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The following are some blurbs regarding the performance of the Roth-Stone partnership at the 1959 Bermuda Bowl.  It would be the only Bermuda Bowl appearance for Stone.  Roth would later play two others with Bill Root.

The Roth-Stone system, notably successful at match point play, has proved somewhat less effective at total points.” - Goren

Also: “Britain's Reese added to his previously quoted criticism of Roth-Stone bidding tactics..('Delaying tactics and failure to act promptly in entering the bidding proved costly to the United States.')"

"Bidding told the story. The States could have won if all its players had used more natural methods." - Ewart Kempson. 5-card majors and forcing notrump were not considered ‘natural methods’ at the time. This was directed at the only “non-natural” pair of Roth-Stone.

“...consensus selected Silodor-Rapee as our most consistent pair.” - Goren

Lets see if the eye witness accounts are any more accurate than those of the bandit, samurai, wife or woodcutter.

The following are some bad results for Roth & Stone at the event. The italicized boards are in my previous post (Claims).

Bd#10

R/S got to 3NT.  1-1; 2NT by Roth holding:  AK6 KQ42 AQ63 Q3.  The Qx was opposite xx and was down two on the club lead. Either Moysian makes. Italy played 4H for the swing.

Bd#16

Stone passed WvR in second holding: K5 AQ76542 Q43 4. Roth then picked a bad time to try a 2 WJO in 4th seat. Even though his action holding: QJ943 K103 19 K876 looks about forty years before its time.  Roth played in a spade partial and missed an easy game found at the other table.  Italy let the spade partial through.

Bd#78

Stone
Q109875
J94
J
863
D`Alelio
K
1086
10987
AQ1052
Roth
A3
AQ75
KQ652
K7
Chiaradia
J642
K32
A43
J94
W
N
E
S
1
P
1NT
P
2NT
P
4
P
P
P
D
78
4 East
NS: 0 EW: 0

Down in game vs a spade partial making.  (Note:  R-S added WJS responses later.)

Bd#127

Roth passed 10865 A109 A6 K954 in 4th seat. Italy scored 2NT+1 with these cards

Bd#128

W
N
E
S
P
1
P
1
P
2
P
P
X
P
?

Roth was East, with: KJ9 AQ43 743 A85.  Stone had passed as dealer and balanced. What now?

Sitting for the double picked up just +100 vs +600 for 3NT making by Italy in the other room. Stone passed in 1st with: Q1065 2 AJ10 KQ432.  

For the record, I enjoy poking fun at Al Roth. Roth, like Stone, was a difficult personality. Sidney Lazard once nonchalantly emptied the contents of an ashtray onto Toby Stone in response to an insult. Bridge was a lot more fun in pre-Zero Tolerance days, when we sort of accepted difficult and crazy as part of the package.

Despite my hopes to the contrary, looking over the 1958 Bermuda Bowl, it is clear that Roth & Stone were our best pair. By a wide margin.

The Big Picture

Scoring(*) up the nine segments against Italy, for the five sets totaling 92 boards when the Roth-Stone partnership was playing, Italy outscored America by just 8 IMPs. In the four sets without Roth-Stone, Italy was up 33 IMPs for those 72 boards(*).

Against lineups including Roth-Stone, Italy was .087 IMP/Bd. Italy did 5.27 times better with Roth-Stone on the sidelines, scoring .459 IMP/Bd.(*)

It does not matter why this happened. I do not care if Roth-Stone were just lucky. I do not care if Italy hated Stone so much they could barely follow suit with Toby at the table. It does not do matter if the other American players thought Roth-Stone were so bad that they tried extra hard when that pair was in.

The sample size is fairly large. The results are distinctive. America was much better with Roth-Stone playing than not playing. Say what you want, the score is the final word. Everything else is spin.

