Timpul Liber

Bridge cu poveste cu otomani - (Another Story from Ottoman) - Date: 22. April 2008

Note: the language of the article is Romanian. The following translation may not be precisely accurate, and liberty has been exercised in the portrayal of the historic event. However, the attempt has been made to translate as closely as possible the description written by Mr. Coriolan Neamtu.

It is almost certain that the final touches made ​​to the game of Whist occurred during the late nineteenth century in Constantinpole*, Turkey (also written Konstantinoúpolis, Konstantinoúpoli and in Latin Constantinopolis. This cosmopolitan city comprised the epicenter of the world around the Bosphorus and the famous Pons Asinorum* attested to the enthusiasm for and of the game of bridge. Even in the modern world of today the multitude of players literally invading the Internet in Turkey today confirm their love of the game of bridge. This medium provides us with an opportunity to recount a remarkable and almost incredible adventure that took place in 1917 in the port of Istanbul.

* Note: After the formation of the Republic of Turkey in the year 1923 the Turkish government formally adopted the name of Istanbul as the name of its capital. The name itself derives from the Greek phrase eis tin polin (εις την πόλιν), meaning into the city or to the city.
* Note:

The inclusion and meaning of the phrase Pons Asinorum is uncertain in the context of the description and unclear as to the reason for its inclusion. Pons asinorum (Latin for bridge of asses) is the name given to Euclid's fifth proposition in Book 1 of his Elements of Geometry, also known as the theorem on isosceles triangles. It states that the angles opposite the equal sides of an isosceles triangle are equal

Another medieval term for the theorem was Elefuga which, according to Roger Bacon, comes from Greek elegia misery, and fuga Latin for flight, which is then translated as flight of the wretches. It is maintained that although this etymology is dubious, it is repeated in Chaucer's use of the term flemyng of wretches for the theorem. Source: A. F. West & H. D. Thompson On Dulcarnon, Elefuga And Pons Asinorum as Fanciful Names For Geometrical Propositions, The Princeton University bulletin Vol. 3 No. 4 (1891) p. 84.

* Note: The date of 1017 in the original version is a misprint.

The U.S. S. Scorpion American naval gunship, commanded by Captain Herbert Babbitt, was anchored in the harbor and served as a security feature and armed guard for the United States embassy in Constantinopole. The vessel also served as a deterrent in the presence of several German naval vessels anchored also in the harbor since Turkey had allied itself with the country of Germany in the World War. The moment arrived when a decision had to be made by the powerful Turkish Interior Minister Talat Pasha regarding the fate of the American naval vessel.

Note: The issue at hand was a demand by the Imperial German navy (Kaiserliche Marine) anchored in the harbor to board and confiscate the U.S.S. Scorpion in order to remove the gunboat from any possible military activity. The Turkish Interior Minister Talat Pasha was the representative of the Turkish government, who would be making the decision.

Turkish Interior Minister Talat Pasha, who had to make this most important career and political decision, was a passionate card and bridge player, who had had a chance encounter at the game table and developed good relations with Captain Herbert Babbitt.

* Note: Even though the game of bridge, neither Contract nor Duplicate, did not officially exist in the 1910s the form of card game was actually the game of Whist or a slight variation thereof, which was based somewhat on similar guidelines, whereby the player would bid for the contract and score accordingly.

The incident is recorded that during the discussions as to whether the Turkish Interior Minister Talat Pasha should make a political decision to further his career in government that Captain Herbert Babbitt, Commander of the U.S.S. Scorpion, made a most unusual proposal. Captain Herbert Babbitt suggested playing a game of bridge. The stakes of the game was the United States navel gunboat, the U.S.S. Scorpion. If the Turkish Interior Minister Talat Pasha won the game, then the Turkish government would allow the Imperial German navy (Kaiserliche Marine) to board and assume control, thereby capturing the Captain and the gunboat.

