Phyllis Williams as her partner, she toured the United States winning two out of three matches against America’s leading women players.

To the end Penguin could hold her own in the company of inter­nationals and she was always one of the leading lights at the Wessex Club in Bournemouth. It was there, in 1936, that she scored her first success in competitive bridge, winning the Hardwicke Trophy, with me as her partner, and Iain Macleod and Terence Reese as our other pair.

During the post-war period Penguin’s bridge education owed much to Ralph Evans to whom she was married for close on forty years. But she was already an international before the war, when she played with my first wife in the European Championships in 1939.

Penguin was my first regular bridge partner, as I was hers, and we learned much from each other. But though she taught me a lot, there was one thing she couldn’t pass on - the warmth which brought her so many friends and not one enemy in the fifty years in which I knew her.

Major International Appearances

Women's European Championships: 1939 1950 1951* and 1952*

* = 1st place

Lady Milne selections: 1952 1972 and 1973

Autumn Congress Two Stars Pairs Winner: 1952

The Hubert Phillips Bowl Winner: 1938