(*) The event was scored under the original 1949 IMP scale. The official score was 211-174. When I scored the file under old IMPs and the old scoring (X'd 1-3-5-7 NV sets) it scored as 213-172. Having rechecked my scoring till I was blurry-eyed, I think there may be a minor mistake(s) in the file record regarding a result. In any event, my calculations are based off my scoring, which is close enough to the actual score.

For today’s scoring, which is how the .lin file was scored, the event was 373-298. America with Roth & Stone were about minus .12 IMPs/bd versus minus .89 IMPs/bd without.

Getting It Wrong

How did they get this wrong?

In life, like the movie Rashomon, people see events in a way that benefits themselves. It was not just that others did not like Roth & Stone. (Though they did not.) It was not that Roth was viewed as a possible competitor for the mantel of America’s expert. (Although he was.) Al Roth represented a different way of approaching the game of bridge. Everyone else wanted Al to be wrong for the sake of their view of the game.

That is what happened in baseball. It was run by managers, scouts and ballplayers who knew - or at least thought they knew - all about the game. These people were experts and did possess vast amounts of knowledge. However, these same experts did not understand how best to win. And they were unwilling to accept that how they thought about the game could be wrong.

The movie Moneyball is based on this true story. The original script for the elevator scene with Johan Hill as a Peter Brand (fictional character, in real life it was Paul DePodesta) was better than the watered-down tag line where Brad Pitt as Billy Beane says “You’re a funny guy". The original script leaves Peter with the last line before the elevator closes.

Beane asks if Peter read Bill James. Peter replies in the affirmative but notes the ideas are not that new and have been around for a couple of decades. Beane then asks why then, is no one in baseball using these ideas. The answer:

"That’s a much more difficult question than how to win baseball games. Once you begin to pull at that string, your understanding of the world might begin to unravel.”  

Old-Fashioned Bridge & Its Views

Back in the day, most people played rubber bridge. There were tournaments, but most “pro work” was rubber bridge for stakes. Bidding was necessarily simple. Methods were virtually non-existent.

Half a century ago nearly all the top American players used virtually identical bidding methods. Charles Goren, Helen Sobel, B. Jay Becker, John Crawford, Howard Schenken, George Rapée and Sidney Silodor, who were the crème de la crème in the New York and Philadelphia bridge world, could change partners with little loss of efficiency.” - Alan Truscott Feb. 14, 2004

What Roth proposed was that better methods would increase efficiency. His 1958 book: “Bridge is a Partnership Game” seems like a trite title today. But fifty years ago, it was a completely different view than “keep it simple and wing it”.

It was not just that “bidding was primitive” or that players of this era lacked conventions. Players of that era lacked methods.  A partnership cannot establish methods without first bidding predictably.  Is the following a predictable rebid?

Forquet
J10643
AKJ10
J72
A
Silodor
AK
84
KQ864
8763
Siniscalco
75
Q632
A103
Q942
Rapee
Q982
975
95
KJ105
W
N
E
S
1
P
1
P
2
P
P
P
D
149
2 North
NS: 0 EW: 0

I polled this hand.  It seemed the actual choice of 2 would be a minority view and it was, just 3%. A 2 rebid was about a 2:1 favorite versus 1NT.

Looking at all four hands, 2 is down two, 1NT is down one and 2 makes. In chess, if a move can be refuted and players are unable to find a counter to the refutation, the original move is inferior. Bridge is not chess. The double dummy result is neither a repudiation nor a validation of a bid.

If the universe is limited to this one deal, it is still not clear what the best rebid might be.

At the table, 2 went down just one. The deuce of clubs was opened. Forquet cashed the K and received an encouraging card. F&S played attitude leads; 2nd & low. (2 from Siniscalco from Q86542 on Bd2 against 4 and 2 from A109752 against 3NT on Bd10 plus many other examples.) Forquet does not know that North did not rebid 2 on =2452. If so, he needs to cash a high heart and give partner a ruff. Forquet did cash the A as he obviously did not know the position and missed a chance for -2. The Italians did not defend as preternaturally as Roth suggested.

