Robert Frederick Foster
(May 31, 1853 – 1945) of New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...
, was a memory training promoter and a prolific author of over 50 books on the rules of play of card, dice and board games.
Born in Edinburgh, Scotland May 31, 1853, the son of Alexander Frederick and Mary E. Macbrair., he immigrated to the United States at an early age and engaged in surveying and gold prospecting and then manufacturing before turning to the memory training and writing businesses.
Married to Mary E. Johnson in 1891, he was the card editor for the New York Sun
from 1895 to 1919 and for the New York Tribune
The New York Tribune was an American newspaper, first established by Horace Greeley in 1841, which was long considered one of the leading newspapers in the United States...
from 1919 and a columnist for Vanity Fair magazine
. Foster’s great achievement was his Foster’s Complete Hoyle
, first published in 1897; revised and republished frequently during his lifetime and then by others after his death. Having written numerous whist and bridge books by 1935, he was considered "the dean of living bridge authorities" at the time.
A member of several card, athletic and golf clubs including: Knickerbockers Whist and the Cavendish Club, he was also a member of the American Society of Magicians. He died in late 1945 in Eastham, Massachusetts
Eastham is a town in Barnstable County, Massachusetts, United States, Barnstable County being coextensive with Cape Cod. The population was 5,453 at the 2000 census....
, exact date uncertain.
Foster left employment at one of the largest manufacturing houses in Baltimore to become the business manager for a Professor Alphonse Loisette (aka Marcus Dwight Larrowe), a lecturer and promoter of systems and methods purporting to develop and improve a person’s memory skills. Foster resigned in April 1888, wishing not to be associated with Loisette’s unethical personal and business practices and accusing him of being a “humbug and a faud”. Foster subsequently joined William Joseph Ennever and others in a similar business venture, the Pelman
Pelmanism was a system of training the mind which was popular in the United Kingdom during the first half of the twentieth century.Originally devised as a memory system in the 1890s by William Joseph Ennever, the system was taught via correspondence from the Pelman Institute in London...
School of Memory Training, a correspondence school, for which he delivered lectures and wrote training materials, most notably The Secret of Certainty in Recollection - The Pelman-Foster System
, a book of five correspondence lessons dating from around 1905.
Contributions to whist and bridge
Foster invented or developed:
- Self-playing Cards for Whist, Self-playing Cards for Bridge, and an improved design for Whist Markers.
- The Foster Echo, an unblocking play against notrump intended to show count.
- The Rule of Eleven. Foster claims to have invented the Rule of Eleven in the winter of 1880-81. The rule is explained in the first edition of his Foster’s Whist Manual of 1890 and is a means for opener's partner to infer how many cards held by declarer are higher in rank than the card led; likewise, declarer can infer the same information about his right-hand-opponent's holding.
- The first set of laws for contract bridge.