ACBL Bridge Beat #129: Reisinger Board-A-Match Teams

Today marks the start of the Reisinger Board-A-Match Teams at the Fall NABC in San Francisco. This will be the 47th time the event has been contested for the Reisinger Trophy and the 82nd time the event has been played –— it was the Chicago Board-A-Match Teams from 1929 to 1964.

The Reisinger is contested in six sessions –— two qualifying, two semifinal and two final sessions. The semi-final and final sessions will be shown on BBO vugraph ( beginning Saturday, Dec. 1 at 3 p.m. CST.

The Reisinger Memorial Trophy was donated by the Greater New York Bridge Association in memory of Curt H. Reisinger. Reisinger was a principal patron of contract bridge and the American Contract Bridge League. A man of great wealth, Reisinger was often called upon, and never failed, to help with a loan or an outright gift when there was a struggle to meet the modest payroll of the ACBL in its infancy. His support made possible several early contract bridge tournaments, clubs and books.

Board-A-Match events are considered by most experts to be the toughest type of event in tournament bridge. A team plays a small number of boards against one opponent – usually two, three or four boards –— then moves on to take on another opponent. The movement is set up in such a way that a team plays boards against opposing pairs of the same team. After play is finished and the teams compare scores, one matchpoint is awarded for each board won, and half a matchpoint for each board tied. The margin of difference on any board is of no consequence –— winning a board by 10 points is the same as winning a board by 4000. A win on a board = 1. Every board is equally important and a high degree of concentration is necessary throughout every board of a session.

This year the Cayne Team –— Jimmy Cayne, Giorgio Duboin, Lorenzo Lauria, Michael Seamon, Antonio Sementa and Alfredo Versace –— will be looking to three-peat, having claimed the title in 2010 and 2011.

The Nickell Team –— Nick Nickell, Richard Freeman, Bob Hamman, Bobby Wolff, Jeff Meckstroth and Eric Rodwell –— three-peated in the Reisinger, winning in 1993, 1994 and 1995. The Nickell Team –— with a slightly different roster –— fell just short of three-peating in 2006 after winning 2004 and 2005 and again in 2010 after claiming the title in both 2008 and 2009. Their team total of seven wins is impressive to say the least.

In the days of the Chicago Board-A-Match, the team of John Crawford, Sally Young, Helen Sobel Smith and Charles Goren three-peated in 1937, 1938 and 1939. B. Jay Becker was also a member of the team in 1939.

Another notable three-peat was performed by the team of Edgar Kaplan, Norman Kay, Bill Root and Richard Pavlicek in 1982, 1983 and 1984. Oswald Jacoby at age 81 was a member of the 1983 team.

John Crawford holds the record for the most wins in the event at 10, having won in 1937, 1938, 1939, 1942, 1946, 1947, 1953, 1954, 1956 and 1961. Bob Hamman has nine wins in the Reisinger, having won in 1978 and 1988 in addition to his seven titles with the Nickell Team.

Due to the Board-A-Match scoring, the Reisinger has ended in a tie on six occasions; the two most notable ties were in 1947 and 1984.

In 1947, the first and only all-female team to win the event –— Sally Young, Paula Bacher, Jane Jaeger and Kay Rhodes –— shared the victory with the team of John R. Crawford, Theodore A. Lightner, George Rapee and Samuel M. Stayman and the team of Robert Appleyard, Morris Berliant, Malcolm A. Lightman and Simon Rossant.

1984 saw a four-way tie for the title. The winning teams that year were: Edgar Kaplan, Norman Kay, Richard Pavlicek and Bill Root; Mike Smolen, Allan Stauber, Fred Stewart and Steve Weinstein; Saul Bronstein, Richard Reisig, Samuel M. Stayman and George Tornay; Ross Grabel, Jim Robison, Stelios Touchtidis and Jon Wittes.

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