As an aside, it is evident that if one were signaling for leads, West would signal for a heart. Not the club that was led. The attitude lead in hearts would now make for an easy two trick set. Demonstrating that the Italians did not lead as preternaturally as Roth suggested.

At the other table, D’Alelio rebid 2 with the North hand after the same start. However, he did not get to play it there. Becker balanced with 2. South now continued with 3 and went down one.

So is 1NT the “best” rebid? E-W can make nine tricks in hearts. Maybe West does not balance over 1NT. If East leads the club, N/S can roll seven tricks. I know I hate leading from that heart holding, especially since North can hold four hearts. So 1NT might be the best chance for a plus and -100 isn’t any worse than the other rebids. However, if West balances over 1NT, N/S will be unable to continue, not being aware of a minor suit fit. N/S will now be -140 or -200 on a balancing double.

So what is the answer?

The answer is that we are asking the wrong question.

Methods

The question is not whether 1NT, 2 or 2 is the best rebid. The real question is what does your partner rebid with this hand? I do not know what Kit Woolsey or Michael Rosenberg rebid. But Fred knows what Kit rebids and Zia knows what Michael rebids with this hand.

If opener is free to rebid 1NT, 2 or 2 with this =2254 on bd#149, then none of those rebids limit opener’s hand as much as it might.  Continuations are not as effective when one player is uncertain what his partner will bid on a particular hand.

I prefer a systemic 1NT rebid. Feel free to list all the shortcomings with that rebid. It does not matter. The benefits and shortcomings of the 1NT rebid are fairly random. But where rebidding 1NT gains is that responder now knows that a 2 rebid shows either more shape, more strength or perhaps both. The benefits of this information are significant.  Knowing what partner probably holds for a bid is how we start to develop methods and transition from random to effective.

If this is a 2 rebid, that is fine too. The shortcomings of that rebid are also random. But now your partner knows you cannot have this hand for a 1NT rebid. 

A pair might want to work out methods after 1-1; 2-3 since jumps were forcing back then.  Which is actually what struck me about the 2 choice for a rebid - how easily an old-fashioned auction can go wrong.  And these auctions often go wrong when players worry more about what their hand looks like to them than what it sounds like to partner on the bidding.  Good luck navigating an auction after 2 when partner rebids a forcing 3.

This style of bidding contributed to America bidding six slams Italy did not, going down in four of them.

The other way of looking at this problem is suppose you are playing a weak notrump system. If this hand is either a one diamond opening or a weak 1NT opening, how does partner know what subsequent auctions mean? There are not enough bids in the bidding box to start one hand at two different opening bids and still have an effective system.  Yet that is what the American players did in those days. Players would open a 4CM instead of strong notrump. They would skip a 4CM up the line because the suit was weak. The emphasis was on “expert judgment” and not set, co-operative understandings.

So why all this to do about a hand that was a push? Precisely because not knowing exactly what partner will choose to bid with a specific hand never matters - until it does.  Sometimes a player needs to know what partner has for his bid.  

Agreements do not constitute methods.  If you play (1) - 2 as Michaels your agreement is majors. If you play that as clubs, you agreement is natural. However, if that is the extent of your conversation, then either way, your side has an agreement but you lack methods. A partnership cannot establish effective methods without first knowing what partner is going to bid with a specific hand. 

RHO opens 1 (Roman, balanced 12-16 or really big hand). You pass, LHO responds 1, which is constructive, (1 is artificial negative), natural and less than a GF. Partner bids 2. Your agreement is “natural”. Opener passes, you hold: A3 Q1043 K105 J2

Is this enough for a 2NT bid? That depends on what partner thinks a 2 bid looks like. This is just a scattered 10. You will probably get a spade lead against NT since partner did not start with a double. Plus N/S should have 19 HCP at a minimum and might have a lot more. Partner might be getting in with mostly a suit for the lead against a possible NT contract.

In any event, America’s “most consistent pair” passed 2 for +130.  Missing an easy 3NT. Avarelli was light for his one heart bid. It is much harder to work out partner’s bids when one has to rely on the opponents.

