THE WORLD HATES A COWARD!
Bobby and I often reminisce and exchange stories from our respective pasts. I find it so sad that much of this wondrous bridge history will die .. to coin a TV phrase … without a trace. Thus, you can understand my frequent compulsion to share with the bridge world at large some of these entertaining and informative tales (from either personal experiences or imparted to me by my husband — who has a bulging treasure chest of his own).
As Bobby was reading my blog about Omar, he piped up with a ‘classic‘ from the legendary and much heralded Culbertson-Lenz Match. Since these contests were held before my time on earth, I decided to check out their history in The Official Encyclopedia of Bridge as they were merely names from the past. Do yourself a favor and follow it up yourself. The coverage is positively fascinating!
Bobby attributes the story I am about to relate as the prelude to the eventual concept of Wolff “SIGNOFF” (named by Ozzie) before Bobby was barely a gleam in his father’s eye. The book (published by the ACBL) explains that the famed C-L Match (referred to back then as The Bridge Battle of the Century) took place between December, 1931 and January, 1932. It was about determining the superiority of systemic differences. One hundred fifty rubbers were
played in all. According to published accounts, Culbertson was partnered mostly by his wife Josephine, while Sidney Lenz (his arch enemy) “played the first 103 rubbers with Oswald Jacoby, who then resigned because of a difference of opinion on the play of a defensive situation.”
Coincidentally, the above excerpt related directly to Bobby’s story that I alluded to earlier. However, you must bear in mind that Jacoby was a brilliant, brash young upstart twenty-nine years of age and Sidney Lenz was about fifty-eight and an established, seasoned player. Apparently, a disaster befell the Lenz/Jacoby twosome when Ozzie signaled Lenz during the defense of a hand. Jacoby for some reason, could not afford to signal positively in the suit he wanted, and alternatively wired negatively in another suit. Lenz did not field the curve thrown by Ozzie, to which Jacoby remarked, “Only twelve to fifteen players in the entire nation would have the intelligence to know what my signal was intended to mean. Unfortunately for me, you were not one of them!”
Ozzie’s resignation from the Lenz/Jacoby partnership could appropriately be deemed THE JACOBY SIGNOFF!
As you may know — in the mid-fifties, Ozzie took Bobby, a fellow-Texan, under his wing — recognizing his tremendous potential. Half a century later Bobby laughs as he reflects upon some of the innovative, abusive names he was called and insults sustained when Ozzie thought he fell from grace. The great Oswald Jacoby, a genius in so many fields, was ne’er afraid to speak his mind. Leopards just don’t change their spots!