Bridge and the Beatles

I often listen to old Beatles tracks when I’m playing bridge at home, and I also often wonder if the Beatles ever played a game of bridge themselves.

They were four British blokes on tour: I’d be surprised if they didn’t. The Beatles-film A Hard Day’s Night shows them playing cards, and I figured this warrants some digging into the topic.

At the same time, I’m also hoping either Paul or Ringo make it to BBO: How about a game?

Here’s what I found out.

The Beatles Merchandising

First, let’s spare a paragraph or two for Beatles merchandising.

I don’t think Beatlemania ever came to an end – and I don’t think it ever will. There are several Beatles-themed games out there, including Monopoly: Yellow Submarine and Monopoly: The Beatles; there’s also Trivial Pursuit: The Beatles and a seemingly endless supply of Beatles trading and playing card sets.

There’s also The Beatles: Rock Band for console.

A closer reference to the time (and a game I had no idea existed) is called Flip Your Wig, a board game with a Beatles theme that was released in 1964 by Milton Bradley.

A Hard Day’s Night

A Hard Day’s Night is one of the essential films any Beatles fan has to watch. Apparently, the term came from Ringo Starr – and could be summed up in one word as “knackered.”

The train scene is the card playing bit. There are entire online discussions around what they might have been playing; What’s the first card game we imagine that’s played by four people?

Around these parts, that would be bridge. But was it?

The top rated answer on Yahoo! Answers suggests that it might have been a game called Slapjack (Source: Yahoo! Answers), but I don’t think a Jack is ever slapped during the scene.

Users on the Beatles Links forum suggests that they might have been playing Dirty Hearts – or just invented something that looked right for a filmed card game on the spot. (Source: Beatle Links) This is a likely option when considering that it had to look right on film more than it had to be a card game from start to finish.

Someone on DM Beatles suggests that they might have been playing a game called Pontoon, similar to blackjack – but for what reason?

There’s at least one suggestion on the DM Beatles discussion that leans more towards whist – or likely, bridge. (Source: DM Beatles)

The only way to get a sure answer might have to be by asking a Beatle. (And if I manage, you’ll read about it here first!)

The Beatles and Other Games

Thanks to online Beatles fans, obscure answers about anything relating to the Beatles are a little easier to find. Several discussions revolve around what the Beatles might have played during the scene.

Outside of the scene, Quora user Matt Reda mentions that members of the band were seen playing Monopoly and might have played poker. (Source: Quora)

More research confirms this.

Apparently, John Lennon was the Monopoly player of the band while the rest of them played a lot of poker on tour. Sometimes, the rest of the band joined in Monopoly.

Here’s proof: A picture listed on Alamy shows George Harrison sitting in front of a Monopoly board speaking to Neil Aspinall, taken in 1964. (Source: Alamy) There are a few other photographs from the same series for anyone who wants to look them up from there.

A Hard Day’s Night and Ringo

As it turns out, A Hard Day’s Night was holding one more trick: Some more digging reveals that Ringo might have been the card player.

Reddit mentions this image of Ringo playing cards, taken in 1964 at his home in Bel-Air. (Source: Reddit)

Archived footage shows Ringo on the set of A Hard Day’s Night shuffling the deck. (Video: YouTube)

Pattie Boyd and…Bridge?

I would not have known about this addition of the story if my wife hadn’t looked this up. (For this fact, thank her, not me!)

Most music fans should know the basis of Pattie Boyd’s story by now. She’s the inspiration behind a lot of music, including Layla, Wonderful Tonight and For You Blue. Famously, she divorced George Harrison in 1977 – and married Eric Clapton shortly thereafter.

There’s just one degree of separation between Pattie Boyd and bridge: Her current husband. (And she might even play the game herself!)

She married again in 2015, this time to Rod Weston – and several articles mention that she describes him as “a wicked bridge player.” (Source: The Telegraph)