Systems vs Guess & Golly

I was never a fan of Roth’s sound opening bid philosophy. Given a choice between sound initial action and light initial action, I believe light is more advantageous. More fun, too.

However, given the choice between a sound structure and winging it, structure is preferable. Specific structure defines the problematic hands. A light style will never miss a game on bd#16 as R-S did. But the light style partnership will either miss other games opposite “bad 10s” when responder decides not make a move because opener might be light. Or the pair may well overbid to hopeless games.

In the 50s & 60s, most American bridge experts looked at the game as "knowing what to bid with a specific hand".  In reality, this leads to flying solo and often puts partner on a guess.  If this propensity really effected performance, we should see all sorts of examples.  And we do.

Which of these hands did Crawford open?

  1. JT8 KQ84 KQJ98
  2. QJ9 105 KQ2 KQ654

 

What about these as a possible opening for Silodor?

  1. Q86 A532 QT A754 
  2. KQ98 Q765 98 KQT

 

Each player opened one hand and not the other. Now we can all get hyper-technical about the differences between the two hands. And yes, these are HOF players. Excellent judgment and they even check the cycle of the moon before their decision. Yet both times, America missed easy games with the hand that passed.  If the reader wants to know which hand was opened and which was passed, the answer is both Crawford & Silodor opened the lower KnR and passed with the higher.  How is partner supposed to know that your game invite by a passed hand was better than a hand that you opened?  

Silodor & Crawford teamed up for one segment. Because that is what the Americans did, change up partnerships. Two more hands, one was from that segment.

  1. 54 A53 K92 KJ1075 
  2. K109 964 Q8 AQJ53

 

One was passed by Crawford. The other opened 1 by Silodor.  Both evaluate to 12.1 KnR.  They did not have an accident on the hand, but it does not take much imagination to understand the difficulty of two players needing to be on the same page with their tide charts and moon cycles.

When Crawford goes for -1,300 on a silly preempt in sandwich, people write it off as Crawford’s swashbuckling style. Everyone liked Johnny Crawford. Before Broadway Billy Eisenberg, there was Crawford. Johny Crawford was a gambler, though backgammon was more of a sure thing for him. His three Bermuda Bowl wins and 37 NABC (today) victories testify to his overall skill.

But bridge was migrating from experts flying solo to partnerships working together. Roth’s version of the game - partnership efficiency - is what wins long KOs. Roth and Stone even had rules for psychic bids.  Not so for the other four American players.

Evaluating Approaches

It comes down to (a) R/S critics did not truly understand the importance of methods, therefore (b) not a fine sense of how to evaluate them properly and (c) R/S critics did not want the basis for their concept of bridge to be wrong.

When people cannot refute the premise of an argument, they nitpick peripheral issues. Roth’s central argument went to establishing jointly understood and followed methods. The purpose of this is to draw boundary lines for hands and bids so that partner's bids are predicatable.  Each player will now have a better understanding of where they are in a particular auction. Once one draws lines, hands that become borderline are the ones that become problematic in a system. Every system will have a different group of difficult hands depending on where the borders are drawn.

What happens next is a matter of self-fulfilling viewpoints. The experts of the day start with the notion of “this is how we play bridge”. Their borderline hands are vast as the boundaries and bids are not clearly defined. When the contract is not optimal, they say: “well, that is ‘just bridge’ and we get more of these right than others because of our expert judgment.”

When Roth-Stone run aground, these same experts look at the result and say: “what a dumb system, and it would have never happened to us on that hand”. The second part of this position is certainly true. What matters, however, is not whether winging it works here and Roth-Stone does not. The issue is which partnership gets the most overall decisions right.

Looking at only the hands that Meckwell got wrong, the rest of us could have hardly done worse. Therefore, we must be much better than those guys, right?

