Mr. Seymour Garton Churchill, aka Church, of Great Neck, New York, United States, advocated a certain natural style of bidding in the game of bridge. As an intellectual he joined the bridge community and, as a result, enhanced the game by becoming one of the leading American bridge players, by becoming one of the more outstanding personalities of the game, and by adding his personal touch to the game by introducing his own style of bidding.
Note: As mentioned and cataloged by the Harvard University Library of Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, the following description is contained in their documents. The text is quoted.
Seymour Garton Churchill was born in Bellefontaine, Ohio, United States, in 1900 and graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University (B.A. 1922) and Harvard Law School (1926). He spent most of his legal career at the firm of Loeb, Churchill & Lawther in Manhattan New York, United States. He began playing competitive bridge in 1928 and became one of the great American bridge players and bridge theorists. He wrote Contract Bidding Tactics at Match-Point Play (1937) and Churchill Natural Bidding Style at Contract Bridge (1979). He died of pneumonia in Fairview, North Carolina, United States, at the age of 92 in 1992. His wife was Mary Ellen Peck Churchill (d.1973), and they had two children, James Garton Churchill and Barbara Faurot Churchill Thompson.
At regional and national bridge tournaments from the early 1930s and 1940s he had won competitions in Life Master Pairs in 1937 and also in the year 1948. He also established two records by scoring with his partner, Mr. Cecil Head, 65.5% as an average of four sessions, and a 77.4% in a single session. The latter record held until the year 1963 when Mr. Eric Murray and Mrs. Agnes Gordon recorded 78% in the final session of the National Mixed Pairs.
He also won the Chicago in 1932, placed Second in the years 1933, 1939, 1941, and 1942. He also placed Second in the Summer National Mixed Teams in the year 1937 and also the Asbury Challenge Teams in the year 1931. He enjoyed many regional successes including the Eastern Knockout Teams in the years 1937, 1938, and 1939.
As a bridge theoretician he devised and developed multiple concepts and principles, which he compiled and published in his publication Contract Bidding Tactics at Match-Point Play: Suit-Over-Suit and Picture Bidding; Balance of Power Theory; Strategic and Psychic Bidding, published in the year 1936 by the Ad Press Limited, ISBN-10: B00088YZ8C, LC: 37003537. He also published privately Churchill Natural Bidding Style at Contract Bridge: Bid Successfully without Artificial Conventions in the year 1979, ISBN: B00070N6YK.
The basic element of the bidding style of Mr. Seymour Garton Churchill was the almost complete non-acceptance of the idea of employing any bid, which is artificial, or bids upon which the ideas and concepts promoted and proposed by early advocates of newly devised methods of bidding in the early days of the developing game of bridge among the pioneers and theoreticians. His aversion to such artificial bids and conventions or conventional methods, which promoted such artificial bids, produced from him a bidding style, in which practically all opening bids, response bids, overcalls, and all continuances are based on the principle of natural bids. It is for this reason that the Churchill Style is neither a bidding system nor a bidding method.
Main Elements of Style
1. A Weak No Trump Opening: Mr. Seymour Garton Churchill was one of the first leading American theorists to support the application of this bid, and it gained popularity among many bridge players in the bridge community.
2. A Utility 1 No Trump response used for a wide variety of weak holdings. This method was the predecessor or the forcing Rothstone 1 No Trump response.
3. Light opening bids with distributional patterns such as: 5-4-3-2, 5-4-4-0, 6-4-3-0, 5-5-3-0, 6-5-1-1, etc.
4. Frequent bids in short suits. Mr. Seymour Garton Churchill recognized the importance in the application of such all-purpose bids for exploring for a game or slam contract, or for allowing the correct partner to establish and play as declarer the contract.
5. Constructive and disciplined overcalls and jump overcalls, which are one round forcing bids.
6. Picture Bidding, jump rebids and responses are employed essentially to describe solid or near-solid suits as well as slam attempts. Note: A Picture Bid is a bid by a player, which describes the holding completely regarding strength and length. (Note: It must also be noted that Mr. Alvin Roth published a book in 1991 titled Picture Bidding: The Art of Painting A Bridge Hand, ISBN-10: 0940257114, which expanded upon this devised concept developed in the 1930s.) (Note: A distinction must be made between this principle and the principle of Fast Arrival as proposed by Mr. Ely Culbertson.)
7. Four-card openings in suits of any strength. The concept of opening a 4-card Major suit was not a strange concept in the early stages of the developing game of bridge owing to the fact that several features were adopted from the Acol bidding system of the United Kingdom.
8. No strength-showing forcing opening bids.
9. Sparing use of preemptive bids. The principle of not preempting one’s own partner was a dominant element of any partnership agreement.
10. Balance of Power bidding. The principle behind this feature is that the opponents may not stop, or steal, the contract at a low level. This original concept developed into the feature known today as a balancing action, and should be implemented on the one level and only under certain parameters on the two level, but rarely on the three level.
Additional Information to Person
Mr. Seymour Garton Churchill was born in the year 1900 and died in the year 1992. His obituary was printed in The New York Times on Wednesday, December 30, 1992. Any contribution of additional information, including photographs, will be greatly appreciated.
He was one of the great American bridge players and bridge theorists. He graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University and Harvard Law School. In 1944 he made the decision to resign from bridge playing in general, mainly due to his law practice and his wish to spend more time with his family. His system or bidding style were concepts he advocated as a theorist, and these concepts were generally not accepted by the bridge community until much later. His original theoretical ideas and concepts were published not only in his book Contract Bidding Tactics At Matchpoint Play, but also in published articles of The Bridge World magazine.