Obituary: Alfred Sheinwold

Alfred Sheinwold was a highly respected and versatile bridge player and writer.

He was perhaps less well known in Britain than on the North American scene, although he was born in London. Nearly all of his education was in the United States, however, and he graduated well in Economics from City College of New York in 1933 in spite of missing many classes in order to play bridge.

In 1934, scorning a more commercial career, he joined the staff of the Bridge World - the celebrated American publication founded by Ely Culbertson - and until 1963 worked successively as technical, managing, and senior editor. Culbertson - an unpredictable entrepreneur - fired Sheinwold a few times but he was always re-instated.

Sheinwold also fitted in the editorship of the American Contract Bridge League Bulletin from 1952 to 1958, and was editor-in-chief of the still popular Autobridge from 1936. In addition, he undertook the games editorship of the US magazine Argosy, wrote the heavily syndicated bridge and backgammon columns for the Los Angeles Times, and promoted bridge lessons on Pay TV in 1963. Furthermore, at various times, he filled a number of responsible positions on the bridge administration scene.

Sheinwold also wrote some 13 books on the game, including the best-selling Five Weeks to Winning Bridge (1959) which has sold two million copies, and was the co-inventor of the Kaplan-Sheinwold bidding system which contained, for its time, a number of unusual features. Oddly enough, his colleague (Edgar Kaplan) is the present editor of the Bridge World.

Was there ever any opportunity to actually play bridge? Sheinwold won numerous national tournaments and was a popular non-playing captain of the North American team in the Bermuda Bowl (the World Championships), leading his team to victory in 1985.

There was an interesting gap in Sheinwold's bridge career during the years of the Second World War when he headed the code and cipher department of the Office of Strategic Services - the forerunner of the CIA.

Alfred Sheinwold, bridge player and writer: born c1912; married; died Los Angeles 8 March 1997.