Not Just the ACBL Story – But HISTORY

True accounts of events and people who shaped the ACBL

Archive for April 2012

ACBL Bridge Beat #51: Goren Hits The Airwaves

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They said it couldn’t be done. “Too much going on for a small TV screen to handle”, “They play too slow”, “They play too fast”, and a myriad of other reasons, Walter Schwimmer, producer of the hit shows Championship Bowling and All-Star Golf was undaunted. He put his top people on the job of creating a new technique for filming a bridge match that anyone could understand. He enlisted the U.S. Playing Card company support and ACBL cooperation, found a sponsor (North American Van Lines), invested $250,000 and Championship Bridge with Charles Goren was born.

Championship Bridge made its TV network debut on ABC on Sunday, Oct. 18, 1959.

The idea of Championship Bridge was simple. Each week a rubber bridge match was played between two pairs consisting of the top players in the U.S. with occasional appearances by the top players in the world (four members of the Italian Blue Team appeared on the show). The winning pair received $1000 and stayed on the show until defeated. The losing pair received $500. Additional bonuses of $250 and $500 were awarded for bidding and making a small or grand slam.

Goren served as the commentator, prize awarder, applauder of good bids, consoler of bad ones and explainer to the general public. He was assisted by veteran newscaster Alex Drier who served as emcee.

The first episode pitted Helen Sobel and Paul Hodge against Lee Hazen and Sidney Lazard. Others to appear on the show were Oswald Jacoby, B. Jay Becker, Howard Schenken, John Gerber, Richard Frey, Charles and Peggy Solomon, Albert Morehead, Edith Freilich and Easley Blackwood.

Championship Bridge aired on ABC from 1959-1964.

On the set of Championship Bridge

On the set of Championship Bridge

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April 30, 2012 at 2:26 pm

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ACBL Bridge Beat #50: 1957 Summer Nationals

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The 29th annual Summer National Championships were conducted at the Penn-Sheraton Hotel, Pittsburgh PA, July 27 – Aug. 4, 1957.

Attendance ran well over five thousand tables for the main body of the tournament which was equivalent to the 1956 New York tournament.

John Crawford scored the biggest personal triumph of the tournament, winning both the Mixed Teams and the Spingold. This made Crawford the holder of all five team championship trophies for the 1956-1957 season. He won the Chicago Trophy (now the Reisinger) and the Goren Trophy for the Men’s Teams at the Winter Nationals in 1956 and claimed the Vanderbilt in February of 1957. The two team events in Pittsburgh completed his tournament player’s “grand slam” and also earned him the Fishbein Trophy.

Marty Cohn and H. Sanborn Brown won the Master Pairs (now von Zedtwitz Life Master Pairs), Margaret Wagar and Kay Rhodes won the Whitehead Women’s Pairs for the third consecutive time, and John Hubble and David Carter won the Men’s Pairs (now the Wernher Open Pairs).

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April 27, 2012 at 8:03 am

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ACBL Bridge Beat #49: Tournament Kibitzing

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Kibitzing at a tournament is an entirely different affair than at a social game. In a tournament setting, the only good kibitzer is a silent kibitzer.

A tournament kibitzer should avoid making facial expressions, watch only one player’s hand and essentially do their best to imitate an empty chair.

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April 25, 2012 at 8:02 am

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ACBL Bridge Beat #48: Kibitzer Ranks

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The kibitzer, the highest rank, is a man of experience, maturity and wisdom. He may sit behind any of the players, but may get up from his chair at any time to examine another player’s hand.

The kibitzer is expected to point out how the hand should have been bid or played. If the player waits too long to make an obvious play, a senior kibitzer may snatch the card out of his hand and play it for him. A kibitzer seldom intervenes in the auction, but the kibitzer’s double, a dread weapon, may be provoked by outrageous overbidding.

A kibitzer attains seniority after five years of service, with the usual one day off per week. There is no time off for vacation or illness. A kibitzer with laryngitis is expected to convey his opinion of the bidding or play by sign language, but certain signs are prohibited.

The kibitzer-in-training, next in rank, is not allowed to speak to the players. Nobody is required to listen to him or to answer. It would be considered a breach of etiquette for a player to answer a kibitzer-in-training, even if he has merely asked the time.

The Ts-tser, the lowliest of all, is not allowed to speak to anybody. The ts-tser may only stand near the table and at appropriate time say, “ts. . . ts.”

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April 23, 2012 at 9:09 am

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ACBL Bridge Beat #47: Kibitzers

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No masterpoints are awarded for kibitzing, no matter how skillful you are at it. Nobody keeps statistics on hours spent kibitzing or on how many great players you’ve watched.

Nevertheless, there are all types of kibitzers.

The first step to becoming a good kibitzer is to know the game. You don’t have to know it intimately, but you should know the elements of the game or, at the very least, the name of the game.

Many years ago at an all-night game, a spat erupted over a lead out of turn around 6 a.m. The players asked the kibitzer who had been there watching since 9 p.m. to make the ruling. The kibitzer didn’t want to make the ruling but all parties felt he was the fairest judge. The kibitzer was handed a copy of The Laws of Contract Bridge from which to rule. He looked at the book with great interest and said, “So that’s what you’re playing. I thought it couldn’t be pinochle.”

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April 20, 2012 at 10:08 am

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ACBL Bridge Beat #46: Drury

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Doug Drury (1914-1967) was a stockbroker, bridge teacher and club owner. He served as a member of the ACBL Board of Governors and as a member of the Systems and Conventions Committee. He made his mark early as a tournament player while living in Toronto and was a three-time national champion.

Drury’s national successes were primarily obtained in with Eric Murray. This partnership also led to Drury’s most memorable contribution to bridge – the Drury Two-Club Convention. The convention was first written up in 1957 by Murray for The Bridge World. Murray says the convention was “invented for the express purpose of mitigating the losses suffered by my partners because of my incontrollable mania for opening balanced Yarboroughs in third or fourth position with one spade.”

To read the article on the Drury Two-Club Convention click here.

To view a recent interview with Eric Murray click here.

Eric Murray & Doug Drury

Eric Murray & Doug Drury

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April 18, 2012 at 10:08 am

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ACBL Bridge Beat #45: Pre-duplication

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Some players have complained about pre-duplicated hands since they first started appearing at national tournaments. The methods were fairly primitive in 1955.

Pre-duplication at that time was done by hand by a non-bridge player. It was said that the pre-duper did not know the difference between the ace of spades and an elephant’s ear. The method employed was to deal a hand with an old deck of cards, record it, shuffle the deck several times with a riffle shuffle and then deal the next hand one card at a time.

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April 16, 2012 at 8:00 am

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