Source: ACBL Dictionary
John Gerber of Houston, Texas was famous as the inventor of the FOUR-CLUB ACE-ASKING CONVENTION; served for 2 years on the ACBL board of directors and was a highly important and influential power in bridge politics. At North American Championships, an early riser, he could usually be found in a comfortable chair in the hotel lobby, collecting and dispensing information.
He was non-playing captain of North American Teams in the Bermuda Bowl competitions of 1962, 1963 and 1965. He was in the eye of a storm on more than one occasion. In 1962 in New York he split the partnerships of Bobby Nail/Mervyn Key and Lew Mathe/Ron von der Porten, putting Mathe and Nail together as partners in an unusual move that worked well and almost capture the title from Italy.
The next year in St. Vincent, Italy, he again broke up a long established partnership, pairing Nail with Howard Schenken and benching Peter Leventritt and Jim Jacoby. This move was not successful and may have cost the Americans the championship.
It followed a little known incident that occured at the time Gerber arrived at the Grand Hotel Bilia. An anonymous letter written in Italian was delivered to him. He secured a translator, but after the first paragraph was read to him, he asked the translator to stop; to deliver the letter to Italy’s captain, Carl Alberto Perroux and to explain that Gerber had listened only to the first paragraph. The writer had accused the BLUE TEAM of cheating.
Perroux, after reading the letter to his team, suggested that the match be played with screens running across the tables(this was 12 years before present-days screens were employed), but Gerber would have none of it. The goodwill engendered by this exchange inspired by Perroux and his team to present their championship trophies to Gerber and the American team in what was described as the Greatest sportmanship in bridge history.
When Gerber’s daring move to pair Schenken with Nail backfired, he faced a lot of flak, but the ACBL Board nevertheless appointed him captain of the next Bermuda Bowl in 1965. That was the time when two members of his team brought cheating charges against a British partnership(Buenos Aires Affair). Gerber spent 10 minutes in the grandstand watching the famous British pair who were accused of using finger signals to tell each other how many hearts were held. The 10 minutes were enough to convince him and he became one of the strongest witness against the pair when the World Bridge Federation suspended them.
A very strong captain, Gerber was a great player in his own right.A very strong captain, Gerber was a great player in his own right. He represented North America in the Bermuda Bowl in Buenos Aires 1961 and won the Chicago (now the Reisinger) 1964, Master Mixed Teams 1964, Men’s Pairs 1959, Men’s Teams 1953 and placed 2nd in the Spingold 1954, 67; Chicago 1957, 59; Men’s Pairs 1957, Master Mixed Teams 1967, Mixed Pairs 1953, 68; Life Master Men’s Pairs 1974.