Yes, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, you definitely flunked this time!
JOANN L. WALTER
POINT OF HONOR
Let me call attention to the sorry status of American contract bridge. The Blue Team, the cream of the crop of 6,000 organized bridge players in Italy, has defeated the cream of the crop of 180,000 organized American bridge players 11 times in the last 12 years of annual international championships. This is comparable to a pennant winner from one of our major leagues going into the World Series with a Triple A team and consistently coming out second best. The conclusion: there is something wrong with American contract bridge.
I think that the lack of success can be blamed on the point count, the prevailing method for card evaluation in the American bridge system today. Within the memory of many is the fact that the point-count method was discredited in 1931. For three or four weeks running there were headlines in the nation's press telling of the daily progress of a 150-rubber match between Ely Culbertson and Sidney Lenz. Culbertson, using the honor-trick count, won going away.
In my opinion, the point count has reduced the game to a hit-and-miss guessing game, 75% offense to 25% defense. Only the return to the honor-trick count, as the most true and reliable evaluation for one's 13 cards and their relativity to the other 39, will improve the situation.
ALFRED E. DAVIS
Staten Island, N.Y.
?Here is Charles Goren's reply: "All honor to reader Davis and his loyalty to honor tricks, which did indeed do much to educate early players of the then new game of contract bridge. But his history is a bit off. First, point count was the least important element of the Lenz method. Second, beginning in 1933, the Four Aces team, first to successfully advocate a point-count method, massacred Culbertson—and everyone else. Third, the Italians use point count as the basis of their artificial one-club systems. The Four Aces won, not because of the point count, but because they put together a combination of the greatest players of that day. Italy has done likewise."—ED.