When Stone responds 1NT to 1 with a 6313 4-count on bd#78, the rest of the world of that era simply could not digest that call. It looks so foreign to their approach. This was before R-S adopted weak jump-shift responses. Systemically, the response is a tad out of line, given just three card heart support. But Stone decided the six spades and stiff with honor third was a decent borderline decision.

It might have worked out better had Roth not made a systemic violation and opened one heart. “In first or second position, the bidding is never opened with a four-card major suit. - Al Roth, The Roth-Stone System, 1953 (Emphasis Roth’s)

I have sympathy for Stone on how this worked out. Though no sympathy at all for the cigarette butts and ashes in his lap.

Roth’s approach was a strategy of more specific partnership methods and the tactics were based upon his notion of sound opening bids. The other Americans held to a strategy of basic, general bidding agreements with tactics depending on the moment. The only accurate way to evaluate these differences is not how it worked on one hand, but overall. Crawford’s “freelance” style posted wins. He posted more losses.

Al & Toby missed a game on bd#16. But pass and back in later, while not my preference, is also not without some wins. Here is Bd#111:

Siniscalco
J102
Q63
J1084
AJ2
Stone
63
A74
97
KQ10654
Forquet
K87
KJ2
AQ32
973
Roth
AQ954
10985
K65
8
W
N
E
S
 
P
P
P
1
P
2
3
P
P
3
P
P
X
P
P
P
D
111
3X East
NS: 0 EW: 0

Roth picked up +500. The contract was 2 down two for -100 at the other table. Avarelli overcalled 1 after P-P-P-1 and even the aggressive Belladonna did not venture 3. Which actually makes with the two winning finesses. So yes, these tactics could blow up in your face when 3C is doubled and finesses are wrong. But it is not accurate to list just the losses based on approach as a stand alone indictment.  That is why the scoreboard is the final indicator.

On bd#96, Stone’s 1st seat weak two on a 5-bagger picked up +140 versus passed out at the other table.

On bd#10, the R-S auction with the 2NT rebid led to 3NT with no club stopper. However, the other side is this loss for America on bd#66.

Siniscalco
J
Q9
98742
Q9874
Becker
Q974
7652
QJ
A65
Forquet
106532
AKJ10
53
32
Crawford
AK8
843
AK106
KJ10
W
N
E
S
P
1
P
1
P
2
P
3
P
4
P
P
P
D
66
4 North
NS: 0 EW: 0

On this board, America was in 4 was down two. Italy was in 3NT making with overtricks.  Maybe the Roth-Stone 2NT rebid on bd#10 was not such a bad idea after all. The one thing for certain is that you cannot criticize Roth's auction and give Becker-Crawford an "unlucky" on this result.

I am getting nauseous defending R-S. In the 1966 team trials, Eric Murray was discussing a hand with Roth. Murray opened 1 with something like AJxx / 10xxx / AQxx / x. Roth said: “I know that hand, we played it. I do not see how anyone could play with someone who bids as badly as you do.” Murray asked about his result.

Roth replied: “We played two diamonds making seven” and walked away.

Other than Roth’s decision to open 1 on bd#78 (and I wonder if he sorted properly) the only other, what the heck moment - in terms of judgment and not systemic approach - that I saw from Al in ‘58 (besides a confused discard giving up an OT) was this curious decision on bd#93.

North was 2245 and Stone opened 1 as did Belladonna and this was the auction start at both tables. 

W
N
E
S
1
P
1
1
2
2
?

South’s hand was: 543 KQ3 73 KJ985. Avarelli bid 4 invitational opposite the aggressive Giorgio and Roth passed(??) opposite Stone's stone-cold solid opener. Both partials made and America lost a swing.

Roth & Stone defended and declared well. (Roth not so much in 1955, his first real rodeo.)

This next board was a disaster from “our most consistent pair”(?). They did well to reach slam whereas Italy did not, playing 3NT+3 after Crawford psyched one spade in third seat.

