Not Just the ACBL Story – But HISTORY

True accounts of events and people who shaped the ACBL

Archive for February 2012

ACBL Bridge Beat # 26: A Bulletin First

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In the 1951 May-June issue of the Bulletin, the first full deal with analysis appeared. Editor George Beynon prefaced its appearance with, “In this issue we offer a bridge hand in which the comments, opinions and analysis are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of the League or of its editorial staff. If you like this feature, write us; if you don’t agree with the author, write him. This feature is presented for your pleasure, not to raise your blood-pressure.”

The Winning Play
By George Rapée

After the Eastern had run its course, I asked Edgar Kaplan for an interesting hand from the Goldman Pairs for use in the Bulletin. He brooded a while and produced a number of hands – none of them from the tournament. I patiently explained that I wanted a hand from the tournament, not from some long departed duplicate. I was absolutely firm on this point.

Here is a hand, one of Kaplan’s favorites – from a 10-table duplicate played several years ago. By the way, Kaplan did not win the duplicate. But I think you’ll agree the neat defensive play involved merits your attention. Kaplan is South.

Dlr: West ♠ —
Vul: All A K 8 6 5 4
A 7 6 3 2
♣ 5 4
♠ A Q 8 7 4 ♠ J 10 9 6 5
J 9 7 3 2
K Q J 10 9 8
♣ K 10 9 ♣ 3 2
♠ K 3 2
Q 10
5 4
♣ A Q J 8 7 6
West North East South
1♠ 2 Pass 3
Pass 4 4♠ Dbl
All Pass

North opened the K and continued with the ace. When Kaplan dropped the Q, North played a third heart, hoping partner could overruff dummy. The play at this point had gone in a leisurely manner, giving Kaplan more than enough time to analyze the hand. It seemed likely that North was void in spades and probably that four hearts would have made for 620 points. The task at hand was for the defense to set declarer three tricks. When North played the third heart declarer ruffed in dummy with the 9. Kaplan casually discarded the 5, apparently unable to overruff. Declarer now played a spade from dummy and when South followed low, declarer confidently played his ace. He waited expectantly for North to drop his blank king. The diamond North produced was met with a look of horror. From here on, declarer was helpless. He played another spade which Kaplan won with the king. The blow fell when Kaplan played his last diamond, partner won the ace and Kaplan then obtained the desired diamond ruff. The ace of clubs accounted for the sixth trick for North-South and for the necessary 800 points.

Of course there was considerable discussion between East-West. “Yes,” West explained to partner, “I have heard of that play called a finesse,” but here his face grew crimson with controlled aspiration, “How could I figure him for the king when he didn’t overruff the heart?”

East, of course, would have no part of this. “Couldn’t you see what he was doing?”

Well perhaps. It’s always easy afterwards. Nonetheless it was a neat play and apt to work against almost anyone. However, it wouldn’t have succeeded against you or me. Or would it?

Edgar Kaplan

Edgar Kaplan

Written by acbl

February 29, 2012 at 9:10 am

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ACBL Bridge Beat #25: Good Sportsmanship

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Long before the Sidney H. Lazard, Jr. Sportsmanship Award began in 1999 and the Goodwill Committee formed in 1955, the foundation was laid to show bridge as a game with a high opportunity to show good sportsmanship.

Bertram Lebhar noted in April 1944 edition of The Bulletin that since tournament bridge is an amateur sport, and the prizes are never of intrinsic value, players have the opportunity of ranking even higher than golfers, tennis players or other competitors in the matter of good sportsmanship.

He wrote, “Tournament bridge is one of the finest of all forms of amateur competition. It is a challenge to the mentality . . . a game played not only in the most congenial, but frequently the most lavish surroundings . . . a game intended for the matching of wits among ladies and gentlemen. Those who are talented enough to play tournament bridge with any degree of success, and even those skilled enough to play the game at all should foster a personal pride in the game itself, and the manner in which it is played. The desire to be considered a true sportsman should equal the desire to be regarded as a champion.”

Professionally known as Bert Lee, Lebhar had a national reputation as a sportscaster and later as a bridge player and administrator. In private life he owned radio and television stations in Florida. Perhaps his greatest achievements arose from his work as ACBL treasurer (1945-1947) and as a member of the Steering Committee. In the late 1940s, Lebhar was instrumental in ACBL modernization. He was perhaps the first man to visualize ACBL’s vast potential for expansion. His farsighted efforts were recognized when he was made ACBL Honorary Member in 1963. A founder of Greater New York B.A. and its first president in 1948, he donated the Lebhar Trophy to ACBL. Lebhar was named Life Master #61 in 1946 and was a two-time North American champion.

