36 English Bridge August 2014 www.ebu.co.uk
When did you start playing bridge?
At the age of 8, I had a recurrent hip
problem, was put in plaster for three months
and was sent to a children's sanatorium in
Switzerland. My mother went with me and
there I started playing bridge, now 83 years
ago. I was then moved to another sana torium
for twenty months, without bridge.
When I returned home, I had very limited
physical activities but my aunt, my two older
cousins and my grandmother all played
bridge, and I joined them. I also remember
playing at a bridge club in Austria and they
were surprised by a prepubescent's ability
It must be running in my family, as a
cousin of my mother's played in the same
team as Rixi Markus, when the Austrian
ladies became world bridge champions in
How often / where do you play?
These days, unless I am playing in a
duplicate, I play rubber bridge every
Monday at the Portland Club, £10 per 100 in
the afternoon, £30 per 100 after dinner; as
we play goulashes at £30, it is quite a tough
Do you always play with the same partners
In serious duplicate, I mostly play with
Victor Silverstone (addressed by me as 'Sir
Victor'), occasionally with Willie Coyle ('Sir
William') and my former wife, Kitty, with
whom I am on my best behaviour, without a
single word of criticism!
The highlight of the year is of course when
Tony Priday ('His Serene Highness, Richard
Anthony, Prince of Quedgeley', where the
Priday family originates from) comes from
Marbella to play with me in the two events I
have sponsored, the Lederer and the Senior
Camrose, now renamed the Teltscher
All these partners are excellent players and
for my bridge system I am vastly indebted to
Sir William - it's a system originally based
BERNARD TELTSCHERcame to the UK in 1938, and gained degrees from
University College, London and Trinity College, Cambridge, where in
1946 he was instrumental in restarting the Cambridge Bridge Club that
had been dormant during the war. He became its President and played in
the first post-war Oxford match. Bernard has played bridge for more than
eighty years and has won most major national compe titions. He is
Pre sident of the London Metropolitan Bridge Association and has
spon sored, as well as won, the prestigious Lederer and Teltscher trophies.
on the one I used to play in the 1970s with
His Serene Highness is always magni f icent.
As far as I am concerned, he never, and I
mean never, makes a mistake. His con centration
is flawless and occasionally a look
of surprise comes to his face but, like Sir
Victor, he always tries to take the blame if
any mistakes occur.
What do you do for a living?
I have been in business for almost 68 years. I
joined my father and uncles' wine business
in 1946, by 1967 became sole proprietor and
sold the trading company in 1991 to Martini
& Rossi, stayed for another five years as nonexecutive,
non-useful chairman of Teltscher
Brothers but kept the buildings in the Isle of
Dogs and used them as a business centre.
There we had some unusual tenants, like the
warlike Paintball Centre and a multi-sports
centre, but our offices were just used as
I sold the buildings in 2006 but kept the
two property companies which own a few
factories which we let, and all I do now is
look after those, so I do not work too hard.
I still go to my Marble Arch office four
times a week. Years ago we had 120 employ ees;
now we have one.
What are your favourite bridge books?
In 1942, I bought a thin book which gave
card combinations and how to play, and
which I read every day on the tube when I
travelled from East Putney to Belsize Park
during university holidays.
Like everyone else, I am very impressed by
Terence Reese's books; they are fantastic. I
actually played with Terence in one long
duplicate in Abu Dhabi and that was the
only time when any partner of mine fell
asleep while I was playing a hand!
What are your hobbies?
At 91, one doesn't seem to have many
hobbies left. I used to love playing table
tennis and backgammon. Now at table
tennis I am just as likely to put the ball under
as over the table! And backgammon is fading
fast. I watch TV and go out and entertain at
dinner quite a lot.
What do you like and what would you
change in bridge?
I am saddened that rubber bridge is fast
disappearing. I think it is caused by the fact
that young people don't seem to be playing
cards when there are too many alternatives.
My main complaint, though, is a com plaint
all bridge play ers make when they
have been playing for a long time. There
seems to be absolutely no limit to con ventions
which are not even published and
have to be explained on the spot. I have no
quarrel with transfers over one club and over
opponents' doubles but when various bids
have no obvious meanings and there fore no
recognised defence, it requires dis cussions
before every match.
When it comes to pairs, time prevents any
long discussions and I think there should be
quite strict limitations on the systems used
In any case, I fear that making bidding at
bridge so convoluted means that it is
becoming much less popular than it could
have been. This also means that it is less
comprehensible when non-experts watch
bidding in the Vu-graph and on the
What is the bridge success closest to your
heart (so far)?
My most pleasing result was playing with
Terence Reese in Abu Dhabi (see above); in
the teams we beat Garozzo and Belladonna,
Flint and Sheehan to come third. I cannot
quite remember but we were about fifth in
the pairs. The pairs event was won as
expected by Garozzo and Belladonna. That
was before it was customary to pay bridge
partners and all I did was to send Terence
two cases of wine.
One of my worst 'achievements' was when,
years ago, I played in successive Camrose
trials, once with Irving Rose and once with
Jeremy Flint, and failed to qualify in both.
My first major win was in 1971 in
Brighton with Irving Rose (named by me
'the Great Rose'), but beating Garozzo and
Belladonna must rank amongst my big
I also enjoyed the creation of the Senior
Camrose Trophy. While there was a Ladies
equivalent, the Lady Milne, and two similar
events for youngsters, the Junior Camrose
and the Peggy Bayer, it amazingly took some
eight years to finally come up with the
Seniors equivalent, which I sponsored for six
years, won twice and was second in twice as
well. It is now a permanent feature in the UK
bridge calendar. r