However, if Captain Herbert Babbitt won the game, then a status quo would be reached, and the situation would not change. This would mean that the U.S.S. Scorpion would continue to remain under the command of Captain Herbert Babbitt and serve as a security feature and armed guard for the United States embassy in the harbor of Constantinpole.

* Note: Since the Turkish Interior Minister Talat Pasha realized that he would personally not have to make any political decision, but rather have the cards make the decision for him, he readily agreed to the challenge.

The bidding reached four No Trump, which was at that time an unusual contract since, being vulnerable, the declarer would have to declare a leg to win. The attack was made ​​with the partner of the Turkish Interior Minister Talat Pasha leading a Heart won by the the Ace. The Turkish Interior Minister Talat Pasha returned a deceptively low Heart, but Captain Herbert Babbitt was not fooled and won with the Queen of Hearts on the second trick.

Captain Herbert Babbitt counted nine tricks with the win of the second trick. His line of play was to discover whether or not the Spades and/or would split 3-3, in which case the 13th card in either suit would result in the fulfillment of the contract. It proved in both cases that both black suits split 4-2.

The tenth trick arrived mainly as a gift from the Turkish Interior Minister Talat Pasha since he did not unblock his remaining Hearts. Lieutenant Commander Herbert Babbitt led the 10 of Hearts from hand, and the Turkish Interior Minister Talat Pasha was then end-played. He could win one additional trick with the Jack of Spades, but then had to lead a Diamond, which provided Lieutenant Commander Herbert Babbitt with the remaining two tricks and thereby fulfilling the contract of 4 No Trump.

The Turkish Interior Minister Talat Pasha fulfilled his word and the gunboat remained at anchor in the harbor until the end of the World War.

This most extraordinary challenge at the card table earned Captain Herbert Babbitt, Commander of the U.S.S. Scorpion, the infamous nickname of Four No Trump Babbitt.

Original From Timpul Liber

Bridge cu Coriolan Neamtu

O alta povest cu otomani

22.april 2008

Este aproape sigur in prezent ca ultimele retusuri facute jocului de whist s-au petrecut la sfarsitul secolului XIX la Constantinpol. Lumea cosmopolita din jurul Bosforului si a celebrului Pons Asinorum atesta entuziasmul acesteia pentru bridge si sumedenia de jucatori turci care invadeaza literalmente Internetul astazi confirma dragostea lor. Ceea ce ne da ocazia de a va istorisi o remarcabila si aproape incredibila aventura ce a avut loc in 1017 in portul Istanbulului.

Nava americana de razboi Scorpion, comandata de capitanul Herbert Babbitt, era ancorata in port, ca un fel de paznic al ambasadei americane, dar de fapt cvasiprizoniera, deoarece navele germane prezente in forta si aliate cu turcii, care trebuiau sa decida soarta vasului, erau peste tot in jur. Ministrul de interne turc Talat Pasa, cel ce trebuia sa decida, intamplator era un pasionat al bridgeului si in bune relatii cu Babbitt, jucand deseori cu el. Povestea spune ca Herbert Babbitt a avut curajul sa-l provoace pe Talat la o partida in care era in joc soarta vasului Scorpion. Daca pierdea roberul, vasul urma sa fie capturat de nemti, daca il castiga, status quo se mentinea si vasul era salvat. Dona finala pe care Babbitt a avut-o de jucat s-a prezentat astfel:

Licitatia a ajuns in neobisnuitul contract de 4 FA deoarece americanul, fiind vulnerabil, trebuia neaparat sa declare o mansa pentru a castiga roberul si a-si salva vasul, iar aghiotantul pasei, probabil un filogerman, a incercat cat a putut sa-l impiedice. Atacul a fost luat cu Asul si Talat a revenit inselator o cupa mica, Babbitt nu s-a lasat pacalit si a pus Dama, castigand a doua levata. Noua levate erau certe, Riga de caro fiind in mod sigur la deschident, dar a cauta si gasi si Valetul la Est era poate un risc prea mare, o fi avut si Vestul macar un punct. Evident ca dublul impas de caro era solutia castigatoare, dar capitanul, mizand pe treflele 3-3, dupa ce a vazut ca picile nu i-au dat patru jocuri, a tras si a treia trefla. si iata incredibilul final:

Pe Asul de trefla pasa, pufaind din narghilea, a scapat prilejul de a straluci aruncand Riga de cupa, si, neglijent, a defosat optul.

