Source:ACBL DictionaryOswald Jacoby of Dallas TX, bridge columnist. One of the great players of all time. Member ACBL Hall of Fame. First achieved international preeminence as partner of Sidney Lenz in the famous Culbertson-Lenz Match. Had already established himself as a champion at auction and contract. Next became a member of famed Four Horsemen and Four Aces teams. His selection by Lenz over players of greater experience and with whom Lenz had practiced partnerships was early recognition of the brilliance and skill that were later to bring Jacoby to the top of the ACBL’s list of all-time masterpoint winners.
Jacoby had two months of Army service in World War I, when he was 15, and he was awarded the Victory Medal. On Dec. 7, 1941 he was playing in the NABC Open Pairs in Richmond VA. when the attack on Pearl Harbor was announced. He immediately left the tournament and did not play again for 4 years. During most of that time he served as a specialist in the Navy, with the rank of lieutenant commander. When he returned to competition in 1945, he found Charles Goren far ahead in the MP rankings. He had done very little about returning to the top when he again returned to active duty in 1950 for service in the Korean War. He served as a commander in Intelligence and was a member of the original staff at the Panmunjom armistice conference. This return to service cost him his place on the American team in the first Bermuda Bowl matches. He had however, represented the ABL in international competition as far back as 1935, the year when the Four Aces team defeated the French, champions of Europe, in the first official World Championship encounter. Returning from 2 years of Korean service, Jacoby found he had dropped out of the top 19 MP holders. By 1958 he had managed to move back into 6th place, still far behind Goren. At that time he decided to make a determined effort to regain the #1 position. By 1962, he had done so. Between 1959 and 1963, he won the McKenney Trophy 4 times in 5 years; the only player at that time older than 50 to win the trophy. He won it at ages 57, 59, 60 and 61. In 1963 he became the first player to acquire more than 1,000 MPs in a single year. His winning total that year was 1,034. In 1967, he surpassed the 10,000-point mark, at which time he retired from active competition for the McKenney Trophy. Almost exactly one year later he relinquished his position as top masterpoint holder to Barry Crane.
Jacoby pioneered many bidding ideas, including Forcing 2NT, Jacoby Transfer Bids and Weak Jump Overcalls. His innovations have included developments of Gerber and Blackwood and a specialized use of Two Notrump and Three Notrump Responses. His most recent innovations were the use of Two-Way Stayman in connection with Jacoby Transfer Bids after 2NT opening and after 2-anything-2NT. He invented the use of 2*H* as a double negative response to 2*C* with 2NT a positive heart response and 2*D* the usual waiting bid. Among his writings are “The Four Aces System , What’s New in Bridge, Win at Bridge with Oswald Jacoby, Win at Bridge with Jacoby Modern, The Backgammon Book (with John Crawford). He also had many books on mathematics, gambling, poker and other card games, including canasta, in which he had the two best-selling books.
Jacoby, born in Brooklyn on Dec. 8, 1902, left Columbia in his junior year to become an actuary, completing the examination of the Society of Actuaries in 1924 to become, at age 21, the youngest person ever to do so. After four years with Metropolitan Life, he went into business for himself, but his success was cut short by the 1929 stock market crash. Jacoby’s victory-studded career includes many oddities. He played in (and won) his first auction tournament in July 1929 — the National Team Championship of the American Whist League. But he had already won the first big contract pair tournament ever played, the Goldman Pairs event in the Eastern States Championship held in February of that year. Later on, he set a record by winning the Goldman Trophy 3 times in 20 years. Those were the only occasions on which he entered. Afterward, he became a national champion by winning 2 AWL pair and team events.
After the Culbertson-Lenz match, Jacoby was secretary of the United States Bridge Association for nearly 2 years – thus being associated with Ely Culbertson. Late in 1933, however, he helped to form the original Four Aces team, which dominated the bridge world for the next several years. During this period, in addition to American Bridge League triumphs, he won 2 pair championships and 4 team championships of the USBA.
He won a North American Championship (the Chicago in 1955) with his son, James Jacoby. He also scored many victories with his wife of 50 years, Mary Zita Jacoby. Jacoby was elected to the bridge Hall of Fame 1965 and was named ACBL Honorary Member in 1967. Jacoby was npc of North American teams for 1969, 1970 and 1971. As a result he became captain of the first North American Bermuda Bowl champion teams (1970 and 1971). The United States had not won this coveted title in more than a decade. His North American Championship titles are as follows: Spingold 1934, 36, 38, 39, 45, 50, 59; Vanderbilt 1931, 34, 35, 37, 38, 46, 65; Chicago (now the Reisinger) 1955; Reisinger 1983; Master Individual 1935; Master Mixed Teams 1968; Life Master Pairs 1936; Men’s Teams 1952, 59; Open Pairs 1935, 60, 64; Men’s Pairs 1934, 39, 49. He also won USBA Grand National Open Teams 1934, 35, 37, Open Pairs 1936, 37. He also won ABL Men’s Teams 1931, 32; AWL Team-of-Four 1929, 31, 33, Open Pairs 1933, Herman Trophy 1960. He placed 2nd in many NABC events and won countless regional titles including the prestigious Marcus Cup 1955. In 1973 he won the World Championship of Backgammon.
In 1950, Jacoby became the daily bridge columnist for Newspaper Enterprise Association, serving several hundred newspapers. He established a record on April 22, 1982 when his 10,000th article was printed. (Goren’s name appeared on more than this number, but he had not written any columns for many years before his death in 1991.) Jacoby wrote books on poker, canasta, gin rummy and mathematical odds. He also continuously maintained a practice as a consulting actuary, He served for 6 years as a member of the Board of Visitors of Harvard Observatory (for the last 3, under the chairmanship of then Senator John F. Kennedy) He became an expert on computers and was frequently consulted on questions of tournament movements, elimination schedules and scoring.