Card Games All-Time Championship Bridge Match in 1931 Part 2
About the All-Time Championship Bridge Match in 1931, history of the international card game.
1931: THE ALL-TIME CHAMPIONSHIP BRIDGE MATCH
A dozen of the old masters joined forces in an organization called Bridge Headquarters. Their stated purpose was to "standardize" the game, and they sponsored a method of play which they called the Official System. They went through the motions of inviting Culbertson into the group, but he simply threw back his head and cackled at them. He picked out Sidney S. Lenz as the best card player in the group and challenged Lenz to a match of 150 rubbers, Lenz to choose his own partner. Culbertson would bet $5,000 against $1,000 that he and his wife, playing the Culbertson System, would beat Lenz and his partner, hewing to the Official System.
The old guard had to put up or shut up, and finally Lenz accepted the challenge.
Between the time when the rules were agreed upon and the match got under way, the nation's press discovered that it had something special on its hands. In the week prior to December 7, 1931, 24 special cables were laid into the Culbertson apartment in the Hotel Chatham, where the 1st half of the contest was to be staged. A large press room, complete with rows of typewriters and telegraph keys, was established down the hall from the Culbertson drawing room to make reporters comfortable.
Sidney Lenz was then 58, an amateur magician, a Ping-Pong champion, a superb bridge player and a wealthy man. He chose as his partner Oswald Jacoby, a handsome young fellow with dark hair and the build of a fullback, member of the championship bridge team called The Four Horsemen.
On the night the match started, there was classic confusion in the various rooms and corridors of the hotel. The place swarmed with reporters and cameramen and society people and celebrities. Chosen to referee the contest was Lieut. Alfred M. Gruenther, a 32-year-old chemistry instructor at West Point. Everyone was most polite and after 2 rubbers, Lenz and Jacoby were 1,715 points ahead.
The card table was at one end of the Culbertson drawing room. Across the center of the room stood high folding screens and there were 6 cracks, each about an inch wide, through which the reporters and favored guests could watch the contest. There was a chair at each crack and the rule said that no reporter or guest could look through a crack more than 15 minutes at a time, and it was required that everyone walk on tiptoe. Signs ordering "Complete Silence!" hung throughout the apartment, and on the door where the 2 Culbertson children were abed was a sign saying, "Quiet! Little Children Asleep and Dreaming."
Those who were present every night for 5 weeks might well have become bored with the proceedings if it hadn't been for Culbertson. He needed no press agent. He was consistently late getting to the card table and this infuriated Sidney Lenz, a man of little patience. Culbertson went into long periods of meditation before bidding or before playing a card, and Lenz soon grew bitter about the entire proceedings.
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