Forquet
Silodor
643
A9
A742
Q874
Siniscalco
Rapee
AK98
KJ76
KQ6
AK
W
N
E
S
P
P
P
2
P
2NT
P
3NT
P
6NT
P
P
P
D
156
6NT North
NS: 0 EW: 0
7
A
2
3
3
1
0
9
J
4
5
0
1
1
8
2
3
K
3
2
1
Q
9
4
5
3
3
1
6
10
A
2
1
4
1
4
3
A
9
3
5
1
K
5
7
5
3
6
1
K
Q
6
10
3
7
1
A
9
4
2
3
8
1
9

How do you continue?

The last tricks are not recorded, but Silodor went down. It is not clear whether he pitched the beer card on the spade or took the heart finesse. D’Alelio had no problem finding the squeeze:

Becker
QJ2
Q8543
J1098
9
Chiaradia
643
A9
A742
Q874
Crawford
1075
102
53
J106532
D`Alelio
AK98
KJ76
KQ6
AK
W
N
E
S
P
P
1
2
P
3
P
3NT
P
P
P
D
156
3NT South
NS: 0 EW: 0
Q
3
5
A
3
1
0
K
8
2
3
3
2
0
Q
9
4
5
3
3
0
8
J
4
7
0
3
1
2
6
10
K
3
4
1
A
9
4
2
3
5
1
K
3
7
3
3
6
1
9
4
8
5
3
7
1
6
4
A
2
1
8
1
Q
6
7
10

Methods

If a partnership bids and raise hearts, what is a 5 bid now?

W
N
E
S
1
P
1
P
2
P
2
P
3
P
5
P
?

West holds: 3 KQJ KQJ2 AQ862

You have good trumps and controls.  Do you go?

W
N
E
S
P
1
P
2
P
2
P
3
P
3
P
4
P
5
P
?

East holds:  53 K96 AQJ102 AJ10

Cue the Clash.  Should I stay or should I go?

W
N
E
S
2
P
2
P
3
P
3
P
4
P
5
P
?

East holds:  A KQ3 AKQ9432 K3

Pass or bid?

Answers

So what does 5 mean?  Apparently it means partner is going to bid six hearts and go down one or two tricks.  These hands were all for the Becker-Crawford partnership.  If 5 asks for trumps or controls that these hands should accept.  The first one has KQJ support and controls.  The second hand is better than might be expected on the bidding.  

The only good slam of the three was the third.  Crawford continued to 6.  Six diamonds is much better.  Slam was off a cashing ace, making as long as you bring in trumps without a loser. West held: A98xx, (~76%)  And hearts did work.  West held 10x of diamonds and diamonds were Jxxx in South.  So down one.  

Once again, no real methods. Five hearts was some non-specific slam try and partner has no way of knowing if he holds the tickets.

Biased Observations

Bridge players often miss how their view of results can be skewed. If a player psyches or makes a wild preempt and gets caught, we understand that is a charge against the tactics. The error comes in evaluating the wins. If a player psychs and the opponents miss a slam, that player counts it as a win. The problem is that it was not 100% that absent the psych that the opponents would have reached the slam.

The losses are accounted for properly. The wins are overstated.

Moreover, how do we account for a result such as this:

Forquet
A962
QJ854
K9
K9
Silodor
K108
A1072
873
854
Siniscalco
53
K96
AQJ102
AJ10
Rapee
QJ74
3
654
Q7632
W
N
E
S
1
X
1NT
X
2
P
P
3NT
P
P
P
D
155
3NT East
NS: 0 EW: 0

What are the chances that the psych prevented Italy from reaching a poor slam?

Italy was not supernatural slam bidders. In 1958, Italy bid seven small slams. Four made, three were down and a couple others were missed. The reader might question what expert pair could possibly reach six hearts on the E/W cards.

The answer was Becker-Crawford were in 6-2 on this deal with no opposition bidding.

