THE US (Bob Hamman, Zia Mahmood, Ralph Katz, Nick Nickell, Jeff Meckstroth and Eric Rodwell) has regained the Bermuda Bowl, the most coveted title in world bridge. This is the first Bermuda Bowl for Mahmood and Katz. The others have won several times, including four times as teammates.
In the 128-board final they came up against their usual rivals, Italy (Alfredo Versace, Lorenzo Lauria, Fulvio Fantoni, Claudio Nunes, Antonio Sementa and Giorgio Duboin). The match was not close, despite the Italians winning the second 16-board set by 57 international match points to 1. The final margin was 285 IMPs to 249.
The original Bermuda Bowl field consisted of 22 countries, made up of the leading teams from each of the World Bridge Foundation’s eight zones. The leading eight countries advanced to the quarter finals. They were, in order: Italy, Norway, Bulgaria, the US, The Netherlands, Germany, Russia and China.
Australia and New Zealand also took part; NZ finished 15th and Australia 18th.
Sementa was the new boy on the Italian team and he clearly felt the pressure.
Look at deal one, where North-South can make a slam in spades. Three clubs is at least a game-invitational raise in hearts. Sementa’s pass of four hearts is mighty odd; bidding four spades is surely automatic. The Italians were in bad shape when they sold out to five hearts and things soon got worse.
Sementa led the queen of clubs. Duboin ruffed and made the mistake of cashing a top spade. Now declarer could trump a spade and West Zia 1 4 pass all pass North Sementa 2 pass 4 East South Hamman Duboin 3 3 pass dble 5 dble run his hearts to take the rest. North could not hang on to both his diamonds and his clubs. The winning defence is for South to switch to a diamond at trick two.
At the other table, the Americans were doubled in five spades, making six.
Sementa must have spent some time mulling over his timid performance in passing four hearts. In any case, by the time deal two came along he was a different man.
Two spades showed a maximum pass with heart support and Sementa’s three no-trumps said pick a minor. You have to admit this was a brave move. It might have worked on a good day, but not here. Zia led a heart and Sementa was able to cross-ruff for one down. Not good but it could have been worse; on an unlikely low trump lead, it would have been four down.
At the other table, the Americans left the Italians in three hearts, where they defeated them. South led his club. North won the ace and shifted to his singleton spade. Now the defence was able to take four tricks by way of cross-ruff for one down. Paul Marston