Archive for March 2012
1956 was a progressive year for the ACBL. It started on Jan. 1 when ACBL became a League of bridge players from all of America instead of just part of it. Although ACBL had been working in agreement with the Western Division (formerly the Pacific Bridge League) since the Forties, they finally integrated. The Western Division headquarters was erected in Los Angeles and all financing was consolidated.
Next ACBL adopted new By-Laws that included a more democratic system of electing the League’s officers and Directors and the League redistricted into more equitable divisions of playing areas.
New schedules were adopted for the Nationals. A third national (Spring) was added to the schedule and slated to begin in 1958. The Spring Nationals would host all of the open championship events, the Summer National would host the championship events requiring 100 masterpoints or more and the Fall National would host the championship events requiring 50 masterpoints or more.
In addition, the National Tournament Directors were added to the company payroll as salaried employees, $76,000 was raised for the Crippled Children’s Fund, annual dues to the units were discontinued, financial statements of the League were simplified, a new Laws Commission was formed and Jacoby Transfers were approved for use in National tournaments.
As I was preparing Bridge Beats to have at the ready while I am off serving my civic duty, this classic came to mind.
From Tournament Bridge: an Uncensored Memoir, Jerry Machlin writes, “Lew was a witness in a court case where ACBL was being sued. He was put on the stand as a bridge expert and the attorney for the plaintiff was attempting to discredit him. Mathe reeled off his incredible list of wins in regional, national, and international competition, and the attorney continued, ‘From your remarks, Mr. Mathe, you sound as if you consider yourself the greatest player in North America.’ Mathe answered with his usual modesty, ‘I do.’ The attorney persisted, ‘And do you consider yourself the greatest player in the world?’ and Lew replied, ‘Yes.’
“After he stepped down from the stand, Lew’s wife tore into him. ‘Lew how could you get up on the stand in front of all these people and say you were the greatest player in the world?’ ‘What could I do?’ answered Lew, ‘After all, I was under oath.’”
Known for his intensity and energy at the table, Mathe was a self-proclaimed perfectionist who expected much from his partners. He was a firm believer that bridge expertise is innate, not acquired, and that a healthy sense of self-confidence and ego is an integral part of being a top-notch player.
The Vanderbilt, the premier event at the Spring NABC, wrapped up last night at the Cook Convention Center in Memphis TN. The Vanderbilt Trophy has been contested annually since 1928. Like most things related to the game of bridge, it has some stories.
Currently the trophy is safely housed in the Bridge Museum at the ACBL Headquarters in Horn Lake MS, but that hasn’t always been the case.
In the early days of bridge, the trophies were taken to the tournaments and set out on display for everyone to admire. On June 4, 1964 the Vanderbilt was stolen from a display at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. It was recovered the following month when the thief tried to sell the 11 lb. trophy to the Newman Silver Shop in Reno NV. The man, John Hadreas, an Ambassador employee, was arrested and charged with possession of stolen property. His bail was set at $2,500.00.
After that incident, the trophy continued to travel to the Spring NABCs, but was kept tucked away until presentation to the winning team.
To read about the 2012 Vanderbilt and the winners click here.
The 54th contest of the Silodor Open Pairs concludes later this evening at the Memphis NABC. Named in his honor, this event was the last that Sidney Silodor won. Playing with Norman Kay they took the title just a few months before Silodor’s death in 1963.
Silodor trained as a lawyer, but happily for the game of bridge he was also a lecturer, writer and instructor in addition to being one of the world’s top players in that era.
Silodor was a member of the North American team that won the world championship in the first Bermuda Bowl in 1950. He got three more shots at the world championship by representing North America in the Bermuda Bowl in 1958 and 1961 and in the Olympiad in 1960.
Silodor wrote a newspaper column and many articles for The Bridge World magazine. His books included Silodor Says, Contract Bridge According to Silodor and Tierney and The Complete Book of Duplicate Bridge.
Silodor’s talent as a player was well established by his victories in 31 national-level contests, including six Reisinger wins, three in the Spingold and eight in the Vanderbilt. A winner of the McKenney (now the Barry Crane Top 500) race, Silodor was one of the early lifetime leaders in number of masterpoints earned.
Reprinted from the Buffalo Evening News, Nov. 19, 1954
This Bid Deserves a Set
The (take a breath) New Jersey Legalized Games of Chance Commission has recommended that bridge and all other card games, when conducted by qualified groups, be considered games of chance and licensed by law. We leave the larger issue of gambling for another time. Our concern here is with the horrendous concept of bridge as a game of chance.
Chance, indeed! Is it chance that brings home a notrump grand slam doubled, redoubled and vulnerable? Is it chance that leads two partners to unerring bidding born of scrutiny of points, honors, logic, probability and rule? Is it chance when different teams play identical deals in duplicate tournaments but the more skilled scores more points, penalizes the opposition more heavily, game after game, rubber after rubber?
There may be an element of uncertainty in the luck of the deal, in deciding through which hand to finesse, or whether to finesse at all. There may be a blush of chance whether outstanding trumps will divide evenly or lopsidedly. But who can think of rudely classifying as a game of chance an adventure of mind and spirit involving hard study, intense bookwork, grievous concentration, and even pain in the neck earnestness to those others who play their bridge only to fill in the gaps in the conversation.
We here with double the New Jersey commission and will bend every effort by setting it by six full tricks. It is vulnerable and without honor count and has vastly overbid its hand.
Bridge writers usually write about hands with slams or intricate plays, but in 1955 the most innocuous and worthless ever seen was the talk of the town. Take a look:
|♠ 6 5 3||♠ K Q 9 4|
|♥ 7 6 3||♥ K 8|
|♦ 7 6 5 4 3 2||♦ 10 8|
|♣ 6||♣ Q J 10 4 2|
13 players held the West hand in a Wednesday afternoon session at the 1955 Winter Nationals. Imagine their surprise when this little gem took the only defensive trick against 4♥.
The singleton club was led, and before declarer, South could set up the proper play of the hand, West ruffed a club.
A 1958 Goodwill reminder from committee chairmen, Louise Durham and John Simon:
Gloating over boards you’ve won
Offends good taste – it isn’t done.
Overlook your partner’s crime
Dress him down at dinnertime.
When a stranger is in the game
Introduce yourself by name.
Lose or win, let’s try to be
Less guilty of discourtesy.
Louise “Honeychile” Durham (d.1999) of Durant MS was Life Master # 358 and the first Life Master in Mississippi. She served as ACBL director and secretary, co-chairman of the Goodwill Committee and the WBF Friendship Committee. She was a past president of Mississippi Bridge Association. Durham was named ACBL Honorary Member 1974.
John E. Simon (1897-1993) of St. Louis MO was a limited partner in a brokerage firm. Life Master #641, Simon was chairman of the ACBL Goodwill Committee. A two-time North American champion, Simon was the ACBL Honorary Member in 1962.