Midway throughthe 10-day world championship bridge match with Italy last January, TobiasStone of the American team lost his temper, none too stable in any event,protested, and set in motion a chain of circumstances that led to his beingcensured by the American Contract Bridge League and banned from internationalplay for a year. Last week he sued the league to have the censure—in itselfunprecedented—removed by court action.
About all thathas been known of what happened in Italy is that the American team wasdecisively beaten. Long dominant in world bridge, the U.S. team was firstcrushed by the Italians two years ago, when they appeared in New York with anentirely new bidding system, passing in odd situations and suddenly stoppingwith bidding in full swing. The suave and diplomatic Italians, personallypopular and praised by Bridge Master Charles Goren as "fine sportsmen andmagnificent players," were also noted to be doing a lot of staring at eachother—long, soulful looks that bothered some players and spectators.
In Italy thisyear, play started in the Casino at Como, with the players in the open room ina soundproof booth, the bidding and the hands shown on a large board outsidefor the benefit of spectators. (The same hands were played in the closed room,with the Italian team holding the cards the Americans had held in the openroom, as in ordinary duplicate bridge, and scoring was by international matchpoints, roughly one for every 100 bridge points.)
August 17, 1958
After five daysthe match was moved to Campione, where spectators crowded around the table inthe open room. The Americans were told not to show their hands to the audience.Through an oversight, the Italians were not warned, and on the first hand, asis customary in playing before a gallery, held their cards over their heads sothe spectators could see them and follow the bidding.
What happenednext is in dispute. The New York Times at the time reported that Stoneprotested. "Protested nothing!" said a bridge official. "Tobyscreamed!" In another hassle, Stone said to the Italian player GuglielmoSiniscalco, "Stop staring at your partner!"
"Are youaccusing me of cheating?" asked Signor Siniscalco.
"No,"said Stone. "It makes me uncomfortable."
The Italian team,winners of the 164-hands match by 211 to 174 points, charged Stone withdiscourtesy to an opponent. Back in the U.S. the Bridge League barred Stone fora year for discourtesy, but cleared him of a second complaint that he hadaccused the Italians of cheating. Bridge experts say the barring isunnecessary—the Italians wouldn't play against a team of which Stone was amember.
They also saythat the conflict dramatizes the different ethical climate of European andAmerican bridge. Betting is heavy during European tournaments and all butunknown, or for small stakes, in American matches. There is no way to codifyunethical practices in bridge. It is unethical, for instance, to hesitate onplaying a singleton, just as it is to deliberate too long on certain no-trumpbids or to go through elaborate facial grimaces, indicating profounduncertainty, whose net result in certain bidding and playing situations canonly be to acquaint one's partner of the nature of the cards held. But if anyprotest is entered, the dispute boils down to something as nebulous as afleeting expression. Hence bridge officials in the United Stated hold that theprimary aim is to maintain an ethical climate, rather than legislate againstconcrete acts. They want to avoid the money-saturated, gambling-tenseenvironment of much European tournament play, where, in recent years, both theItalian and the French teams have fired top bridge stars for cheating. Americanbridge experts also tried to soothe international friction diplomatically.Charles Goren went over the boards (each dealt hand is called a board and eachboard is recorded) "with a fine tooth comb," could not find a shred ofevidence of cheating by the Italian players, called the very idea"preposterous." As for the staring Stone complained about, Goren said:"Heck, Americans are the greatest starers in the world."
For almost ayear, Williams Simmons, 30, a Baltimore longshoreman, had been married and, bycoincidence, out of a job. His wife, Viola, was steadily employed at aVenetian-blind factory and recently had begun to pass remarks to the effectthat a man looking for work wasn't likely to find it if he was out fishing halfthe time.
The other night,William helped dry the dishes and after Viola had gone to bed, he wrote thefollowing note to her: "I was going to tell you last night, but was afraidyou'd get mad. I've gone fishing. Will drive you to work at 7 a.m./Love,Bill."
At 7 a.m., Violawas ready, mad and ready. Bill did not show. Also, it turned out, he had taken$5 of the grocery money (to buy gas), leaving Viola only a dollar. Violafinally had to take the bus to work, and she was docked for being late. Thethoughts she had about fishermen, she later confessed, were unkind.
She was stillburning when the boss called her into his office. "Viola," said theboss, "congratulations. You are rich. Your husband has caught a fish worth$25,000."
Bill had donejust that. With a live eel for bait, he had hooked Diamond Jim III, thediamond-tagged striped bass released in Chesapeake Bay earlier in the summer asa promotion stunt for a brewery. ("I had planned to quit fishing at 6o'clock," said Bill, "but the bass started hitting the eels just before6. I couldn't stop then.") Two previous Diamond Jims have not been caught.The prize money is dropped to $1,000 in September. Bill Simmons had beaten thedeadline by three weeks. Better than that, he had beaten the rap at home, wherenever again will a word be uttered against the reasonable proposition thatsometimes it is better to go fishing than to work—or even look for work.