Intuind acum Valetul de cupa la Vest, acolo unde era si cel de trefla, de-abia acum s-a hotarat Babbitt sa joace caro, impasand cu decarul. Dupa care i-a plasat mana pe cupa, pentru a mai face pe retur inca doua levate de caro. Talat si-a respectat cuvantul dat si nava a ramas la ancora in port pana la finele razboiului, iar Herbert a fost poreclit de atunci in cariera lui navala drept "four no trumps Babbitt".

Description and Portrayal by Alan Truscott

The four hands of the deal is extracted from the publication The New York Times Bridge Book: An Anecdotal History of the Development, Personalities, and Strategies of the World's Most Popular Card Game (New York Times Bridge Series), 2002, Publisher: St. Martin's Press (Hardcover), ISBN-10: 031233107X / ISBN-13: 978-0312331078, Chapter 2.

* Note: The source for this information presented by Mr. Alan Truscott of this particular incident is neither listed nor recorded.
* Note: The name of Talat Pasha has been written in several forms such as Talat Pasha, or Talaat Pasha, or Talat Pasa, or Tala'at Pasha. He was born in the year 1874 and was named formally Mehmed Talaat. He died in the year 1921.
* Note: The surname of the Lieutenant Commander Herbert Babbitt has also been recorded as Babbit.
* Note: Neither the name of the partner of Lieutenant Commander Herbert Babbitt nor the name of the partner of the Turkish Interior Minister Talat Pasha were recorded.

The Deal and Auction

 
North
Partner
7654
2
87632
AKQ
 
West
Partner
102
J9743
94
J1087
 
East
Talat
J983
AK85
KJ3
65
 
South
Babbitt
AKQ
Q106
AQ10
9432
 
West   North   East   South
Pass   Pass   1   1 NT
2   2 NT Pass Pass
3   Pass Pass 3 NT
4   4 NT Pass Pass
Pass    

Note: Based on the auction the Captain of the Scorpion Lieutenant Commander Herbert Babbitt realized that the majority of the outstanding values were held by the Turkish Interior Minister Talat Pasha.

West led a Heart and Talat Pasha won with the Ace, whereafter he returned the 5. Lieutenant Commander Herbert Babbitt won the second trick with the Queen and counted nine tricks with the assurance that the Diamond finesse against Talat Pasha would be successful. Lieutenant Commander Herbert Babbitt then used the principle of discovery in order to find the necessary tenth trick.

Unfortunately, the Spades did not split favorably. He was also dismayed that the Club suit could not produce the tenth trick. The tenth trick arrived mainly as a gift from Talat Pasha since he did not unblock his remaining Hearts. Lieutenant Commander Herbert Babbitt led the 10 from hand, and Talat Pasha was then end-played. He could win one additional trick with the Jack, but then had to lead a Diamond, which provided Lieutenant Commander Herbert Babbitt with the remaining two tricks and thereby fulfilling the contract of 4 No Trump.

Since so much rested on this gamble between Lieutenant Commander Herbert Babbitt and Turkish Interior Minister Talat Pasha it was only customary that Captain Babbitt receive the honorary title of Four No Trump Babbitt.

 

It must be admitted that research has not been able to discover any photograph of the U.S.S. Scorpion. Any contribution as to the described incident, for example the names of the remaining two players at the card table and/or any photographic material of either the gunboat or Lieutenant Commander Herbert Babbitt, would be greatly appreciated.

 

 


     
Email Conventions Bridge Sites
     
Home Page I Glossary Home Page II