Main     Article 7K80 by Richard Pavlicek    

Dramatic Finish

I just witnessed the most exciting Bermuda Bowl final in history — no, I wasn’t in Monte Carlo, but thanks to Bridge Base Online ( for its live Vugraph presentation. Hats off to owner-creator Fred Gitelman for providing this top-notch service free to the bridge community.

The 128-board match between Italy and U.S.A. was a seesaw. Italy sprang to an early lead; then momentum shifted to U.S.A. which built a seemingly insurmountable lead. But wait! Italy surged back with an amazing run to lead by 21 IMPs with only two boards to play. U.S.A. won 10 IMPs on the penultimate board to close the gap; then came this “Deal of Infamy”:

5 D× by North

E-W Vul
S 2
H A J 9 3
D K Q 10 9 8 6 5
C 5
S J 10
H 5 4 2
D A 7
C K 10 7 6 4 2
TableS A 6 5 4 3
H K Q 10 8 6
D 4 2
Lead: C AS K Q 9 8 7
H 7
D J 3
C Q J 9 8 3

2 H
3 H
1 D
3 D
5 D
2 D
All Pass

Lorenzo Lauria, North, opened 1 D; Paul Soloway bid 2 D Michaels; Alfredo Versace doubled to show values (perhaps an overstatement); and Bob Hamman showed his preference for hearts. Lauria repeated his diamonds, and when Hamman balanced with 3 H, he could be sure of short hearts in dummy and took a shot at 5 D. Soloway smartly doubled.

In the other room, U.S.A. had a good result on this board (plus 400 defeating 4 H) so the audience knew Hamman-Soloway must set 5 D two tricks (plus 300) to win the match by 1 IMP! Down one would be a tie and go into overtime (8 boards).

Soloway led the C A and shifted to the H K (a trump would have been better). Lauria won and led the H J, covered and ruffed; then came a club ruff with the D 8; heart ruff; and the S K to the ace. Soloway could now cash the H 10 but didn’t know it… and… he returned a spade to let Lauria escape for down one.

Alas, Lauria lost attention (evidently thinking Soloway led a heart) and called a low spade from dummy. When Lauria realized what had happened, of course, he wanted to change it to the S Q — so it all went to committee. A ruling would decide the winner! Since the correction was a change of mind, not an “inadvertent designation,” the Laws are clear, even for the Bermuda Bowl. The play stands. U.S.A by 1 IMP.

A lesson to us all: Pay attention!


© 2003 Richard Pavlicek