Bertram Lebhar

Bertram Lebhar

Written by acbl

February 27, 2012 at 1:57 pm

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ACBL Bridge Beat #24 – Barry Cohen Wins McKenney Trophy With Over 600 Masterpoints…

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Before Barry Cohen was Barry Crane, he began to leave his indelible mark on the masterpoint race that would eventually bear his name.

“Barry Cohen, the Detroit Demon who has just moved to Pasadena, won the McKenney Trophy for the year 1952, scoring over 600 masterpoints! This beats the best previous record (Charlie Goren’s, naturally) by about 150 points.

“In piling up his tremendous total, Barry traveled to every part of the country, playing in tournaments every weekend as well as in the nationals. He won masterpoints in 44 different tournaments! Just to make sure, Barry also played in club tournaments, and faithfully converted fractional masterpoints to swell the total by about 30 masterpoints during the year.”

The Bulletin January/February 1953: 7

Barry Crane, Margurite McKenney and ACBL President Ben Johnson

Barry Crane, Margurite McKenney and ACBL President Ben Johnson

Written by acbl

February 24, 2012 at 9:16 am

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ACBL Bridge Beat #23 – Dorothy Rice Sims…

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Dorothy Rice Sims was born June 24, 1889 at Asbury Park NJ. From her teens, Dorothy was active in competition, holding the motorcycle speed championship for women (1911) and becoming one of the first U.S. aviatrixes, in which capacity she met and married ACBL Hall of Fame Member P. Hal Sims.

She was a noted sculptress, painter and author in fields other than bridge, though she wrote several bridge books. She is widely credited with inventing the psychic bid, but probably initiated only the popular name for it. However, she wrote her first book on the subject, Psychic Bidding, 1932.

The story goes like this, once she picked up a hand containing five spades and five hearts and not knowing which to bid, she opened one club. Her partner responded one heart and they got a top. Not noted for her spelling ability, when she was writing up her discovery for a magazine, she meant to title it “psychological bidding”, but the word came out “sycic” and deceitful bids have been known as “psychics” or “sikes” ever since.

After P. Hal Sims’ death, she toured the world several times as a political correspondent for various newspapers. She died suddenly in Egypt in 1960.

Written by acbl

February 22, 2012 at 8:54 am

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ACBL Bridge Beat #22 – A Little Piece of Bridge Nostalgia…

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Many bridge players today have never heard of a trump indicator, but from the late 1800s to the early 1930s they were found at nearly every social bridge game.

Originally developed for the game of whist, trump indicators were placed on the table to help players remember what the trump suit was since there was no bidding.

Known for their whimsical, colorful designs, trump indicators are made from a variety of materials and incorporate a wide range of additional subject matter. There are porcelain clowns, wooden cartoon characters, celluloid cats, metal monkeys, and virtually any other combination of material and form one could imagine. However, the thing that all trump indicators have in common is they always display the four suit symbols: spades, hearts, diamonds, and clubs and all have a mechanism that moves in order to indicate the trump suit.

The Joan Schepps Collection of trump indicators is the largest collection in North America at over 650 pieces. The Schepps Collection was donated to the Foundation for the Preservation and Advancement of Bridge (FPAB) by Joan and Elihu Schepps in 2009 and is currently housed at the ACBL Bridge Museum in Horn Lake MS.

Wooden elephant

What's trump?
What’s trump?

Wooden elephant

Written by acbl

February 20, 2012 at 9:40 am

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ACBL Bridge Beat #21 – Eberhard Faber (1859-1946)…

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You’re probably thinking to yourself, “Why do I know that name?” Well, when you were in school, you probably saw it everyday – on your pencil.

Eberhard Faber was the son of pencil-manufacturing giant John Eberhard Faber. He was an expert card player who took up each successive development of the game from whist to contract. He served as the president of the American Whist League and was named as the American Bridge League Honorary Member in 1930. Faber donated the American Whist League Faber Challenge Trophy in 1927 which remained in play until 1952. More significantly, in the early days of ACBL, Faber donated every pencil that was used in tournaments until the League was financially stable.

Currently, at NABCs alone, over 30,000 pencils are consumed each year.

Faber Pencil

Faber Pencil

Written by acbl

February 17, 2012 at 9:02 am

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ACBL Bridge Beat #20 – Hippogriffs…

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A hippogriff is a legendary creature, supposedly the offspring of a griffin and a mare. Anybody who’s seen a Harry Potter film could probably tell you what one looks like.

In the world of playing cards, a hippogriff is a mythical suit chiefly used in an anecdote about a man who dreamed he held the perfect notrump hand with 13 sure winners against a stranger (Satan), who was on lead. Satan proceeded to run 13 tricks against the man by cashing all the cards of a weird greenish suit called hippogriffs.

Written by acbl

February 15, 2012 at 8:43 am

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