One of Bridge’s Oldest Clubs

This Portland Club is not to be confused with the club of the same name located in Portland, Maine (founded in 1886) – or the Portland Bridge Club located in Oregon.

The historical Portland Club is located in London, and attests to being one of the oldest card clubs out there – and you can’t delve into the history of bridge without finding mentions to its name.

It still stands today, hosting many bridge games, parties and private events including the Portland Bowl, organized in co-operation with the EBU and the David Davenport Cup (which took place on the 16th of June, 2019).

It was originally founded as the Stratford Club – and first located at 17 Little Portland Street in Mayfair. The name was changed to the Portland Club in 1825.

Today, the Portland Club is located at 36-39 Pall Mall Street, St. James’ Square.

Other than bridge games, they’re also the official hosting place for meetings of the Army & Navy Club.

Part of Bridge History

Histories (including the ACBL) state the location of the Portland Club as one of the first settings for bridge games in the Western sphere in the late 1800s, after Lord Brougham had apparently picked up the game in India from local army officers. (“Vulnerable in Hearts: A Memoir of Fathers, Sons & Contract Bridge”)

The Portland Club issued one of the first official rulebooks for contract bridge in 1929. Editions are available on Amazon – here’s one 1963 edition for sale. You can even find one from 1935 – or further back if you’re a vintage book or bridge stuff collector.

Other than historical, it’s also known for being the location of particularly high-stakes rubber bridge games – and still continues to be today, even though the location of the club might have changed in the meantime.

Some famous visitors of the Portland Club includes Ian Fleming, journalist Jonathan Davis and bridge teacher Andrew Robson.

The Blades Club

The Blades Club is a fictional club that gets mentioned all throughout the 007-universe – and Fleming found the real-life inspiration for the creation of the Blades club in several different places which he frequented as writer, card player and eccentric.

It’s mentioned as the choice bridge club for M, and it’s the setting where the famous bridge deal in Fleming’s Moonraker takes place.

Fleming used several clubs as real-life inspiration for Blades, including the Portland Club, Brooks’ and Boodle’s, all of which he was known to frequent.