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2013 Bermuda Bowl - Introduction

In a Bridge Winners exclusive, Marty Fleisher of USA2, has volunteered to post a daily "diary" entry describing his experiences in Bali.

The 2013 Bridge World Championships, a.k.a. the Bermuda Bowl, starts in Nusa Dua Bali on Tuesday. The open event, in which my team is participating, consists of 22 teams:

  • North America: USA1, USA2, Canada
  • Europe: Monaco, Netherlands, Italy, England, Poland, Germany
  • South America: Brazil, Argentina
  • Asia and the Middle East: India, Bahrain
  • Central America & Caribbean: Guadeloupe 
  • Asia Pacific: Japan, China, Chinese Taipei
  • South Pacific: Australia, New Zealand
  • Africa: Egypt, South Africa
  • The host country: Indonesia (automatic berth)

We play a so-called “round-robin” of three matches per day for a week, thus playing every other team. At the end of the week, the top 8 teams qualify for the knockout phase. The top qualifier chooses its opponent from among the bottom 4 qualifiers. Then the second team chooses from the remaining three of the bottom four, etc.   One more logistical point is that if the two US teams are in the semi-finals they must play each other (this happened in 2011 and we lost), i.e., an all-US final is not permitted.

Most people consider the top teams to be from the US and Europe. (In fact, only one team from outside these regions, Brazil, has ever won). The favorites must include perennial powerhouse ITALY. the defending champions THE NETHERLANDS, and MONACO, an artificially constructed team consisting of the best Norwegian pair, a top Italian pair, perhaps the best French player, and a wealthy French businessman who orchestrated the entire process of obtaining residency in Monaco for all.  (There was some issue as to whether they would be allowed to play in the European Championships which qualified them to play here-Europe gets six teams-but this was resolved in their favor.)

The two US teams are also quite strong. My team was considered a co-favorite in the US trials (we were actually seeded first based on our performance in the three tournaments held over the course of the year-long “cycle”) along with the NICKELL team, which has the best record in bridge over the last 20 years or so.  However, the US trials was won handily by a young, talented foursome who beat us, NICKELL, and the other top-ranked US teams easily to become USA1. We then qualified for the second spot USA2 by beating the NICKELL team in the 2nd final.  USA1 then made the wise decision to add Levin-Weinstein from the NICKELL team for the Bermuda Bowl.  

POLAND and ENGLAND, the two remaining European teams, are also formidable.  In particular, POLAND has one of the world’s top pairs as well as many other talented players. Of the remaining teams I believe that CHINA and BRAZIL are considered the strongest, but many other teams are also good.

Should be fun!  Once play starts, I'll try to post an update every day.  If you have any specific questions for me about the event, feel free to post them in the comments -- I won't have time to respond directly, but I might address some of them in later entries.

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