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Alan Fraser Truscott
A Truscott 
Photograph © 1964 New York Times.  
Number of games in database: 10
Years covered: 1943 to 1951
Overall record: +5 -3 =2 (60.0%)*
   * Overall winning percentage = (wins+draws/2) / total games.

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ALAN FRASER TRUSCOTT
(born Apr-16-1925, died Sep-04-2005, 80 years old) United Kingdom (federation/nationality United States of America)

[what is this?]
Alan Truscott was born in Brixton, south London. He learned bridge at the age of 15 at Whitgift School, South Croydon, gaining early experience in air-raid shelters while sitting out the Blitz. After a spell in the Royal Navy, he arrived at Oxford in 1947 and represented the university at both bridge and chess.

In 1964 Truscott became bridge editor of the New York Times. For 40 years he wrote a daily column, establishing him as the world's leading bridge columnist. He played a leading role in uncovering Britain's most celebrated scandal of cheating at cards.

Wikipedia article: Alan Truscott


 page 1 of 1; 10 games  PGN Download 
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. A Truscott vs C J A Wade 1-0251943Croydon v Brighton matchC62 Ruy Lopez, Old Steinitz Defense
2. A Truscott vs F Senneck  ½-½491946Nottingham-B2A22 English
3. A Truscott vs W Fry 0-1231946Nottingham-B2B02 Alekhine's Defense
4. A Truscott vs E G Sergeant  0-1271946Nottingham-B2C28 Vienna Game
5. D Scott vs A Truscott  0-1361946Nottingham-B2A93 Dutch, Stonewall, Botvinnik Variation
6. A Truscott vs Fazekas 0-1371946Nottingham-B2E16 Queen's Indian
7. K Charlesworth vs A Truscott  ½-½461946Nottingham-B2B32 Sicilian
8. H G Rhodes vs A Truscott  0-1381947Harrogate Premier tournamentA53 Old Indian
9. A Truscott vs A Lenton 1-0311947HarrogateC30 King's Gambit Declined
10. A Truscott vs D Mardle 1-0321951Oxford v Cambridge matchA95 Dutch, Stonewall
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2) | Truscott wins | Truscott loses  
 

Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 2 OF 2 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Jun-14-09
Premium Chessgames Member
  GerMalaz: Sure.

Irina Levitina for one.

Was told Cezary Balicki (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cezary...) used to be a chess player.

Probably more, but unless turned bridge pro, guess totally quitting chess would be rare.

Aug-07-09
Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: Michael Rosenberg, now a world-class bridge player, represented Scotland twice at the World Students Championship and one at the World Junior before giving up chess. The games we have attributed to Matthew Rosenberg may be his.
Apr-16-12
Premium Chessgames Member
  Infohunter: I remember reading about that scandal when it broke--I'd forgotten all about it until just now. Incidentally, I do not know how to play bridge.
Apr-16-12  King Death: <Infohunter> Reading the Wikipedia link to Truscott gives one impression of the Buenos Aires accusations and reading their link to Terence Reese gives a different one.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terenc...

I don't know if this difference is because of tendentious editing but Reese and Schapiro were cleared. That's a fact and it's enough for me in spite of what Truscott said.

Apr-16-12
Premium Chessgames Member
  Nosnibor: Is the first game shown here against the New Zealand master Robert Wade? I was under the impression that Bob did not arrive in England until after the war in 1945.
Apr-16-12
Premium Chessgames Member
  erniecohen: <<King Death> I don't know if this difference is because of tendentious editing but Reese and Schapiro were cleared. That's a fact and it's enough for me in spite of what Truscott said.>

They were not cleared by any means. They were banned from international play by the World Bridge Federation, but aquitted by the British Bridge League. Saying that they were innocent is like saying that the Black Sox were innocent because they were found not guilty by a Chicago jury. All of this is very well documented in Truscott's book, "The Great Bridge Scandal"; the evidence really leaves very little doubt that they were guilty.

Apr-16-12
Premium Chessgames Member
  erniecohen: <<WhiteRook48>: ok... have you ever heard of someone abandoning chess for bridge?>

Actually, in the pre-internet days, it was quite common for good high school players to switch to bridge in college, where it was much more popular. (I was one of these; I was around 2000 Elo and stopped playing chess for about 20 years.)

