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Paul  STERN

 

 Paul Stern nacque nel 1892 ed è stato un avvocato ed un diplomatico che si è spento nel 1948.

 Quando la Germania nazista nel 1938 annesse l'Austria, Stern restituì la Croce di Ferro guadagnata nella I Guerra Mondiale accompagnandola che una lettera di insulti che gli valse l'immissione all'11º posto dei ricercati dal regime condannati a morte e lo costrinse a fuggire a Londra.

 Nel mondo del bridge Stern è stato uno dei più grandi campioni di inizio secolo scorso, fondatore nel 1929 e  primo Presidente della Federazione Austriaca.

 Nel 1935 sviluppò il famoso Vienna System il primo sistema licitativo artificiale della storia del bridge che prevedeva l'Apertura di 1SA forzante con tutte le mani con più di 17PO ed il Fiori di preparazione per tutte le mani prive di colori quinti diversi da fiori. Il Vienna aveva forse il sistema di conteggio dei PO più efficiente che sia stato mai ideato (A= 7, R = 5, D = 3, F = 1).

 Vincitore dei Campionati Europei a Squadre nel 1932, 1933 e 1936 nonché capitano non giocatore dell'Europeo del 1937 che ebbe anche valore di Campionato Mondiale.

 È stato co-autore di 5 libri riguardanti il bridge (solo il primo scritto in tedesco) tra i quali ricordiamo: "Sorry Partner" pubblicato nel 1945 con A.J. Smith.

 Paul Stern (1892–1948), lawyer and diplomat, was an Austrian international bridge player who fled to London in 1938. He was a bidding theorist and administrator who contributed to the early growth of the game. He founded the Austrian Bridge Federation in 1929, and was its first president. 

In 1935 he developed the Vienna System, also known as the Austrian System. This was the first highly artificial bidding system to achieve international success. Strong hands (equivalent to 18 or more high-card points using the standard Milton Work count) were opened with One No-Trump, whilst hands with 11 to 17 points that lacked a five card spade, heart or diamond suit were mostly opened with One Club.

He was a member of the Austrian teams which, in 1932 and 1933, won the first two European Open Teams events, held in Scheveningen, Holland and London respectively.

He was also the non-playing captain of the Austrian team which won the first World Championship in Budapest, 1937. In the final, the Austrians defeated Ely Culbertson's team representing the United States by 4,740 points over 96 boards, the Austrian players using Stern's Vienna System.

The result of this match caused a sensation, as did all the previous Culbertson matches. Stern's book on the championships does not mention that there were other teams in the event!

The Austrian team was headed by Karl Schneider and Hans Jellinek, probably the world's leading pair at the time, with Karl von Blöhdorn, Dr Edward Frischauer, Walter Herbert and Udo von Meissl. The American second pair was Helen Sobel and Charles Vogelhofer, and it was widely thought at the time that this four was not America's best. In addition, the Culbertsons were on the verge of divorce, which cannot be good for a bridge partnership.

The Austrians also won the Ladies' team championship, in which Stern's protégée Rixi Markus figured in her first world title.

According to an article on Rixi Markus published in the Contract Bridge Journal in September 1948, Stern was "perhaps the greatest coach who ever lived".

A dictatorial leader, Stern insisted that his players adhered with rigidity to his system, but his over-emphatic statements and instructions were tempered by an underlying warmth of personality

When Germany annexed Austria in 1938 (Anschluss), he returned his Iron Cross, awarded in World War I, to the Nazi authorities and included an insulting letter. As a result he was placed at number eleven on their death list. He went into hiding and escaped to England in 1938. He was a major bridge figure in London for the next decade, founding a school of bridge which taught his bidding system, running a weekly duplicate in Hampstead during World War II and playing rubber bridge regularly at the Hamilton Club and Lederer’s. Stern became a naturalized British citizen.

Although he had been a career diplomat, he did not tolerate fools gladly at the bridge table. When accused of having on one occasion thrown a cup of coffee at his partner, he said: "It was nothing serious. There was no sugar in it".

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