ACBL Bridge Beat #29: Roth-Stone 1953

The debate over the use of the Roth-Stone system in tournament competition continued throughout 1953. The Bulletin dutifully wrote articles on the system to enlighten readers and the letters poured in.

Oswald Jacoby wrote, “I seemed to have stirred up a hornet’s nest with my comments on the Roth-Stone system … For that I am both glad and sorry. But I still think the Roth-Stone system should not be permitted in tournament play. I challenge Alvin Roth and his chosen partner to play against me and my chosen partner in a long rubber bridge match. … If I lose this match, I will give up my present bidding methods and will adopt the Roth-Stone system, even if it kills me!”

And Roth replied, “I am delighted to accept Oswald Jacoby’s challenge to a head-on rubber bridge match.” In reference to Jacoby’s statement about adopting the Roth-Stone system, Roth wrote, “It would be appreciated if that remark was stricken from the record. I couldn’t live with myself if I thought people might accuse me of being an accessory to murder.”

Many other readers wrote in with their opinions on the matter. Bulletin editor Alfred Sheinwold, in regard to the controversy, wrote, “There are probably some readers who are bored with the whole business by now, but we think many are interested, amused or bemused. … People complained that there was no way to learn about the system, so Al Roth wrote a book about it – on which we have made him a bet he will lose at least a thousand dollars … Stoney is even more innocent; he has nothing to do with the book, aside from having helped in the concoction of the system itself.”

The challenge match never took place and Jacoby never became a Roth-Stoner, but by the end of the year, the Tournament Committee did permanently approve the Roth-Stone system for tournament competition.

Al Roth & Tobias Stone

Al Roth & Tobias Stone

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