Apr-16-12
Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: http://chesshistory.com/winter/extr... quotes John Rather: "For what it's worth, Tobias Stone, who was a promising New York player in the 1930s, became a world-class bridge master after abandoning chess." I think Craig V Chellstorp and Gregory S DeFotis, two extremely promising Chicago senior masters, both gave up chess (completely in Chellstorp's case; for many years in DeFotis' case) for other games, including backgammon and maybe also bridge.
Apr-16-12  waustad: Bridge is fasinating. I might have gotten hooked like my parents and sister, but I always wound up living alone. I didn't have a partner.
Apr-17-12  King Death: <erniecohen: ...They were not cleared by any means. They were banned from international play by the World Bridge Federation, but aquitted by the British Bridge League. Saying that they were innocent is like saying that the Black Sox were innocent because they were found not guilty by a Chicago jury. All of this is very well documented in Truscott's book, "The Great Bridge Scandal"; the evidence really leaves very little doubt that they were guilty...>

That was Truscott's point of view as you well know and his wasn't the only one.

Apr-17-12  SamAtoms1980: On the Terence Reese controversy, Richard Pavlicek has read every angle, and does not claim the ability to call it one way or the other:

http://www.rpbridge.net/7w32.htm

Apr-17-12  Cardinal Fang: Bridge is indeed fascinating... a complex, beautiful, cerebral game - which over the years has been completely ruined by small-minded ego, pomposity and petty politics so as to make it completely unplayable, and sad to say the Buenos Aires situation seems to have been where its decline all started.
Apr-17-12
Premium Chessgames Member
  erniecohen: <<SamAtoms1980>: On the Terence Reese controversy, Richard Pavlicek has read every angle, and does not claim the ability to call it one way or the other>

Actually, he says only that he read both books. I have also read both books. I think that no reasonable person could read both books and conclude that they were innocent. A reasonable person might read both books and conclude that there is a very small but nonnegligible doubt of their guilt. A reasonable person might also conclude that they did not benefit significantly from their cheating; that was the essence of their "aquittal".

But I think that most reasonable persons would, like the WBF, just conclude that they were guilty.

Apr-20-12
Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: Here is an account of the cheating scandal: http://shenkinbridge.com/Entertainm...
Apr-20-12
Premium Chessgames Member
  pawn to QB4: <<On the Terence Reese controversy, Richard Pavlicek has read every angle, and does not claim the ability to call it one way or the other> Actually, he says only that he read both books.>>

Hang on, ernie, he said this: <Each book is convincing for its side and, having read both, I can only say that I am not sure of the truth. Therefore, I take no stand on this issue.> which seems very much SamAtoms version "does not claim the ability to call it one way or the other".

I was left in doubt myself, and when in doubt, acquit. One point I never saw answered was this - to communicate the length of your heart suit is far from the most useful piece of information you could get across by cheating. It seems a really odd choice. For example, much better info would be conveyed by telling your partner, whether you were strong or weak for a particular bid. So if you're out to cheat, why not come up with a system for doing that?

Apr-20-12
Premium Chessgames Member
  erniecohen: <pawn to QB4> What I was saying is that Pavlicek doesn't say that he conducted anything like an investigation; his only source of information was the two books. But let's get to the heart of this.

There just doesn't seem to be any reasonable doubt that Reese and Shapiro deliberately held their cards in a way that indicated how many hearts there were in their hands. There just is no other mathematically plausible explanation for the the observed data. Do you propose that there is one?

Their defense came down to (1) the information exchanged was not very useful, (2) this method of signalling would be too easy to detect, and (3) that had they known each other's heart length, they would have played or bid differently.

Now, it is entirely possible that they did this not to improve their score, but to prove how easy it was to cheat at bridge. This would completely explain why their results did not improve. Indeed, they might have tried their best *not* to take advantage of this information. It would also explain why they chose to signal such an oddly chosen piece of information. It is entirely credible that they just thought that they could get away with this and have their own private little joke, to be revealed only many years later, complete with photos.

If this is what happened, it completely obliterates the defense. Since they didn't intend to "really cheat", it didn't matter how stupid the information exchanged was. The fact that it could be so easily detected would just make for a better story if they revealed it. They purposely didn't take advantage of the information in their bidding or play.

The WBF probably recognized this possibility when they voted, unanamously, to uphold the ban of Reese and Shapiro. Whether this is what happened is completely irrelevant to the question of whether they cheated; the rules of Bridge simply do not allow you to signal each other, even if it is not for the purpose of helping you to win.

Apr-21-12  King Death: It's reasonable to expect that Reese would defend Schapiro and himself, just like Truscott would once he made the allegations with the help of the woman who became his second wife. Also it's hard to imagine that the WBF would reverse their findings unless they were presented with what they thought was clear compelling evidence that they'd been wrong in the first place. So what we're left with is a powerful lot of jousting that leaves everybody standing in their places at the beginning of the whole affair and reputations ruined.
Apr-21-12
Premium Chessgames Member
  pawn to QB4: hi ernie

I've heard before the idea that they were signalling for that kind of motive: Schapiro was said (after his death) to have made a sort of confession along those lines. I don't think it ought to stand up in court: there was no evidence that they'd profited by signalling, so let's guess that they were signalling without the intention of profiting...you can't end folks' careers on that one.

