BORIS SHAPIRO, DIES AT 93 IN BRITAIN
December 4, 2002 - Boris Schapiro, 93, who made bridge headlines from 1929 to 1998, with special emphasis on 1965, died on Sunday. He amazed the bridge world in 1998 when, at the age of 89, he won the World Senior Championship in partnership with Irving Gordon at the World Championships in Lille, France. No person before or since has ever won a world title in any sport at such an age.
Why the special mention of 1965? At the Bermuda Bowl World Championships in Buenos Aires, Argentina, he and his partner, Terence Reese, were accused of cheating by John Gerber, captain of the American team. Subsequently the World Bridge Federation found the pair guilty of cheating by using illegal hand signals. The case was referred to the British Bridge League to determine the ultimate penalty, but after an inquiry that lasted more than a year, the BBL concluded that there was insufficient evidence for the WBF's verdict of guilty. Notwithstanding the British verdict, the WBF suspended both Schapiro and Reese. After three years the suspension was lifted with the proviso that the two never play as a pair in world competition again.
The scandal led to two major books on the subject. In his book, Alan Truscott listed all the details that convinced many around the world of the guilt of Schapiro and Reese. In reply, Reese authored a book that attempted to explain away a lot of the charges made in the Truscott book.
Reese never again played in world championship events, but Schapiro continued to play, reaching the apex of his career with that victory in 1998.
Schapiro was born in Riga, Latvia on August 22, 1909. His family emigrated to England at the time of the Russian Revolution. He was playing cards for money by the time he was 10 years old. His first major tournament was the 1929 World Auction Bridge Pairs, where his partner was Oswald Jacoby. He won his first world title, the World Pairs, in 1932, again with Jacoby. Schapiro's mental powers seemed to increase with age - at 90 he claimed he had never played better bridge in his life. In 1955 he led Great Britain to victory in the Bermuda Bowl. He won the World Mixed Teams in 1962. He played a major role as Great Britain won European championships in 1948, 1949, 1954 and 1963. He placed second in the first World Team Olympiad in 1960 and in the Mixed Pairs in 1962. He was victorious in the Sunday Times Invitational Pairs in 1964, and three years later he became the newspaper's bridge columnist. He won Great BritainŐs Gold Cup 11 times - the first time in 1945 and the last in 1998.