There is more tobig-time coaching than beating the bushes for big boys bright enough to makepassing grades. A coach also has to have some sure-fire comedy material for thebanquet circuit and be fast with an ad lib at his press conference.
Top banana amongfunny coaches is Duffy Daugherty of Michigan State, who fractured them at aSenate hearing the other day and drew from Senator Estes Kefauver the commentthat he was funnier than Casey Stengel.
It may beobserved, these hot August days, that some other coaches are testing materialhere and there. In Greensboro, North Carolina, Adolph Rupp, Kentucky coach,told a basketball clinic: "I'm not as mean as you think. I've got a lot ofpublicity for being a mean man, but it's not true. The fact is that I'vealready got an invitation to coach both teams when I go through the pearlygates."
If this wasn'treal funny, it was at least brave. For Rupp was talking in the territory ofNorth Carolina's coach, Frank McGuire, who is a very fast man with thecomeback. Asked, at a question-and-answer session following a banquet, if therewas any place for the small man in basketball, Frank said, "Yes, sellingscore cards." Asked what could be done to improve the quality ofofficiating, Frank said, "Give 'em faster sneakers."
The other day, ata meeting of Missouri Valley coaches, George Blackburn of Cincinnati told hiscolleagues how he planned to resolve the quandary over whether to kick thepoint after touchdown or go for two points on a run or pass play.
"I'm going tohave a big white card that reads 'kick' and a big red card that reads'pass-run.' After we score a touchdown, I'm going to hold up both cards, andthe one that gets the most response from the fans will determine what wedo."
Pete Elliott,California's young (31) football coach, says he plans to use a"countdown" in signal calling next season. "It should have apsychological impact," said Elliott. "We're hoping that when thequarterback starts by shouting, 'Count down,' and then calls decreasingnumbers, it will result in an explosive line charge and allow our guidedhalfbacks to fire up into orbit."
Nothing? Well,remember it's only August and the show is still on the road.
Two hundred ofthe best baseball players in the union printing trades assembled in New Yorklast week, and, as one of them observed, "For one week we were in the bigleagues." For one week each year for the past 50 years the top printers'baseball teams of the country have been meeting for an annual tournament, thefirst one opening on a bright September Sunday in 1908 at Sheepshead Bay, N.Y.with the 75-piece 23rd Regiment Band providing music and the picnic dinnerincluding Boston brown bread, Rhode Island clams, sea bass, lobsters,Philadelphia chicken. The entertainment was featured by a fat man's race forprinters weighing 200 pounds or more. (Boston beat Pittsburgh.)
Fifty years havemade hardly a dent in the hallowed traditions of the printers. Last week theyarrived in New York (as Jehovah's Witnesses were checking out) with theirfamilies, the defending champions from St. Louis traveling in two cars assignedto them by the Pennsylvania. They put up in an air-conditioned hotel, visitedRuppert's Brewery, enjoyed a cocktail party for the wives and spent eveningafter evening singing old songs. Each morning the 10 teams raced to EbbetsField and various other playing fields around town for another eliminationround starting at 11 o'clock. They were alert and eager, the generalfestivities of the night before rarely involving the players. As Eddie Moran,the St. Louis manager, observed, "You never drink when you'rewinning."
The UnionPrinters International Baseball League is the oldest amateur baseballorganization in the country, and its members claim they play the best amateurball to be seen anywhere. A player must be 1) a printer; 2) the son of aprinter; 3) an apprentice printer. Many are former professionalballplayers.
Nevertheless, allprinters plainly were not athletes. Games were spotty, a few innings of goodminor league quality play, followed by tragic disorder. The New York UnionPrinters trailed the Boston Typos 7-0 in the third inning, piled up six runsand then, in the fifth, let three runs come in on a wild throw from third. Theball arched so high over home that John Licato, managing the New York team,said in a voice of mild wonder, "How can a man throw a ball straight up inthe air?" In general, the games looked like exhibitions by formerprofessional ballplayers who were surprised to find they had become printers,or of printers who were surprised to find themselves in a ball park. After sixdays of play, Washington, most of whose team is employed in the GovernmentPrinting Office, won the championship for the 22nd time.
Except to theplayers, the outcome hardly mattered. Printers' baseball harks back to the dayswhen the annual tournament in Boston meant a stag at St. James Hall for the menand a ladies' party at Keith's Theater, when the 1911 championship week in St.Louis meant a downtown parade, visit to a brewery, a moonlight excursion on thesteamer Gray Eagle, with as many as 8,000 fans crowding the stands for thefinal game. Games last week were played in such a pleasant atmosphere ofmeaningful tradition that the conclusion appeared to be obvious: if allprinters are not athletes, it might be a good idea for all athletes to becomeprinters—or at least for all amateur athletic organizations to preserve theirtraditions as the printers have.
