ACBL Bridge Beat #67: Scientists v. Traditionalists

The Scientists (Al Roth, Tobias Stone, Robert Jordan, Arthur Robinson, Sam Stayman and Victor Mitchell) faced off against the Traditionalists (Lew Mathe, Meyer Schleifer, Eric Murray, Sami Kehela, B. Jay Becker and Dorothy Hayden) in a 180-board match held at the Park Lane Hotel on Jan. 15-17, 1965.

The match sponsored by The Bridge World and arranged by far-from-nonpartisan editor Alphonse Moyse Jr., was as an attempt to determine the value of playing multitudinous bidding conventions as compared with playing basically fundamental methods employing a minimum of artificial conventions.

Had the match been 100 deals, or even 120, Moyse’s fond hope – that it would prove the Scientists’ heavy arsenal of conventions needless if not self-defeating – would have been realized. The actual result (367-314 Scientists) probably proved nothing more than cards will frequently be dealt in patterns that baffle even the greatest expert, regardless of his bidding style.

The match did prove that the public was highly interested in the outcome. Many remain unconvinced by the results. So what was wrong with the artificial bidders in the first sessions of play? What happened to the natural bidders in the last half?

An analysis of the results while each pair was playing showed:

Pair Sessions Average
Roth-Stone 10 +10.3
Stayman-Mitchell 7 +3.9
Becker-Hayden 8 +1.9
Jordan-Robinson 7 -2.3
Murray-Kehela 7 -4.0
Mathe-Schleifer 9 -10.3

Obviously other factors influenced these results, but observers agreed with the indicated conclusion: that Roth-Stone and Becker-Hayden played best for their respective teams.