When S. Garton “Church” Churchill published his bidding system in 1979 in a 600-page book, Edgar Kaplan wrote in the introduction that he was certain none of the top pairs of the day could match Churchill’s efficiency in slam bidding. The statement is remarkable because the Churchill system used no conventions — not even Stayman, transfers or Blackwood.
Churchill devised his system in 1929, and although he did not play much bridge after 1944, the system was employed with considerable success for 50 years. It took some time for his bidding concepts to gain acceptance, and no doubt his record in high-level competition helped in that regard.
Churchill certainly employed his system to maximum effect, winning the Life Master Pairs in 1937 and 1948, setting two records in partnership with Cecil Head. As a partnership they scored 65% as an average for four sessions and scored 77.4% in a single session, a stunning achievement.
S. Garton Churchill was born in Bellefontaine OH in 1900. He graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University and Harvard Law School. Despite his success in tournament bridge, he curtailed bridge activities because of commitments to his law firm, Loeb, Churchill & Lawther in Manhattan, and to his family.
His tournament record was impressive. Besides the two wins in the LM Pairs, he was on the winning team in the 1932 Chicago (now Reisinger) Board-a-Match Teams. He placed second in that event four times, and he was second in the Master Mixed Teams (now the Mixed BAM).
His regional wins included the Eastern States Knockout Teams in 1937, 1938 and 1939, the New Jersey State Master Pairs in 1947 and 1959 and the Secondary Senior Pairs in 1959.
Churchill died in 1992 in Fairview NC.