Take 1 Gal.Claret
A man who spent arecent rainy day browsing in a library has emerged with an excerpt from TobiasSmollett's Humphry Clinker, written in 1770, which is offered herewith ashot-weather comfort for golfers and claret drinkers:
"In thefields called the Links, the citizens of Edinburgh divert themselves at a gamecalled golf, in which they use a curious kind of bats, tipt with horn, andsmall elastic balls of leather, stuffed with feathers, rather less than tennisballs, but of a much harder consistence. This they strike with such force anddexterity from one hole to another, that they fly to an incredibledistance....
"Amongothers, I was shewn one particular set of golfers, the youngest of whom wasturned of fourscore. They were all gentlemen of independent fortunes who hadamused themselves with this pastime for the best part of a century, withouthaving ever felt the least alarm from sickness or disgust; and they never wentto bed, without having each the best part of a gallon of claret in his belly.Such uninterrupted exercise, cooperating with the keen air from the sea, must,without all doubt, keep the appetite always on edge and steel the constitutionagainst all common attacks of distemper."
The body ofStefano Longhi is still swinging at the end of a rope high on the wall of theEiger. Last summer the doomed Italian climber and a companion, disregardingwarnings and official orders, made a desperate attempt to scale the sheer,vertical 6,700-foot north face of the 13,036-foot Alpine peak that has claimed18 lives in 20 years. Midway they met the one unforeseeable obstacle: anotherparty making an unauthorized dash for the summit. Storms closed in on them.From the terrace of a hotel in the valley, watchers with telescopes followedtheir hopeless clawing at the face of the rock. Rescue parties saved one man,and recovered two bodies. Longhi lay on a ledge, plainly weaker each time theclouds parted, and at last slipped over. All winter his frozen body swung withthe gales.
Last week threeskilled climbers set out to scale the north wall of the Eiger and cut Longhi'sbody down. They left at 1 a.m. On the terrace of the Schweidegg Hotel was theiradviser, Heinrich Harrar, who first climbed the Eiger 20 years ago. Theirequipment was superb, conditions ideal.
At 8 in themorning they were over a third of the way up, 3,000 feet below the top of thewall. The sky was clear. At 11:30 they were halfway up, on a narrow snowfieldthat cuts across the whole wall, and where last year's climbers began tofalter. Here Herbert Raditschnig, a 24-year-old Austrian army guide, took thelead from 22-year-old Lothar Brandler, who had led so far. Hias Noichl, 36,another Austrian guide and an Olympic athlete, tried a more difficult passagealone.
They were making328 feet an hour—phenomenal speed. In the afternoon the rate slowed. At 4o'clock Brandler slipped and slid 65 feet before he stopped himself with thehelp of his ice ax. At 5 they were together again, within 2,000 feet of thetop. At 5:30 a rain of falling stones descended on them, one rock the size of aman's head crushing Noichl's hand as he clung to his ice ax. He held on, but helost so much blood the others put a tourniquet on his arm and climbed to asmall rocky terrace just below Longhi's swaying body to spend the night.
The next morningthey began creeping down. Thirty-seven hours after they began their climb theywere met by a seven-man rescue team, who rushed Noichl to a hospital, where twofingers were removed from his crushed hand.
Thus, the Eigerhad defeated another attempt to climb it. The body of Stefano Longhi stillswung at the end of the rope high on the cliff, a macabre sight for tourists topeer at through the telescope on the hotel terrace in the valley far below. Butone man would not look up. Said Lothar Brandler: "I hate thatwall."
The skipper addedto his crew
A maid in stylish sacking;
She doubles as a flying jib
Where'er the boat is tacking.
--John Stuart Martin
They Said It
Howard king, heavyweight champion of Nevada whoback-pedaled his way to a listless draw with Archie Moore, upon being asked whyhe didn't try for a knockout: "Archie is too strong. And besides, I'm agood-looking guy—better looking than Nat King Cole."
Emmet F. Byrne, Congressman from Illinois, prefacing asports article lauding Nellie Fox which he read into the Congressional Record:"Air. Speaker, in a season when the Chicago White Sox need an act ofCongress or a shot in the arm in their pursuit of the Yankees, it is refreshingand stimulating to have Nellie Fox playing his usual brilliant game from day today."
Yogi Berra, sometime right fielder for the New YorkYankees, summed up his new career just two nights before a pregame fungo hithim in the face: "I ain't been hit on the head yet."