The Lady Milne started in 1934 as the Ladies Team championship of the NBA (National Bridge Association), which was run by Hubert Phillips. Lady Milne was assistant secretary to the NBA. In 1950 the Lady Milne became the trophy for the Ladies Home Internationals, and was won by Scotland.
The event is played over a single weekend for women’s teams from England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland (who rejoined the event in 1998). A sixth team was introduced in 2009, in Limerick, to balance the numbers; the host country providing two teams. The EBU team (the pairs who came 4th, 5th and 6th in the trials) won the event in Manchester in 2010.
In the 62 series so far, England/EBU has won outright on 46 occasions. Scotland have won 11 times, Wales three times and Northern Ireland twice. In addition England and Scotland tied for first place in 2011 (and the regulations have been changed so that it won’t happen again).
The teams will play 32 boards (two sets of 16) against each other team. Scotland, going for three wins in a row and with the home-crowd urging them on, are probably the team to beat. Their team includes the ever-green Liz McGowan (seven times a Lady Milne winner, first in 1986). England start against Northern Ireland on Friday evening and play Scotland on Sunday morning.
England are represented by five past winners and one debutante. Sally Brock has won the Lady Milne six times, her first win coming in 1976. Her latest two wins, in 2010 and 2011, were in partnership with Susanna Gross. Gillian Fawcett is a five-time winner (1989 to 2003), and is playing with Jane Moore, who has won three times (1993 to 2000). Lizzie Godfrey has also won three times (1997 to 2011). Her partner is Pauline Cohen, who is winning her first cap. The Lady Milne team is being NPCed by Simon Cope for the third time. He led the England team to victory in 2010 and 2011, and he was also NPC of the Camrose team that won the event in March. Let us hope that these are good omens!