With a Little Help from Our Friends

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, the American Bridge League decided to publish a monthly magazine for their members. The date was July 1935, when times were confused with local economic hardship, European feuding, and warring factions within our own game. Ely Culbertson, a master of marketing, and William McKenney, a master of organization, were fighting for market share of a new game called contract bridge. Documenting the rules of play turned the tide of opinion for McKenney & membership grew in his new organization. The second important decision our fledgling group made was to publish a monthly magazine. Called the “American Bridge League Bulletin”, the first edition came out August 1, 1935, with Geoffrey Mott-Smith as Editor and William McKenney as Business Manager. Home base at that time was the Park Central Hotel in New York City.

Contents of that first four-page edition included articles by Russell Baldwin – “New Responsibilities for the Tournament Director”; by McKenney – “Why has the Honor Count been Eliminated from Duplicate?”; by Louis Haddad – “A Message from our President”; a list of Masterpoint winners (Irene J Sullivan was last on the list with 1 MP); and an intro by Mott-Smith encouraging article and news submissions.

We’ve come a long way since then and continue to publish an informative and newsy magazine each month delivered right to each player’s doorstep.

The Albert Moorhead Library at ACBL Headquarters in Horn Lake has quite an assortment of publications. Not only is there a good selection of books published by bridge players (several 1000), but an attempt has been made to obtain and preserve many of the nationally circulated historical publications such as the “Auction Bridge Magazine” (1920s), the “Auction Bridge Bulletin” (1920s), the “Bridge World” magazines, “Bridge Magazine” (1930s), many of the early books on Whist, and even the Daily Bulletins from most NABCs.

It only makes sense that another jewel of the library should be a complete collection of every edition of our own Bridge Bulletin since that first month in 1935. Our collection, however, is not yet complete.

Over the years, the ACBL archive department has made several attempts to locate and obtain copies of each issue. Thanks to a few very generous players who also had a passion for preservation, Headquarters has collected and bound almost every issue. There are, however, two stubbornly elusive outliers which have, so far, failed to surface for our 21st century inquiring eyes. They are the January and February issues from 1937.

As you may surmise, many volumes in the library deal with how to play bridge, many record tournament activity over the years, and others preserve the historical path that our game has traveled. This latter category is where our early issues of the Bridge Bulletin prove their value. We would love to plug the holes in our story. These issues will do that and will serve as the final chapter in our permanent record for anyone who wants to know.

If anyone of our readership knows of the existence of these issues, we would appreciate hearing from you. Please contact the ACBL Museum at museum@acbl.org.