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CULBERTSON'S COUP
H. Allen Smith
December 20, 1954
The great bridge match between Ely Culbertson and Sidney Lenz was a fabulous show which helped the Culbertson system to victory in the bidding war
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December 20, 1954

Culbertson's Coup

The great bridge match between Ely Culbertson and Sidney Lenz was a fabulous show which helped the Culbertson system to victory in the bidding war

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Public interest in the contest reached such a pitch that one evening Jack Curley, the wrestling impresario, arrived at the Chatham demanding the right to switch the play to Madison Square Garden. He proposed that the players should occupy a glass cage and the audience follow the play on huge electrical scoreboards. He insisted that a fortune could be made from such an arrangement. "A fortune for you," said Culbertson, "but I'm interested only in making a fortune for myself."

The public got immense satisfaction out of the knowledge that these great stars of the game were frequently guilty of bonehead plays. On Dec. 28 Jacoby quit, after a loud dispute with Lenz. Late in that evening's session Lenz suddenly turned on Jacoby.

"Why do you make such rotten bids?" he demanded.

Jacoby stared at him and didn't answer. Culbertson smiled and said, "Shall we play another rubber?"

"Not with me, you don't!" snapped Jacoby, rising to his feet.

Referee Gruenther intervened, saying that the rules required another rubber. Jacoby sat down again, then turned to Lenz and said: "Sidney, in a hand in the second rubber tonight you made an absolutely stupid defensive play, and then you criticized me. I'm resigning right now as your partner."

A NEW PARTNER

Lenz looked at him a moment in disbelief. "Well, well, sir; well, sir," he stammered, "all right, sir."

The next evening Lenz had a new partner, a rotund former Navy officer, Commander Winfield Liggett Jr. Commander Liggett agreed to play as his old friend's partner but told the press that the contest was proving nothing at all about the relative merits of the bidding systems.

On the evening of Dec. 30 came a new sensation. Several of us were sitting around the press room listening to Sir Derrick Wernher, a British-American bridge star, analyze the play. Into the room walked Culbertson. Sir Derrick spoke to him, asking him why he had not responded to a challenge he had issued the previous summer. Culbertson said he hadn't heard of any such challenge. Said Sir Derrick: "You liar. You're a slab-sided piece of beefsteak."

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