The observed data: I concede to you, not in a position (read the books 30 years ago, don't have them now) to judge it or the reliability of those who collected it. I'd just suggest that there are an awful lot of things to say about of a bridge hand. Not as many as the moves of our own far nobler game of course, but I'd have thought a simple number sequence like 1 3 2 3 3 2 2 4 3 5 2 would describe some aspect or other of my next ten hands.

Here's something, though, from Jeremy Flint that, if his account is true, makes the idea that they were signalling seem very strange.

<1. The bitter quarrel between Reese and Schapiro "was surely not the perfect background for alleged dishonest complicity". 2. When Flint was playing with Reese in the closed room, Geoffrey Butler (BBL official) and Waldemar von Zedwitz (senior American master) came to watch. After the session Flint said to Reese: "Terence, you realise we were being watched."
"Good gracious," he replied "Do you think so?"
"I suppose they must be considering banning the Little Major," I ventured. "Reese is considered a fool by no-one [yet] according to his accusers he continued to exchange signals for the next seven days">
sorry to have no better source than wikipedia, I'll take any abuse on the chin.

But if so, this seems a mad risk for someone to take. "Considered a fool by no-one" is understating it - he was usually considered a genius, Schapiro saying that he'd only met one other, our own Emanuel Lasker. So he's told officialdom is watching, yet carries on signalling: I wouldn't have thought any sane man would risk that to win a world title, let alone to be able to tell a funny story afterwards.

KingDeath's comment about the sad ending after so much effort. Too true.

Apr-21-12  King Death: <pawn to QB4> There's some information in the link that <FSR> gave us above in re Schapiro and whether he admitted any guilt or not.
Apr-21-12
Premium Chessgames Member
  erniecohen: <pawn to QB4>

(I think it was Reese who was said to have confessed, not Shapiro.)

You are right that the number sequence could describe something beside heart count. But it doesn't matter; what does matter is that they were obviously doing it intentionally, and most importantly, only when playing with each other.

That said, if you form the hypothesis that they are cheating by signalling heart length, and then watch for ten new hands, and the numbers match, the chance of this being coincidence is literally 1 in a million. This is exactly what happened in Buenos Aires. They were signalling, period.

As for whether they should have been banned if they signalled illegally but were not using the signals to advantage, the answer is "absolutely". Illicit signalling fundamentally undermines the integrity of the game. A bridge player defending illegal signals by showing they didn't benefit from the signals is like a politician taking a bribe and defending the charge with evidence that it didn't change his voting behavior.

As for the Flint story, (1) Reese had no particular reason to worry about being watched while playing with Flint, since he wasn't using the signals, and (2) powerful men often ruin themselves by doing ridiculous things because their ego makes them believe themselves invulnerable. Bill Clinton, Bobby Petrino, etc.

Apr-21-12  King Death: <erniecohen: (I think it was Reese who was said to have confessed, not Shapiro.)...>

The link given by <FSR> refutes this claim.

Apr-21-12
Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: <erniecohen: <pawn to QB4>

(I think it was Reese who was said to have confessed>

My dog did not confess! He's completely innocent! Oh, different Reese. Never mind.

Apr-21-12
Premium Chessgames Member
  erniecohen: <KIng Death> I wasn't saying that the claim was true, only that the person purported to have confessed (to Rex-Taylor) was Reese, not Shapiro.

That said, the Shenken article does not really do much to refute the Rex-Taylor claim. I find it quite believable that Reese told this story to Rex-Taylor. As to whether this is what actually happened (as opposed to Reese making it up), who knows.

But all of this is just noise wrt the guilt of Reese-Shapiro.

Jul-23-12
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: In the link provided by <FSR> on 20.4.12, the hand illustrated by Shenkin is a most interesting and risky psych by Schapiro. As Shenkin noted, Reese wasn't keen on psychic bids, as he wrote in a book with Albert Dormer which I picked up long ago.
Jul-23-12
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: The tournament which Truscott participated in that summer of 1975 was loaded, by the standards of those days: besides Truscott, we had Steve Spencer (the first master I ever played heads-up; he squashed me in the first round), Danny Kopec, Peter Jonathan Winston and Mike Leman, a ~2050 level player fom Montreal. There were other 2000+ players, but at the moment, I don't remember who they were. Quite a collection of iron to this then ~1600 player-the only time I'd seen anything like that was playing in New York at the old McAlpin Hotel. Any other old-timers remember that venue in the heart of Manhattan?
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