Running the Numbers

America won two segments of five with Roth-Stone playing.  Just 1 of 4 without them.  In that one winning segment, Italy missed a vulnerable game and bid two slams America did not and both slams failed.  One by five tricks(!)  America scored just +350 more raw points and won by 3 IMPs.  Roth-Stone were not the "lucky" pair.

Although the 6-5 board was manufactured luck by our favorite American cowboys, Becker and Crawford.  

West
AQ983
KQJ1098
65
Crawford
KJ1074
643
K75
K2
D`Alelio
652
A
QJ10863
A43
Becker
752
A942
QJ10987
W
N
E
S
3
X
4
5
P
5
P
6
P
P
P
D
147
6 East
NS: 0 EW: 0

Down five, an oops for the Italian doubling style.  Someone wrote an an excellent post on how this approach is workable, except that pressure makes it crumble.  Oh, that was me.

Roth-Stone did not miss a slam.  They bid only one.  It was a straight 50% and the finesse failed.  In the second segment, without Roth-Stone, Becker-Crawford started making two slams Italy did not bid.  The first needed trumps not 0-3 plus both the K and !AD onside.  It was actually better than the math result of ~19% since Forquet overcalled.  But it was a white one spade overcall with 19 HCP available to E/W.  And in the Italian style, Forquet did not need much to overcall and he would have doubled first with a good hand.

This next result was basically on the lead.  Becker-Crawford bid to 6 off two keycards.

Siniscalco
AQ72
K
1065
97542
Becker
J3
AQ9875
AKJ3
6
Forquet
96
1063
Q9742
1083
Crawford
K10854
J42
8
AKQJ
W
N
E
S
 
P
1
P
2
P
3
P
4N
P
5
P
6
P
P
P
D
18
6 North
NS: 0 EW: 0
4
1

(Another non-optimal lead from Italy that Roth forgot about.)

The Italian team captain, Carl'Alberto Perroux wrote that our 1966 team (Hamman, Mathe, Kehela, Murray, Feldesman & Rubin) was the the strongest team America had fielded since 1957.  His observation struck me since 1957 was considered sort of a rout.  Italy defeated America by 10,150 total points and the outcome was not in jeopardy on the last day.  That was the last head-to-head Bermuda Bowl and 224 boards were played in 1957.  There were three teams in 1959 with the inclusion of the South American champions; Argentina.  Each team played more total boards, 328.  But fewer boards head-to-head, 164.

When I took another look at the numbers, the 1957 team lost just over 45 points per board.  Per board losses were heavier towards the end as America starting swinging to get back into a long match.  The raw score, per board losses for America without Roth-Stone were a bit over 50 points per board.  Just 10pt/bd with them in the lineup.    

"Fixing" some of Roth-Stone's poor results does not produce a win for America.  I can find a win for America if we fix the worst mistakes for "our most consistent pair".  The numbers indicate that Roth-Stone kept America in the match.  But the types of bad results from their approach to the game were not understood by other players of the day.  

Much has been made of why America kept losing to Italy.  In fact, we lost to everyone.  We lost first to Britain.  Then to France.  Then to Italy.  In 1960, we took time out from losing once again to Italy (three-time European and Bermuda Bowl champions at that point) to lose to both France and Britain in the first Olympiad.  Though Italy was 6th, so three of our teams beat them.  In 1961 we resumed losing to Italy.  Finally, we closed out the 1960s by losing to Taiwan in the semi-finals in 1969.

One of the often touted possible reasons was that European teams had regular partnerships and Americans tended not to.  But I believe it is a little more than just "partnerships".  Bridge skill was viewed as an individual talent in America during the 1950s and 1960s.  Our bidding was not as co-operative.  The experts of the day regarded system as a constraint upon their judgment, not a way of working together.

Other than Roth-Stone, the other Americans pretty much followed their normal “wing it” approach. They seemed to wing it better and a bit more consistently than our 1955 American team that lost to Britain.  Even so, it is difficult to dispute this claim by Reese regarding the 1958 Bermuda Bowl: "The Italians are better bidders. If there were a replay it would end with the same result."

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